Monday, December 28, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Lately, I feel like the river of my life has been caught up on some rapids I wasn't expecting. I feel like I've been on a lazy, lax float trip on a calm river, just floating, kicking back, and enjoying the day, when suddenly, the clouds roll in, the wind picks up, and the river turns into this churning torrent, and I'm caught with my pants down.
Saturday night, the BattleWagon was broadsided by a car full of young and innocent people on their way out to a fun night on the town. While nobody was hurt (well, as it turns out, some guy in the back of their car banged his elbow up), it seemed to have been no harm, no foul. We all drove away, going on with our lives. I wish them no malice.
Earlier this week, I also discovered that I've been getting attacked by bed bugs. So tonight, I'm scrambling to clean my new apartment and bag up all my clothes and bedding to make way for the exterminator to come tomorrow and spray the whole place down. This weekend, wherever I wind up, I'll be sentenced to doing enough laundry to wash everything I own.
I admit, I'm freaking out a little bit. I didn't think it was too bad, but it's enough to push some people away, including some of my best friends. One, in particular, is going through enough on their own, and, in their own way, reaching out to my oblivious self.
I took a walk to collect my thoughts, calm down, and try to figure out where to go from here. I'm realizing that if I go with the river analogy, I should just shut up, focus, try not to flip the boat. This way, when I get done, I have an awesome story to tell.
Is it this easy? Only one way to find out...
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Last night I was out running around when a group of kids, 4 kids, from Colorado Springs, ran a red light and t-boned me. The picture shows the end result. The BattleWagon has an undecided fate. The insurance adjuster will be out tomorrow to give me the 411, and we'll see if the BW gets fixed, or if the time will come to lay her to rest and instill her spirit in a new BattleWagon. Sigh... I've held it together this long. We'll see how much longer I can keep my wits.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Colors are a fascinating thing. They have this sort of enhancing quality, like a visual adjective to whatever it is you're looking at. Like texture and shape, colors vary so endlessly. I just saw this picture, and I couldn't help but throw it up here. Thanks for reading.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
I lay here, stay warm and hiding from the frigid December air outside. The 17 degree briskness outside chills me to my core and amplifies the cough I have, the lingering effect of a fall cold.
I ponder many things in my rare moment of solace. I consider returning to life in the BattleWagon, an unfulfilled experiment cut short by a longing for passion and love. I dream of the freedom of the road, the drive and empowerment that comes with that freedom. I remember how strong I felt, how I felt pushed beyond my limits and realizing that those limits were illusions created by society and personal fear.
Looking around and getting a sense for the early winter darkness, I recall the times when I was growing up, home in the winter evenings. My sister and brother were off doing other things. My dad would be sleeping and my mom would be working. I would have leftover pizza from Pizza Hut, and I'd watch Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Every time a big truck would drive by, this little glass ornament would rattle on the window in the dining room. That is what evenings such as this remind me of.
With any luck, I will once again be in the BattleWagon, but hopefully, this time around, I will be travelling, exploring, and educating those who read my blog about new places and things in the world, geographically, spiritually, and politically. This world around us is not as small as some would think. There is far too much to see, to experience, to really live, and I would feel it a shame to spend so much time away from that life, as if we are denying ourselves access to a world larger than the one we've created for ourselves.
I'm hesitant to commit to a statement about how now is the time to take another big step forward, but I can feel adventure poking it's jovial sunrise over the horizon of my future, and as I wake from this slumber, I embrace this new dawn with an open soul. I am prepared to take it in as much as possible. Now is a good day to live.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
This morning I woke up to a surreality. I dreamed that I was on a truck with four young men, in the bed of the truck, horsing around like five young guys would do. We laughed and joked as the driver of the truck drove us along a dirt road that gently wound it's way through the foothills of a quasi-desert. If you've been up the Ute Trail near Salida, you know what I'm talking about. It's a desert with rocks everywhere, each potentially hiding a rattlesnake. The trees aren't too thick, but they are there, short and dry pinion trees. But anyway, back to the dream...
So were driving through this open space, and suddenly the truck starts, and we aren't in it anymore. The five of us are in a stadium of sorts, behind the stands, in the dark of the concession area. I look around, and the guys are now in military uniforms. We walk out to the balcony where the stands would be and look down. Beneath us, a street comes out of a tunnell, and the packed stadium is built around it. Everyone's cheering. From the tunnell are troops, marching in parade with tanks and even an F-18 fighter jet. Amazing.
Suddenly we're on ground level in the parade. I let my guard down, and feel honor and duty swell up in me, just in time for the parade to be suicide bombed. I saw some things in my dream that I dare not repeat on a public blog, but wow....
I woke up this morning motivated. To do what, I don't exactly know. I'm still hanging in this odd daze. I can't get over just how powerful our brains are to be able to create such a vivid world, so vivid that it can effect our emotions for hours or days or even years after we wake up.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
I was supposed to work today, a Sunday. Yesterday I went with a co-worker and spent 8 hours driving to Colorado Springs in the snow, installing window graphics on two banks, and driving back. Afterwards, I allowed myself to enjoy a Saturday and went to another co-worker's birthday celebration. I sang some comically offensive song, drank some delicious beer, and made a great night. I defended my friend and co-worker against those who would seek to hurt his feelings, and then I laughed and made everone else laugh.
