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Here be dragons … so I’ll move over here instead

“Why I came here, I know not; where I shall go it is useless to inquire – in the midst of myriads of the living and the dead worlds, stars, systems, infinity, why should I be anxious about an atom?” -Lord Byron

Saint Augustine has been quoted as saying “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page”.

I want to be an avid reader, and there have been times that I have been. But these days I seem stuck on the same page. The book got a little darker than I wanted, and I put it down weeks ago. Until recently, I simply did not want to pick it up again. But as scary as the story might get at times, if we don’t keep reading … we will never know how it turns out. It is really silly to hide from a book that hasn’t even been fully written yet. I made the mistake of getting caught up in other people’s chapters, thinking that the pages I am writing are inextricably tied to  said chapters. My mistake.

One I often make.

But I found my courage again. Or maybe my inherent stubbornness has had enough of my hiding under the sheets. Either way I am back again for the nonce.  I will not whine about my journey stalling, or make big promises about where it is going, for neither is particularly productive at the moment. Nor would there be much truth to the words.

No journey ever truly stalls. Even if we seem to stay in place, it is only in a relative sense. We are a small speck on a tiny planet that is both revolving and rotating in a small galaxy that is also constantly moving; said galaxy part of a moving cluster of galaxies; all part of an inconceivably large universe that is also in constant motion, How can we say that our journey has stopped. Each moment we are in a different point in the space-time continuum, and we will (probably) never cross that point again.

When seen from this perspective, stagnation is purely a mindset.

Time for me to shake that mindset. Bold words. Let us see if I can turn said words into action now. My journey is far from over, unless I call it over. I do not know what is next. Perhaps I will continue the promised book, for even if never read there is power in the writing. Or maybe my wander lust will find another outlet that is beyond site for me right now. Wherever my path takes me, I will begin reading (and writing) again. The Book of Life; The Book of MY Life, is far from over yet.

Digging out of the snow

With the advancement of technology, the concept of exploring the world has vastly changed. Actually much about how humans interact with the world … and each other … has drastically changed since the pre-internet years. It is debatable (and a personal choice) how good or bad these changes are. I for one find them both exciting and terrifying. Exciting because we all can now directly experience much that was practically legend before, without ever having to get up from our chair. On the other hand, the terrifying part is that we don’t get up from our chair. And we believe digital “truth” too easily.

But, once again thanks to advances in technology, we have plenty of things to fear in this world, so I will conveniently ignore that part and focus on the positive. This whole journey, that started as a digital escape from a cave, became a plan for a couple of dreamers to take over the world (at least THEIR world), and ended up with a slew of unexpected tales that were not in any way expected … is far from over. However as some doors shut and others opened, a maze of choices became apparent. I have been so busy wandering this maze lately that I have neglected actually documenting the journey, which has not only increased my own confusion, but left a few interested parties hanging. In other, less long-winded words … time for an update!

Of the original idiots, THE Idiot is now an artist of note. He has shifted his talent as a writer into equally amazing talent as a painter, and the only thing that really stops his works from becoming invaluable masterpieces is that he is … in fact … still alive and painting. He has evolved from Notable Idiot to a man with a superpower. Shelbygrl has reemerged, doing her best to live a happy life despite the various roadblocks obstacles some trickster deities keep tossing in front of her. My newer hiking companions have all continued on with there lives, though Grey Wolf may be starting the trail fresh. And then there is me, myself, and I.

Ironically, I seem to know the less about where the three of US are going then my companions.

My physical journey with a destination turned into a mental journey with multiple destinations, and now it is a spiritual journey where not only is the destination unclear, but I am not even sure of the path I am ON. I now have THREE manuscripts in the work, NINE pseudo active blogs (and several more I have a hand in), two of them theoretically to earn money, one to consolidate, one to save the world, and the rest to entertain or at least generate a thought or three. I am physically sort of stranded in Ohio at the moment, which was not on ANY path that I envisioned taking.

Despite the multiple projects, lack of direction, occasional battles with dark lords, and horrible diet, I oddly feel I am right where I need to be.

