Way back in the summer of ‘81, I paused with friends on top of the Continental Divide in Colorado, took my clothes off and ran down the bleak mountainside into the Indian Peaks wilderness. It was an overcast day with passing rain showers, not exactly an auspicious beginning for a bare-all vision quest. I think my most memorable moment was hiding under a huge log, waiting for a squall to pass, just like an eons-ago “naked ape” ancestor would have done. Amazingly, the spirit of adventure and the kindness of many strangers kept me safe and sound throughout these challenging two weeks when I placed myself at the mercy of the Powers That Be. I ended the quest on a New Mexico mountain, coming to understand in a very concrete way that all beings on this planet, including the mineral ones, are one. And I caught a glimpse of myself as a walker between two worlds.

Profound insights, but what of the next day, and the next? I had only the vaguest sense of wanting to live differently. Predictably enough, this first attempt of mine to ditch Babylon ended in failure. Civilization had me hooked, and slowly reeled me back in – to finish school, to marry, and to try to fit in once more.

My next chance for an escape came more than 20 years later. I sold my house, bundled the cats and necessities into my car, and set out to find me an ecovillage, a community of kindred spirits. After much wandering and temporary detours, I did locate a small community seemingly well suited to my inclinations, and eager to have me and my feline friends. (I had no idea how difficult it is to find a community that likes cats!) But a few months away from moving, I was struck by a lethal disease, and struck hard. Instead of ensconced in a sweet rural cabin, I was swallowed by the medical whale. Hospitals, surgeries, chemos, tests, transfusions, more tests. The treatment failed me, and talk of a bone marrow transplant faded. Then came the day when the oncologist told me to go home and talk to the hospice. I figured I had been faithful to my dream. I could do no more. I failed again, but not for lack of all-out effort or heartfelt dedication. Grief-stricken, I began to tie up the loose ends of my life.

And then, I got angry and stubborn. I opened up to life’s flow and a friend’s care. I started to hike. I found a clinical trial. And very very slowly, I got better. I embarked on an unconventional healing path, and got better still. It was then that it occurred to me that perhaps I had enough time to write a book summing up my insights about the underlying mechanism upon which Babylon is built, and what it takes to make a leap out.

Here is the book, dear reader. And since I have quite changed my mind about imminent dying, you can write to me below. I would love to hear your feedback.

Vera Bradova, Colorado, 2009


34 Responses to “Introduction”

  1. Larry Says:

    Hi Vera,

    I stumbled across your “Leaving Babylon” site after reading your Dec 10 comment to an article by Hazel Henderson posted on CASSE’s “The Daly News.”

    I have read Chapters 1 and 2 and the three posts listed under “More Ways than One.” I am very impressed with all you’ve written. Your writing is a joy to read, and your thinking is clear, logical and passionate. I will certainly check back as you continue with your magnum opus.

    I am especially interested in how you will overcome Jensen’s “blind spot.” I agree with you: We should be able to find a way to “keep some of the good while chucking the bad.” I look forward to your thoughts on that.

    In the meantime, I wonder if you’re familiar with the “Ringing Cedars Series” of books written by Vladimir Megre about Anastasia and her Vedic “kin” in pre-Christian Siberia. These books also address a way forward without a virtual chemotherapy treatment of our entire society. Perhaps we can simply strengthen our communal immune system and preserve the good while weeding out the bad. Must we destroy everything a la Jensen?

    Again, thank you for the enjoyable and interesting read, and good luck with your endeavor.


    Related Link:
    Ringing Cedars Series

  2. Larry Says:

    Hi Vera,

    I am thoroughly enjoying your writings and your readers’ comments. You are asking aloud the same questions I have asked myself, and you seek solutions to problems I have also observed.

    I have visited a number of websites and blogs in recent months and have read many excellent ideas; in fact, so many it is overwhelming. There is no lack of great ideas; but these solutions – and the issues they address – lack cohesion and unity.

