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Survival School: Day 28
Aug 11, 2007, 10:41p - Life

Final Day

Woke up early, only ~5 hours of sleep. Steve came, & rushed us into the van. No idea where we were going. No sign yet of 2nd 28-day group [there were 2 separate troops who did variants of the 28-day course @ the same time - I was expecting to see them back at BOSS HQ too]. Drove for 30 min - up hill, feels like cheating [because we don't actually have to work to get up the mountain], so surreal to be back in a car after 1 month. Got to Kiva Koffeehouse, drove in, & parked & went in! Other group is there, eating breakfast! Bean chili, followed by salad w/ citrus+honey dressing, w/ blue cornbread. So weird to be in a building & being served fancy food. Very healthy food. In a bit of a daze, not really talking to anyone, just observing & absorbing. So bizarre.

Food was excellent, topped off w/ cup of hot chocolate. Mmm good, so good. Butter w/ cornbread, even got small extra helping. Savoring & slow, eyes closed & focused. Newspapers! Checked Google & Apple stock, read a bit, but so useless & irrelevant to my life. Also very poorly written - USA Today.

Final heart circle - most talked about the group social experience (which I found pretty irrelevant) - I talked about deprivation, starvation, & appreciation, & trying to get the appreciation to last past the 2nd meal [in the default world], & not regressing back to pre-school days. Must focus on not taking pleasure & love for granted.

Used bathroom - amazing, comfort of the toilet & not having to squat, TP OK, actually not that exciting as it's so not necessary. Running faucet - my own personal river... contacts in, hot clothes off, new T-shirt on [they gave us each a BOSS alumni shirt]. Back on bus, still in awe. Feeling hardened - can eat & drink anything, survive anywhere - confidence. Back to BOSS, packed up, talked to Becca & Mom & Pops. Almost cried on phone w/ Becca, but kept it in. So much love.

Group photo @ the end of the course. Top row: David (guide), Abe, Nic, Pinky, Crit, Nick, me, Ben, Steve. Bottom row: Hannes, Cliff, Rob, Ted, Leland, Jeff.

5 hour ride back to Provo - Everyone so excited @ first stop, loaded up on junk food. I just watched, didn't buy anything - people's eyes so wide, so appreciative, but eat way too fast. 2nd stop was Dairy Queen. People even more excited now - bacon double cheeseburger finally a reality [people had been talking about it, imagining it, for the whole course]. Blizzards & ice cream -> more fattening food, so much pleasure, though appreciated, consumed too quickly. Sad watching everyone else [non-course survivors] there - just the bare minimum of awareness going to the delicious food, just enough to get above the threshold of pleasure, perhaps even a non-conscious threshold - eyes & minds elsewhere, desensitized to the huge pleasure potential right in front of them. So unaware... No more multi-tasking while eating, no reading while eating. Only closed eyes & attention to the smells, tastes, & textures. Minimal conversation.

Back in Provo Travelodge - glorious shower, no more sand in hair or beard, hot water on demand. Wonderful bed - so giving of the weight & shape of my body.

Self-portrait on day 28, back in the default world (at long last)

Self-portrait on day 28, in the shade

Dinner w/ Hannes @ Smokehouse BBQ & Pizza. Eyes bigger than stomachs - order 8 garlic twists (fried garlic bread balls w/ parmesan) & 18' 4-cheese + jalapenos + sun dried tomato pizza. Had to savor salt, honey mustard, honey ketchup, & honey BBQ sauce condiments on the table while waiting. Garlic knots were astounding - ate @ half-speed of Hannes, closing eyes. Said silent thanks prayer to start. Bread had been missed, fried goodness, garlic & parmesan :) Only problem was that we were full on the appetizer - ate 1 slice of pizza each, which had gotten cold because we ate so slowly. Pizza wasn't so great - too complex flavors mushed together. Each took 3 pieces of pizza to go - so full.