This blog will get a bit of an overhall in the near future, as I have been doing with the others. I am working on pulling all the parts of me into a coherent whole. I don’t know what the final product (or products) will be, but if anyone is still curious … stay tuned!

The beginning of the pulling together ...

The beginning of the pulling together …

Walk a mile in my shoes … or better yet in my mind

It is odd how a journey that was supposed to be of the feet has recently entered the realm of the metaphysical. This is part of the reason I have not shared much recently. My physical walk-about has temporarily stalled in Ohio (still not quite sure how I ended up here), but my mental … or rather spiritual walk-about has entered realms that I never even imagined before. This adventure has gone so far from my original image to something out of the realm of dreams … including nightmares.

If I didn’t believe it before, I sure do now. What we NEED and what we WANT are rarely the same thing. Maybe true understanding will come when they are.

I have learned so much in recent weeks, ironically much of it in the last few days. I expected to face physical and mental challenges on this adventure … what I did NOT expect is to come face to face with my deepest fears; to stare despair directly in the face. I recently posted this in the Social Media world:

Achieving the heights means looking deeply into the depths, and going the other way. A true test of character – how we deal with despair.

This particular lesson I learned in a very direct and painful way. I have had a VERY rough few days. Anyone who actually bothers to follow me online in any way may have noticed a trend in my recent status updates … this was all part of my new lesson. Without getting repetitive, I will just list a few things that I have most recently learned (or re-learned yet again). Maybe others will take something out of it … maybe no one will even see the list. Either way, putting it in words ensures the lessons, taking it from the realm of ephemeral to the solid state. Maybe I will actually benefit this time?

Life lesson time:

  • This is really a reminder that I seem to keep needing … EVERYTHING in life is based on choice. Love, hate, happy, sad, pain, pleasure … EVERYTHING. The image we see in the mirror is perceived ENTIRELY how we CHOOSE to. You don’t like it, change your perception.
  • Ultimately, the only person we can rely on to make our lives what we want is ourselves. Others will come along who will help or hinder, but only WE can make ourselves into the person we want to be. The moment we relinquish this power to another we have basically failed ourselves.
  • A sense of humor may be even more important than a sense of hope.
  • Life is ALWAYS precious. ALL life. Anyone who does not recognize this fact has seriously missed the point.
  • Barring some drastic cosmic event, tomorrow will always be another day. Which means that WHATEVER may have happened today will now be the past. Instead of living life as if today would be our last, maybe we should live it as if today is our first; as if we were just born. Maybe if we choose to experience life with the wonder of discovery instead of in a desperate effort to not miss anything, we would have fewer difficulties.
  • Happiness is not really my ultimate goal. ALL emotions have value. The key is to incorporate them all into the Ideal Me, to own them, not to let them own me. The simple truth is sometimes there really is nothing to be happy about. Pretending it does not make the “bad” things go away. But if we just remember that difficulties are ALWAYS temporary, and do our best to do what we NEED to do, happiness will return.

This list could go on and on. Like I said, I got slammed with a barrage of epiphanies recently. But I guess the rest of the lessons have to wait for the proverbial book. Which is one of the things I need to complete to finally make me the me I wanna be.

Stay tuned. Maybe I will start getting it right this time around.

Life and the Tao of Picnic

It’s eerie how I can write the most incredible and awe-inspiring post in my head in mere seconds, only to lose all ability to write when I try to convert it to text. This is one of those kind of posts. I have anticipate this post; maybe even dreaded it, for a long time. It was bound to happen. The question always has been… when? I guess when is now. Or part of when is now anyway.

About now, anyone who stumbled by here is wondering: when will this Idiot actually SAY something? What is this big reveal he is clumsily dancing around? Get on with it already! Stop stalling! OK. OK. I’ll just come right out and say … I have no clue what I am wanting to say.

It seems that I too have become a spectator for my life.

