April 26, 2013

April 24

Funny thing: yesterday I realized that Thacher School no longer uses the phrase “faculty wife” for the wives of (male) teachers. Back then, they didn’t have female students OR teachers. Times have changed! Now I bet they hire mostly couples, both of whom can teach there.

More wonderful stuff from Daniel Klein’s book, Travels With Epicurus:

On mysticism: Klein is an atheist (or agnostic?) who wishes for a mystical experience (p. 146).

On Zen Buddhist Mindfulness (p. 150).

(P. 88) On sex: “Sex exposes unnecessary and insatiable needs that bare vulnerabilities and provoke anxieties. Note: ~~~Sadly, but undeniably, sex has this unfortunate effect on me… to the extent that I think that I will never have (in this lifetime) a successful, sexual, loving relationship. The initial pleasures inevitably turn fowl. It’s all about my evolution. “Evolution is preparing a surprise,” sing Gogol Bordello. What could it be?

(P. 54) On leisure: Someone (?) said work should be leisure, should be play.

(P. 143) Hinduism’s 4 stages of life: student; householder; forest dweller or hermit in semi-retirement; the renounced one.

(P. 147) In Hinduism, the renounced ones (people in old old age) “are wandering hermits, living without shelter or possessions.” They eat when people give them food.

(P.148) Play is divine.

(P. 154) Kiss the joy as it flies…. Don’t try to hold onto mystical experiences.

(P. 158) People are unwilling to downgrade their living accommodations and general lifestyle in order to live on less money. Note: ~~I love my lifestyle which is all about downward mobility and simple living!

(P. 155) Thomas Merton: Take more time; cover less ground.

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Someday I will live in a state of constant joy, and that will mean I am always with and always aware of being with and (literally and figuratively) connected to My Beloved.

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April 25: full moon

Yesterday I got new (thrift shop) clothes; washed and dried my two sleeping bags, backpack, and a few clothes; went over to the gym and used lice shampoo on my hair and body. I felt much better afterward, and I could sleep last night. Having body bugs makes me nervous and of course itchy.

I still think I have baby ticks (from a “tick ball” of tick larvae that I must have bumped into) on me. I can feel them crawling around on me at night. I also had one BIG tick the day before yesterday; he hadn’t yet become attached, and I just flicked him off.

After being in the same spot for three weeks, camp life is becoming routine. The local wildlife are getting a bit more relaxed around me (not much), although I know I cramp their style. The ants alone have been seriously disturbed by my presence.

Last night some animal let out a loud “Hissing” (but with mouth open [what’s that sound called?]) sound right outside my tent. Yesterday afternoon was overcast and a little rainy; I had the tent fly mostly closed. I don’t know what it was, but I think I surprised and scared it. I think that scary sound was a warning. I just stayed very quiet; it went away, whatever it was.

As Jake MacDonald says in his book, In Bear Country: Adventures among North America’s Largest Predators (2009), most people think that a wild animal is waiting behind every bush to attack and kill them. I know I used to think that. It’s not at all true, but predators exist, and we have to be careful out there.

I am doing the “renouncement” part of life: old age. I really have renounced a lot. Or perhaps I’ve just renounced a few things: house, possessions, car, etc. I’ve held onto a lot of mental and emotional things. I am more ready everyday for serious spiritual questioning and contemplative meditation. I am much more at peace suddenly. Half my hair has fallen out (or so it seems), and it’s thinner. I used to have very thick, coarse hair. My libido (off-and-on-again for my whole life) is really subsiding, and my passions are much more under my control. I like this stage of life.

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People put down Beatrice Potter for her whimsical, anthropomorphized animals. But when I’m in the woods for long periods of time, I communicate with nature/Earth/the trees and animals and birds, etc. ALL THE TIME. Under these conditions, I do tend to think of them as “like me” or “one of my crowd” and not “Others.” They are my intimates and “friends” of some sort.

Dr. Seema Raheel, from Greece (worked in Haiti and Afghanistan), says women in other countries wipe the grease/oil from cooked rice (and other foods) on their bodies.

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April 26

Just two weeks until I leave on the next trip. Long Beach, Seattle, Vancouver, Victoria, back to Vancouver, bus up to Fort Nelson, buses on to Whitehorse and Dawson City, then into Alaska: Tok and Fairbanks. Down to Denali and then to Anchorage.

Camping is going well. Sleeping well. Losing fear. Weather good. Appreciating what Ojai (town) has to offer: mostly great food.

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In the book In Bear Country, Jake MacDonald extols the beauties and pleasures of slow travel, (i.e., travel by train [or bus] rather than by air). Here’s part of his chapter “Land of the Snow Walker” on polar bears, about getting up to Churchill, Manitoba (Canada) to see the polar bears:

“…air travel has become a form of fax transmission for humans. You feed your body into the machine and pop out at the other end. It might be cheaper and easier, but it’s Faust’s bargain. Travelling north by train is slow, but it’s the only way to absorb the enormous swath of wilderness between the southern prairies and the northern coastal barrens where the polar bears live. When you ride the train, overturning the efficiencies of air travel by more or less doing nothing for two days–reading a novel, going for lunch, having a nap, reading some more, sitting in the silence of your roomette, and looking out the window at the great forests rolling by, then, finally, around five in the afternoon, when the autumn light is fading and the woods are growing dark, adjourning to the bar car and having a beer with the trappers and miners and gabby eccentrics who are always in good supply on any backwoods train–you have a much better chance of experiencing those interesting moments that used to be called life. The highest praise you can give an air journey is to say that you didn’t have to talk to your seatmate and nothing happened. A train journey feels random and social and unpredictable, as travel is supposed to be”  (p. 189-190).

I love this. I really believe in trains and buses. They suit me. The people who ride them usually suit me. My journeys aren’t always stellar; sometimes the group on board doesn’t mesh. Sometimes though there’s magic on the bus and on the train. Amazing views; stops in the middle of the night (on the bus), when we all stumble into a little store, half-awake, cursing the freezing temperatures perhaps.

Sometimes the police or the border patrol will come on the bus and check everyone out. Are you a US citizen? Sometimes they will haul someone off the bus, usually someone who has little luggage and has been keeping a low profile during the journey.

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