    I am left wondering: Is it possible to create a synthesis of the best ideas for leaving Babylon and growing / creating / entering something better… perhaps a new enlightened society based on trust and shared power, a modern day Shambhala, a place of peace, tranquility, and happiness?

    Can we build a website or blog whose goal is to generate an open-sourced, holistic, and ever-evolving solution to today’s most critical problems, a well-organized and user-friendly storehouse of the key issues, questions, answers and ideas?

    I am not trying to change what your “Leaving Babylon” blog is about; but I wonder if you can envision your blog evolving into something like that?

    Please consider this question both a vote of confidence and a complement. You have a exceptionally clear voice. Your thinking is extraordinary, both logical and passionate. I believe you are well suited to host this open-sourced and ever evolving synthesis of issues and solutions.

    My question is: Assuming there are many of us who would like to contribute, would you want to host such an endeavor?


  3. dwighttowers Says:

    Hey Vera,

    regardless of whether you take up Larry’s other points, I just want to say he is very right indeed when he writes

    “You have a exceptionally clear voice. Your thinking is extraordinary, both logical and passionate. I believe you are well suited to host this open-sourced and ever evolving synthesis of issues and solutions.”


  4. mike k Says:

    Vera — I strongly second Larry and Dwight’s praise for you and your work. I have a tendency to focus too much on criticism and analysis, in neglect of giving stokes and “well done”. You deserve more commendations…. I hope the recent gap in your posting is not due to health issues. I pray for your wellbeing.

  5. leavergirl Says:

    My dear friends, your kind and generous words are treasured, especially as I heal and consider my next steps. Hugs to you all!

    Larry says: I am left wondering: Is it possible to create a synthesis of the best ideas for leaving Babylon and growing / creating / entering something better… perhaps a new enlightened society based on trust and shared power, a modern day Shambhala, a place of peace, tranquility, and happiness?

    Well, that is the quest. A society based on trust and shared power, and how to get there. Not a modest aim, ey? 🙂

    Can we build a website or blog whose goal is to generate an open-sourced, holistic, and ever-evolving solution to today’s most critical problems, a well-organized and user-friendly storehouse of the key issues, questions, answers and ideas?

    What exactly do you have in mind, Larry? I am thinking through how I want to write into the new year, and all ideas are most appreciated.

  6. Larry Says:

    Hey Vera,

    Glad you’re back to writing. We’ve all missed your inspirations.

    Here’s what I have in mind:

    As we know, mankind is facing a variety of life-threatening problems. Imagine an easy-to-use “living handbook” that deals holistically with each critical problem; a handbook that is constantly updated as the problems and solutions evolve and are better understood. A handbook that is designed for individuals, communities, and nations to overcome these life-threatening challenges and, hopefully, prosper.

    Many people are dealing with various aspects of these problems, but few have synthesized and unified the best solutions holistically. Clearly, the few of us who meet on your blog cannot solve the world’s problems; but we can work together to unify the advancements made by others and create a cohesive handbook for dealing with the most critical issues holistically.

    To create this “living handbook” we’ll need a well-organized electronic repository that can be indexed, sorted and updated in real time.

    We’ll need to create a prioritized list of the most critical problems. Many of these lists already exist and include: rapid climate change, environmental degradation, overpopulation, economic disparity and collapse, peak everything / need for alternative energy source, global water crisis, species extinction, violence (weapons of mass destruction, armed conflict, terrorism).

    For each problem on the prioritized list, we can research and sort through the best solutions and ideas we come across and create a linked-knowledge base, including simple things we all can do as well as global solutions and ideas.

    Rather than ramble on, I think you have the idea. There are already people who have specialized in each of the areas. Can we piggyback on their work and create an open-sourced, holistic, ever evolving, well organized and user friendly storehouse of these problems, issues, questions, answers, solutions and ideas?

