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Chapter Nine 


 

  

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I learned that one of the "Rules of Engagement" was the purposeful avoidance of all forms of outright charity. For Doppel, being given something he felt he didn't deserve was an infringement upon the integrity of the project. 

"A completed exploit can never truly be regarded as ones own if any form of charity has been accepted. It ensures purity of the will." 

For the immediate situation he faced, it didn't mean he would walk the 15 miles into town. Rather it meant that he would have to be the primary cause for each needed step during the challenge of fixing the tire. He waved down the next passing vehicle and went to a gas station a few miles down the road, where the waters widened and there was a bridge. He refused the lift from me on the way back, preferring instead to get a double with the mechanic. Purist indeed.

It didn't take the mechanic long to change the tire, but it did cost Doppel more than was reasonable. He stoically took the punishment and paid the price.

Back on the road, we moved cautiously through the tunnels that were now dark. The instinct to find a place conducive to comfortable sleep was one that Doppel had exercised before. I'm sure it was one of man's oldest instincts. Like the previous night, the choice of where to spread out his sleeping bag was a decision that would contribute to his quality of being. An unfavorable choice could lead to many problems such as insect bites, encounters with people who can see you from the road or possible arrest by the Toroko Gorge National Park ranger. Survival would have selected those men with a well developed sense of safety and prudence with regard to this natural instinct, so when Doppel reached an opening beside the river where rocks and sand spread out from the river to trees that formed protection from anyone looking from the road, I followed him on my motorcycle down a small path led to the sandy shore.

"Good choice," I said. "Secluded."

"Private enough from the road. Should be okay."

After eating and relaxing, I looked up at the full moon. Cold sand soothing my hands under my head, I relived how different branches of skills intermingled at the demand of the terrain that resulted in no remorse.

"Good day riding. Be thankful you didn't spill."

"True. I am thankful. There was a moment there when I was thinking of hopping off the bike. But without the helmet it could've been sloppy." He spread his sleeping bag on the sand by some rocks.

"So many turns. So many tunnels."

"Well if an earthquake hits then we should be pretty safe here." Lying there I reached a state of relaxation that took my gaze to the stars. There beside the sounds of the flowing water under the moon, another earthquake hit. It started and then stopped and then went on for ten seconds, but wasn't as strong as the one two days ago. I lay there shaking to the earth savoring yet another display of geological turbulence.

"It must have something to do with the apocalypse," he said unmoved by the earthquake.

"We may have wiped out if we were riding with that one," I said.

"Speak for yourself. I think we're among the most fortunate anywhere in Nature's kingdom here on earth right now."

"Yes, your instinct for location is sharp."

"That's our a priori apparatus we are taught by society to repress. The screams of awakened instincts all come from the same ancient cellar of being. Choosing location? That was merely the adventure instinct: the urge to find ever better qualia."

"While you're spouting on instinct, how may I ask is the best way to call forth an instinct?"

"Wasn't it something father always used to say to us when we were kids? The light that emanates from the magic of fires awakens the sleepy instinct. Looking at fire. That's the way to stir the cellar of instincts. Stare into a campfire." I was surprised he remembered the saying.

"You've become quite a philosopher," I said, enjoying the understatement.

"And as a philosopher with both life experience and strength of conviction, I have an inclination to buck authority, particularly with people who imposed their authority in such a way that disrupts my flow of equilibrium. The man of originality marches to the sound of his own trumpet, not because he wants to but because if he doesn't he'd be phony. A philosopher can't even fake being phony. And this is the reason why the philosopher will always fail under the yoke of another. It will always end in failure. He needs to be the king of his own domain and resist any force infringing his time and space kingdom."

"And as a philosopher, instead of being flexible, you're stubborn." He knew I was referring to the insistence on his own transportation to the gas station because of his flat tire.

"In certain situations arising from social convention, Viking-Poet philosophers occasionally find themselves forced into corners that create confrontations usually resulting in refusal to submit, questioning, misunderstanding and ultimately bad blood. The character of the philosopher is too penetrating to be assaulted by custom or convention."

"Heaven must be littered with countless one-colored and incomplete canvases, Canvases that lack any value. It reveals the sad truth that so many miss it, their canvas that is. It's a shame."

"It is actually. Death can be so untimely." Yes, it is.

"Like today in the tunnel."