Today I woke up exhausted, so I shot a text to my co-worker. Today is a snow day, I'm going to enjoy it. I took a brief ride in the beat up, battle-ridden BattleWagon (whose recovery from the infamous Battle of Trout Creek is still on-going). I went to the grocery store and got the fixings for a crock-pot of Red Chili, using hot italian sausage and ground buffalo instead of the more traditional ground beef. I spruced my apartment up, and I caught up on some liberally religious newsletters I've been neglecting.
It's amazing to me how much we neglect when we get so caught up in things. We work and do chores and go to sleep. We wake up, we do it all over again. Sometimes we squeeze in some time for reading or, accidentally, TV. We listen to the radio during our commutes, and we go on with our lives having just had a snippet of what may be going on in the larger world than our own.
Last night, I met some incredible people and had a wonderful time. It was excellent to be able to get out and do something that wasn't the normal ebb and flow of life. Today, I'm learning how important it is that we all do this regularly. It's difficult to do, I know, but it's necessary for our sanity to take time to appreciate or even accept that there are things, people, pets, news... there is stuff that we're missing. To gain knowledge is to truly grow a healthy thirst for more knowledge, and when we fail to come to terms with this, we become stagnant, not desiring to learn or do anything else, for that matter.
Don't be complacent or stagnant or bland with your life. Learn and grow and learn some more. It's much too short a trip here on this blue and green and white sphere to simply let it fly by us and vanish.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Lately I've been pretty introspective, looking inside myself for the things that make me tick. What it all seems to come back to is what and how I believe. Coincidentally, I've had several spiritually minded newsletters and conversations find their ways into my life, including an opportunity with a curious young lady who asked me what I believe. I told her it depends on the day. It got me thinking about things, and I had to ask myself more seriously what I really do believe.
I don't think we should confine ourselves to believing a religion. I wrote a blog a while ago about what I believed, using the word "belief" in a different context. My spiritual journey has taken me from my naturalist roots through brief stints in Evangelist Christianity, Buddhism, Agnosticism, Humanism, Jediism, Athiesm, and even a made-up religion my high school friend Donavan and I created called Schlingoism. Where it deposited me, roughly, is a place that I sort of conveniently call myself a Universalist, or more specifically, Unitarian-Universalist. However, I think the specific label is a mis-nomer, for the Unitarianism within that church is all but dead. Far gone are the days where most of the church claimed to be Christians who rejected the idea of the Trinity. It seems that now everyone would fit into the Universalist category.
Basically, this means we believe whatever we want. God is a term used loosely and interchangably with words like "will", "universe" and "spirit". We understand that there is something that ties everything together, and however we decide we want to view that web, that's up to us.
So that puts me in a place to answer the question of what I believe. The answer: I don't exactly know. It's always growing, always changing. I do believe that there's a source (call it God if you want) that is like a silent guide that helps us find our own way if we're willing to let it. I do believe that death is but a way for us to pass on to the next level of conscious existence. I do believe that we should challenge what we hold as true constantly, knowing throughout that the idea of truth itself is only relative to our experiences. I do believe certain people throughout history have mastered their emotions and actions enough to become prophets and visionaries.
So, is this a religion? Maybe not, but putting this all together in my head, heart, and soul (my trinity, oddly enough), I feel like I've gotten a deeper understanding of life itself. Perhaps this IS a religion to some. It feels more personal than any faith I've ever been officially a part of. It feels like I've done all the work and will continue to do so, and every new thing I discover makes me fele that much more joyous and tuned in to the world in which I exist.
I suppose the moral of the story is this: The next time someone asks you what you believe or what church you go to, really think about your answer. For me, I'm very content and satisfied to have the where-with-all to simply reply "depends on the day".
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
It's been a very challenging week or so for me. It's been a difficult time that put a few things into perspective yet exploded other things so far out of perspective that I can't help but simply have faith that I may start to get it... someday.
Take death, for example. So many of us have such a difficult time when we lose someone close to us. Some of us even crumble when we lose our childhood pet. After surviving the initial shock, we move on into a stage where we wonder how we will ever get by without the person we lost.
Up until recently, I was under the impression that I had moved through this stage rather quickly. I thought I believed that I was ready to celebrate, not remembering what I had lost, but instead chosing to focus on what they had achieved and where they are now. I veiled my own sadness in blankets of joy, failing to acknowledge that the pain was hidden underneath the whole time.
Now that some time has passed and I have grown and learned some hard lessons (lessons that I taught myself through the cunning use of mistakes), I've discovered that there are very hard parts of our lives that we can't simply lie to ourselves (or others) about, covering the pain within ourselves with falsehood. I've started to discover the joy of pain, rather, the relief and growth that can be found in acknowledging and sharing the things in life that we somehow con ourselves into thinking we need to wrap in some sort of escape and toss over the side of the mighty ships of our own souls.