  7. leavergirl Says:

    Larry, that is a vast and wonderful project. I know that Lester Brown has attempted this, somewhat. Might there already be such a repository somewhere? Maybe the wiki format would work for it.

    We’ll need to create a prioritized list of the most critical problems. Many of these lists already exist and include: rapid climate change, environmental degradation, overpopulation, economic disparity and collapse, peak everything / need for alternative energy source, global water crisis, species extinction, violence (weapons of mass destruction, armed conflict, terrorism).

    My POV on this is that unless we solve the problem of power, all these other problems will remain unsolvable. Take food, as an example. There is much hue and cry about how we need more food, but the earth is already producing vast amounts of food, much of it wasted one way or another. The real problem (for those who go hungry) is the problem of access. Which means, a problem of power.

    Does that make sense? I am kinda considering the problem of power as the metaproblem that, if solved, will make possible solving the other challenges… or at least, give us all a decent chance.

    Perhaps you would consider doing a guest post here about your vision, and what you have seen as the best bits? Or give us more of your vision in the comments, to see if it ripens into something we can work with. What do you think?

  8. Larry Says:


    Thanks for inviting me to post on Leaving Babylon about my idea, which is still evolving. While I work on that, I’ll take a look at Lester Brown’s writings. I’m currently reading John Michael Greer’s “The Long Descent” and Herman Daly’s “For the Common Good,” both of which have expanded my vision.

    I agree that the problem of power – what I refer to as the oligarchy – is an overriding one. Another overriding problem is the energy from fossil fuels (EFFF) crisis. Back in 2007, I exchanged seventeen emails over a period of three months with Tom Bearden, Ph.D, author of “Energy from the Vacuum” (EFTV) and inventor of the Motionless Electromagnetic Generator (MEG). While John Michael Greer is absolutely certain that there are no solutions to the EFFF crisis, I am not convinced. I believe the work being done by Bearden and by Steven Greer’s Orion Project have the potential to transition us toward a sustainable future, albeit one with much lower energy consumption; but one not nearly as bleak as envisioned by John Michael Greer. The Orion Project’s white paper on Breakthrough Energy Technologies is a must read (see link below).

    Without looking at these variables holistically, each of us will be inclined to move in diametrically opposed directions. Although our intentions may be harmonious, our efforts may end up negating each other. I’d like to avoid that situation, if at all possible, and I believe we are capable of researching the predicament we find ourselves in and planning for a reasonably satisfying outcome.

    Certainly, action on our part will be necessarily. We cannot sit idly by. Neither time nor the forces at work are in our favor.


    Related Links:
    Tom Bearden’s website:

    Energy from the Vacuum:

    Motionless Electromagnetic Generator:

    The Orion Project:

    White Paper on Breakthrough Energy Technologies:

  9. leavergirl Says:

    Well, dunno. Stories like these are of old vintage. But when they move towards production, either they find it does not really work as they thought, or the invention vanishes like Einstein’s fridge did. Bought off.

    Since the folks on Orion Project know this, why are they out in full public view? Or are they putting all their data into a public repository so anyone can work on it?

    The one fairly easy way to produce domestic electricity is an MIT student project which aims to provide solar turbines for Africa made mostly from old car parts. Last I checked, they were still fiddling with it, but there was little doubt in my mind it was a sound design, and understandable and repairable within the village environment. However: not open source, and not available in the US.

  10. Larry Says:

    I believe The Orion Project explains their situation quite well in their white paper. I couldn’t tell from your response if you’ve read it.

    Since you mentioned Einstein, I thought I’d pose the question he believed most fundamental and the one he suggests each of us ask ourself:

    “Is the universe we live in friendly or hostile?”

    If there is a universal intelligence, I find it hard to believe that fossil fuels is the best energy source S/HE could come up with. If you believe the vacuum / plenum is active – as opposed to inert – why wouldn’t an intelligent species be capable of extracting energy from it, inexpensively, cleanly and without limit?

