A Financial Independence Story?
I recently read the book “The Stranger in the Woods” by Michael Finkel. First of all, I do not read many books. Most of all, it is unusual for one to captivate me. However, this book grabbed me and just wouldn’t let go.
The book made me think about financial independence. In a way, it was a twisted financial independence story about a hermit who lived by himself in the woods for 27 years.
FINANCIAL INDEPENDENCE STORY
The book is a true story about Christopher Knight. At the age of 20, Mr. Knight quit his job and disappeared into the woods of Central Maine. Mr. Knight wanted to exit society and live alone. He was a hermit. 27 years later he told his story to Michael Finkel, author of this national best selling book.
FINDING A PLACE
After disappearing in 1986, Mr. Knight wandered the forests of central Maine for several months. Hungry most of the time, he would steal food from gardens and sleep in different parts of the woods as he moved from place to place.
With winter coming, he settled on a “secluded site” to put down his roots. It was located in a dense and disorienting area of woods, surrounded by large boulders and a thicket of hemlocks. The camp site was virtually impossible to find. Ironically, it was only a 3 minute walk to the edge of the Pine Tree Camp.
The Pine Tree Camp catered to children and adults with physical and developmental disabilities. The property also contained dozens of individually owned vacation cabins clustered around 2 ponds. Just beyond the Pine Tree Camp property became the area where Mr. Knight settled in for the next 27 years.
In order to survive, Knight stole from the Pine Tree Camp and surrounding vacation cabins. What did he steal? Everything including:
- Propane tanks
- Kitchen utensils
- Bedding, tents and tarps
For 27 years he stole to survive the seasonal elements and his hunger. In that time he only encountered people on two occasions. And they left him alone. The camp and property owners had a range of emotions and fears during his reign. The authorities were unable to identify him, locate him or catch him until 2013. He was nabbed in the midst of a midnight burglary run for food and supplies in the Pine Tree Camp lodge facility.
THE END OF HIS RUN
That night, Christopher Knight was arrested, charged with burglary and theft and sent to a Maine correctional facility. For the first time in 27 years, he slept inside.
THE BOOK AND AUTHOR
The book was interesting on a number of levels. First of all, Knight’s survival story was full of intrigue. In addition, the process by which the author gained Knight’s confidence and learned his story of life in the woods was fascinating. Finally, the author explores different aspects of society and solitude over the ages.
I loved this book and think you may too. It’s interesting, entertaining, well written and easy to read. At my core, I’m a bit of an independent introvert. I like my alone time, but not to the extreme Knight took it. The book closed with an interesting observation by the author I think many can relate to. The author says…
“I think that most of us feel like something is missing from our lives, and I wondered then if Knight’s journey was to seek it. But life isn’t about searching endlessly to find what’s missing; it’s about learning to live with the missing parts.”
The reaction to Knight in the Maine community was mixed. From, let him go and leave him alone at one extreme. To lock him up for life and throw away the key. As I said at the beginning, it is a twisted financial independence story.
What do you think? Is someone who breaks the law and achieves financial independence at the expense of others really financially independent? What do you think about Knight’s financial independence story? Have you read this book? Leave your thoughts and let us all know.
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