“To marry in order to enjoy oneself more will never work. To put marriage — union with the person you love — as your main aim, replacing everything else, is a big mistake. And it’s obvious if you think about it. The aim is marriage. Well, you get married, and then what? If you have no other aim in life before marriage, then later on it will be terribly difficult, almost impossible for the two of you to find one. It’s almost certain that if you have no common aim before marriage, nothing will bring you together afterwards, and you will always be falling out. Marriage only brings happiness when there is a single aim — people meet on the road and say, ‘Let’s walk on together’; ‘yes, let’s!’ and offer one another their hands — and not when people are attracted to one another and then both turn off the road in different directions
Life is neither a vale of tears nor a circus of entertainment. Life is a place of service, where one sometimes has occasion to put up with a lot that is hard, but more often to experience a great many joys. Only there can only be real joys when people themselves understand their life as service: have a definite aim in life outside themselves and their own personal happiness. Usually married people forget this completely.
Marriage and the birth of children offer so many joyful things to look forward to that it seems that these things actually constitute life itself, but this is a dangerous delusion. If parents live and produce children without also having a life purpose, there will be nothing to point their children to or guide them along the way. And then they will lose their human qualities as children and the happiness linked with them, and become pedigree cattle.
Those intending to marry, even if their life seems full, need more than ever to think and make clear to themselves what each of them is living for. And in order to do this, it’s necessary to think, and to think hard about the conditions one lives in and about one’s past, to evaluate what one considers to be important and unimportant in life and to find out what one really believes in — i.e. what one considers the invariable, indisputable truth, and what one will be guided by in life. Otherwise one does not truly know what he believes in, or whether one believes it or not.
If life is service, then the “good” consists of love. In order to love I must first train myself to require as little as possible from others. Unless I do this, I will be inclined not to love but to reproach. This demands a lot of work. Second, in order to love I must do something useful for others. This involves even more work. Lastly, it is necessary to learn gentleness, humility and the art of enduring unpleasant people and unpleasant things, and whenever possible not to offend. This requires the most work of all, and work that is non-stop, from waking up to going to sleep. But this is the most joyful sort of work.
When considering marriage, therefore, a couple needs to think and live as lovingly as possible so that they can find out whether they are really going along the same road and whether or not it’s good for them to give each other the hand. If they are sincere, the thought of marriage will lead them to what is higher, to find ways to bring more love and truth into the world. They will marry because it will enable them to attain this aim. But once having chosen what is higher, it will be necessary for them to put their whole heart and soul into it, not just a little bit of oneself; a little bit is no use!”
-Tolstoy (Personal Correspondence)
I continue to go. I move on after periods of time much too short. My heart and mind know that this can’t be kept up forever. Since my freshman year of college, I don’t think I’ve remained in any one place for more than six months.
This last leave was half voluntary. California’s Rim Fire, the fourth largest in state history pushed us from our jobs and living arrangements to safer ground- the Yosemite Valley. Our season was clearly over. We were given a choice: to take new positions with Delaware North, or get out of dodge. I chose the latter. This choice brought me to Los Angeles weeks before my scheduled arrival.
It’s been wonderful seeing my brother. He’s been super hospitable, generous with his time, space and resources. As an RA at the University of Southern California, full-time student and part-time IT guy, he has plenty asked of him. Despite that, he’s been willing to put up with me.
The city and campus are very impressive. I can feel that I don’t belong here though. In a couple weeks, it will again be time to move on.
I wonder how this transitiveness affects myself and my view of others. I think I have a tendency to plunge to certain depths with persons whom I see a certain trait in much faster than is usually desired or is expected. I think there are times when I don’t want to put any effort at all into meeting or getting to know people. I think that there is a strange subtle reinforcing loneliness that I tend to embrace at times, rather than trying to put myself out there and surmount it.
Further, how do I serve others in the context of this semi-nomadism? What am I trying to achieve through this constant reshuffling of persons and surroundings? As a start, Tolstoy’s recommendations as far as service to others, and how to love and view them are spot-on: to require less, offer something useful and do such things with the right position of heart. There are major strains of Christianity that view service as being a matter of simply being polite with others, avoiding profanity and supporting worthy causes. A commitment to justice and loving others is held to, yet not tightly enough to raise eyebrows or cause discomfort. Although this does require work, and is a step in the right direction, it simply isn’t enough.
