With only six days left until we set off on our thru-hike Bailey and I each have a list of things we need to accomplish before we leave. While our mental checklists have some of the same things we do differ in some aspects.
Bailey is still completing some assignments for his classwork. A lengthy written project dominates his days. I’m making a cake holder thingy for Michelle out of some logs. She plans on using it for a baby shower. There is also the mundane stuff. Laundry, cleaning, and the every day minutia.
The strangest thing we are doing has to do with packing and unpacking. Consider it practice for the journey. Where will I carry the tent in my pack? What about socks? How will I wash and then dry them while hiking? How can we compress enough food for a 13 year old boy into a 20 liter dry sack? Where do we put essential items on our pack (the every single day, and every few hours stuff)? Why doesn’t he like dried figs but likes Fig Newtons?
We will wash, dry, and fold all of the clothes we will take, and wear, tomorrow. What is carried will be packed into stuff sacks. Socks, which never seem to be matched in this life we live in “Babylon”, will be paired up with the correct match. Three pairs for every day use, one pair to wear while sleeping.
We will take out a box of Ziplock freezer bags and remove food from bulky packaging, only to put it into the freezer bags which are reusable and more durable.
This adventure involves more unpacking at the front end than I thought. I guess getting your life in order is like that. Whispers through the grapevine intimated this was not worth it, and is just a childish folly. While I disregarded it, it still reminds me that some people are totally sold on something that is not real.
My wife is not only supportive of this trek, but insistent that we complete it. On Appalachian Trials the head guru, Zach, gives out advice on completing your thru-hike. A spouse that demands you never quit until you reach the northern terminus is not one of the nuggets he has thrown out there yet.
“We’re going to make this happen, by God,” she said.
When I hinted it might be foolish she said, “Don’t start being a wimp. You two are going to do this. I don’t care what anybody else thinks. They’re assholes and live in a different world.” She then went on to explain her reasoning.
Michelle is not a hippie. But she does think like one. She has a moral compass that points in a different direction than fractal economics, and insists on figuring out how to live “under the radar” of both the government and “Babylon”. Her dream is for us to ship Bailey off to college and then we can move into an RV to live like gypsies. It’s not a bad idea. If living in Babylon has taught us nothing else, planning for an exodus was not a lesson she missed. She doesn’t talk politics or economics anymore, because she has made up her mind.
They are all fools. By they she (and I) refer not only to others, but ourselves. Waking up before daylight with an alarm clock screaming in our faces, standing under stream of water and lathering our bodies with manufactured detergents. Eating quickly, leaving a big box, jumping into a smaller box and propelling it along an artificial path in order to walk into even bigger box. In the bigger box we go through the motions of what we believe to be work under the light of artificial sun, and eat food that is prepared in another box (and it might be contained in a box). When we have finished our day we step out for a brief moment into the world, and then hurry back to the box we live in using the smaller box along the same path. We eat at a table, under an artificial sun, and when finished put our dishes into a box which washes them. We then gather around a box to watch people who pretend to be somebody else until we decide to turn off the artificial sun and lay down on a box shaped platform. We do it all over again day after day. Why? To get fiat currency, shaped like a box. We use it to pay for the boxes we use. Who sold us this garbage? Why did we buy it?
My Mom sold her life of boxes and moved to Gulf Shores. She leaves her box and walks down to the edge of the Gulf of Mexico to watch the world. She lives in a small nature preserve. My sister and brother-in-law don’t do the box thing either. They pretty much set their own schedule and they are none the worse for wear. Of course they lived in an area for years where agriculture and self employment were the norm. It took us longer to catch on.
Before I became a police I had to take the civil service exams for the job. I was required to read the job description and sign off on it. One of the things I remember listed was “Working outdoors in various weather conditions”. That was a lie. Sure I had to step outside the box (precinct) and get into another box (patrol car). At times I had to stand outside on one of those artificial paths where other boxes moved along, in the rain, heat, or cold. Most of the time I just went along the artificial path to get to another box in order to find out what was going on inside them. What was going on inside those boxes?
Other people, frustrated at living lives that centered around boxes. Men and women depressed and angry about boxes. Currency, in the shape of boxes, led to arguments about what happens in a box. People would use box shaped currency to purchase substances to alleviate their depression about boxes.
Our lives are contained, and centered on, boxes. For five or six months I won’t miss that. I hope Bailey feels the same.