“best laid schemes of mice”


Departing on a Friday evening (7/27). Leaving Dayton early in the morning for St. Louis to see the gateway of the west and dinner in Kansas City before retiring in Manhattan, the one in Kansas (7/28). Maybe a few copies of Wild Harmony will become available at the Dusty Bookshelf. Off to Colorado (7/29) for three days with the Alaskan. Then on to Salt Lake City (8/1) to hop in the water and camp. Maybe drop a few books off to The King’s English Bookshop. Through Nevada (8/2) to Yosemite for a night checking out the stars. San Francisco follows for a few days. If good form still goes around and comes around, Wild Harmony will be placed on the shelves of City Lights.

Following San Fran, we will drive to Big Sur (8/6) to camp and then along State Route One to Ventura (8/7). Calico Cat Bookshop may consider adding Wild Harmony to their shelves if everyone plays their cards right. Los Angeles (8/8) is still up in the air with set plans, but hopefully Joe Rogan will have some time to podcast. Then it’s Vegas (8/10) for some madness and a Wild Harmony event. Phoenix (8/11) has some promising bookstores and is the start of the eastward sprint to San Antonio (8/12). Exhaustion is likely to set in by the time we arrive in New Orleans for a two day stopover (8/13). Another event awaits on the sands of Myrtle Beach (8/17). TBD from there.

TRIP FUNDING – (click this link to open kickstarter page in new window)

Jack Kerouac wanted to take a straight shot across America. On the road tells of his journey westward when gas was 15 cents a gallon, which is $1.55/gal adjusted for 2012 inflation (map below drawn by Kerouac).

Deer, deer, everywhere, oh dear!

“Why won’t you just leave the poor deer alone!” screamed an older woman walking by with a small yapping dog at the end of a leash.

I stood at my truck with a blank stare and then smiled at her and thought about telling her to go take a long walk with her dog down a short pier. The cervidae family of mammals includes white-tailed deer, elk, moose, mule deer, and even reindeer. Due to suburban sprawl many white-tailed deer have become almost gypsy-like. Their wandering has gotten to the point in which towns have allowed bow hunting just a couple hundred yards away from residential properties. While walking with a friend and her dog, I saw at least a dozen deer along a paved path through a wooded area. Just before leaving the area, I stopped to take a photo of some deer who coincidentally were in frame with a “no hunting” sign. These signs were common and many self-proclaimed naturalists were in a frenzy trying to stop people from “murdering” the “innocent” deer. They are not wrong to believe what they do. Misguided is a better word.

There’s no way to accurately account for the number of deer in America. Some numbers I have seen are as high as 80 million and others as low as 10 million. However, there are some compelling data points when it comes to car accidents with deer: close to 200 people are killed a year in America. That’s not to say that we should adopt a policy of destroying all the deer, but overpopulation is a serious concern and culling is a rational option. When animals have to compete with many other animals over food, they become goofy. Deer tend to wander into highways, either due to depression or stupidity, and are annihilated by cheaply made cars, which do not react well to the sometimes couple hundred pound pieces of meat.


Two corporals of the V-22 Osprey mentioned that their two friends were killed in a crash in Morocco back in April. They were so “that’s just the way of the world” about it. The airplane helicopter hybrid has for years been criticized for over the top costs.

“I’ve been doing this stuff for about four years now,” said the first flight crew member.

“If you don’t mind me asking, how old are you?” asked Chris delicately.

“Twenty-two. Yea, pretty much joined after my first year of college.”

After talking for another fifteen minutes and seeing the sun go down from the East Ninth Pier, adjacent to the obscure looking Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame and Cleveland’s skyline. The clouds covered the horizon and caused the sun to look as if it were bleeding into Lake Erie. The Marines played taps and lowered the flag while most of the people stood in upright postures playing along by saluting during the ceremony. Perhaps they were all veterans. The crowds morphed into a music festival type of extravaganza during their invasion of Burke Lakefront Airport exercise. Armored personnel carriers came up from Lake Erie and a hundred or so Marines sprinted out of their lowering ramps into the brush of the vacant looking airport. There they shot off green smoke proceeding by loud popping blanks. After a few minutes and for the rest of the show, various pieces of hardware dropped Marines, picked them up, and flew in many formations, shaking the grounds with the sound of their powerful Rolls Royce engines.

