The first thing that people notice on our business cards is the tagline for Bound South: Three Brother’s Expedition from Alaska to Argentina. Immediately they gaze in awe at the three of us. However, it is not the 30,000 kilometers separating Alaska and Argentina that shocks them. It’s the fact that we’re doing this with one another as brothers.
“You three must get along pretty well, huh?” No, I like to say that we hit rock bottom somewhere in the mid ’90s. Our parents may attest to this. The tipping point was the winter of 1997. Nathan and I buried David up to his head in the mountain of snow on the edge of our farmstead and convinced him that we had left him there to die in the imminent blizzard. Good times. Since this relationship is incapable of further deterioration, I figured that my brothers were a safe bet for a year-long bicycle expedition. Blood is thicker than water. On this trip we have discovered that blood is also thicker than sweat, Gatorade, Tang, and the delicious jelly filled with glass shards that I recommended to David in Alaska. “Countercultural” might be an epithet in our home state, but I think we fit the definition pretty well. I don’t know how many siblings would voluntarily choose this path that we’ve taken.
On some level, I think that fact is a small tragedy of modern America. America reaps the fruits of individualism, mobility, and pluralism. You can be who you want to be and escape the traditional confines of your family or region to find your community, whether in the real world or in cyberspace. When relationships suffer, it is far too easy to withdraw, escape, and move to an environment with less friction. Society can freely atomize and self-sort into stagnation.
Yet perhaps this is just mild self-aggrandizement. The three of us are lucky to have brotherhood and friendship that is more than duty or obligation. I attribute this blessing to the years we have spent working together on our family farm in Starkweather, ND. Occasionally, we were jealous of our peers with their summers of liberty and we resented the family farm for it. We look back now and wouldn’t trade it for anything. When you have work together and live together, inseparable from planting to harvest, you can’t walk away from your problems and you have to learn to love one another. We have strong family bonds to show for it. There is a powerful, sustaining magic in kinship of which we have only begun to scratch the surface. I hope that this magic can be made evident here at Bound South and perhaps rediscovered in the lives of our readers.