    Having had numerous conversations with Dr. Bearden, and having followed Dr. Greer’s work for awhile, I trust that they are onto something. That being said, I’ll still plan for the predicament John Michael Greer describes… but I’ll continue to do what I can to help Drs. Bearden and Greer succeed.

  11. mike k Says:

    Larry — I hope you have not contributed any funds to these free energy schemes. In my experience, these are without exception either flat out con jobs, or misguided beliefs by folks that are a little wacko. I first ran into a version of this trip about forty years ago, when a well off friend of mine was approached for funding one of these fantasies. Due to my warnings. He failed to bite, and the scam artists left the area soon after. It was not clear if they left with some folks’ money. Maybe you are familiar with “zero point energy” or cold fusion? Neither of these have produced any workable proof or financial benefit to anyone except those who spout unverifiable claims about them. Save yourself some disillusionment (and possibly cash) on this one….

    And yes I did read the material you cited. Stick with JMG on matters of basic physics.
    BTW your other idea of a Babylonian archive is intriguing.

  12. Larry Says:


    With due respect, Dr. Tom Bearden is no con man or wacko, and EFTV is not basic physics.

    I have not contributed any funds, nor has anyone ever asked me to.

    I appreciate that you read the white paper. If you’d really like to debate EFTV, perhaps you’ll read Bearden’s book on the topic.

  13. mike k Says:

    Larry — It is always a risk to offer unsolicited advice, especially to someone you don’t know too well. Hope you are not offended. It was offered in a friendly spirit. I don’t claim infallibility, so it is possible these far-out schemes may bear fruit some day. Just because I choose not to put my chips on these ideas, does not mean I claim any authority to tell others how to place their bets.

  14. leavergirl Says:

    Larry, as for the universe friendly or hostile, I think there are forces in it that are friendly to humans, and others that may be hostile. In any case, there are no guarantees that some infinite resource was put at our disposal. As far as we can tell, everything is finite. Except perhaps the universe itself but that is speculation. IMO. Or maybe you could suggest to JMG that he set up a repository of ideas his Green Wizards have identified as most promising? That IMO would be pretty cool!

    As for some outlandish etc sources of energy, why not? Electricity seemed pretty outlandish not so long ago. I am glad that you are following JM Greer’s advice and have gone for something that makes sense to you, provided nobody is ripping you off. (Too many such games, Mark Twain went broke feeding such a fantasy for years. I don’t think they were conmen, in his case, just overoptimistic.)

    It would be great if you make a public record somewhere of your own thoughts on this project, including your letters with the inventor, and what else you glean as you follow it. That way you would be doing a service to those who follow after you. Have you thought of doing that? It’s pretty simple nowadays to load up documents on the web…

  15. leavergirl Says:

    Also, forgot to ask you, Larry, about the Anastasia books. Are you in connection with these people? I looked around the web but the effort for a planned community in California’s Shasta area seems to have petered out, and all the blogs haven’t had any recent postings. I did see pictures from a community in Russia a while back. If you have more info I would love to hear it.

  16. Larry Says:

    Please accept my apologies for the length of this post.

    Mike, thanks for your reply. I certainly understood your original comment had no mal-intent and served to protect me from harm based on your past experience. Your concern is greatly appreciated.

    Vera, having read all of your Leaving Babylon posts, it’s clear how intelligent and well informed you are. I’d be surprised if I can add anything to your understanding of the world. That being said, many beliefs are simply beliefs, with little to back them up. Beliefs themselves are creative, as Bruce Lipton has so well illustrated in his seminal “The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter & Miracles.”

    I choose to believe that the basic force in the universe is love. Is that what I always experience? Of course not. But do I continue to believe in a loving creator? Yes, absolutely. Do I believe a loving creator who can create a physical universe such as ours could not – or would not – provide an energy source that was clean, affordable, and infinitely abundant? No way. I don’t believe life evolved only to degenerate into the kind of future depicted by John Michael Greer. That being said, I do wonder if humanity has reached the maturity level needed to access this energy ideal.