Walked through Provo suburb - I have a new awareness & curiosity w/ trees, want to know what each one is, learn what its qualities are, learn why it's meaningful to me. Found walnut tree, got walnut which I ate later @ home -> not ripe, but so tasty, almost like fresh garlic. Hannes went to Amtrak station, forgot scrub oak walking stick, I brought it to him. Watched a bit of TV - so much unnecessary motion, so much shitty news, so shitty overall - even worse than before, clearly has no meaning or relevance in my life. Hour w/ Abe, Leland, & Cliff in their room. Abe has gorged himself, & is feeling sort of miserable. Breakfast + snacks + DQ Blizzard + DQ Flamethrower + 8' pizza + fried ice cream - he's nuts. Gut is all backed up. Also drinking beer & liquor - Cliff & Leland couldn't eat much today, stomach shrunk like mine. They're realizing that they're eating too much, & that maybe it wasn't as good as they expected it to be. I've realized that, w/ my current stomach, quantity is meaningless & I can get more pleasure in 1 apple piece if I focus on it than an entire pizza - I never would have thought that possible. I'm also realizing that there is so much more distraction in the default world - people, cars, noise & sounds, news, billboards, TV, everything trying to draw your attention for commerce or someone who'll just listen. Everyone & everything is so desperate for attention, & not the quality but the quantity. "Look @ me, I'm here!" everything is crying out. Really need to control my attention, focus on the stuff that matters - #1 loved ones, #2 food pleasure, #3 brain & understanding, #4 superfacts & social improvement. Course money is also always there in the background. If I'm spending more time on things not on the top 4 list, or spending more time on lower-ranked items than those above, I'm living my life wrong, plain & simple. If email, phone calls, conversations, shopping, entertainment aren't contributing to the 4, they should be drastically cut down to consume less time. If I can spend 80% of my time on the top 4 things, I'll be living the happiest life I know how. This much is clear.

Slept very well on my bed - woke up to pee @ sunrise, dreamless overall.

(written on 28+1, on the flight home)

Read comments (7) - Comment

george - Jun 11, 2008, 12:14p
you have your priorities in order.

Life will be sweet.

Note - when we came in from final challenge hike, had quick gathering then straight on bus for Provo. They did stop for us in a grocery in the first town we hit, I think it was Boulder. LOL, our group was I think 36 total, turned loose in a grocery straight from the dessert. It was a sight, what those folks must have thought with such a band of stinking dessert refugees in awe, laughing and crying as we took it all in.

I don't think we had near the food rations you did. I am speculating about half from what I could calculate.
I went through in 1980 I think it was, may have been '79. Only pooped once at beginning.

They would issue seven squares of TP each week. I finished with mine.

But you had the full experience physically and mentally I believe, except for near death from thirst, and I don't wish that one on anybody, but boy it still leaves a mark. Wife still doesn't understand why I don't throw out old water in bottles, cups, etc. :-) says I'll drink anything.

well has been wonderful getting to know you. MAy your path be smooth and all down hill.

Will Ranney - Apr 4, 2010, 3:33p
Thank you for writing this. I'm going on the 28 day course in 68 days. Very excited for what I can learn.

cedric dahl - Jun 25, 2011, 10:33p
Wow... what an adventure.

Thanks soooooo much for posting this. I'll be following your footsteps in a few weeks... half excited... half terrified and will try to follow your good example and post a travel journel of the experience at

Pip pip,

nikhil - Aug 22, 2011, 3:42a
My good friend Niniane just completed the 7-day BOSS course and posted her journal online:

Luis - Oct 30, 2013, 3:55p
Great 28 days! going for the 14 in May-June much weight you loss?

nikhil - Nov 12, 2013, 11:12p
I lost 20 lbs in 28 days (165 to 145).

Frank - Aug 22, 2022, 10:10p
Wonderful read! I just finished my 28 day 2 days ago and found your blog. So many similarities it's uncanny. I'd love to chat sometime.

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