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Walking on

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. -Lao Tzu
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Once again it has been a long while since I have dared put my ongoing journey into the weak vessel that is written language. Photography is a better method of sharing for me, but sometimes it too does not relay what needs to be relayed. Anyhoo, as happens when time passes, much change has come into my life. Paths past have been left and/or revisited, while paths future still live in the nebulous land called Possibility. Companions have moved on with their own journeys, which for many now means a separation of ways … though our paths may cross again. Such is the wonder of the land that I once again am heading towards.

Though I did not complete the Appalachian Trail as a Through-Hiker, there is no doubt that it has changed not only my view of life, but how I live it. The experiences I had there and around it; the people who I met on it … the journey so far has helped shape who I am becoming and where my next steps will take me. The irony of this adventure is that much of the journey has me staying put in one place for indeterminate lengths of time. Right now I am back at what I guess I can call my home base, the “attic” of my mom’s house. While here I need to start repairing some of the inadvertent damage my exploration of parts unknown caused, nurturing the seeds that have been planted along the way, and regrouping for the next part of The Grand Adventure.

One of the potential seeds planted would have me joining a fellow explorer, known on the A.T. as EZ Rock, as he does a documentary in Colorado. This is a photographer’s dream, and I seem to more and more be calling myself a photographer. But there are a few stumbling blocks (as usual) that I need to … well … stumble through.

The biggest challenges are a lack of functional equipment, and the transport of my newest hiking partner, none other than the famous(?) Brown Dog. To that end, a new gofundme campaign has been started:

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More importantly, since four-legged companions seem to be discriminated against in the travel world, I need a method of getting myself and Brown Dog from eastern Massachusetts to somewhere in Colorado. Volunteers, suggestions, and/or donations would be most welcome!! Spread the word and maybe I’ll have a chance. And since I know that four-legged companions get way more attention than scruffy middle-aged men, here is a cute pic of Brown Dog:

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MA 02324 41.964741, -70.966568 My Training Camp

This time I took a left

It has now been over a year since I began this … you know, I am not quite sure what to call it anymore.

Hmmmm

It started off as an adventure. Gradually it morphed in walk-about. Then it shifted into a whole new realm … maybe the world of dreams. But as a I ramble about this, I am clarifying for myself. What I am doing is simply LIVING LIFE.

Finally.

That said, part of the lack of posting about life recently is being too busy living it, part of it is living said life in the woods far from any communications capabilities other than smoke signals. Fortunately, I am momentarily pretending to be civilized, so time for a bit of an update. Team Idiot finally escaped the dangerous jungles of suburban Cleveland, managing to make it all the way to the safety of the Spiritual Way Station known as Damascus, VA. Unfortunately, the spiritual world is both of light AND shadow. It seems this past winter shadow seeped in deep, and instead of the bright greeting we were hoping to find, we were instead met with the worst of the human spirit. Apparently free and happy spirits are not welcome to the spiteful spirits that actually try to dominate this otherwise beautiful haven.

But I digress. Back in part of the heart of Appalachia, the team intends to hang here until the Bacchanalian Fest known as Trail Days is over, then decide where to wander to next. Gonna find a place to sit down, do artsy stuff, sell said artsy stuff, hopefully rendering financial issues less of a P.I.T.A.  I will personally try to actually finish one or three of the ever growing number of projects I keep creating.

That was an awful lot of words to get to my ultimate point, that I have gone and started yet ANOTHER blog, kind of spin-off from this blog. Our newest member of Team Idiot is Brown Dog, who has left the city for the first time to explore the wonders of nature. It’s a work in project, but check out …

THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF BROWN DOG.

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What comes after the summit?

Hey guys! It has been far too long since I last updated the masses (all 6 of you) on the status of my journey. By now 4 or 5 of you have had a brief moment (no more than a passing thought) wondering if I have ended up in a ditch somewhere, then immediately went on with the more important things in life such as finishing cleaning the toilet. But I will type away, keeping my delusions that SOMEONE might be a bit curious.

Before I set foot on the Appalachian Trail, it was pretty clear that there would be a lot of climbing involved … clear to anyone who has ever seen a mountain. It was less clear to the middle-aged couch potato who still thought of himself as 18 how STRENUOUS and painful some of that climbing would be. But without fail, reaching the summit always carried a sense of achievement; frequently a sense of awe; and all too often a sense of severe pain and hunger. Yet we continued on, sometimes because we really had no choice if we wanted continued survival, but usually simply because that is what we do. But as I have no doubt mentioned many times before, my life is governed by irony. Little did I know that the pains and rewards of that first part of my current journey … a mere hiking a few hundred miles through varying terrain with a house on my back … PALED in comparison to what came next.

logo-546e4da8_site_iconWithout getting into TOO much detail (after all that is what my best-selling yet to be book is about), suffice to say that the emotional and spiritual part of this journey that has defined the last couple of months is to the hike like The Incredible Hulk is to the kid that always got stuffed into the locker. If you want a less S.A.T.-ish metaphor, or better yet clear speech, it was downright HARD! I reached the depths of despair … not even being able to envision continuing another moment … yet still continued. I found moments of pure nirvanic bliss, so content that if my life stopped at THAT moment, I would know the Question to the Ultimate Answer … yet still continued. I did manly battle with inner demons galore, with many a scar … yet still continued.

