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Survival School: Day 14
Jul 28, 2007, 11:59p - Life

Where we've been sleeping for the past 3 nights - Abe's on the left & Leland, myself, & Hannes are to the right of the path

Self-portrait on day 14

Opened Becca's letter today - I've been saving it for the halfway point, & we've finally made it. Tears welled up - I read it twice. I can't wait to get home, to get back to Becca, Mom, Pops, Tin, Aki, Julie, Emily, Prasanna, Sachin, Tunlin, Dave, friends from Google... And then we're gone [cross-country road-trip to Boston]. Trying to stay in the moment - On day 1, I was told that we could send a letter out if we brought stamps - damn, I wish they had told us that before - I know how much my parents & my love would like getting some mail while I'm away. Ah well, an inline letter will have to do.

Dear my beloved Becca,

Thanks so much for the card, poem, & butterfly. I've tucked the butterfly in the right pocket of my shorts, by itself. Cleared my pocket of pencils & stones. It's so small, I'm worried it's going to slip through a crack. I hope you're taking good care of the sea shell [which I made into a necklace before I left]. I learned how to make rope yesterday from dogbane fibers, so I can make you a natural fiber (plant) necklace when I get home. Man, I miss you a lot - I can't wait to see you. I'm imagining stepping off the plane in Oakland, going out to the street, & seeing you & mom & pops. I love you. Today, we learned how to grind corn & barley to make a food snack once we start moving again. You'll be happy to know that yesterday I decided to give up mammals after this trip. No more beef, pig, or lamb, so no more hamburgers, salami sandwiches, or pepperoni/sausage pizzas :( It's going to be really hard, but I think it's the right thing to do.

We are going to have an adventure when I get back. I hope the yard sale went well. We'll ship the boxes when I get back - we also have the last weekly dinner in SF. I also think we should have dinner w/ Hannes & his wife Jesse. They suggested that we should also eat at Tanine, on 17th & Guerrero, before we leave - a great bakery, they said. We're going to be busy when I get back - I actually don't think I'll need any time to recover. Things actually haven't been that tough, though they may get tougher.

I hope Zoƫ isn't missing me too much, & that you've been sleeping OK and aren't lonely. I guess your classes have probably finished by now - I know you aced them. I miss you, miss you, love you forever. You are my beloved.

Love always,

This morning we ate hot cornmeal for breakfast, w/ sucanut & honey. It was good, & I ate it slowly & savored every bite. I prayed before the meal, & tried to look @ each spoonful & say "thank you" in my head before each bite. Eating is clearly becoming a meditative, concentrating process. Appetite control, here we come. I ate it so slowly & in such small spoonfuls it got cold.

After breakfast, David showed us how to grind corn & barley on a mono matate. Ground corn & barley powder will be one of the foods we eat once we leave camp. I grounded one pile - took about 7 min. Next, we learned how to make a net & carrying case for our gourds. By then, the stomach bread was ready - spelt flour, water, baking soda, salt, sucanut, cinnamon all added to the sheep stomach to be used as a container & boiled for 2 hours. It was really tasty, & I nibbled on it like a bird to make it last. It took me 3-5x longer to eat it than other people, so I started working on my gourd case later. I think I've decided to try a new style of eating, characterized by slowness & no distractions so the full pleasure potential of each nibble can be perceived by my mind/consciousness. So no more working & eating @ the same time, & only eating during breaks in the conversation - I'll be like Raja :)

After I finished the gourd case, we played a "run through the woods blindfolded to the drum" game. I thoroughly scratched up my legs so that they bled, but found it easy overall. Adapting to a world w/o sight wouldn't be too hard, I don't think. Then we had our 3rd meal of the day, stew similar to last night's dinner. It was OK, not as filling as lentil stew, even though it had lamb in it. Oh yeah, I forgot, I took a dump this morning too - all you need is stones & sticks to clean yourself. That's the 4th time in 14 days - not bad, though it's tiring to squat for so long. After stew we played another game called "fox & rabbit" - people make a circle, 2 people in the middle, both blindfolded, 1 the rabbit the other the fox, & the fox needs to touch the rabbit. It was fun & I was pretty good @ it. Also, I found a piece of jerky in the squash seed bowl which I ate, which was damn good. Man, what's happening to my relationship w/ food? It is totally being transformed - I wonder if it will last... Then I went to work on fire, w/ little success (but a good 20 min of practice). Then we had our 4th meal of the day! Rack of lamb, where we each got about 2 ribs of meat each. Not much, but salty & tasty - I sucked the meat off the bone like I remember my mom doing [when I was little], getting every last piece of fat, cartilage, & sinew off before disposing of it. Went back to work on fire, Pinky helped me a lot. Got tired, but made a coal in tandem w/ Pinky & even made fire from it after several failed attempts. Getting better, though still struggling more than anyone else in the group. Will find a new bow tomorrow, & will need to make a new spindle soon.

Stayed up late tonight, around the fire w/ Abe, Leland, & Hannes. Talked about needs vs. wants, what our friend's reactions were when we told them about the course, about comparison of our living conditions to others who have it permanently or worse, about the goal of being beyond comparison, the goal of living beyond desire & experiencing pleasure w/o desire for more. Good stuff. Full moon. Went to bed, burrito-style. Slept OK, it's getting colder. Dreamt about morning, about the yard-sale, Becca told me it was happening next weekend, I had a black, 8 year-old son, moved to a 1-room apt, no mattress, baseball game w/ my son playing, lots of strange stuff.

[Written on days 14 & 15]

Read comments (1) - Comment

Garry - Jan 21, 2008, 6:47p
Dude, this entire series has been totally awesome. Thanks for posting and sharing.

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