I’m not sure I’m actually here.
I left Portland two years ago, and in two weeks I’m leaving again. And that right there should tell you that I am in some weird in-between place that is very hard to describe. I left, but I’m still here? All I know is, whatever it used to mean to be here, in Portland, it no longer means that. I no longer feel like I’m really here.
Continue reading “Already Gone”
I won’t often bust out a Bible verse here, but Proverbs 12:15 is a good one: “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to counsel.”
There is a version of this in AA, which was literally founded when two alcoholics realized that only by working together could either stay sober. In fact, the entire program is about AAs working together to stay sober. The Big Book, written by some of those founders, says “Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics.”
Continue reading “Listen and Learn”
When emotional winds blow around, it’s important to stay calm, do our best, and check back for more instruction.
Years ago, when I worked on fishing boats in Alaska, it would occasionally fall to me to actually steer the boat. Our skipper thought it was a good idea for all of us to have the ability, but he and I also shared a six-hour shift, and occasionally even an old salty bastard like him needed an actual break.
On one such occasion, we were crossing the Gulf of Alaska, a leg of several six-hour shifts that consisted of aiming for a spot several hundred miles away. He had set up a GPS line that aimed right at it, so in one sense, my instruction was simple: Keep it on the line, as he put it.
Continue reading “Keep it on the Line”
When things get too crazy, stressful, or just plain tiring, it’s probably time to get back to the basics.
So many of my worldviews and beliefs flow from my time with the Grateful Dead, and here’s another one.
There’s a show called “Anthem to Beauty,” about the period of time when the Dead transformed from a completely tripped-out, acid-gobbling, experimental rock band that owed their record company money, was plagued with infighting and was basically losing its collective mind — around the time of their album “Anthem of the Sun” — to a time when they were recording two fantastic and successful albums filled with solid songs that became staples of their shows for the next 25 years: “Workingman’s Dead” and “American Beauty.”
I can’t find the exact clip on YouTube, but Mickey Hart, one of the drummers, basically said that their music, their lives, their whole scene was just getting too weird and was threatening to break itself apart, and they needed to get back to the basics of songwriting, crafting music, and as he said, “Tilling the Earth.”
Continue reading “On Tilling the Earth”
Plans aren’t everything, and they change all the time, but it still helps to know what the current one is.
The most extreme example I can recall of needing to remember the plan was when I jumped off a 200-foot-high bridge. I was bungee jumping, which of course I had decided to do, but a large part of my brain did not care about that as I stepped to the edge. It was screaming “No!” on every channel.
Continue reading “What’s the Plan?”
I don’t necessarily believe that the universe, or God, or gods, or The Way has a consciousness and some kind of plan, much less for me. It’s temping, though. I mean, which world do you want to live in? And is the world around us not defined, at least for us, by our thoughts?
All I know is that sometimes life throws at us something that sure seems like a sign. Or maybe a confirmation you’re on the right path. Or just something so damn nuts that you can only stare at it in disbelief and wonder what, if anything, it means.
Continue reading “A Sign of the Quitting Time?”
Unable to take another day at the desk, I say to hell with it, throw my pack in the car, and hit the road.
I have a trail in mind, and I don’t care that online reviews say the road is a bitch, or that the smoke is still hanging thick in the valleys, or that it’s supposed to be close to 90, or that some reviewers said “bugs,” or that I’m out of shape, or this or that or anything else. I’m going hiking.
The road starts out nice, gets a little rough, and then brings my Kia Soul to a complete stop. Not where I was hoping to start, and the hike just got a little longer, a little tougher, but it’s not like I’m going back. And it’s too late to go somewhere else. Besides, this was the plan. I didn’t sign up for a perfect day in the mountains, even if that’s what I was hoping for. I signed up for a day in the mountains. Because I couldn’t take another day out of them.
I start walking.
Continue reading “When the Smoke Clears”
There’s going to be a time when I don’t have to deal with all this — right?
It would be a comfort to think so, that at some point the schedule will be nice and simple, the days clean and the mind clear. Certainly it will happen in the new place? When the boxes are unpacked over there, a new life can emerge without all these current complications — right?
Continue reading “Dreams of Future Simplicity”
The mountain version of me forever waits up in the high country, or in the woods, or by a riverside, to remind “city me” why he should get out more.
We sit in beautiful, even sacred places, talking about life and peace and being centered in what’s really important. We laugh and tell stories and even sing. Mountain me is eternally patient, ever reminding city me that this, this right here, is why you fight through the inertia, the driving, the weather, the to-do list, the fatigue, and the depression, to get out here.
Continue reading “Meeting With Mountain Me”
The original plan was Ramona Falls. This time of year, that can be a challenge, with snow on the road, the trail, and an already tricky river crossing on logs. So I would need an early start, some luck, and perhaps a little bravery. I set the intention the night before, and since nobody else was going, it was all on me.
I woke up to wind thumping the windows and tossing the wind chimes. And coffee. And emails. And since I wasn’t meeting anybody or on any schedule, I decided to chill a while. I could leave by, oh, let’s say 9.
And somewhere in there I noticed a pattern of thought developing: that if I started too late and didn’t make it all the way to Ramona Falls, I will have failed.
Continue reading “A Walk in the Snowy Woods. Or Maybe a Life Lesson.”