"Life could have been snatched from me."

"Would you rather know your time of death? Or not. I mean if you had the choice."

"I bet you didn't know my twin brother that to free myself from the worry of death, I believe I have a Guardian Angel looking over my shoulder during acute danger. There have been lots of close calls with the Grim Reaper but I've survived each one in a manner that strongly suggests divine intervention. The split-second impulse to straighten my front wheel just within that microsecond so I could ride over those reflectors at that angle was a reflex from that Guardian Angel. I usually don't talk about it but you happened to be there today and saw it all."

"And how did you come into contact with your Guardian Angel?"

"It was an offering from the White-bearded Father in heaven and it was not meant to be flaunted in front of others. I promised all mention of my divine protector would be bad form. But wisdom has taught me the importance of passing down my knowledge of life to those willing to listen, so you know why my fear is small."

There was a splash in the river near the rocks beside where the river widened and trees grew. The water was cold.

"I'm glad you're still alive brother."

"Well, I'm happy to have another day to ride. This exploit is not over yet. Remember, for a Bookworm Viking, an exploit is an occasion to come closer to the cleavage between real life and the created worlds of the imagination."

"And for the Dreamer Viking, wasn't an exploit a time to live out his dreams and build on new dreams from the new stimuli?"

It must have been the feeling of being so warm and snug there beside the small rocks of the river and the smell of nature that caused me to despair. If wisdom had taught Doppel the importance of passing down his knowledge of life to those willing to listen to encourage the rebirth of the Viking-Poet, how much effort was required to enlighten those who had become dead already? But I also knew that one required the freedom to move ones self and gain employment in a new culture, gather the right books of wisdom and then distill them to the guiding principles needed for self-evolution. It required complete dedication to proper nurturing, the understanding of ones place in history and the acceptance of being alone in order to succeed.

I fell asleep under the full moon dreaming not of flat tires and punctured shock absorbers but of the smooth hum of the ride in the Grand Canyon of Taiwan.

  

 

Chapter Ten 

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When I awoke I saw the towering wall of rock stretching hundreds of feet to the sky, I knew I had made it to God's country. I sat up looking around at my home for the night, the morning air pungent and invigorating. The early light of the canyon when birds were busy looking for food and dew made the grass sluggish, I went to river where the rock face retreated on both sides and widened into a flat area. I worked the stiffness from my left knee and my clutch hand and looked down river speechless by its picture-postcard setting.

"To think of what we would have lost if we stayed in an apartment this weekend," said Doppel, who had walked over. It said something about his Carpe Diem philosophy, like the cold fact that we had traveled over 900km through mountains and tunneled-paths in the gorge just to be here. Made my surroundings even more special that it was.

"Yes, it would have been a loss."

"Opportunity cost and all that. Better for the canvas. And better for ones objectivity."

"How's that?"

"Objectivity is derived from a multiplication of subjective experiences. The more varied experience that is accumulated, the better one can be objective. The more objective, the better time utility."

"That's very Nietzschean of you," I said.

"In the context of Western thought, there is a massive oversight many academics have in factoring in the centrality of time in their philosophical arguments. The problem with rules with regard for time is seldom addressed, Henri Bergson being the exception. Think of the few students who studied philosophy, not to regurgitate for good marks, to learn it well and apply it to their lives. They made the time to learn. They became philosophers precisely because they recognized how time can be manhandled."

I had sat down on a rock and was now putting on a fresh pair of wool socks.

"I can see you have thought a lot about this."

"As far as I see it, it was Kant's fault. His a priori intuition of time and space had been overlooked ‘as a given,' which caused scholars to construct their theories on a foundation that did not move, that is, had zero consideration for the finite nature of time in every individual's life, particularly revealing when seen in terms of a young child, old man or man in his prime but afflicted somehow and crippled in some way from the gravity of time."

"The gravity of time, not the gravity of mass."

"Every thinking person can recognize that they don't exist in a vacuum of time immune from the demands of life. Truth is a function of time." Doppel sat across from me changing his socks and then I spotted a puppy coming out of the woods covered in burrs, ears back and wagging its tail. Helpless, abandoned and alone in the world, the puppy was struggling to survive in an environment where it could easily perish. We looked around for its master but found no one. That's when Doppel went up to it and began patting it. The thing was so excited that it couldn't remain still.