It’s the faith community’s equivalent of “green consumerism”. There are a plethora of companies making a killing based solely on the fact that there are many, many people who want to make beneficial changes in this world and their lives, yet lack understanding of a handful of primary natures: that of change, that of sustainability, that of labor, that of necessity, that of exploitation, that of subsidies and trade agreements, so on and so forth. What you end up with are unnecessary products with “green” labels being embraced by the public and furthering corporate profits and control, as well as abuses of the environment and human rights.
Tolstoy’s first admonition, to ask less of others or to need less, can be a clarion call for Emerson-style self-sufficiency or a heavier dependence upon God. One of these ends unhealthily. Those well-versed in self-reliance understand that the term is a misnomer. To depend on oneself for everything is dangerous-emotionally, physically, spiritually, etc. The other form of dependence however leads to a genuine back-and-forth, or “relationship”, something spoken and written of much in Christian circles, but not always present. I digress. Tolstoy’s admonition that we should ask less of our fellow humans and planet has gained in relevance exponentially since his passing.
Beyond getting rid of unnecessary burdens upon that and those which are outside of ourselves, the ability to offer something is imperative. To tear something down without offering a replacement or alternative is senseless. Negation and removal only get one so far. Being proactively beneficial requires understanding what is worth doing, creating, sustaining. As Tolstoy mentioned, it does require reflection and work. But it is a vocation worth pursuing.
The last step Tolstoy offers is one of the heart and discipline. This is the one Andrew Murray speaks so eloquently about (humility). It’s the one that ties Paul together with the sound of clanging cymbals (love). It’s the one that we are to known by (love). This is the one that we must find ourselves before we can offer it to others, and gives worth to all of our words and actions. It’s one that we in the Christian community tend to lack, myself especially.
These three concepts can, and should, fill a lifetime.
After Los Angeles, I’ll be heading for Lansing, MI. God willing, I’ll be:
1.) …living at an intentional community where members focus their time and lives towards knowing God and serving Him and His creation.
2.) …living an extremely spartan existence (first-world standards). In short, my “room” will be smaller than most bathrooms and sitting on four wheels.
3.) …interning at Lansing’s Refugee Development Center, hopefully working out aim #1.
And after that, I hope to attend a five month long farmer training program just outside of Fairbanks, Alaska.
In between the lines of the moves and rapid changes that I’m embarking on, I see what I am heading for. It’s slow going, but I think that it will be achieved. Something having to do with knowing what I believe, what should be done and what I have to offer. Although I’m tired of leaving people whom I don’t want to leave and meeting others knowing that that’s likely what lies ahead, I continue. To tie in Tolstoy’s primary subject matter, maybe someday I’ll meet someone on that same path- extend hands- and press on. Maybe not. I’m not sure it matters much.
“Understand: the task of an activist is not to negotiate systems of power with as much personal integrity as possible–it’s to dismantle those systems.” -L.K.
(liberalism vs. radicalism)
(The pictures are mine. The video is not.)
In late February of 2011, I made the trip that I’ll be making today. I arrived at the San Francisco International Airport, spend the night there, woke before dawn and took the BART to the Embarcadero, bought Amtrak tickets to Yosemite, enjoyed a bit of San Francisco and then rambled on into the park via a series of buses and trains. I’m thankful for the chance to do that very thing again. I’m looking forward to slow coffee in the airport (which I’m sure I’ll never be able to view in the same way again), people-watching and getting people-looked-at, briefly touching upon San Francisco (w/ aims of picking up some decent to good tea) and arriving in Yosemite, being hit with the fresh scent of what some would call “home”, and seeking out familiar faces.
Unfortunately, today I also leave Sandra Farms. I leave with fondness of heart as this mountain coffee plantation and roastery is wonderful, as are the owners- Israel and Sandra Gonzalez. They’ve been very good to me, and I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to become part of their livelihood and lives for this all too brief period of time. They’ve certainly lived quite the lives, and enjoy telling the stories of their experiences, whether they be of serving in the Peace Corps in Bolivia, escaping the Cuban revolution, the beginnings of becoming a specialty coffee producer, starting a family while living in the Bronx and attending Columbia Graduate School on $10 a week, and much, much more. Here are a few pictures from my stay. I still have a book to finish and a bit of packing left to do before I take off, so I’ll be leaving this one brief, and unfortunately, doing my stay a great injustice. Fantastic people, fantastic place, and I look forward to visiting again, and hope for others to be able to come along as well.
