Gilligan on the AT Revisited: 15-Sep-1993

Date September 15, 2008

This is a 5-month long series of blog posts that are the entries in my journals written on most evenings as I hiked the Appalachian Trail in 1993. The journal entry appears first — indented — and then any additional commentary from my 15-years-removed perspective follows.

9/15/93 – Wed.

I’ve got a lot to write tonight, so hopefully I’ll get everything down.

First of all, Buck is still with me. It was going to be just too costly for her to get to Monson, so she decided that it was not meant to be. She went to the grocery store with me and said she had called Joe and had an excellent conversation, so she was glad I had pressured her.

When I got back to the hostel, sadly, it was to find several police officers there. Just Jane’s dog, Max, had just been hit and killed by a passing car. I had first met the dog in Hanover, NH, and had played with him and petted him a lot while I had done laundry yesterday in Gorham. As I told Jane, I have yet to spend the night in a shelter with a dog, which is unfortunate, but I certainly enjoyed Max when I got to see him. I felt so bad for her, as I got the feeling she was really close to the dog. Some hikers dug a grave behind the hostel and made a wooden cross that said “Max,” which was rather touching.

Roadrunner also showed up that night — I hadn’t seen him since Connecticut.

Tomorrow we will cross our last state line and be in Maine!

Buck and I had a really good talk today about relationships and religion, which I will now try to summarize.

Here is what I/we came up with as a possible “religion.” A very basic premise is that whatever God/Force/Afterlife/etc. there is, it is behond the comprehension of the human mind — beyond words, beyond images, beyond human ideas. All legitimate religions are human attempts to describe the same indescribable thing.

Having said that, here is now our attempt to describe the indescribable. We settled on the term “force” rather than the term “God” as a label for the center of the spiritual scenario, as “God” is too much of a personification of something that is decidedly non-human. Now, we assum also that every person has something inside of them that is slightly beyond life — something that does not simply cease to exist with the stopping of the heart (more on this later). This “something” is most commonly referred to as the “soul.” The soul itself is a small force. It may be good, bad, happy, sad, or any combination o such attributes, depending on who (and how) the individual is. So, when a person dies, his/her soul goes back into the main force, taking with it not human consciousness, but human attributes. This force does affect the world in some subtle, unknowable way. But this force is not all good or all evil. It is whatever mixture the souls make it, thus being able to simultaneously play a role in war and famine as well as in the beauty of nature and the miracle of love.

All religions (pretty much) work towards the same end, of having people leave this world with as much good in their souls as possible, regardless of the premise under which that good is striven (?) for.

Two loose ends:

One, why must there be “something else?” There might not be, but there are so many unexplained things and so many “spiritual moments” (star-gazing, a majestic mountain range, love) that it is hard to attribute it all to genetic mutations and scientific realities. It is much easier to live a life that has a point than one that is simply ashes to ashes and dust to dust.

Two, how does this tie into relationships? Two people who go through life together have love in their souls. If they work through problems rather than giving up, then that love comes out stronger in the end. When human live does end, then, their souls contribute that ultimate good of love to the force.

All this came out in a two-hour conversation. I’ll see how it stands up to further thought!

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