"It's a unity of flapping appendages," he said. Demonstrated its warmth to a kind hand. "Perhaps the All-Knowing One in the Sky has His hand in this chance meeting? It was sleeping by the river like us." Easy to see the combination of intelligence and curiosity in its green eyes lit by the morning sun.

"I can't take you home doggy," he said.

"Take him home! A thousand kilometers in your knapsack?"

"You worry too much. If it's meant to be then it's meant to be. And if so, then there's a way to take him home with us. Good doggy." Doppel's compassion found fertile ground to focus. He picked some of the burrs off his coat.

"He's a good doggy."

"See, the allocation of time in terms of stopping to check out an old fort or to save a dying puppy versus passing up the opportunity because it took away from the time it would take to complete the exploit is an important decision. To have the wisdom from life that can guide you to a decision that would weigh the loss of experience and knowledge by stopping to explore the fort or save the puppy, with the hour saved from not stopping. It is this decision-making ability that should be nurtured for the sake of a richer and fuller life to combat against regret from missed opportunities that we all must face when exiting life.

"Combat against missed opportunities." That's precisely it.

"It is where wisdom shows its worth."

"So then you'd like to save the puppy?"

"Well, I don't think it's that easy. I want to go check out one part of the gorge we missed last night. It's only about a half hour up the road, but I want to see it in the daylight."

"So let's go there first."

He looked at the doggy by the edge of the forest. "I'm making a deal with the Great Teacher in the Sky that when we return from checking out that part of the gorge, I will consider it a sign from Him that I should save the puppy from hunger, fleas and death." Looking at the small animal from his motorcycle a few feet away, he said: "It's not the best looking doggy I have seen, but it does appear to have a lot of soul."

After warming up the engines wet left the little puppy there and moved back west up Toroko Gorge about 5km where there was a place to stop and watch the water take a corner between two tunnels and a bridge.

"Really is quite majestic. I'm glad we came. I don't know about you but whenever I ride through a place that's unusual or exotic I always think I'll be back again one day but I never do." Stood against the fence and was sprayed with splashing clay water.

"Nietzsche believed that man lives only one life - the only life he has - and that when he dies he doesn't go to heaven or hell, but lives his already-lived life over and over for eternity," I said.

"Yes, the theory about the Eternal Recurrence."

"What do you think about that?"

"The afterlife is a tricky one."

"What's brilliant about eternal recurrence is that because you live your life over and over again forever, the importance of what you choose to do in this life has much more significance than if you believe in an afterlife where you can live again. We will relive this moment here in the gorge."

"It's good time-utility. Time commands respect for what it can do for you. To treat time profitably is to enhance its value. Derive gain through the beneficial application of time and you have spent well."

When I put my hand through my hair I found it soaking wet from the spray. A drop of water fell dripped off the tip of my nose. Doppel was right: this was a good brushstroke on the canvas. Red swirls in the rock face like cherry cheesecake ice cream.

"The symbolism of a new front tire has not been lost to me," he said wiping his beard. "I interpret this as a new chapter in the life stages of development." Taking a bandana out from his bag He wrapped it around his head. It was also his language to say it was time to move.

Following in the tradition of Plato's notion of justice of the soul, Doppel stoically adhered to all deals he made with the Creator. Therefore, when we again passed by the riverside place where we had slept under the moon, he turned down the small path towards the river to see if the puppy was still there. I could tell from his body English that he was doubtful he would be there.

"The dog could have gone anywhere," he said, making a move to leave. But he caught sight of the little puppy emerging from a shaded area under some trees.

"Good doggy."" I knew from the wagging tail and the pulled-back ears that Doppel would be its savior. It was what God wanted him to have as if booty from the farthest point we had traveled. In Doppel's world, the dog offering fit squarely into the spirit of fair play between him and the White-bearded Gentleman in the Skies Above.

But by keeping his word he made with Him, Doppel now faced the puzzle as to how he was going to transport the puppy nearly a thousand kilometers along the coast across the mountains on Route 106 to his place just outside Taipei. After considering the feasibility of carrying it in his knapsack or balanced on his gas tank, he calculated that the best place was balanced on his gas tank.

  
  
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Taking the fluufy out of the flow,
 
Adele's unmatched voice is up,
 
 "Rolling in the Deep"
 
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