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Survival School: Day 18
Aug 1, 2007, 11:56p - Life

Day 2 of SOLO

Woke up this morning & really had to take a dump. Gathered some sticks & sagebrush, but each step made me need to go a little more. Finally, couldn't handle it, no time to dig a trench, so just dropped my pants. 5th time this trip, avg. once every 3.6 days. Shit is yellow & soft as usual. Dug trench after I was done, & buried it. Next, set up cairn upstream to indicate I was OK.

Where I slept during SOLO - no man-made shelter needed, the tree (on the right) was huge w/ massive sweeping branches that kept the rain out. The bag hanging on the left is filled w/ my food for the next 5 days (you can see the orange carrot) - it's hanging so that squirrels and other critters don't take my food. I slept right next to where my black jacket is hanging, curled around the trunk of the tree.

Self-portrait on day 18, alone in my new home

Very sunny, so put fire-making tools out in the sun to dry. Prepared couscous, dehydrated lentils, onions, garlic, carrots, & vegetable bullion in Nalgene & left in sun. Spent 1 hr trying to start a fire, but couldn't even get a coal :( My muscles get tired too quickly. Tom Brown said he'd seen children do it, but oh well. Read a lot of TB: fire, plants, & animals. Tried to ID a few plants around me, but most not in the book! I think it's geared more for the East Coast, where he teaches classes. It's sort of annoying, because he'll talk about a plant but not tell you how to ID it - really lame. Overall this book isn't that great - I want to get a book devoted to ID'ing plants when I get back, one that is really comprehensive. Also want to try my hand @ a garden again - wonder what can grow well in Boston... Would be great to cook all sorts of interesting foods from my own garden, esp. stuff you can't easily find in stores. So much variety. Picked some spiny gooseberries, not great raw, TB says better if cooked. Man, fire - it's so damn frustrating, but @ my current rate w/ the wet weather, I won't be able to make one the whole trip. I'm OK w/ that - I can practice @ home, it would just be nice to have a hot, cooked meal on solo. I have to watch Castaway again when I get home. Everyone else can make fire but I really need to stop the whole comparison thing. I think I can - I'm happy I just have tasty food to eat, fire is a bonus.

After I picked the gooseberries, it started to rain. I ate some GORP & squash jerky & [squash] seeds while I sat protected under the tree of my home, reading TB. Ridiculous lightning & thunder - I thought I was going to get hit. Thunder sounded like a pileup of semi's on a foggy highway - so loud it made my heart jump. Kept on for 3, 4 hours. I napped a little, thought about the last 5 years a lot. How quickly Becca & I moved in together, how smoothly it went. Living in the studio, bartender party, everyone was there (Sachin, Sam, Roy, etc.), potato canon, parties @ Sachin's house in Cupertino, Becca getting her master's, meeting Julia, Google in Bldg 0, nervousness on work mornings, wanting to work @ a bookstore, Google Video preso to Al Gore. Our small studio apartment - when was the first time we had sex (in Bob) - when was the first time I told her I lover her - when was the first time she told me? I should remember - damn it, why don't I? Because I took this stuff for granted, assumed it would be there when I needed it. Man, living in that tiny studio was fine - reading "Why people become terrorists", "Starship & the Canoe", "Lexus & the Olive Tree", "Physics of Consciousness", ... Trip to Boulder to visit Sam's family (I think that was 2002-2003?). So many good memories - Also, Becca getting angry @ me about looking @ porn. How did it work so well, how did it go from a super-rocky pseudo-relationship for 5 months, to a rocky real relationship for 2 months, to a great relationship for 3 months during the summer, to moving in together? It all happened so fast, consciously I don't even know what happened, yet unconsciously, all along, I knew it was the right thing to do. I don't really know why, but it was, & now 5 years have passed in a blur, & I love her more now than I ever have. I'm sure my loneliness is only heightening my emotional range, but I can't read her card w/o crying, can't even read the poem aloud w/o breaking up. Why? All the petty arguments, all the meddlesome problems we create for ourselves as we take each other for granted, are meaningless compared to the fact that we're alive, we exist, & we're together. I hope my parents can... [burst out crying] ...realize that, that they can stop tormenting themselves, stop suffering each other, & just be content that the basic need is fulfilled - they're alive, they exist, & they have each other. That is the basic need -> companionship against loneliness -> everything else is a gravy want - great sex, true love, personality strengths. It's really that simple - we go after all the extra features, but then we may miss out on fulfilling the basic need, instead fulfilling the superfluous wants, so that in the end the relationship is hollow. Money, wealth, status, beauty are all superfluous, if the basic companionship, understanding, relationship is missing. Man, I love my life. Now, I'm just thinking about moving to Boston - I should call my parents & bro more, should visit them more. I will get so obsessed, so captivated by my work, think it's the most important thing - but it isn't - I need to appreciate Becca, my family, & my friends more, make more time for them, prioritize them higher, & make more time for food, growing, cooking, & for Zoe, walking, playing. More attention to life, less attention to concepts - I don't know if I can do it, but I'll try. More outward presence, less inward presence? Not sure. More of both I hope, not a trade-off.

It just rained & rained. When it stopped, I made oatmeal, sucanut, & condensed milk for dinner - Sweet & tasty. Made burrito, read TB until it was too dark, knocked down cairn, & went to sleep. Fitful as usual - intermittent rain, too hot, too cold, snatches of dreams: Team waiting for a [legal] trial to start, Jeremy Miller there - I should email him when I get home, haven't talked in 8 years. Slept well after rain stopped, peed once.

(written on Day 19)

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