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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - April 24, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta M6HALD 8 I i 1 Desert trek J helps writer J I fight fear LONDON (CP) only thing we have to fear is fear declared the late president Franklin D Roosevelt in his ringing first inaugural speech in 1933. Geoffrey Moorhouse, a British journalist of 40, tested that philosophy for himself in the most gruelling way by deliberately forcing an encounter with his own worst fears. Moorhouse, formerly chief feature-writer on The Guardian and author of distinguished books on the mo- nastic life and the city of Calcutta, describes himself as "a man who had lived with fear for nearly 40 years." Most of his fears were the small, everyday ones shared by of social or marital humiliation, fear of being hurt, of loss of security. But Moorhouse sees grades of a corrosive poison eating away man's "essential greatness and goodness." In his view, if we don't find a way of shedding our timidity, "it follows us for the rest of our days, systematically weakening us in all things." Feared loss His own worst fears, he concluded, were "of annihilation, of being surrounded by what is hostile, of being unwanted, of loss and of being lost." To exorcize these demons, he chose to confront them in their perfect to cross the Sahara Desert by foot and by camel from east to west, a journey no man had done before In the book he has written about his adventure, The Fearful Void (published here by Hodder and Moorhouse explains: "I would use this journey to examine the bases of my fear, to observe in the closest possible proximity how a human being copes with his most fundamental funk." His theory was that confronting one's worst fear brings about one of two beneficial. Either the encounter demonstrates that the thing feared is by no means as terrible as one had thought; or else, terrible as it may be, "it is one which can be endured and which can fortify us in the endurance." Poorly equipped Moorhouse admits he was poorly equipped for such a mammoth epic of endurance. He had never touched a camel, let alone ridden one, and he spoke no Arabic. "My only obvious asset was a fair degree of physical fitness, laboriously maintained over many years by an addiction to exercises concocted by Canadians for the reduction of weight among obese aviators He set aside six months for preparation, taking Arabic lessons amid the small kebab restaurants of London's Tottenham Court Road and spending mornings at Regent's Park Zoo "to find out something about camels." He read accounts of previous Sahara expeditions in the library of the Royal Geographical Society and spent his evenings struggling to learn navigation by the stars. Preparations complete, he packed two kit-bags of equipment, including a sextant, a pocket chess set, Sol- zhenitsyn's novel August 1914 and Lord Wavell's old- fashioned poetry anthology Other Men's Flowers. Sought escape Some might see an element of escapism in Moorhouse's decision, embroiled as he was in a wavering marriage and a deep involvement with an- other woman. But the journey itself tested him to the full The heat was grilling. His body became covered with sores. He was appalled by the grubbiness of desert life, by the rancid food and raw habits of the nomads. They would barely wait to singe a piece of freshly butchered meat in the camp fire before tearing it ravenously apart and would carelessly drink deep of water floating with dung As for his Arab companions, who changed in relays, almost all proved greedy, arrogant, incompetent and generally two-faced. But none abandoned him to the awful emptiness and one actually saved his life by bullying him to go on when he was ready to give up and sink into the sand. Near end of tether By the time he reached Timbuktu in Mali, two-thirds of the way to the Nile, his goal, he was almost at the end of his mental and physical tether. "Under the dreadful, drilling heat of the appalling sun. I had become an automaton that marched I was scarcely recognizable as a human being, with the responses that alone distinguished us from the animals. I wondered whether I had forfeited a little of my soul to the the greater part of it." Yet when a jet plane passed overhead he derived a curious comfort from visualizing the passengers eating meals off plastic trays, cosseted by attentive stewardesses. Parched and often close to delirium, he day-dreamed of his children, of Christmas shopping in London's Oxford Street, of cool things like Welsh beaches and waterfalls in Switzerland. He was stirred to weeping by old-fashioned poems evoking British nationality and glory as he avidly read Kipling and even a Victorian epic called The Red Thread of Honor, which at home he would have disdained. He finally gave up at Tamanrasset, having covered some miles, most of it on foot. "I had made a kind of peace with myself. The rest would have to come slowly, whatever lay ahead." i M 1 I FURNITURE see our credit office for complete details This Handsome 2-Piece Suite Features an 81" Davenport and a Lovely Matching Swivel Rocker Handsome 2-piece suite is ideal for home or cottage. Features an 81" Davenport that opens into a bed that will sleep 2 persons. The Davenport and the matching swivel rocker are upholstered in a hard-wearing combination of Vinyl and Tweed-like cloth that is made of 35% Olefin and 65% Viscose. Choose from such warm colors as Gold and Green. 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