I challenge those who read my blog to grow as much as possible. Feed your soul by doing things like reading books and magazines and newspapers and talking to friends and strangers and loved ones and everyone else.
Don't fear. Nourish the saplings in that they will grow to be among tallest trees in the forests of our souls.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
I know this probably isn't the best idea for me, personally, but I feel like I have something to contribute. After reading Friday's Denver Post and seeing the bickering, the arguing, the shady deals, the behind-closed-doors antics, the public displays of power and conflict, and after electing the symbol of HOPE I feel we all wished would bring the change we so desired.... after all of this, I'm deciding, not only to support Todd O'Brien in 2012 (obrienforamerica2012.com), but I hope to launch my own campaign in the coming months. My platform will not be based solely on my own thoughts and opinions. I desire to create a website where people can securely log in and vote and tell me which way to vote on whatever issue is in question. I desire to have a camera crew follow me around and post every second of my life on my website to show the people that I will not be making closed door deals or having secret rendezvous with anyone out of the ordinary, both during my term and in my campaign. I will not accept campaign contributions or accept gifts from the ceo's of failing and corrupt corporations. I fight for those who have earned their lot in life or worked hard and have unfairly been robbed. My platform is serving the people, serving my country. My cabinet will consist of friends, not people with the sort of "experience" that Washington "requires". And, when all the dust settles, I will drive my then-26-year-old BattleWagon right down Pennsylvania Avenue, a symbol to all that even a broke and dirty hippie who reads the news and digs to find out what's REALLY going on, can become president of these United States.
My tirade, brought to you by the shady dealers in Washington, stealing your freedom more and more every year! Get your lapel pin now! Supplies are limited. Made in China.
Monday, November 2, 2009
While on my road trip last week with Monkey, he snapped this morning picture before we set off for home. We stayed the previous night in Clarksville, which was beautiful, although it wasn't Chattanooga.
Digressing into current events, the time has fallen back to standard time, and it's nearly dark now, just after 5 pm, here in the Centennial State. The sky is overcast, and it's bitter outside. My mood seems to reflect what's going on outside. This time of year always seems to remind me what I've lost, what I've thrown away. There's a song by Incubus called "11am", and it opens with the lyrics: "7 am. The garbage truck beeps as it backs up, and I start my day thinking about what I've thrown away. Can I push rewind? Are the credits rolling signifying the end? Did I miss the best part? Can we please go back to start? Forgive my indecision..." I love that song. In a very general way, it seems to correlate with my mood when I'm down and morose, and finally appropriately connected with the not-so-joyous memories of my life.
There are times when I am happy where I long for the balance of feeling not so great, where I am frustrated that I can't seem to be immersed in emotions I feel should be tied to memories. When these times finally arrive, it's bitter, yet also sweet in that it gives me hope and faith that I am whole and not fractured.
I've been reading a lot of news lately, news about health care reform and balloon boys, wars and potential troop deployments, mid-air collisions and innocent, young ladies being traumatized after their high school homecomings. My friends and family are drinking, celebrating, mourning the deployment of their husbands, laughing and crying together, laughing and crying alone.
I think about the things I learned in history class and things I've researched on my own, talking about how we were as a society and culture and as a nation. We used to have block parties and talk to our neighbors. We used to let our kids vanish for hours at a time, to where, God knows, only having faith that they would be home for dinner. We used to care about things that meant something and dismissed trivial things as they are, in fact, trivial.
Now we've shifted. We don't let our kids leave the house. Some of us do, and are branded "bad parents". We don't know our neighbors, and we don't know what's really going on in the news. We do know that Eastasia is at war with Oceania... or, wait... that we are at war with the Taliban and terrorism as a whole. We're at war with an idea. What happened to the guy who sued God in Nebreska? He's crazy! But we're at war with terrorism, and that's accepted. Grab your duct tape and plastic wrap.
I don't have time to mold this into anything cohenent and constructive, so I leave you with this: get involved and care about what you get involved in. Enrich your life and grow with those around you. Love deeply, despire the potential consequences.
Friday, October 30, 2009
Yesterday Monkey and I drove from Voldosta Georgiae to Clarksville Tennessee. We drove through Chatanooga mid-afternoon, and I have to confess that Chatanooga was one of the most beautiful cities I've ever driven through. There were gently rolling hills all around, and trees so densely packed. The river gently wound its way through town. It was just awesome. If I were to move to the south, Chatanooga would be the place. Wow.
We drove through Nashville and wound up staying in Clarksville. We went to a local watering hole called "The Lodge". You can still smoke inside there! That's crazy! After a few beers, we hit the sack in preparation for our day's goal of St. Louis by lunch and maybe Kansas by sunset.
Never have I seen forests this thick in my life. We drive for hours, and there are just trees, thick and green on all sides of us. It's no wonder people would run off into the forests and make moonshine stills. It would seem like it would be easy her.
At the same time, it would be a little scary. It makes me feel isolated and scared.
What an adventure so far! Throw in Steak & Shake and Krystal... grub! I can't wait for Imo's pizza and White Castle!!