    One of the most interesting aspects of Bearden’s work is his reach back into the past. The “far-out scheme” of extracting energy from the vacuum was envisioned by James Clerk Maxwell, the father of electromagnetic theory, more than 100 years ago. Clerk’s precise, yet extraordinarily complex, formulas involving 20 quaternion-like equations in 20 unknowns was sharply curtailed by Heaviside and then symmetrized by Lorentz in 1882, thereby totally discarding all asymmetric energy-from-the-active-medium solutions.

    Bearden’s device uses asymmetry and dis-equlibrium with its environment, a solution perfectly allowed by Maxwell’s original theory, but intentionally discarded by Lorentz. Why did Lorentz discard asymmetry? I’ll leave that question unanswered, but Vera’s belief in the metaproblem of “power” may provide the answer.

    Bearden’s patented Motionless Electromagnetic Generator (MEG) is fully supported by Maxwell’s original theory. There’s nothing far-out about it, other than the fact that this aspect of Maxwell’s theory was hidden from view long ago. There are many inventions now being pursued that take advantage of asymmetry and dis-equilibrium. They are no more perpetual motion gimmicks than a sailboat with a permanently constant wind. Can you imagine asking a sailboat designer to manufacture a sailboat that only worked when the sail was in equilibrium to the wind? Why ask our electrical engineers to do something akin to that?

    Regarding the Anastasia (Ringing Cedar) books, I have not recently followed the eco-community formed near Mt. Shasta, CA. I know that they did purchase land and were very excited about it, but there were personality issues early on, so I wouldn’t be completely surprised if the community is no longer together. I’m not convinced that such communities need to be formed separate from where one lives now. Where I live (a city of just under 100k in a county just under 200k), a fairly well-established Transition organization has taken root. I believe John Michael Greer’s suggestions can easily be practiced where I live.

    My purpose in mentioning the Ringing Cedar books is their exceptional depiction of a mature – and in many ways ideal – community that existed among the Vedic people living in pre-Christian Siberia. Those descriptions paint a potentially useful picture of what we might attain. Studying the ways of these people might be helpful in creating an enlightened society based on trust and shared power.

    Again, sorry for the long post.

    My best to all,

    PS – Vera, since you know my email address, if you would email me directly I will forward a pdf of my conversation with Tom Bearden for you to read. If you believe it’s worthwhile, I’ll consider posting it online.

  17. mike k Says:

    Larry — Thanks for receiving my awkward attempt to be helpful in the gracious way that you have.

    I too know that the most basic source and constituent of our universe is Divine Love. However, there is a basic difficulty with this that has pursued me since childhood: theodicy. As you may know this is the branch of spiritual philosophy dealing with the “Dark Side of the Force”. Briefly, how can an All-Loving Divinity create a world with so much suffering and evil in it, or fail to intervene decisively to set things aright?

    I have arrived at some novel tentative answers to this fundamental problem, but am still seeking more inner experience to confirm or refute my hypotheses. I think that coming up with some satisfactory explanations of this question might help heal some of the growing secular dismissal of all things spiritual. If you, or other posters, have some ideas about this question, I would be most interested to hear them.

  18. Larry Says:


    When a friend offers advice in the spirit you have, it is easy to accept it graciously.

    Regarding the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people,” I’m afraid I cannot be of help. Certainly, it’s a fundamental question worth exploring – and I have read many explanations that make sense – but I have no inside knowledge to offer and lack the energy for a full debate.

    Hopefully others will respond and enlighten us.

    That being said, I am certainly open to continuing the discussion on breakthrough energy technologies, building a holistic knowledge base, and exploring the example of community provided by Vladimir Megre’s books on the Ringing Cedars.

