Survival School: Day 21|
Aug 4, 2007, 8:10p - Life
Day 5 of SOLO
Now this is beginning to feel like solitary confinement. I'm out of stuff to chew on (ate all my GORP yesterday), so time is passing really slowly. Also, it's probably knowing that this is the last full day before this solo thing is over. I'm ready for it to be over. Funny how I've had enough of it.
Woke up this morning to a crystal clear sky. Not a cloud to be seen, and it stayed that way pretty much all day except for the briefest afternoon showers yet. After writing in the journal, really had to take another shit, so wet (#8). That's like the 3rd shit in a little more than 24 h - something I'm eating is clearly a laxative - I still think it's the raw onions. It looked fine, bright yellow, but it did have some orange chunks in it, so I decided to chew my carrots a bit more than usual today. Prepared my morning stew in the sun, tried to create a rock area of sorts to better heat it w/ the sun's rays.
Breakfast heating on the sun-baked rock oven
Took my shirt off & just soaked up some rays myself. Stomach felt so hot that I decided to try cooking the stew on it. That actually seemed to help - after 2-3 hours of sun-time, I ate the stew & it was the best one yet, probably because I put the bullion in first rather than last, which I think is what you normally do w/ most recipes @ home. Funny how survivalist Steve doesn't seem to be a very good cook and tells us all the wrong things to do to make our limited food actually taste good. Maybe he appreciates food for its nutrition more than its taste, but I think there's a limit to that...
My favorite tree again
Self-portrait on day 21, after 3.5 days of (virtually) no human contact
Sun-baked some more, then decided I was getting too sweaty, so back to shelter. Oh yeah, almost forgot - I did some exploring in the morning after I got water & put up the cairns - scaled to the top of the hill on the other side of the road. Heard a bunch of cows mooing, even saw some deer tracks.
The moon high in the sky, after climbing a hill near my camp
My legs and their shadow
Grimy feet, free from soap for 21 days
Back to shelter, probably around 10-11am now. Pretty much just lay there for the next 2-3 hours, then moved out to lay in the sun again & heat up oatmeal, then back in the shade. Rained a tad, then left w/ 4-5 hours of light before night. Bored, bored, couldn't sleep anymore, slept too much. Started to really look forward to when this is over & we can go to Boston & I can start @ MIT. Made a list of classes [end of previous post] that I want to take - realized that after PhD school I will have spent 10 years in college, close to the 12 years it would have taken me if I had taken all the classes that interested me @ Stanford. Man, I hope I find a P.I. [principal investigator, aka professor] who is willing to fund all the classes I want to take - If not, I think I'll have to find more grants or fund them myself. Must fit in as much "my" time before we start popping out babies. I'm totally psyched about going back to school - I was worried that coming out here would make me want to radically alter my life, when what it seems to be doing in fact is making me totally want to return to my normal life, & appreciate that life so much more, to take as little as possible for granted. I had a vision that the first time I got back & walked on a concrete sidewalk, I'd have to get down & touch it, it will be so foreign to me. So I'm stoked about MIT, I just can't wait for it to start. And I am so beyond grateful that Becca gave up an opportunity @ GW [George Washington University in DC] so we could both go to Boston, I am forever in her debt. That was a big deal, & I know I pushed her a lot, & she was willing to make that sacrifice for me, & I'm grateful for that. I'm so ready to be done w/ this - what the hell was I thinking? This solo thing is like a social purge, just like impact was a fasting purge.
I started making my burrito for the night, & I had visions of Namesake [the movie] in my head - how the dad died, but not just that he died, but that he died alone & the mom had to get a phone call to tell her - why the hell would anyone ever want to be so alone?! We should be seeking to minimize our time apart, & here I go trying to do the exact opposite, trying to maximize it to see how far I can stretch it. And I can't actually stretch it that far, though maybe farther than most. Of course, I need a lot of time for myself, but it's ideal when Becca is sitting right by me & taking her own time by herself. Like when we go to a coffee shop to read or study together, that's the perfect balance where you're both w/ someone & really w/ yourself @ the same time, the best of both. Anyhow, it's time to go back. Only 1 more week left - I'm envisioning the ride back to Provo, my first real meal in the real world, the shower in the Travelodge (first one in 28 days) - cleaning all the crap that's in my hair & removing the layer of sweat & dirt & mosquito repellant & sunscreen from my body - only 7 more nights to go, it'll be over before I know it.
Oh yeah, I had some thoughts about the whole "being in the moment" concept. I had some time of "being in the moment" on solo, but most of it was spent w/ my mind, going over my memories or fondly gazing into the future. And so I was thinking "You know who's really in the moment? - Animals. Perhaps the greatest gift that humanity has is the ability to not be enthralled by the moment, to have a concept of past & future, to plan & consciously learn. Not to say that you should never be in the moment. Just that there are some moments to be in, & others not to be. And it varies by person. If you're being physically tortured, best bet for survival is clearly not to be in the moment. If you're bored in the wilderness, probably best to not be in the moment. If you're out to dinner eating a great meal, damn as hell be in the moment instead of planning your next meal or worrying about the presentation you have to give tomorrow. There are moments to be in & moments to be out, & it's up to you to make your right choice given the moments of your life.
Went to sleep, fitful because I wasn't actually that tired since I just laid around all day. Tons of dreams - Star Tours snowmobile ride w/ Ana Yang in a construction zone, being in space w/ our ship captured by aliens, a bunch of others. The dream world is so rich.
(written on day 22)
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- Jan 24, 2008, 1:18a
So you were a Stanford student! Aha. I was suspecting so (the Google stuff... you mentioned Bob [the row house, I presume]...). I'm a Stanford undergrad now, a junior. It's weird and cool - yours is the only really personal account of a BOSS trip I've found, and it's been really illuminating and interesting to read (just found it by googling some BOSS-related terms, by the way), and hearing that you were a Stanford student too helps me identify with your story. I'm still trying to decide if BOSS is really worth the cost, pain, starvation, etc.
Also, I like what you say about being in the moment. I like to think the human mind is powerful enough for rudimentary time travel - that is, by concentrating your attention on the past or the future, you can make those times seem more real than the present. Our minds let us stretch out through time, so we kind of exist in a cloud of time centered on the present but stretching out into the past and future. This is in contrast to a simple feral animal, whose consciousness is like a hard ball wrapped tightly around the present moment, the here and now. I wonder what it would be like to be so focused on the present - to be unable to think about yesterday or tomorrow. I guess we can do that sometimes, when we're in a certain frame of mind, but to be unable to even imagine tomorrow... must be a fundamentally different existence for them.
- Jun 11, 2008, 9:16a
Such a joy watching your conciousness unfold.
Thats what BOSS is about to me.
We ended with SOLO then about a 20 mi. run/walk in. Liked that, let you renter the world freesh in your own mind.
- Mar 30, 2009, 12:25p
you should write a book some day, you are a talented writer/ thinker