Sunday, October 25, 2009
I'm on a Boeing 757 right now, bound for Orlando, Florida, with my good buddy Monkey. In this cramped and stale space, with a kid behind me kicking my seat, and a weird gentleman next to me who is a little too sweaty for spurring a conversation with, I sit here for three hours wondering if it'll ever be possible to drive the BattleWagon to Florida. It's probably as likely as me writing a short sentence sometime.
The sunrise in Denver was beautiful this morning. I had stopped at the grocery store on my way to Monkey's. I burned down a quick smoke, the last one for a few days in respect of Monkey's strict non-smoking policy. I grabbed some airport-friendly toiletries and a yogurt smoothie, and got to Monkey's with three hours to spare. We chatted briefly, and I played with his dogs.
We got to the airport in Denver with plenty of time to spare, on a United Airlines plane full of families on their way to worship the capitalist corruptors at Disney and Universal Studios.
Wow, I just looked out the window. I'm flying over the Gulf of Mexico right now. Incredible!
Our mission will take us back accross the States over the next three days, from Orlando to Saint Louis and then onto Denver, with any luck, but Tuesday evening. More as it comes...
Thursday, October 8, 2009
I love the snow. It's my favorite weather, especially during the storms where the wind is calm, and the flakes are big and plentiful. I love the storms that drop inches in hours, the ones that bury your car by lunch when you've dug it out by breakfast time.
I was having a conversation with a friend this morning about snow and rain. I prefer the snow, but she prefers the rain. My thought is that when it snows, it feels like God Herself is wrapping me up in a blanket, quieting the world around me, slowing it down, gently nudging people to spend time with friends and loved ones and stop avoiding them. It's different from the rain, which I feel is how we cleanse ourselves, as if God opens up the heavens and washes our troubles away. I think that's great, too, but there is something very inviting about the snow. Maybe it's just memories and feelings. I remember eating pizza in the dead of winter in an empty house, my mother gone, my dad asleep, and waiting excitedly for a new episode of Deep Space 9. I remember waiting for my son to be able to come home from the hospital. I remember thinking I could have died climbing Mt. Democrat with Ryan... in the end, the snow kept me feeling safe, secure, guarded. I don't know what it is, but I love it.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
I snagged this shot of a sunset on the state highway that connects Penrose and Colorado Springs a few weeks ago. I thought it was beautiful, and I was thankful for my surroundings, as I was a PASSENGER (yay!) on a road trip back to Salida from my brother's high school football game. It was nice to be idly chatting with my parents and him, crusing through the semi-arid desert that is the Arkansas River Valley and, later, Bighorn Sheep Canyon. (I still refer to it as "The Canyon" and everyone seems to know which one I'm talking about.)
It seems that it's nearly impossible to see a bad sunset. Have you ever heard anyone say, "Oh, that sunset was absolutely dreadful!"? My friend Dan and I have had this conversation a few times where we came to the conclusion that people seem to take things like this for granted. Every once in a while, we need to take time to look, to really see a sunset... or a flower, or the clouds slowly changing shape. Like in the movie "Fearless", we need to stop working when the wind blows and just face it, take it all in. There are so many sunsets and wooden fences and children playing that we take them for granted, forgetting to acknowledge the ancient mysteries that lay within these moments. These are the moments worth living for. These are the moments that convince us that death isn't really death, it's just a transcendence.
Monday, October 5, 2009
Sunday, October 4, 2009
A little while ago, I had to go on an install up in Nederland, where they have Frozen Dead Guy Days. Look it up!
Anyway, while there, I saw this beast and snagged a picture. It's an old steam shovel, built in the late 1930s. It went all the way to Panama to help build the canal and what not. It still runs! They start it up once a year if I heard my co-worker right! Could you imagine the labor it would take to keep anything steam-driven running all the time? Trains, steam-shovels, ships... man those were the days, before all of this internal combustion hooplah. I would love to go back and see what they had going on, to take a train from Salida to Gunnison via the Alpine Tunnel, to have Teddy Roosevelt as my president, to have a chat with Mark Twain!
I feel like I was born 130 years too late. Then again, who knows? Maybe I was born at exactly the right time. Maybe people will see our Information Revolution as one of the great turning points in human history. Maybe we, humanity as a whole, will realize our full potential, that the Kingdoms of God truly are within each of us!
Wow... I love history.
After a long and depressing week, I went to Salida to try to pick up the peices of a shattered van. I was driving my dad's PianoWagon, and I was cringing at the prospect of trying to fix my Cherokee Chief. Dad and I towed the BattleWagon back to the homestead where he had the insight and genius to try to use a hi-lift jack to pro open the engine compartment so we could see what was really going on. We did, reached down, and discovered that it wasn't the radiator the fan was hitting. It was the plastic shroud! Dad removed the culprit, and I started it up. The BattleWagon roared to live, hungry as ever for the adventures that lay before it!
