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 sunlight and sun-warmth.
In the evening Teddy burrows into my doubled sleeping bags, warming me 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 read Yuval Harari’s, “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind”. Coyotes howl in the distance, and Teddy stiffens beside me. I learn that Homo Sapiens likely exterminated a related species, the Neanderthals, after mating with a few of these caring animals, a situation canines 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 could 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 a plant-based diet, having few possessions (and hating shopping), limiting my exposure to the mass media, studying and conversing deeply, eschewing dogma, and seeking out solitude and adventure in nature, despite the dangers. 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 or 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. I do not know what my life will look like, but I do know that time is the only valid currency in life. I must be careful with how I spend it.
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