For those of you who have been following this adventure from the beginning, I am surprised as you to say we may all have been wrong about this journey’s destination. It started as a way for for two men who have been knocked askew by life to regain a sense of self and the world. Gradually a sense of purpose was added to that list. The character of the adventure has morphed before our eyes, but one theme held common … the ultimate physical destination is Katahdin. Wanna be thru-hiker -> walker -> painful hiker -> “thru-hiker” -> explorer of Appalachia -> explorer of realities -> ???

I am not sure I ever was just intending to do a long hike. I have gone walk about.

I have very long-windedly gotten to the point (I think). I am torn about the next step of my journey. This area I have stalled in is a gateway to the Land of What If? There are so many directions I can go right now that even my rather broad imagination can’t encompass all the possibilities. Ironically, the lands I can’t imagine are the ones I want to explore.

Forces are pulling me in many directions. Big deal. That is life. But right now these forces are pulling so strongly in opposite directions that I feel it in the center of my soul. The black hole pull of the unknown is countered by the chains of other’s expectations (the strongest chains no doubt my own PERCEPTION of other’s expectations), while the me that I want to be, the me that I think I am, and the me that IS fight for dominance.

This me ...

This me …

... or this me?

… or this me?

What’s next for me? I truly do not know. I am blind at a crossroad, and cannot even FEEL where to put my feet next. I have found more truth and honesty in the fringes of humanity than anywhere in that manufactured reality we call the mainstream. Every time I hear news of THAT world, it screams in pain. A pain I have no power to heal. “What is in it for me?” has replaced Right Action. Having for the sake of having has replaced compassion. And the “appearance” of right has replaced actual morality. That is the world I am trying to gain freedom from. Yet the only way to do this right now is to cut ties that should not be cut. Follow the heart? Follow the mind? Follow the soul? Or find the eye of the storm where all three meet?

What’s next for me?

Navigating without a map

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    Hungry Mother State Park

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    Hungry Mother State Park 36.883776, -81.526499 Hungry Mother State Park

“Why am I out here?”

Ultimately, every hiker will be asking themselves this question… most likely after a particularly bad or painful day. The funny thing is, at that moment in time they may not even know the answer to that question. We all start the trail with our reasons; our own justifications for attempting such a grand adventure. However, it seems to me that the justification we give ourselves to get started may be completely different from the “real” reason we are out here… often to our own surprise.

But that is how life really works.

This question has been bouncing around my mind like a pong ball of late, especially as any vision I had of the HOW of this journey has been completely replaced by that pesky bugger known to some as reality. In the last few weeks, I have found a new hiking partner, systematically gotten caught by every hiking town with any allure in a 300 mile radius, spent about 6 times my budget, found at least 3 places  that will be my future life and career, walked several hundred miles … most of it NOT on the trail, embraced my inner savage, helped my current hiking partner find her future porch rocking chair mate-for-life, had a nasty stomach flu, and dyed my hair and beard red, blue, and purple.

Yet I still am not clear what I expect to find.

This confusion, combined with a severe lack of cooperation from the Gods of Technology, is why I have not updated in a while … incidentally causing a few folk to wonder if I had been abducted by aliens or possibly eloped with a Sasquatch. Now, as I lie beneath a clear night sky in the oddly appropriately named Hungry Mother State Park (Virginia), I am in a position to share once again, even if I am not quite sure what I am actually sharing. My future vision, usually vague when it comes to myself, is now about as clear as wearing a blindfold in a sandstorm. The way I see it, these are the possible scenarios:

  1. I will eventually finish. Preferably before the grand celebration party that is no doubt being planned as I type. Or at least in the next decade.
  2. I will be kidnapped by aliens or elope with a lonely Sasquatch.
  3. I will start a hippie commune. Or go a little more upscale with a bed and breakfast/hostel. I will eventually become part of the mythology of the trail.
  4. I will actually complete a book.
  5. A combination of any of the above.
  6. None of the above.

Yep. All is clear now.

NOTE: One of the tech issues I have been fighting with tooth and nail has to do with photo transfer, so sadly youse guys are gonna have to wait for a new batch of masterpieces.