I stowed some coolant just in case, and I set off for Denver with a renewed sense of Justice and alarm! The only details which I soon hope to remedy are the absense of any lighting on the driver's side. I'm hoping some duct tape and replacement bulbs will take care of most of this, but as I've learned the hard way, I will not hold my breath in believing this will cute all my ails. I am considering, however, that the green duct tape may make a cameo in this whole debacle. Wouldn't that be a treat! After all, it's still serving diligently at it's post on my passenger side windshield wiper... couldn't think of a more fitting tribute to the BattleWagon.
It's supposed to be rather chilly tonight. My prayers have been counted in having a cozy and familiar place to lay my head tonight. Thank the Architect that things may be as they are.
Friday, October 2, 2009
I've been ever so graciously and humbly driving around in my dad's PianoWagon, a 1985 Totota Tercel, with almost 250,000 miles on it. Granted these miles have almost exclusively been on the previous engine, but it's still very impressive. It makes me wish, in futility, that the BattleWagon was a Toyota, simply based on the reliability and resale values of the stuff they produce.
On a more philosophic note, I ponder this: As the end of this chronicle starts to sink in, so, too, does the reality that the adventures are ongoing. Yes I spent an incredible year in a van, yet I never once parked down by the river. I met lots of people and made tons of friends, but never near a school. I decorated the van with stickers, vehicle graphics, and prayer flags, but I never spraypainted "free candy" on the doors. But ultimately, I learned how simply we can choose to live our lives when we really apply ourselves. It's amazing to me that we really don't need television or movies or the full and relentless witchcraft we call the internet to surf our minds away. All we really require (all I really require, I should specify) is fellowship, love, friendship, books, and a journal. It's amazing how when we try to access the core of who we are, we start to visit a much higher force.
A passage in the book of Luke in the Bible tells us that "the Kingdom of God is found within us". It challenges the reader to look inside one's self, deeply and honestly, and that is where we find, or even become, God in God's image.
Simply. Honestly. That's what I got from the BattleWagon, and I hope to go on applying the fruits of this experience to my everyday life.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
The time has come. The BattleWagon, while fighting a true and noble fight, has fought and lost its final battle.
I had spent an excellent weekend at home with my parents in Salida. My sister and her husband were there, and my brother and I had a chance to catch up some things. I left at about 8:00 on Sunday night, in the evening in high spirits that my week would be good.
An hour later, while driving over Trout Creek Pass, I was listening to some Massive Attack, enjoying the starry night, when a doe ran out in front of me.
I walked three miles, making phone calls along the way as I stumbled into areas where I got service. The van was towed to a body shop, where the insurance company declared it dead on arrival.
In the interim, my dad was kind enough to lend me his car, a champion 1985 Toyota Tercel, but the BattleWagon is no longer in service.
These chronicles of mine will go on, as there is a world of things to write about, a world of experiences to be had, good and bad. I have no regrets. If anything, I'm inspired be the possibilities of the impossible. I just hope some of you took something with you from all of this. It would be a shame if I couldn't share this with anyone else.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
I don't know if it's always called Alpenglow, but what I refer to here is usually a mountaineering term. It's when you're in the mountains early in the morning, before dawn. When the sun first starts to rise, it lights the mountains up in the most vivid of colors, usually casting a gold or red paint on the still otherwise magnificent mountain peaks. This effect is so vibrant that the first Spanish explorers in Colorado met some mountains in the morning (or evening) and named them the Sangre de Christo Mountains, which translanted means Blood of Christ. I could only imagine the awe and spectacle of these mountains which would drive the Spanish to name them that.
I've found recently very beautiful places after numerous trips west and driving east into the next day's dawn. Coincidentally, I always drive east at sunset and have continually been caught by this phenomenon, sometimes inspiring me to pull over and simply gaze at the sunset without looking towards the sun. It's like an old analogy I use to describe religion: God is the sun, but it's what we find beauty in, what the sun shines upon, that's how we believe God to exist. No two people will have the same love for God as each of our beliefs are custom made by us and for us alone. I believe this is how God should be. I believe this is how God is, universally loving, yet intimately personal for each of us.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
I picked up a second job a while back at FedEx and now work evenings there. It's become my ritual to spend some time on the phone, grab a bite, and head to work. If I have extra time, I spend it writing in my journal or reading a book at the park near the Ralston Creek Trail in Arvada. It's conveniently close to work, and it's pretty, especially now that it's closer to fall and the sun is setting sooner.
Fall is one of my favorite seasons, but life in this van has given me a new appreciation for it. Fall and Spring are the only times when I can just sit with the doors open and take in life without roasting and melting into a sweaty puddle of goo or freezing and finding my thumbs inoperable for blogging.
As my anniversary of these BattleWagon Chronicles approaches, I wonder if I'll be in here much longer. I seriously doubt I'll stop blogging, as I think this experience has been a lesson in hardship and joy simultaneously, inspiring to me and I'm sure will go on inspiring me for years to come. But it has also made me want to settle down, to enjoy and practice the things I've learned, to work hard, start a family, and have as much fun as I can, honestly and simply.
