J.E. Gattis went to the woods, but not because he wished to live deliberately. That is something a transcendentalist poet would do, and the only thing J.E. Gattis hates more than a transcendentalist poet is every other type of poet.
“Poetry is a milksop’s work,” Gattis is known to say, usually just before shaping the least ductile of precious metals into phallic monuments to himself. He once found himself in an argument with Stéphane Mallarmé about the existence of France, after which Mellarmé found himself punched into outer space.
So J.E. Gattis went to the woods. He was accompanied by a well-known circus strongman whose career appeared suddenly in jeopardy following a drunken brawl (v. Gattis) which cost him all of the right shoulder blade and half his left. Their mission was to find strength, and the immediate destination was an undercroft which was long-forgotten and now the home of a disgraced Carmelite monk. The discalced friar was understood to be the wisest in the world, but he was recently fired when he showed up to work in a good-as-new pair of Reebok tennis shoes.
“Hey holy man, where does a never-ending badass who gallivants through all of time and space in search of fine spirits and recently divorced women find strength?” Gattis was already growing impatient.
“What sort of strength do you seek, young man? The spiritual? The physical?” The friar spoke without facing his guests. “The strength, perhaps, of a lover?”
Gattis scoffed, and from his place in the grotto, he seduced and pleased the Queen of Spain. “I only need as much as it takes for this bald cartoon of a man to lift hollowed rods over his head.”
The friar quickly replied, “You’re in the wrong place, kiddo. The kind of strength you seek is not found here in the Earth’s roots. It is, rather, found in the clouds.”
“Sit tight, you fat-armed dolt,” Gattis said to the strongman, just before setting off on a solo journey to the apex of Chomolungma.
At the mountain’s peak, our protagonist met the ghost of Songtsän Gampo, founder of the Tibetan Empire. When Gattis asked the ancient ruler for the strength, he was instructed to return to the ground. The strength would not be found in the clouds.
So Gattis did return to the ground, and then down to the monk’s room below it. From the tomb, he dragged the strongman up and back into the woods. It had been three whole hours since Gattis’ last proper meal, and eternity’s Gentleman was overcome by hunger. The search was over, and so it was replaced by a new search for a decent chicken sandwich.
Finished with the quest for strength, and emptied of remorse re: the strongman’s shoulder blades, Gattis pulled one aged tree up from its roots, and then another. After fashioning the two trees into good-sized baseball bat, he swatted the strongman into orbit alongside the French poet, then excused himself from the woods for a high stakes game of rounders.