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Journal: Cheating

Note: This Journal entry was written on October 5, 2001, as I walked on the Old Tokaido. Take a look at that day's Logbook for more.


Since I started this trip, I have had an obsession with the idea of cheating.

I promised my friends that I would walk the whole way. I vowed that I would. So anything less is cheating.

But reality is reality. There have been times--after I got lost, for example--when I didn't go back and retrace the route. I know I walked more than the required amount; and in my (rationalizing) mind, that's enough. Any Old Tokaido traveler of the past would have done the same: push on.

Well, now I'm looking down the barrel of a deadline. Although my ticket for Los Angeles is dated December 17th, there are things I have to do in Tokyo before I leave. And a friend reminded me last night that I made some promises that would require me to be there by December 1st.

What to do? Not finish, and come back next year, as I suggested in my journal for October 2nd? No. Finishing is essential.

There's only one solution: CHEAT.

How can you tell when a decision is a good one? It brings a sense of relief, of freedom. It makes more things possible. It opens your horizons.

That's how I feel about my decision to cheat.

Look: the distance between Temples 37 and 38 on Shikoku is almost 87 kilometers. That's four days of walking at my top speed. Between Temples 24 and 25 is almost 85 kilometers. There's a 70, a 58, a 55, a 47, a 45. Ten more are over 20 kilometers--more than a day. A little judicious cheating will make this whole thing a lot more doable.

There are several nansho, or notoriously difficult climbs, on the trip. Some mountain passes, too. I'll try not to cheat past those. It's the long, featureless distances that I need to skip over if I'm going to get back to Tokyo in a timely manner.

All 88 temples will be visited. A very full experience of the charmed island will be had. A holy pilgrimage will be completed. And I will be better for having done it.

And cheating makes it all possible.

A note to my supporters: Some of you have donated to this trip as a sort of "going away" present. Some have done to say "thanks" for my prayers. Some out of a sense of "obligation."

For whatever reason you donated, you may also have done so because I said I would walk 100% of the way.

If you are concerned or bothered by the fact that I have changed my plans (yet again), please write to me. We'll work something out.


Posted October 3, 2019

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