Coincidentally, in the background of my life, I've seen my family go through some pretty heavy things, and this experience has compelled me to speak out and say my peice to those around me who I care about. To paraphrase J. K. Rawling's Professor Dumbledore, it takes courage to confront your enemy, but it takes much more to confront your friends and loved ones. I feel more and more dishonest for keeping my opinions to myself these days, and I think this raw deliverance is a result of the brutal honesty I have when telling people I live in a van.
All these thoughts make me enjoy my time in the park.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Today, after too much sleep and a late night Guitar Hero session, I sit here in my home, a 1994 GMC Safari, and I think about this past year.
I've learned many, many things living in this van. I've learned that my faith is much stronger than I had known before, that my belief in myself and my belief in some grand idea of a higher power may be more closely linked than I thought before. They are inexorably intertwined, and they kept me going and will, I hope, continue to keep me going in the worst times. Whatever your faith be, it's fluid, it adapts, it grows as you grow, and your ideas on God or whatever you call it will change to suit you as your needs change. Never in my life have I believed in something with such conviction.
I've learned a thing or two about relationships. I know that you can't fall in love with an idea. People have ideas of who they want to be with, who they think they should be with, and in the process of trying to make that work, they start to lose themselves. I discovered, conversely, that if you fall for someone who you believe you can fix or change, you're only falling for their potential, not who they are, which will ultimately end in disaster. I also found that, no matter how much you've shared with someone, there comes a point where you have to let them go, set the baggage down, and walk away, no matter how comfortable it may feel at times. But most importantly, I've found that when you are most yourself, most real and most pure, that, when you least expect it, you will stumble into a beautiful life who accepts and loves that about you. When you stay true, honest, and loyal to yourself and only yourself, you will be rewarded with the love of one who is mostly made for you, and you will discover you are mostly made for that person. It will be truer love than you've ever known, because you are truer to yourself.
I discovered that we live in an amazing place in difficult times. While I've made this a life choice, I've met and seen others who have made this a life necessity. I can't put all the blame on our standard definition of a government, because I believe that we ARE our government, and we have done little to take responsibility for that. We are a nation with all the power, and we give it to a select few without asking questions or challenging ethics of those we've elected into office. We are a nation with all the money, and we give it to other countries because it's less expensive and more convenient. We are fortunate to have a very liberal (and not pinko-commie "liberal", but freedom and liberty "liberal") Constitution and Bill of Rights that guarantees so much and asks so little, yet we do so little and ask so much. I've learned that I need to be more involved, moreso than simply voting for the lesser of two evils in elections. I've found that true patriotism isn't blind obligation to our decision-makers, nor is it challenging everyone who is in charge, nor is it having faith in Jesus Christ as many claim our nation was founded. True patriotism is knowing who's in charge and making sure they know that it is we who are, in fact, in charge of them and telling those people what we want done. Then we will have our nation back.
I've also learned some finer, trivial points:
1. General Motors makes a fine van, provided you can afford to fix it four times a year.
2. Canned chicken juice will make your house smell really bad when you spill it in the carpet.
3. Showering at the gym isn't so bad.
4. Pooping at Walmart is somewhat vindicating.
5. Fuel pumps cost around $600.
6. It's super handy to have empty pop and bottled water bottles around.
7. It's way easier to add blankets than it is to subtract clothes.
8. Mothers will always worry.
9. Eighteen inchess between the mattress and the ceiling will hurt your forehead in the morning when you forget.
10. When autumn shows up, you should welcome it with open arms.
11. True love only ever happens once.
12. Road trips really aren't that bad, but they're much more rewarding when you have a good friend with you.
14. Always skip the number thirteen.
15. Stickers will get you called a "dirty hippie"
I suppose the moral of the story is never be afraid to do what you want, but realize that there will be tedious labor involved in almost everthing.
Autumn is in the air. Time to enjoy it.
Friday, September 11, 2009
This weekend I drove about 800 miles. I saw some pretty things. The coolest thing was heading west on U.S. 24 and driving over the Redcliff bridge, just west of Camp Hale. The whole drive was gorgeous, but this bridge just kind of appeared suddenly. I drove over it and rounded a corner to find that the bridge was an arch over this huge casm in a cliff. The Eagle River flows underneath, and beautiful pine and spruce trees grow in the vicinity. It was amazing.
Friday, September 4, 2009
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
I spent this past weekend in a climbing oasis, and all I had considered all weekend was how great it was to be out with great friends and great rocks. I didn't consider the people that had come before me, both the brave and the foolish, who have lost their lives in pursuit of the thing that gave them meaning. Taken to a larger context, it doesn't have to relate to just rock climbing. What about the drummer who dies in a plane crash en route to a gig? One could argue that he died doing what he loved, too.
The point, I guess, is that we should not be scared of death. We should be scared of not living. Don't wait until you're diagnosed with cancer to start marking ticks off your bucket list. Don't wait until you're a grandmother before you start pursuing true happiness and love. Don't let life pass you by. Play the guitar. Paint a picture. Visit Paris. Start a family with someone who makes you laugh and stay up way too late, and laugh and let your kids stay up too late, too.
Don't let life pass you by.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Wyoming is different. There's a real sense of freedom and independence up here. I love it.
My posse and I have been camping out here since Friday evening, and yesterday, I had the crack climbing experience of my life.
