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Archive for January 1st, 2009

Newness

Eliezer has an unusual suggestion on how to spend New Year’s Day.

Sometime in the next week – January 1st if you have that available, or maybe January 3rd or 4th if the weekend is more convenient – I suggest you hold a New Day, where you don’t do anything old.

Don’t read any book you’ve read before.  Don’t read any author you’ve read before.  Don’t visit any website you’ve visited before.  Don’t play any game you’ve played before.  Don’t listen to familiar music that you already know you’ll like.  If you go on a walk, walk along a new path even if you have to drive to a different part of the city for your walk.  Don’t go to any restaurant you’ve been to before, order a dish that you haven’t had before.  Talk to new people (even if you have to find them in an IRC channel) about something you don’t spend much time discussing.

And most of all, if you become aware of yourself musing on any thought you’ve thunk before, then muse on something else.  Rehearse no old grievances, replay no old fantasies.

If it works, you could make it a holiday tradition, and do it every New Year.

I think it is a beautiful idea.

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I am an avid hiker and have visited plenty of National Parks in the USA and India. I have been mesmerized by the grandeur of Zion, the majesty of Grand Canyon, the sublimeness of the Himalayas, the spectacular beauty of the high Sierras and the rugged harshness of Joshua Tree. Yet in terms of sheer variety, scale and that undefinable ‘wow’ factor, Death Valley is in a class of its own.

For where else can you find expansive unending desert plains, vast salt flats hundreds of feet below sea level, Saharan sand dunes, deep walled multi-colored canyons and snow-capped mountains all an hour’s drive from each other?

We were a group of eight and notwithstanding some minor issues, gelled together well and had an amazing time. Over the last five days, we rolled down sand dunes, hiked up canyons, scrambled up rock faces, camped one night deep inside the wilderness, walked upon the lowest place in the Western hemisphere and braved deep snow and chilly conditions to climb a 9000 feet high mountain. It was a wonderful trip and I will cherish the memories.

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