"Siberia 2007" story # 8

St. Florent, France           March 27, 2007

Not a whole lot of interesting stuff happens when you´re living by yourself in a tent, far from town.
     I attempted a day of silence on a Wednesday. But, I didn´t see anyone the whole day, unless you count fish, but even they were underwater, by some sandy-brown boulders, so all I could´ve said to them was, "Gurgle-upple-blurgh!" So, it wasn´t a very difficult attempt.
     My diet consisted of luscious, small Corsican oranges; long baguettes from the bakery; white, Corsican cheese that melts in your mouth, that comes in daily-fresh one-pound buckets; and slices of salami. Even in a touristy town, bakers always greeted, "Bonne journée." (Have a nice day.) The friendly butchers made jokes:
     "Je voudrais avoir trois-cents grams de cette-viande lá." (I would like three-hundred grams (which was already rather a lot) of that salami.)
     "D´accord. Alors, trois-cents planches." (OK. Then, three-hundred SLICES.) The clever-smiling, young butcher pretended not to hear me correctly.
     "Eh, c´est les vacances," his co-butcher continued the joke. (Hey! he´s on vacation.)
     One day, I did splurge and bought a pastry from the patisserie. Rich, friendly truffle chocolate filled the whole of a giant arch, its perimeter formed by hardened chocolate, its base made out of praline, and little chocolate flowers adorned the top. It was the best $47 I´ve ever spent. No; it was two Euro´s twenty; but $47 would´ve almost been a bargain.
     In truth, the all-unpackaged-foods diet was costing me more money than I was used to. My wallet was happy when Friday´s day of fasting came.
     I´d met two people in Michigan who´d recently done fasts. The silly blond girl had lasted seven days; the guy had only wanted to do it for a day or two. Both of their fasts had allowed them only three foods: lemons, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper. I didn´t really understand any of this, but, I thought, why not try it?

"It was always a good thing to join with others in any matter of self-denial." - Mahatma Gandhi

Gandhi was kind of crazy, huh?
     Lemons were the only one of the three foods I could buy in St. Florent. I made a tart, tasty lemonade out of my water. As the day of fasting neared, I began to anticipate it with misery.
     But, once the day was begun, I comfortably relinquished the desire for food. The desire to do other things also mostly vanished. Perfect! I read on the rocks in the sun near my hillside tent most of the day. Later, I waded down the hill, constructed a fishing pole out of bamboo and ponytail holders and fishing string from the fishing store, stood on a rock in the bay, and fished. A sixteen-inch, plump periwinkle fish might´ve been catchable, if I would´ve used for bait the scarlet, glowing-red-eyed heads of the little fish that liked my store-bought worms.
     No speaking. No eating. You´d think I would´ve slipped into dhyana bliss immediately that evening. But, no. I still desired.
     As I walked to town the next morning, "Man, I like food! I thought.
     I had one more good samadhi on Corsica, the Saturday evening one, during which my mind was occupied by the forms of plants and cacti and mountains and my tent and the bay.
     Most of my meditations weren´t that good. Either I was tired, or else I was thinking longingly about being somewhere where there was more than fish to talk to. A hermit´s life isn´t as great as the movies make it out to be. Some desires, perhaps, it´s best to feed.
     So, I decided I´d go to a community somewhere (ideally a non-touristy one) and be with people. Once I was there, with my free time and in a quiet place, the meditating would probably be good.

- peace,
Modern O.

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