It was especially wonderful to spend so much time with Robert and Julia. You can really see how much they love each other, and after so long together, how they've come to depend on each other. They consult each other for all their decisions. I love them both, and they treat me much better than I ever deserve.
We ended up hiking over 24 miles in 3 days, which is much more than I've walked in months and months. The bottoms of my feet were sore, and my muscles were achey, but it felt good to just lose myself in the sensation of being outdoors. 24 miles can also take you from a cool, fern-decked and canopy shaded hillside into a steep, open slope of golden grasses, and then into rolling hills covered with cattle, new-born calves, and cowpies. Our campsite was tucked by the roots of tall second-growth redwoods, which was unfortunately also patrolled by raccoons (we lost a good 1/3 bag of marshmallows to them)
It's always nice to be back home in my room, with Heidi and Pepper. I've realized over the past month that I derive a lot of energy from my interactions with people. I'm seeing now that even though I love having time to reflect and be with myself, I also need companionship. All the symptoms - irritability with Ben, sleeping for ridiculous lengths of time, the feeling of being walled off from the world, anxiousness and difficulty concentrating - stemmed from working by myself so much when I was in Durham. This weekend was the first time that I really felt the veil rising. Being around people constantly was wonderful. I'm glad I've learned this now, because it's taught me how to structure my life going forward. I'll need to find work buddies, and make sure I am interacting with my remote coworkers on a regular basis. I need to get out of the house/apartment, so that the day is not an exercise in endurance, but my opportunity to be delighted by the world.
When I was at Northwestern, Professor Gary Morson gave a Last Lecture. He was asked "If you had to give the last lecture of your life, what would you say?" In between working, I've been taking breaks to re-read my old journals. I wrote, in June 2003, that he told us: On our deathbed all that matters is the time spent with other people, the people we love. I also described, in detail, the feeling of sitting on a bench near the lakefill - the warmth of the bench under me, the bleach-white of the journal page in my eyes, the drone of a propellor plane, little and white, moving on an invisible string across the sky. I want to see the world that way again, every moment fresh.