If you’d like more information on Sandra Farms Coffee, check out http://www.sandrafarms.com.
One of my Favorite Lookout Points
Coffee. Yet to ripen, yet to be picked. The aroma of the bloom is wonderful.
The Washing and Hulling Equipment. An Ecological Engineering Feat from Colombia. Fueled by last year’s coffee hulls, uses minute amounts of water, produces byproducts of a sugar that can be converted into ethanol and coffee mulch fertilizer.
Green beans in bulk. Heading to the co-op.
“Be modest now, like a thing
ripened until it is real,
so that he who began it all
can feel you when he reaches for you.”
Rainer Maria Rilke
I’ve been in Puerto Rico for just over two weeks now. It’s really been quite the experience. I’ve been living with family at Camp Caribe, and helping out where I’m able. This simply means doing dishes, giving drum lessons, raking, retrieving/ opening coconuts, painting and other things of the sort. I’ve had good conversations, good food and good times. I think my favorite experience here would be that of evening walks and stillness… strolling along the beach, watching the sunset, and then heading to the top of a tall wooden structure to reflect, look out over this part of the island, watch the stars and listen to the waves- it’s wonderful.
I do think times of solitude and silence are my favorite times no matter where I am… They aren’t ends in and of themselves, however. The value that they offer comes through the peace, insight, clarity and atonement that are oftentimes found through them.
Today, my aunt and I were able to take a trip to Plenitud Eco-Initiatives. It’s a three acre farm and “non-profit organization that supports efforts in sustainable development by individuals and communities” (http://www.plenitudpr.org/sobre-plenitud.html). I sought to visit them back in September of 2010, but nothing came of it. It was great to finally get out there today. While visiting this area in central Puerto Rico’s mountain tropics, people are able to study different things such as permaculture, alternative building, and sustainability in a direct, personal, hands-on manner. While we both were able to check out other aspects of the farm, DeAnna ended up focusing on mulching a memorial garden in progress, while I helped with setting the foundation of an earthbag structure that will eventually serve as housing and a hurricane shelter. I found it to be very refreshing to be there and look forward to possibly spending more time with them.
I’m looking to spend the rest of March here at the camp. I’ve received an invitation to help out at a specialty coffee plantation in the mountains for the month of April. From what I know of Sandra Farms (http://www.sandrafarms.com/about.html), it seems to be a great opportunity to help some people work towards something that we both believe in- sustainable, fair-trade coffee production. Several times throughout my weeks here I’ve heard a statistic regarding what is imported to this island. I don’t remember exactly, but I believe that something like 86% of their food is brought in from outside. When you consider the resources available on this island and year-round growing conditions, that number is a clear indicator that something is awry. I hope to help support a more appropriate local model by getting involved with this Adjuntas mountain coffee company. I may spend the month there and try and get away to Plenitud for a weekend or week at some point.
And that’s as far as I go. I’m immensely thankful for what I have now. I hope that you are able to be grateful for what you have now as well, whatever season of life you may find yourself in.
That’s a great question, yet one that I dislike answering in person. I find it difficult to come up with a brief answer on the spot that fully expresses “why” accurately and comprehensively. If I speak at length on the subject, I usually find myself quickly digressing and, again, end up dissatisfied with my own answer.
Truth is, as I’ve included in my response several times, my answer isn’t simple. I don’t have a quick “college is a racket” or “I don’t have the money to stay in school” answer. My decision to drop out has been the result of much introspection, evaluation of values, goals and purpose, input from persons whom I love and trust (some suggesting I stay, some suggesting it may be best not to do so), and reflection upon where I feel I’ve seen the hand of God very much at work.