  19. mike k Says:

    Thanks for your input Larry. You obviously have been thinking about about and
    learning a lot about the basic areas of the enquiry on this blog. I like your idea about an archive of basic approaches to our common problem of how to establish a different way of living together, that does not perpetuate the disaster unfolding around us. I would be glad to contribute my thoughts and experiences in starting small groups to initiate this kind of deep change among interested folks. Having a context and process for changing ourselves, is a necessary part of seeking to foster a better world for all. Community does not spring full grown out of idealistic daydreams, but requires commitment to a real world process for its development.

  20. leavergirl Says:

    Hey Larry, I will be in touch by email. As for Anastasia, I just got the first book, and find it… er, disappointing. Which book in the series has the description of the Vedic community?

    Btw, Megre got sued for plagiarism and had to admit in the court that Anastasia is fiction. This could be part of the reason why some of the communities petered out. But even a fiction writer can have useful things to say… and so I wonder where the community description is so I can take a look.

  21. leavergirl Says:

    Mike, I would love to see your essay on theodicy, one of my interests as well. My blog is really not the place for it, but if you decide to write it, maybe we can together find the best place to put it up for discussion?

    As for this blog, would you consider writing a guest post on circles (small groups), what they are, how to start one, how to feed them and make them flourish, etc etc? I been meaning to write one but you know so much more. I would love to see the gist of your extensive circle experience concentrated in one post here… what do you say?

  22. Larry Says:


    I received your email and have forwarded to you my written conversation with Tom Bearden.

    Regarding the Ringing Cedar books, I had not read until today about the case in which Megre sued Olga Stukova for plagiarism who then claimed that Megre plagiarized another author, Olga Guz. I understand Guz now claims she is the real Anastasia. Confusing?

    Anyway, I agree, the first book in the series is really horrible, so poorly written (and translated). Each successive books gets better. I’ll have to review them to determine which book(s) best describe the Vedic culture. Based on the titles, I suspect it’s the last three (The Energy of Life, The New Civilisation, and Rites of Love).

    While I was reading these books (several years ago), I recall thinking they could be fiction or non-fiction, but determined it did not matter. An author I read long ago wrote that every piece of information, the merit of which you honestly consider, brings you to your truth whether the information is true for you or not. Either you agree and find it to be true, or you disagree and learn more about your own truth.

    As I read through the Ringing Cedar books, I found they brought me closer to my own truth about a potential new society and provided many good ideas and examples of living together in harmony. Obviously millions of people worldwide agree. A coincidence? Sometimes fiction is as powerful as the real thing…

    I’ll get back to you after I review the Ringing Cedar books. Since there are nine of them, it might take a little while.

  23. mike k Says:

    leavergirl — Thanks for the invite. I will try to write something on circles (reminds me of Emerson’s essay titled Circles: “The first circle is the eye…”)

    An essay is a challenging test of one’s compressive ability. I’ll give it a shot. Yours are so well done, I’ll just use yours as a model.

    Theodicy, due to its profound spiritual and philosophic nature will be an even greater test. I guess it goes without saying that you can’t say everything in an essay. I have thought of writing a book around this fascinating problem, but nothing has come of it so far. Maybe your spark will light a fire under my lazy butt. It really pleases me that you take an interest in this question which is mostly swept under the rug by folks. It has been a powerful subtext in my life since early childhood. So many unanswered prayers and unexplained contradictions. I really think it is lurking there, undermining modern consciousness, unrecognized, unexamined.

  24. leavergirl Says:

    Mike, I am delighted! Btw, what of the suggestion on Orion (I am just getting caught up on) to start groups called Takers Anonymous? When I saw it, I thought… that’s it, that’s the right name…

    Re theodicy, a dear friend of mine recently sent me an article on “misotheism” (hatred of God). I think it’s a misnomer, but apart from that, the author was claiming that a lot of folks who are angry “god-haters” have been driven there by theodicies that failed them… people who went through a terrible tragedy and all they got was centuries of mealy mouthed God-whitewashers. You’d think people would be able to do better…

  25. mike k Says:

    Vera — Glad you are back at your post. As to the hatred of God number, been there done that. The crucial question is: who or what is your God? It is not like “God” is a known quantity that we all know exactly as it is. Its more like, would the Real God please stand up! How are we going to bring this character and/or entity into court for arraignment if we can’t find or even identify He/She/It? So that’s our first task: to find and identify the Suspect.
    Easy eh?