And here I am, at the proverbial peak … wondering what is next.

Now I can finally start this blog post. Since I spent so much time in prepping you, I’ll shorten things up a bit. What is next is to continue climbing. No more path to WALK on? Guess I am going to have to fly now. So my new life plan in one long-winded set of words: yet another website (which is also a business) up and running; one old website in the process of being revamped and also turned into a business; two more websites to be upgraded to join the team; all to fall under one shell that also will require a website; three books to finish writing; going to massage school to round off the plan; all this with no steady place to live and no active income yet.

I think I got it all.

Stay tuned folks, it is really starting to get interesting now!!

Where IS home anyway?

Though I seem to be staying put at the moment, I in a way< I am still travelling far … at least in a spiritual and mental sense. I was talking to a fellow nomad (one also trapped in the vortex), about where HOME is.

A “home” with a view?

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I have yet to find the answer to that question. I think it is a false assumption that home describes a precise place. It is becoming more and more apparent that home is really more of a state of mind. I have lived in many places, some quite comfortable, others barely a comfortable rock on soggy grass. I have occupied the same location for years at a time, or found myself relocating on a daily basis.

Yet I still don’t know where home is.

I have encountered home a few times … usually when I least expect it. But there is no specific defining characteristic that said to me: Yep, THIS is home. For many, home may be conjured into being by a specific location, but I guess for us wandering nomadic types, defining home is not so easy. The platitudes tell us home is where your heart is, but what if your heart keeps moving too?

I guess this is also part of my rebirth … defining home for myself. It has fully obvious to me that it will NOT be a specific location, but a part of myself that I will discover (or create?) that I will carry with me continuously. I am seeking my home.

I am kind of annoyed by the belief that I already have it with me. I am just too blinded by my own choices and over-active ego to SEE it yet. Anyway, if there are still folk out there who are interested in my oddly evolving adventures (even if they are a far cry from what they started as), sometime in the next few days I will be going with my partner in crime (or adventuring) to the wilds of Akron, Ohio. There she will ply her trade as a professional torture artist, while I turn a blind eye and ears to the evident agony and help book her clients, all to recoup some of the money we have been shovelling out in recent weeks. She calls it deep tissue massage, but I am still struggling with my conscience over this. hopefully I will have tales to tell of the flora and fauna of the area, and maybe even find a few notable sentences for the pending book. In the mean time, here are a few more pictures to distract y’all:

Learning to play a game with broken rules

One of the reasons I took on this journey in the first place was a fundamental disrespect for the society we live in. I find many of our societal priorities completely backwards. If anything, much of what the mainstream considers important actually makes me cringe. I have been told many times that I need to learn to compromise, but my definition of compromise means that all parties give a little. The definition of compromise in our “me” centered society has metamorphosed into “do as the more powerful party wants and learn to like it”. I simply can’t play by broken rules, no matter how much easier they would probably make aspects of my life.

It is an interesting linguistic fact that the concept of “give and take” is always expressed in that order, no matter the language. Give ALWAYS comes first. Since language is ultimately just a representation of the way we perceive reality, how is it that we tend to live in the exact opposite way. Much of the human world … especially the modern world … is driven by The Profit Motive, which is really “take and give”. Too many of us will not do ANYTHING without some sort of personal gain or recompense. We take first, and if we feel satisfied we might give in return.

Like I said, to me that is totally backwards. My personal philosophy is if someone needs something from me and  I have the resources and the skills needed, then I will give them what they need, expecting nothing in return. THis does not mean I won’t accept a reward if offered, but I neither expect or require it. In other words, I find it difficult to ask for money for something that I am willing to do for free. Admittedly this make my life very difficult at times in a “what’s in it for me?” world, but I am who I am, and frankly like that person.

A major draw of the hiking community is many understand that GIVE come first. People take care of each other, and often if one can’t “pay” for services, pay it forward comes into play. Barter is frequent. This kind of living makes a lot more sense to me, and makes for a much friendlier and happier community. Unfortunately, as much as I think this is the way the world SHOULD operate, it plain and simply doesn’t, which means I am usually scrabbling to survive (at least financially).

Basically, I need to make some money to survive in a world I don’t like. I no longer have the patience to work at a to me pointless job just to pay for bills that would not exist without the job. I have skills that I can use, but as I said, if I CAN do something for another I will … pay or no. And if I actually enjoy doing it, I might just do it for the sake of doing it. For instance, I have skill with writing and photography, and I guess I should be able to make some money with either or both. Yet it goes totally against my grain. Art, especially, is MEANT to be shared. So I dabble with selling my skills, never really getting anywhere because my heart is not in it.

Sometimes having a moral code is a pain in the butt!

In the meantime, while I try to figure out how to get paid for something that I love to give away, here is a crayon drawing from one of my trip pictures. It may not resolve any of my issues, but I think it looks pretty good and I enjoyed making it. Hopefully you will enjoy it as well. Feel free to reward me for it if you feel so inclined. KIDDING! Mostly.

Crayon mountains