Every once in a while, when asked what my reason for leaving is, I hear instead someone accusing me of doing something foolish rather than someone looking to understand my motivations (the chances that I’m speaking of you are slim- rest easy). That’s fine. The fact that this might offend or upset me makes myself more aware that I may be a bit prideful. Maybe more than a bit. Anyway, in their eyes, I am doing something foolish. A column in this morning’s Jackson Citizen Patriot states, “All of the data says the same thing: getting a college degree is about raising your standard of living over a 40-year career.” The fact is, raising my standard of living over a 40-year career isn’t high on my list of priorities, let alone on it to begin with. I’ve lived in a trailer without heat, a canvas tent in the woods and a camper without electricity at different points in my life, and I didn’t feel like I was particularly suffering. Each were wonderful experiences that I look back upon with fondness. It’s funny thinking about times in my life when I felt “displeased” by my surroundings or “trapped” in a sense and the conditions I was living in. I’m a fairly flexible person and don’t require much. I understand that I’m young, but won’t always be and I understand that I don’t have a family to provide for, yet may someday. Matt. 6:31-34.
I also know that my main focus in finishing my degree at this point in time wouldn’t be in order to better prepare myself to live in the way that I think God wants me to live. My aim moreso would be attaining a degree in order to gain the security of being able to more easily find employment and esteem in the eyes of others. I don’t think that those are good enough reasons. I don’t want my story to be one of pursuit of security, comfort and man’s approval, although I absolutely get caught up in those from time to time.
Where Am I Going?
Life is something unfolding, something to be experienced. At the beginning of March, I’ll be flying to Puerto Rico and staying at Juana Diaz’s Campamento del Caribe for a period of time yet to be determined. My uncle is the executive director of the camp. I’m really looking forward to seeing him and his family there.
I don’t know how indicative of the camp as a whole these pictures are, but they were my favorites of those that I looked at:
After that, I’ll most likely be heading back to the U.S. Chances are good that I’ll first head back to Yosemite National Park or possibly to Mt. Rainier National Park. After some time there, I’m thinking of joining the Americorps (much like the U.S.’ domestic Peace Corps) for a year, and I also think living in a L’Arche community for some time would be beneficial as well. Of course, this is all tentative and absolutely subject to change. There are plenty of other things, groups, and endeavors that I’d like to get involved with or pursue, but there’s no sense in trying to live that far into the future.
What do I want to do or plan on doing? Live simply and holistically. Appreciate and be grateful. Use what I’ve been given responsibly. Gain understanding. Cultivate something beautiful. Be open to leading. Love. Things like that. When I think of persons whom I most admire and respect, I see gentle people living in uncommon ways. People who look others in their eyes and listen and take time to be thankful and breathe and care.
Erich Fromm says, “One cannot be deeply responsive to the world without being saddened very often.” I think he’s right. But this pain and sadness and sacrifice is something that God can work through so powerfully. A humble, broken, and contrite spirit is fertile ground for making a difference upon the world.
I hope that this answers some of the questions that some of you have posed. If there’s anything I should elaborate on or any more questions, don’t hesitate to let me know.
Listen/ W.S. Merwin
Listen with the night falling we are saying thank you we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings we are running out of the glass rooms with our mouths full of food to look at the sky and say thank you we are standing by the water thanking it smiling by the windows looking out in our directions back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging after funerals we are saying thank you after the news of the dead whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you over telephones we are saying thank you in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators remembering wars and the police at the door and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you in the banks we are saying thank you in the faces of the officials and the rich and of all who will never change we go on saying thank you thank you with the animals dying around us our lost feelings we are saying thank you with the forests falling faster than the minutes of our lives we are saying thank you with the words going out like cells of a brain with the cities growing over us we are saying thank you faster and faster with nobody listening we are saying thank you we are saying thank you and waving dark though it is
Sailing off again…
I’ve come to a place where I think that it’s better for me to not continue to attend Spring Arbor University. This, of course, isn’t without mixed feelings. I’ve learned much while I’ve been here. I’m so thankful for the experiences and people that have led to that happening. I’ll miss much and for that reason will be leaving with a heavy heart. You guys really have been a blessing… Students, professors, friends, people I’ve only recently met, don’t know too well or even just see around. Thank you..
God prepares us, teaches us and shapes us in varying ways and as unique individuals we have different roles that we are best suited to fill (1 Cor 12:12-27). When we find those thing that we’re passionate about, I think it’s our responsibility to chase after them and allow God to fully work through us. You find that wave and simply let it take you. If anyone is curious as far as where I see this wave possibly leading- just ask.
