Yesterday afternoon Teddy and I travelled to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. We camped along FSR 688, which is dotted with large dispersed campsites. The next morning we hiked along the South Rim (pictured above).
2/2/2018 — Groundhog Day (Journal entry)
I pitch our tiny tent alongside a giant Ponderosa, but Teddy stakes out a spot farther down the dirt double-track. I drag the tent to Teddy, who squats under another Ponderosa, HIS Ponderosa. We take a brisk walk at dusk, enjoying the last little bit of light and warmth.
In the evening Teddy burrows into my doubled sleeping bags, keeping me warm as the temperature drops below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Frost gathers on the tent, and the nearly-full moon lights up the sky. Every now and then I emerge from the sleeping bags for a sip of freezing IPA, a Tucson delicacy.
Lately I have been reading two new books a week. I cannot stop reading and thinking! Tonight I am reading Yuval Harari’s, “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind”. Coyotes howl in the distance, causing Teddy to stiffen beside me. I learn that Homo Sapiens likely exterminated a related species, the Neanderthals, after mating with a few of these caring homos (a situation canines seem to have avoided!). I pause on Harari’s reconstructed picture of a Neanderthal girl:
She looks so peaceful.
I do not romanticize our hunter-gatherer past, as some men do. Rather, the story of how we emerged as the triumphant species tells me something about what we might be in the future. Also, I am curious about what I, Sarah Jansen, might be. How do I live in a way that is more true to the story of an evolving, improving humanity?
To some extent, most of my adult life has been unusual: eating vegan, having few possessions, limiting my exposure to the mass media, studying and conversing deeply, eschewing dogma (both religious and scientific), and seeking out solitude and adventure in nature. It is the way of life that feels most natural to me. Meat, tons of stuff, an overstimulating and busy environment, casual relationships, superficial ideas and conversation, dogma of any kind, unvarying routine, constant company — these are my worst nightmares!
Tonight I am trying to imagine a somewhat different form of life — something that works for me but is still recognizably human, perhaps even recognizably American. I do not know what my life will look like, but I do know that time is the only valid currency in life.
“I have lived through much, and now I think I have found what is needed for happiness. A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people to whom it is easy to do good, and who are not accustomed to have it done to them; then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one’s neighbor – such is my idea of happiness. And then, on top of all that, you for a mate, and children, perhaps – what more can the heart of a human desire?”
— Leo Tolstoy, Family Happiness