  26. mike k Says:

    Even dreams have a pupose, meaning, usefulness. To be unable to dream is to be locked in the madness of the waking state.

  27. mike k Says:

    I don’t remember “takers anonymous”. What was the context? Take what?

  28. leavergirl Says:

    It was early on, some guy went on a riff about AA and suggested Takers Anonymous. You know… takers and leavers from Quinn’s Ishmael… The perfect name for this civ’s addicts. Eh?

  29. mike k Says:

    How about Deep Change Anonymous? Has some intrigue in it. Maybe Deep Change Initiatives? Folks may be tired of or too misinformed about anonymous groups. OK for a policy, not so good for a title perhaps.

    Change ourselves, change our world. That’s what what it is about. Suggested titles anyone?

  30. leavergirl Says:

    Well, the AA groups have the name of the addiction first. Takerism being an addiction, perchance it fits.

    Of course, various initiative groups could fit the bill as well.

  31. Jánošík Says:

    Among the voices of cyberspace, you, leavergirl, are a breath of fresh air; with people like you on board OF COURSE we can leave Babylon! However, we’d better get our ass in gear, very soon.
    Interim, a question:
    Was your 1981 naked run down the mountain inspired by a story from Dolores Lachapelle’s Earth Wisdom? (I reason that living in Colorado, and given your tendencies, surely you knew of her Way of the Mountain Centre; it would be unlikely that you hadn’t read her books.) Whether or not — as perhaps of possible interest to some of your readers — will you allow the space here for that ‘outlandish’ story? The one which Dolores presented with a suggestion: If you are still feeling that there’s no hope — you can’t learn the ‘dance of the world’ — perhaps, you should listen to Alan Furst, when he asks:

    Have you ever wanted to keep on walking until something happened?

    His pay-check always ended with 71 cents and he deposited it without adding that to his balance, so several years of 71 cents probably added up to a tidy sum but there was nothing he wanted. After the child-support check, the rent, the light bill and the heat, he bought groceries and that was it. He had what he needed and he didn’t need much.

    Being that much alone, he felt himself an excellent candidate for suicide. But he feared pain and hated the idea of some medical extravaganza with himself as object. He saw himself floating free between life and death, with little to hope for either way. Though he knew others suffered from this disease, he felt no bond with them.

    He drove out into the country one Sunday afternoon, following roads as they provided him easy turnoffs, and worked his way finally onto a winding dirt track that climbed part of the way up a mountainside.The road ended suddenly in a thick wall of evergreens. He turned off the engine, and, leaving the key in the ignition, walked into the woods. In times when sameness especially affected him, he’d thought of walking into the sea. He pictured drowning as very violent, however, with choking and vomiting and possible last-minute regrets as the sky disappeared forever. Walking into the woods, on the other hand, was a quiet thing. Maybe he’d just keep walking and see what happened.

    Nothing did. He got tired. There was nothing much in the woods, just trees and underbrush. He sat against a tree and fell asleep. He knew about hypothermia, where the body’s heat simply floats off into the air, and he considered it as good a result of a night’s sleep as any other. He woke at sunrise in a drizzle, took off his tie and threw it into a bush and kept walking.

    Soon he got hungry. He’d never read a wilderness survival manual, but he’d read something in the newspaper about it. He recalled that you just cancelled all feelings of disgust and started to eat whatever you could chew and get down. That morning he ate berries, spitting out the really sour-tasting ones and swallowing those that tasted good. Some plants were poisonous, he knew, and some weren’t. He munched lots of leaves and, that afternoon, ate some maggots from under a log. Nothing went wrong. It took him a very long time to get filled up, eating this way, and his jaw muscles ached from endless chewing.