In regards to the post I wrote about staying not too long ago- I can honestly say that it wasn’t without reason that I stayed here until now rather than leaving a few weeks ago. I feel I’ve gotten the go ahead to “go well”. There are reasons why I want to go and reasons why I want to stay, but it simply seems I’m to leave at this point.
I’d like to ask a simple question to those I’ll be leaving behind (in presence). Actually, anyone reading this-
“Why are you here?”
“Why have you been placed on this planet? Why are you living? Why are you doing what you do every day? Why are you saying what you say? Where is meaning found?” These are questions that have profoundly changed my perspective and I find that I daily need to reexamine myself in light of them. Answer them every day and live accordingly. They cut to the core of our true beliefs and values (think Phaedrus, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance).
Much like the past, I’m sure I’ll be updating this intermittently. If you’d like, feel free to subscribe at the bottom of the page.
I’ll be around for a few weeks and would love to take anyone out for coffee who’s interested. As usual, onward and upwards…
Thoughts with some reservations. Get them out- and then aim for clarity and centeredness.
-I’m sitting in a Panera Bread in Grand Rapids, MI. There are some very classy people in here. I mean- fantastic scarves and overcoats and it all seems so European chic. But it also seems so cold. Some people have recently remarked- my thoughts are interrupted by, judging from the looks of it, a wonderful elderly couple. Back to what I was saying, I’ve heard more than one person talking about the “coldness” of people and interactions here in Michigan, especially certain parts. I hadn’t ever really given that any thought, but- after hearing it- I can see it. With awareness… perception changes. But not everyone here is cold. Not at all.
-I finished my first semester at Spring Arbor. It was good. Someone asked me last week if I regretted coming here.
Nope. I don’t. Not at all.
I haven’t enjoyed all of my time there. In fact, I’d say most of the time I haven’t necessarily enjoyed. This is due mostly to 1.) the atmosphere and 2.) the concept.
I’ve always found myself more apt to truly pursue the meaningful in settings that aren’t necessarily considered “Christian”. I don’t want to get into the nuances of that statement. The effect that the setting oftentimes has on me is very sterilizing- I tend to forget things because they’re taken for granted. It’s difficult at times.
And the concept- I’ll just use an M. Scott Peck quote to summarize my thoughts- “To be organized and efficient, to live wisely, we must daily delay gratification and keep an eye on the future; yet to live joyously we must also possess the capacity, when it is not destructive, to live in the present and act spontaneously. (Road Less Travelled, p, 64)” The struggle is in the balance. Which is true for e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.
Facets of this experience have pushed me and stretched me in several key areas, and I’ve met people that I’m so thankful to know. I see so much room for improvement in my own life and, in all honesty, though I’m constantly pining for the mountains or “freedom”, I’m looking forward to the challenges… opportunities… that lie ahead.
-I saw Kenneth Thomas last night. He did well. He definitely didn’t stick to melodic progressive trance or house which is unfortunate in my eyes, but it was a fun evening. He did drop Hot Mouth/Chris James- “Totally Worth It” though- which I was so down with… It’s so far from his roots, but that bassline… yeah. Was really blessed with good company as well…
-I’ve got some Thomas Merton in front of me and a whole day to spend with him. And Adam Haslett. And M. Scott Peck. And God. Good deal…
-I pick Trevor up from the GR airport at midnight tonight. Really looking forward to that and his time here.
– I slept in my car last night. It was absolutely wonderful. It’s no fluke that I was so very much into “vandwelling” in High School. I wonder how my old inspiration Two Knives Katie and her dog Mutt are doing…
Anyway-I hope that one day travelling aimlessly but absolutely meaningfully by vehicle will somehow not be as morally repulsive from a resource management perspective as it is to me right now. Waking up and driving off, not knowing where I’m going but fully taking in the warmth of the glowing sunrise, sleeping bag on my lap, pillow at my back. It was so nice… Someday…
-Listened to Michael Moore speaking on “Democracy Now” this morning. He absolutely killed it. So much of the reaction from notable recent events has been that of calls for treatment of symptoms- gun control law and reform, better contingency plans for chaotic happenings, etc. These are absolutely on topic and debateably useful, but so much is left unsaid about treating the root causes of many of the maladies that cause such happenings throughout the world. “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society” J. Krishnamurti. It was nice to hear someone taking a look at the whole rather than isolated events and actions- absolutely a sociological perspective. Totally off topic, but I’m going to bring it up anyway- “Want to stop terrorism? Stop participating in it.” Noam Chomsky. Anyway- I’ve read some of Moore’s books and while I’m not his biggest advocate, I really appreciated his perspective this morning.
