[personal profile] lhexa

I left for work at about 7:30 today. Because of various things happening (flat bike tire (after two flats yesterday), heavy workload, missed busses), I have just now arrived back home at about 8:30. I would do anything to sustain the state of insane cheerfulness I've been in for the last four hours or so. So I might as well make this the beginning of a weekend of callous self-manipulation...

I'm going to fast until noon on Sunday, whereupon I will eat a large pizza, whose future deliciousness is presently unimaginable to me. I'll ingest water, but nothing else. This will be more or less the longest I've gone without food -- and to think I'm supposed to be an ascetic! To make sure this an unforgettable experience, tomorrow night I'm going to walk to the top of that mountain I saw a week or so ago. Here's hoping for some genuine hallucinations, or at least dazed visions.

Here's the report, preceded by a picture of the mountain in daylight:


Early on the trip I saw some birds that were strange to me, though I'm sure they must be commonplace in others' experiences. They're bigger than ravens, but not raptors, with a white breast and black feathers elsewhere, and their wings shimmer green in the sunlight. They're some of the boldest birds I've seen yet, and they appear in numbers. Perhaps these are the 'magpies' I've heard about. In any case, my admiration for them made me properly receptive to the sight I was given upon emerging from a little creek path to the top of the cemetary: there was a double rainbow in the sky, uninterrupted; a bright arch below and a dimmer one above. It was astounding; and if I know my life, it'll be years before I ever see one like that again. What this indicated was that I was climbing in rainy weather, though as it happened I had only the thought of rain and some far-off glimpses of lightning to accompany me.

From the Avenues house I currently inhabit in SLC, I can walk a half-mile and find myself in Wasatch National Forest. A surprising thing about said forest was that it was constituted by grassy hills until the last third or so of my climb. The mountain (which, as I learned, is called "Little Black Mountain") is about five miles horizontally from my house, and some 3500 feet higher; the route I used was a zig-zagging ridge route that hit every hill between me and the mountain. Of course, that's far preferable to going down into one of the canyons and coming straight up out of it.

When I got to the top of my previous hill I had a nice startled moment when I saw just how far away the damn mountain was, and such moments tended to repeat themselves during the walk; every bend in the ridge revealed another mile so of hills which culminated in a point still away from the mountain, and the mountain itself had three or four false summits. The rainbows faded completely away about the time I reached the first hill, and my sunlight ran out when I was at the base of the mountain. However, I was wrong, very wrong, about not being able to the city from my mountain; I could see its entire expanse in one glance, in addition to a smaller town (called "Bountiful" I think) over the ridge to the northwest. The city kept things bright enough for me to see my way, and the smaller town started setting off fireworks after it came into view, whose booms I could barely hear, and whose last explosions occurred at the very moment I sat down on the rocky, but flat, mountaintop.

During my trip up I was in the midst of the fantasizing-about-food stage of fasting. This ceased around the base of the mountain; I had reached the stage of fasting during which I don't feel hungry at all. I've never gone without food long enough to know whether the day-long craving for food reappears at some point. On the last legs of the trip down I craved water to a moderate degree; I had been sweating a little (though mostly it was very cool), and my mouth was feeling very dusty from the dust I'd thrown up during those moments when I had judged sliding straight down the trail in a crouched position to be the fastest mode of travel.

I hereby judge fasting to be a good way to experience strange emotions, and an awful way to achieve clarity of thought. I spend most of it in a daze, anyway...

When I reached the top, I looked around for a little bit (aside from the lights of humanity there wasn't much to see that late), then curled up in a little hollow in the rocks, half sleeping; I stayed like that for thirty minutes or so. It was very strange. At that moment I couldn't imagine any bed more comfortable than these rocks, nor any sight more beautiful than this panorama of dark canyons, the city's night, dry grass, my own not-quite-shivering body, and far-off lightning. I felt that if a snake were to bite me right then, I would respond with a feeling of warm gratitude, set the creature aside, and start heading back down, to collapse on the way or not, thinking that nothing could be so marvelous as the fact that my life had just been placed in peril. That, then, reminded of one fantasy of death that I do have -- it is of walking, or more often riding my bicycle, through unknown roads until I finally collapse from exhaustion. I suppose I believe, somewhere deep within, that every hardship, up to and including impending death, is easier to bear while moving; place me miles from my destination in a hot city and no means of transportation beyond my own legs, and I'll forget every worry while I'm walking along.

Three or four hours of walking really is a small price to pay to be able to see the world beneath me; and though I can conceive of quicker ways to attain such a position and such an experience, I haven't been able to manage it. It is to be reminded of the magnitude of the world, while at the same time feeling confident of my own ability to handle anything within that world. I was amazed by the fact that any creature could thus pull itself to any highest point, and I was amazed that a difference of four thousand feet, with all the marvels it was showing me, was far from the highest I could reach. I now know that if I want to die of rapture, I ought to buy a plane. And then to come down -- that feels like having wandered in a big library for quite some time, seen many interesting books, and finally pulled one from the shelf to read. Descending is the fulfillment whereof the ascent, and the moments at height, are the promise.

The state of insane cheerfulness which I had been trying to figure out how to sustain lasted until about the time I got back to the paved roads -- from that point, the state of my feet and legs pretty much dominated my mind. Stretching them didn't help, I'm afraid, and so this domination continued through today's morning. I then ate my pizza, having forgotten that a large meal after fasting is a quick soporific; I woke up feeling rather disgusted with myself. Often I find myself marvelling that I can ever feel disgust at material things or the people around me when I myself am an entire world of sin and failure...

*sighs* ...And it looks like another long, tiring weak of exploring this world.

Date: 2003-08-02 10:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] raki.livejournal.com
About our conversation -- I don't know if I'll be online during the days as I have some things to get done. I guess we'll have to postpone it. I look forward to reading about your trip.

Date: 2003-08-03 08:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lhexa.livejournal.com
I looked at that page you gave me, but my newly discovered proletariat status precludes going... *sighs* I would probably feel like a hypocrite anyway.

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lhexa

January 2012

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