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Survival School: Day 26
Aug 9, 2007, 11:08p - Life

5th day of Student Ex

2 more nights left!!! Can't wait to get out - 2 more hot days of hiking. Can't wait to call Becca & Mom & Pops & Tin. Hope cell works @ BOSS - had bars before we left. Skin is really, dark dark. I can't wait for this to be over - we're so freakin' close. I can't believe I was able to last for this long - we've been through so much. People are really starting to get on people's nerves - we're so loosely hanging together as a group. I am so going to appreciate the real world, like I never have before. It's going to be serious culture shock - it's going to be great. I think I may start spending a lot more money @ restaurants & supermarkets where so much pleasure lies. Going to experiment more @ restaurants, trying new things. I think I'll try to eat w/ my eyes closed, at least while chewing - been doing that for the last 3 meals, been good though campfire conversation distracts me. Must savor those pleasurable moments. Also thank God before each meal - been doing that & feels really good. No more mammals. Must read a book by Peter Singer. Freedom is so close, the real world is so close. I couldn't imagine this as a personal lifestyle, given the expectations associated w/ the modern one. I think my yearning for this, seeded by some books in 2002, is finally over. 5 years later, I'm more certain in my choice of the modern lifestyle than ever before - I know that I am now choosing it, given some experience of an alternative. Less complaining about it will be coming out of my mouth, & so much more joy. To be unhappy in the modern world, due to modern things, is to be ignorant & foolish. Every foot your car drives you, every calorie your food gives you, every mile a plane takes you, every storm your home weathers for you, every life technology lengthens humanely for you, every ounce of water that flows to you, every opportunity you have before you, every choice you choose to make, savor not and then live not. Modern life is rife w/ problems, but we'll deal with them so future generations won't have to. It's deep, heartfelt appreciation, down to the core of my being. Don't ever forget it. Please don't.

Skipped oats for breakfast - ate way too many the last 3 mornings, more than my share. Pinky gave me his pinole, which was delish.

Where I slept last night, on sand under the trees

Self-portrait on day 26, only 2 more nights left

Got on the trail w/ Ben & Hannes leading. Made really fast progress down the Escalante, doing 4 miles in < 2 hours. While @ a rest stop, realized what this course is really about: it's about deprivation. Social deprivation - can't talk to friends or family for 28 days. Food deprivation - haven't eaten this little since I was 3. Sleep deprivation - I've woken up no less than 6x each night. Generally it's been all about pleasure deprivation: how much of the conventional pleasure that we take for granted can they keep us from. I told Becca that I might change, even try out being ascetic, but now I realize that I've been an ascetic for the past 26 days! And the chances of me doing it again are minimal. So here I've done it, & I'm looking back & swearing I'll never do it again, looking forward to civilization like I never have looked forward to anything. Getting back to Becca & Mom & Pops & Tin - I was really emotional today, the tears just kept welling up, & for a moment I think I understood what love really was. We're just 12 strangers out here, & we treat each other pretty coldly - there's very little warmth. I think I've developed a lot emotionally on this course, due to the deprivation, lack of contact. I think I'm making progress toward the emotional level of most women, which is much more developed than most men. There's more life, more consciousness, w/ higher emotional development. It's a better feeling, a better inner ambiance for our existence.

Hannes, confused & disgusted

Hannes, just confused

Then we hiked upstream. That was so rough we had to stay on the water most of the way. Found lots of ripe prickly pears, ate a Holly berry. Really fucking tired - I was exhausted.

Hiking upstream, from shallow to knee-deep

Leland, showing his imaginery adamantium as Wolverine

Leland, happy grin

Pinky, being hard

Ben, crazed

Ben, normal

Nic, being Oliver Twist

Abe, figuring out the meaning of his life

Rob, shadowy man in a hat

Took a long break while Ben & Hannes scouted out a shortcut. Great shortcut, amazingly beautiful "land before time" scenery - most barren, desolate, intimidating slick rock so far. High up so could see whole valleys.

The wall of rock, beyond which lay the Land Before Time

Me, on the outside of the city of rock

Ominous mountain of rock, protecting the Land Before Time

Ted, mountain man

A lone tree in a wall of rock

The lone tree, in a giant wall of rock

Entering the Land Before Time, a valley of solid rock

Solid rock in all directions, except sky

And the rock goes on...

Troop on the rock

The rock ends, & the desert begins again

Jeff, tired

Nick, a tired yogi

Cliff, Army here I come...

Back on the rock

Decided to hike an extra 2 miles so we could get a head start on tomorrow, our final student ex hiking day. Found a good hill to camp on. Found a bunch of scorpions all over the place - freaked Pinky out. I cooked dinner, OK, a bit watery & no salt [we're out of salt], but good crunchy vegetables & bullion/pepper taste. Made the ash cakes - most relaxed day in front of the fire yet - our last one on student ex! Shot the shit - thinking about all the amazing things civilization has to offer - toaster, fridge full of food, restaurants where you trade paper for the most delicious feasts. I can't believe we've used no money for the past month. Ridiculous. So many things taken for granted that will become so visible post-deprivation, so blindingly apparent that I think I'll need to move slowly through the world, observing & absorbing in astonishment. Civilization is so damn easy.

Ate dinner by myself on my bed, focused. I'm going to do that more often, eyes closed attention on tongue & throat & nose. Taste every little piece, savoring.

Very interesting neuro-related thought today, that I need to contemplate further: how do we perceive a memory? What do we "see"? When you think about a visual memory, say a face or an object, what is it that you actually see? Can we observe that perception better through conscious, focused introspection? Seems promising - need to think about more. Could help improve our understanding of what a memory is in the brain, at least for certain types of memories.

Slept the best I have out here. Woke up only once, to pee. Before I knew it it was morning - dreamt about hiking & other stuff I don't remember.

(written on days 26-27)

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