-As of about a week ago, I have a kitten 🙂 Her name is Tazo and she’s wonderful. I think she looks like a little brown lynx. When I get back to Jackson I’ll have to put up a picture. She’s staying there now- a friend is visiting the house at intervals to take care of her.
“I have suddenly woken up to the fact that somebody needs to be teaching theology the way St. Augustine did and not the way textbooks in seminaries do. Someone should be able to find the Living God in scripture- and this is his word- and then lead others to find him there and all theology properly ends in contemplation and love and union with God- not ideas about Him and a set of rules about how to wear your hat.” -Thomas Merton, The Road to Joy (p.172)
This evening I made some hot chocolate.
Not that powdered stuff but Ghirardelli cocoa with organic turbinado sugar.
As I drank that hot chocolate, one thing kept flowing through my head and simultaneously pulling at that thing in my chest.
It didn’t have anything to do with that time I tried the Ahwahnee’s signature Firefall, hot chocolate after Christmas-caroling in West Michigan or even that of drinking Ovaltine out of sippy cups on our faux-grass carpet in Ohio.
I kept thinking about my Dad.
This is him. I think he’s the best.
He’s still in Bolivia and I miss him a ton.
This past year, at one point during my visit, my Dad and I were able to fly to Sucre for a few days. It was a gift for both of our birthdays since they’re relatively close together. Sucre is an old, stereotypical colonial city in Bolivia with white-washed walls, ornate government buildings and the typically massive catholic church. It’s kind of the capital, but not quite.
It was such a nice trip. The city was extremely peaceful. The students and the teachers were protesting and as a result, roadblocks had emptied the area of pretty much all traffic for the duration of our stay. Dad and I walked all over the place and enjoyed the different restaurants and cafes in the area. We spent a lot of time relaxing at our hostel and I got to do quite a bit of reading. It was great. We simply did whatever we felt like. Such a nice, relaxing break… It may not sound too exciting but, man, it was living…
I really enjoyed the time there. I really enjoyed the time with my Dad.
At one point we made it to Para Ti, a chocolate shop that is one of Sucre’s biggest draws. As we walked in and looked at the menu, an older man who I’m guessing was German sitting at one of the little booths told us in broken English something to the effect of: “I haven’t had real hot cocoa like this since the 1950s”.
We sat there and ordered some of these famous chocolate drinks and really took our time savoring them as well as the moment itself. That’s something that Dad has passed on to me. That of appreciating moments, atmosphere, ambience…
(Our Hostel’s Courtyard)
So that’s what I’m thinking about right now…
I’m so thankful for him. I miss him very much. I hope all is well in SC.
A super-quick explanation for the change in possible directions:
1.) Bike Mechanic School: I had the opportunity to work in Yosemite’s Bicycle Maintenance Shop (shed) where a friend of mine is the head mechanic here. Although I love working with bikes, it was soon apparent that a similar position would be less of a dream come true and more of a daily task that sucks the passion I have out of riding and working on bikes. So I’ll be passing on bike school for now.
2.) Grace Bible College: Good people, good school, but they simply don’t offer any programs that I feel particularly led to at this point in time. Spring Arbor, on the other hand, has a handful which helps justify the cost differential between the two schools in my eyes…
So- in less than a week, I’ll be Greyhounding it 63 hours. It’ll be an experience.
One that I’m looking forward to though.
Onwards and upwards–
There was a point last year, when I was in Yosemite National Park, at which I decided not to write on here for the time being. I can once again understand the feeling.
Yosemite is a wonderful place for experiencing and reflecting. The downside is that with all of those new experiences and reflective moments, documenting them regularly is sometimes easy to forget about.
With that said, I will write a little.