Vedauwoo is this fascinating Mecca of sharp rocks and cracks. There are cracks that will swallow you whole, and there are cracks that you can barely force your fingers into. The rock itself seems to be this conglomerate of millions of sharp pebbles glued together. It's amazing.
The area looks like God was simply picking up boulders the size of houses and trucks and dropping them all over the landscape, as if these boulders were popcorn. The formations of some of the more unique rocks I've ever seen, too. There is one formation called the "Nautilus", which is the picture I attached to this entry. The top of it looks like the ship from the Disney version of "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea".
We climbed a route on it, a very stout 5.7. I think everything here by default should be rated two or three grades more difficult. Unlike normal or "slab" climbing, crack climbing is a much more involved. There are instances where you're forced to shove your toes deep into the crack and stand on just the friction created between the shoes and the crack. There are times where you'll put your hand in a crack and make a fist and pull all your weight on the sides of it. It's ugly and it hurts, but it's so much fun.
The only negatives I can find with this park: the people. It's not overcrowded by any means, but it is full. We didn't camp inside the park, but I also did find a bit of trash left here by the previous parties. People suck. The only other negative is the park's proximity to I-80. There's a background noise associated with trucks and trains that seems to permiate the park.
That being said, this place is amazing! And being two hours from Denver, it may easily replace Moab as my go-to for climbing (although Moab is so awesome... have you read "The Rock That Changed My Life"?). It's good for families, too, with a huge variety of easy trails, mountain bike routes, and FREAKIN AWESOME rocks that everyone can scramble around.
I love Vedauwoo.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
I sit here in the grass, the greenest I've seen in recent memory. The BattleWagon is shimmering in the shade of the setting sun, whose golden rays delicately peeking through the leaves and needles of elm and blue spruce trees. The urban crowd jogs by or throws tennis balls to their labradors and their retrievers. The air has no perceptible temperature. I can't feel it except for the faintest of breezes. The blue sky is marred by high and whispy clouds and contrails that slowly fade away. I am as the thermometer would indicate: not too hot nor too cool. I am. Simply. Minimally. Happily.
I could tie this into some existential meaning-of-life lecture, or I could simply let it be what it is, simply taking it at face value and not put too much pressure on this life-sized diarama of creation. For, as I'm sure we all know, putting expectations onto things that quietly yet solidly exist, we change our perception of those things. Sure, sometimes that perception grows into something more, an inspiring life experience that allows us to continue on with our lives with more excitement and vigor than we were previously conscious of. But, more often than not, what we wish to arise from such simple joys inevitably gives way to the imperfections hidden away within the portrait, the single fast food bag blowing accross the field in the distance, the music blaring from the parking lot, the homeless man reading his yellowed newspaper in the nearby bushes.
I am content, in this instance, to simply appreciate the beauty that is and not read into it. It is what it is. I am what I am. Together, right now, we co-exist, and it is splendid. It's an incredibly calming way to enjoy a sunset in a park.
Saturday, August 1, 2009
Thursday, July 30, 2009
I sit here in the B-Dub, having just read two chapters from a heady book about a conventional God, I contemplate many things. However, these things I contemplate are often heavier than I feel like relaying to you, the reader, right now. So, that being said, I want to talk about the rain, the beautiful thing we seem to have stolen from the Pacific Northwest.
As temperatures in Portland and Seattle break record highs, here in Denver, where we average 90 degrees this time of year, we've had a few days of 70s and rain. It's been absolutely glorious. It's everything in me not to go into work tomorrow, give my two-weeks notice, and take off for the Alaskan panhandle. I love the rain.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
I love the fog. It's my favorite weather. It's like mother nature is wrapping you up in a creepy yet comfortable blanket. It's hard to feel safe at first, but once you give up a little bit of trust to nature, you are home, surrounded by pure mystery and imagination. When you see tops of mountains, you can only imagine what lives underneath. When you see the bottoms of mountains, they seem to rival the heights of the highest peaks in the Himilaya or Karakoram. The forests grow denser. The deserts become vaster. The ocean becomes deeper. The shroud nature creates forces my brain to fill in the gaps, and it does so with unavoidably fantastic results.
I was seemingly purposely lost driving around Colorado, and I wound up cresting Loveland Pass on US Highway 6. It had just rained, and the clouds were around me, not above me. It was beautiful. It makes me want to live where there is continuous fog and rain, some place like Washington, British Columbia, or Alaska. Sigh...
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
One thing that I've found a love for is writing. Obviously by starting a blog, I've found a way to share this love with people. But I also enjoy sharing it with myself. I've been doing fairly well at keeping a journal since December of 2007, when I first moved to downtown Denver. Looking back at some of those experiences, I have to sometimes just stop and live for a second in those great experiences which I've been so lucky to be able to enjoy.
Today, this 87 degree Wednesday afternoon, I sit here in my tiny, climate-controlled office, and I catch up on my journal and my blog, along with a little reading. I'll go to the gym later tonight and do some running since, with my late foray into pretty regular climbing, I seem to be tweaking a myriad of different muscles and joints, like my right shoulder, my left wrist, and now my neck, which stabs me every time I have to hold my head up from leaning back.
