This post is seventh in a series by Edward W. Pritchard. To read more of his writings please visit: http://eddwardwpritchard.blogspot.com
It’s 2012 already part 7
edward w pritchard
Johnson City, Tennessee and my inner spiritual light is very low today.
Later, nine miles east of the town of Johnson City, and I am at a farm celebrating Dewali [deepavali] with a few dozen holy people. I am humbled by their goodness and sense of calm.
Hindu’s, Siks, and Jain’s celebrate this festival, Dewali, as a time of prayer. Clay pots are lighted and we celebrate the triumph of good over evil in the world. As we pray, we ask for prosperity in the coming year. These people accept as a given the existence of evil in the world. Many pilgrims here, like the ancient Stoic philosopher Chrysippus [ 280-207BC] before them, find it intellectually consistent that good and evil must co-exist; one is the inverse of the other. I am just coming to grips with this concept and it is helping me develop a more realistic outlook as I travel here in 2012, during the time of the Apocalypse. I knew many successful people in my old life who held to the philosophy of moral relativism. Whatever worked to help them achieve their ends is justified. Nietzsche called that beyond good and evil. I am struggling with that idea.
I have paid for the sweets and snacks for the entire group, that we now eat to celebrate the holiday Dewali, and I am popular and welcome today. My tired soul drinks in the passion in the air at this small rural farm. I have spent five days helping with the harvest. Even the federal troops, overseeing the harvest, seem benevolent. The crop we harvest is very valuable, one of the last harvests, I am afraid, for years to come, so I am glad to assist with getting it reaped and saved for future generations.
As I continue my walk East, the fireworks back at the farm can be heard a long way off. I also paid for those so the surviving children would have some fun today. Fireworks are popular with children during Dewali in India. In that country it is considered bad form to start Dewali in debt; so I have repudiated my debts here in America on my two remaining credit cards. I don’t think I will send my New York bankers a notice of my repudiation, but I have proclaimed it just the same. Try it, it’s very liberating.
I am going to join the Appalachian trail soon and head South, down into Georgia. The trail will be nice because it’s a long, green tunnel that will gently lead me closer to my goal of meditating and rejuvenating at the Sea Islands of Georgia, spending some time in the warm sunshine of the Atlantic coast. I understand that tens of million of birds have migrated to the Georgia Sea Islands on their way to South America this year. I try to stay away from birds anymore, but I guess I can share the Sea Islands with them if I get to my destination.
Amicalola Falls State Park, Georgia, at the beginning of the Appalachian trail, is still open, and the last ranger here says I can stay for free. They are closing in a few days and have given me new clothes and a room to stay in. This is a sacred place to the ancient Cherokee Indians and it feels holy to me now. I am rushing to stay ahead of the storms which are relentlessly moving South again.
Just north of Amicalola Falls, at Springer Mountain pass, I was attacked by wolves. They didn’t eat me because of the odor of death from the bad air in me. Still, it was terrifying to wake from a deep sleep to find five wolves looming over me. I need some civilization again. It has gotten bitterly cold over a 100 mile or so swatch ahead of the storms. At night it is below zero in the mountains. Very few humans are on the Appalachian trail. Maybe they are on the roads elsewhere, but I am afraid there are many more deaths.
Amicalola State Park marks the head of the Appalachian trail hike, and every year before now, hundreds of people departed North towards Maine from this point. Of course, most of those hikers didn’t make it to Maine. Many gave up a few miles from the start. That is proving a windfall for me. Only the last ranger and I are at the Park. He closes operations soon, for no money or supplies come to him for his payroll or necessities from far away Washington, DC. He says the federal government will no longer keep up frontier operations anymore, anywhere, in the entire Country. While there are no barbarians like during the ancient fall of Rome, this last outpost in America will be missed. It is the last remnant of civilization I have seen since Nashville.
The ranger is asking me my advice, for he faces an ethical quandary. Should he stay and do his duty as long as he can; or head out for Washington, DC and try to requisition funds and supplies for the future of his charge here? In the end I told the ranger it would be suicide for him to head North, so he is returning to his family. First, however, I get to stay in a the comfortable lodge for a few days and I pick and choose from all the fine LL Bean hiking boots, and warm jackets, and backpacks of supplies. Previous hikers dumped these items along the trail in the past because they couldn’t believe the weight of their possessions, and because they had badly miscalculated the difficulty in walking a long, long way. Those hikers from middle America, pilgrims on the Appalachian trail, had their satori at the beginning of their walk. They quickly realized that carrying too many things and too much weight is a burden to enlightenment. If they walked on after discarding the things they had brought with them, it was for exercise only – they already saw the light, so to speak.
Rested, now, I realize I made a major miscalculation. It’s not one in one thousand that have survived the wind storms, but one in ten thousand. That means there are now only one thousand survivors left from my home state of Ohio. Statistically then, West Virginia, where I often visit, should now have only sixty-four survivors left. That is staggering. Still, to cull the human survivors to 600 individuals, only one in ten million can survive. What does it mean? Am I just being delusional in my fears for the future? Why would any type of intelligently-designed plan need to have so many feeling, thinking humans die? What would be the purpose, if any?
People I meet on the trail are becoming more philosophical and much less inclined to materialistic theories. Still, the theory of survival of the fittest survives, although it’s difficult to see proof of it in action. One finds an ex-college linebacker dead from the bad air, and nearby, ten feet away, a baby crawls along, merrily thriving in the same air. Survival of the fittest always was framed in terms of there not being enough food. Now there is plenty of food, because no one has an appetite. It’s air and water that are scarce. People fight and kill each other on the trail over medicine or blankets, or reclaiming stolen purple glasses, but not food.
People cling to the idea that if they live, it’s because they are fit, worthy and special. Everyone has a bias toward free will. They think that human initiative and resiliency can overcome any obstacles. I just about gave up again because of the cold. Sleeping on the ground, literally using a rock for a pillow, wrapped in my torn Indian blanket, I am driven to arise by 4 AM to escape the cold. Often the storms start at sunrise, sometimes not. It’s prudent to be up very early. The worse thing I have experienced since I started from Ohio in this Apocalypse, is waking unexpectedly to choking from the incoming bad air storms. One’s face turns purple, pains shoot down the left arm, and it feels like someone is sitting on your chest. You can’t catch a breath and panic sets in. Sometimes you just decide to die. But, if you are a survivor, you wake up miraculously and stumble to your feet and begin to walk to get ahead of the storms, because the worse is yet to come. The air gets much thicker in the heart of the storm. In 2012, nobody survives being in the heart of the storms.
Is it free will to keep stumbling forward, or determinism? Who is destined to survive? Having survived waking to bad air five time already, I feel that I am living eternal recurrence of the same nightmarish hell, like the nightmare of eternal recurrence that drove Nietzsche insane.
While sleeping on the cold, hard ground, my head on a rock to relieve the tension on my neck, I felt a series of tremors. I fear earthquakes may soon begin. The mountains of Georgia seem alive, swaying and clutching. If I were God, earthquakes are what I would send next, to thin the stock of humans further. Eventually we survivors of the bad air will get used to the cold and wet conditions; our ancestors did it, so can we.
What does he have in store for us tomorrow?
Copyright © 2010 edward w pritchard