    He walked for three days, eating as he went. The second night it rained and drenched him. He thought he wouldn’t be able to sleep, but was so tired from walking that he slept anyhow. When he awoke he noticed that he smelled bad. After squatting by a bush, he’d leaf himself daintily but, without soap and hot water, he was getting very ripe.

    After the first week he didn’t notice it any more. He thought once or twice about his job, a few acquaintances, but he was busier than he’d ever been. Certain shrubs, certain logs, special configurations of leaves on plants attracted him, called out to him to eat. The food itself kept him moving and when the sun went down he’d curl up under whatever branches were about and sleep with exhaustion. Sometimes, to have water, he followed streams. But he never went dry for too long. Something in him found water when he was thirsty.

    After the first month, several things changed. His clothing was torn and rotted from him but, instead of making him cold at night, he seemed to do better without it. He came upon a place near the crest of a wooded ridge where he knew he’d been before, and so understood he was moving in wide circles within a large range. And once an airplane flew over and he dove in panic beneath a bush. Of that other world he wanted no part whatsoever.

    The pains began as the season started to shift. His shoulders ached, his underarms throbbed, and the backs of his legs tied themselves in knots. This aching was faintly remembered. Finally, he realized that he’d had similar pains in his early teens. He discovered that yawning and stretching helped, and he slept during the day sometimes, though that penalized him in food. The pain went on for several weeks and he suddenly realized what it was. Growing pains. He was growing.

    After a long time, several seasons having passed and come again, the pain stopped. His body was dark brown, the colour of a walnut. His body hair had grown thick and matted, covering bunchy muscles. His stride was enormous and without effort he trotted miles every day, eating what he found.

    That summer turned dry and he was thirsty. His hot throat drove him loping for miles to find trickles of water in stream beds. He circled first the perimeter of his range, which he knew bush by bush, and then worked outward down a mountainside. He found a broad dry creek and headed up it, thinking water might be found near the source. Suddenly a vile smell stopped him dead. His head swivelled in the direction of the wind. There were two men and two horses by the creek bed. One man saw him, yelled excitedly, and pointed a movie camera at him. He ran a few strides in panic, then, for an instant, looked back and faced the men. He heard the whirr of the camera, turned and ran off easily into the woods.

  32. leavergirl Says:

    Jánošíku, vítaj! Thank you for the story! I had not remembered it. Of course I knew Dolores and her writings, and in fact, my vision quest eventually led me to Silverton, CO where she lived then. She was not home, and her niece let me sleep in her house. Dolores came back in the morning and we shared a cup of tea. Unfortunately, she was absolutely no help as to how I should proceed on my quest. 😦

  33. Jan Steinman Says:

    “the invention vanishes like Einstein’s fridge did…”

    I hope you’ll be glad to know that “Einstein’s fridge” is alive and well, keeping campers’ food cold all over the world. The original patent has been renewed and elaborated over the years, and the Dometic company is the main producer of these refrigerators now.

    But conventional fridges with compressors are more efficient and cheaper to manufacture and operate — as long as we have a source of high-quality electricity to run them.

    Where so-called “absorption refrigerators” shine is their ability to utilize relatively low-grade heat to produce cold. Dometic has exploited this for the camper market, since such a fridge can be easily made to run on multiple power sources: 12 VDC, 120 VAC, and propane. You can make one run on a candle in a pinch, and I’ve been collecting them to power via biodiesel or even a modest solar heat collector.

    As an oblique reference, check out the movie “Mosquito Coast,” where the protagonist (played by Harrison Ford) is a sot of refrigeration “mad scientist” who gets himself killed in an altruistic quest to bring cheap absorption refrigeration to poor tropical villages.

  34. leavergirl Says:

    Awesome. Will look into it some more. Would be perfect refrigeration for the Amish living down in Belize, too.

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