There's a glimmer of hope for rain tonight in the gray clouds sneaking over the western horizon. Will we get more tornadoes here in Denver? More hail? Will more people lose power like Monday night's storm caused? One can only hope!
Nature is amazing, writing it's own journal all over the earth with pens of rain, crayons of wind, and an ever shifting typewriter of plate techtonics. The story goes back for millions of years, eons, ages, or whatever insignificant label we throw at it. It's awesome in the true sense of the word.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Today Dan "StrongSad", Ryan "StrongBad", Keith "Sylar" and I went climbing again at Turkey Rocks. Ryan led a 5.8 something called "Bloody Englishman" and I led the first half of a 5.6 until I fell into the crack. My left arm has a nice gash on the inside. Anyway, here's some video of Sylar way up in the "Bloody Englishman", shimmying like you would not imagine, as we all were. Today was awesome.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Today, a Saturday, I will do my laundry. The BattleWagon has been running well, well enough to deliver me to the coin-operated laundromat in Arvada, Colorado. It's a drive from anywhere logical to where I regularly park, but it was the first laundromat I used when I moved to Denver in 2004, five years ago. It's that comfort of knowing where one came from that helps us face where we are going. In my case, it's like soul food. It's Soul Laundry.
Soul Laundry is a metaphor for lots of things, I suppose. One could have their own facsimile, like a Soul Couch or a Soul House. I'm willing to bet many a middle-aged or retired male would have a Soul Car or a Soul Quarterback. (Mine's John Elway, but don't tell anyone.)
What is it about these people, places, or things, these Soul Nouns, that are so good for us? Why do we always think back to them for inspiration? Different reasons. in John Elway's case, he was a sports hero to me all the way up to when I was in high school. He led the Denver Broncos to two Super Bowls in a row after more than a decade of mediocre seasons. He was an inspiration in determination.
Then there's my Soul Jeep... dilipated and decrepid. A true direlect. What does it represent for me? Hope. I see it not for what it is, but for what it could be, what I hope to make of it someday.
Sitting here, doing my Soul Laundry, I'm reminded of the courage I had years ago to drop everything and leave my innocent, small town and move to the big city. It renews my courage for my life's present future, captures the optimism that I had when I was 22 years old, and encourages me to keep going.
It's Soul Laundry. It makes you feel goooood.
Friday, July 17, 2009
Last Saturday, I feared the worst. I was driving up a hill, the van lost power, and I was crippled. I called AAA, the tow truck came, and off the BattleWagon went. I had it sent to the Autotailor, off 17th & High Street in Denver, Colorado. Aside from my hometown mechanic, they do the best and most reasonably priced work I've seen here in Denver. They quoted me almost half the cost of what Downing Street Garage quoted me for my door handle. The guys there are super friendly. Normally I wouldn't use my blog to shamelessly plug a business, but this is an unsolicited article, a genuine thank you to the Autotailor.
So there... oh, and I'm in the cockpit now. The view is great.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
So Ryan and I went climbing today up at Turkey Rocks, which is about 60 miles from Denver. We had a spectacular climb in this horrid crack, rated a 5.7, but felt like a 5.9. Two hours, scraped hands, elbows, and ankles, and some awesome dehydration later, we topped out on our pitch! Awesome!!
Then, on the drive out, disaster stuck, and my home died. Ryan's awesome wife Katy (Sell All Your Things And Go) came and picked us up, and now we have the ride of shame to Ryan's house. The BattleWagon has the ride of shame to the mechanic. So, yeah, it is what it is... and Dad, you're right, I also wish Toyota made a 4x4 van...
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Today I parked myself in a familiar place. I noticed at least five semis, three with loads, two without, all waiting until they can get back on the road. I wonder about that life, if it's fulfilling to be a loner. I wonder if the scenery one gets travelling the endless highways in the expansive United States, if that really outweighs the silence and lack of companionship. I wonder if that's as romantic as people make it, or it it's as lonely as everyone else think it is.
At this big box store, I see a family loading up their old Jeep Grand Cherokee. It's not your traditional family. There's a mother, about my mom's age from what I can see. She has two daughters, younger than I, both with a baby of their own. I wonder who's at home waiting for them or at work providing for them. Maybe they provide for themselves. Maybe they don't. Who knows? It's just an interesting observation. Maybe it's a broader view of our society wrapped in a bittersweet package in the urban US.
Sigh... if there has been anything that this experience has taught me, it is to be thankful for what I have, what I've earned, what I've made out of the opportunities I have. Not everyone sees what's in front of them. Not everyone takes the blind leaps that could turn into decent lives. I see more people than i'd like to confess sleeping in cars, pooling money for groceries, panhandling, drunk, lazy, and not doing what needs to be done, not for the bigger picture, but simply for their own sake. It makes me sad.
I guess in the meantime, I'll stay in my home, my home on wheels, appreciating it for what it is, knowing that it's a choice, not a necessity, and working as hard as I can to better myself for the sake of doing so.