The Present: I’ve been enjoying my time here. I live in a wonderful tent in the woody village known as Boystown. I wake early in the mornings, either for work or for Yoga and drink much tea (and good South American tea too, thanks Mom. .. ) I’ve been cooking and preparing much of my own food which has been an adventure in and of itself. I will say, I have come a long way since I started. I make copious amounts of yogurt, oatmeal raisin bread, whole wheat crackers, tomato basil hummus, serrano/tomatillo salsa, banana oatmeal milkshakes, parmesan kale chips, cinnamon apple granola, quinoa salads, rice pilafs, peanut butter and some other things that I’m forgetting. Probably about 75% of my diet is there on that list. I’m quite nearly a vegetarian.
I still enjoy riding my bike and do so every day. I’ve been blessed with a Brooks B17 saddle which has been wonderful. Meditation/contemplation/solitude and reading are some of my favorite things to do as well. There are no thrift stores in Yosemite National Park, but when I make it out of the Valley I make my trips worthwhile (purchasing the bulk of my food as well- although not at thrift shops.)
I’m working as an Inventory Clerk at the Studio Warehouse here in the park. The job is good, although I don’t often feel very good about what I’m actually doing (a cog in Delaware North Companies sleazily efficient retail machine.) There’s a drum set hidden up in a corner on the second level of the warehouse which has been enjoyable from time to time. I work with a guy about my age from Mississippi (the son of an English vagabond), a middle-aged Prison Sergeant away from his previous job because of stress/health reasons, a computer programmer, a blind man with a wonderful heart (who amazingly works as a crushing machine operator for recycling) and several other stressed-out adults with too much on their minds and not enough rest.
I miss my family much. It was wonderful being able to spend time and travel with them, but now they’re off, either on another continent, about to swing past me from Michigan to LA (USC!) as I head back to the Midwest or in other random places. There are others in different spots, although I think most would call them friends, but I think they’re more than that due to the heart bonds. They’re above friends, but not family- I don’t know what they’d be exactly. Anyway, they’re all over the place as well… And I miss them as well.
Near Future: I’m taking off soon. Actually in less than two weeks. Longest solo trip thus far in my life- Greyhound, 63 hours across the country. I’m headed to Spring Arbor University in Spring Arbor, Michigan, in order to study either Social Justice or International Development. Some friends that I made here, who are involved with ACMNP (A Christian Ministry in the National Parks*), are currently attending SA or recently graduated. The fact that I’ve really enjoyed my time with them and have been impressed by their demeanor, actions, faith and reading habits, played a large role in my decision to head over to their school. Prayer as well as guidance from friends and family also played a definitive part in the choice. I’m excited and anxious, as well as nervous. I do hope that it goes well and I am planning on putting much into it. First semester should give a fairly good idea of how it is, and the second semester may possibly be spent in Guatemala (I’ve gotten conflicting reports on the likelihood of that.) I’ve hear very good things about happenings at the school and the Professors as well. Of the two graduates that I know, both have spoken highly of the school. The only shortcomings that I currently foresee have to do with regulations against candles and incense in housing and a required meal plan. I suppose both are surmountable. I am a bit bummed that as Trevor heads to California from Michigan, I’ll take off for Michigan but such is life I suppose.
Reading: In the past two weeks I finished “Eat Pray Love”, “The Death of Ivan Illyich”, “Into the Wild” and “Car Camping”. The middle two books I loved. Both are very good, for very different reasons and I recommend them both wholeheartedly. If you could only read one, however, I’d say you must surely go with Tolstoy. “Eat Pray Love” wasn’t terrible. A fantastic concept, but borderline shallow- almost reading like a Salon editorial. It has some internal inconsistencies as well, but all in all was an entertaining read and it had more quotable parts and concepts than I guess I’d like to admit. “Car Camping” was a wreck of a book.
I’ve also started David Platt’s“Radical”, Tozer’s “Pursuit of God”, Lewis’ “The Four Loves” and “New Spanish Self-Taught Revised Edition”. “Radical” is quite good so far, “Pursuit of God” is fairly amazing, “The Four Loves” has been hard to get into and the Spanish book has been on par with what I would consider to be quite average.
With that I’ll end this thing. I hope that this finds you well, as well as growing in vulnerability, conviction, trust, faith, truth and dependence.
*Correct, “A” stands for “A”.
PS. While bicycling over here (Degnan’s Pizza Loft) I enjoyed some Enya. Always nice…
PPS. I’ve developed quite the affinity for Mason jars.