Most of the people likely hit the road after the sea, water, and air assault. Still, the casino grabbed many handfuls and the Indians were playing the Pirates on the other side of town. Cleveland was alive and well, but it didn’t take long for most of the excitement to die down. The Marines had no trouble getting people to buy them drinks that evening in the bars. Most Clevelanders, however, retreated to their respective suburbs for the peace of the green grassed yards and long couches to stretch out on. The amount of relaxation and even minor isolation leaves many people seeking for happiness in the strangest ways. So many restaurants and shopping villages, driving all over the place, and only enjoying home when people come to visit.

Take Avon Lake, Ohio for example. About 25,000 people inhabit the lakeside town and collectively hold tens of millions in assets. What is the community like? This usual question by new residents is never accurate. There is a lot of idealism in the mission statements of towns or their philosophy on what it means to be a community. However, Avon Lake is not alone. Most suburbs in America follow the same restrained American Dream policy insulated from most of the world’s realities. It is without a doubt the priority when politicians talk about maintaining the American Way of Life. The stability beneath is what the high demand of it all is about. People able to work anywhere in the world, but stay within an artificial tribe. On the weekends during the autumn months, high school football gets people up in a rush. Other than that, it is rare that all of Avon Lake would ever be in one place. Times are changing though and with the bicentennial on the horizon, there has been talk of massive development along the shoreline. Rumors have surfaced from various dinner party conversations and idealistic drunken conversations around campfires. Nearly all the land along the lake is residential, with a few open areas with small beaches or simple boardwalk access. Word came few weeks ago that the very large Pink Floyd Animals looking coal power plant will be closing in April 2015. What then? One side hopes to restore the lease with another company, another want to have it destroyed and turned to residential or other community land. In between those two arguments, rational people scratch their heads as to why something grand could not take its place.

Cleveland is expanding and will continue to do so, according to many reports. One group of young college grads who have returned to temporarily live with parents have been talking about developing it into the grand place of the midwest. Their high hopes may be way out of the range of spending risk the city or investors are willing to make. The plan would take the entire land around the coal power plant and turn it into a community resort and apartments. Parts of the plant would naturally have to be destroyed, but to benefit off the industrial architecture for shops and apartment lofts, will be renovated and refurbished. Initial costs rise into the millions, but the payoff may be extraordinary in the long run and turn Avon Lake into the town of innovation and forward thinking. Along with commercial development, the group hopes to make a deal with the school district to open up some of the new rooms as a conference center and classrooms. It will truly be a community center and as people grow accustomed to it, treat it as if it were their own. The green space in the area will be cultivated into community gardens. Coffee shops will reopen and the already developed but under utilized Avon Lake plaza will return to life. All it will take is a little push by those who know how to get things done. Let’s do something grand and see what happens next. Imagine the possibilities. Plus, it will be fun.

The returned Avon Lakers do not have high expectations to go along with their hopes. If college and all the wasted money on that venture was the best that many people can come up with, then an idea of infrastructural development and change may be too much to handle. They have been sharing stories of growing up around campfires, but when it comes down to getting a job, they all expect to move out of Avon Lake. Why? Because there is just not a whole lot worth hanging around with. Like the Marines in Cleveland, these young people need to know there is a community behind them and ready to help them reach their potential and go through with their plans, or at least be listened to enough for the project to commence. Those Shoremen.

Invasion of Cleveland

“I believe in America. America has made my fortune.” The introductory line of Godfather set the stage for so many who wished to tell the story of the real America, the land of opportunity, the place where some make it while many do not. Compromises of time and energy are bound to lead to a false sense of achievement. High risk does not guarantee high reward as one of the possibilities is always no reward and even loss. However, low risk hardly leads to anything and if it does, usually only to menial success. And that may not be such a bad thing. When someone mentions economics, think less of dollars and cents and more of the general system of production, consumption, and the transfer of wealth. Extend that system to include time and then begin calculation of risks and rewards. For the most part, there are only so many years to enjoy certain aspects of life to the fullest, but without money and access, some of that is not possible.

Cleveland opened a casino with a motto of risk being its own reward. Advertising aside, the act of gambling is an easy specific example to what many hope to achieve within the modern economic system. Walking through the spiffed up Higbee building adjacent to the Terminal Tower, the first telltale sign of financial desperation was that purified air smell, the fan which filter in new oxygen to the multi-storied grand rooms of slot machines, poker tables, and roulette. A man in the elevator said all odds improved after playing the same numbers, 5 and 10, over and over. “It’s just like life,” I said as we walked our separate ways. Like the oranges as omens of death in Godfather, the scent of brisk comfort could make you forget to bury your wallet deep in your pocket away from the small hands of the grifters. The place never closed although the bartender stated at five after two in the morning that they were no longer serving, but would be back open in the morning. They were handing out ten ounce bottles of water for two or three dollars apiece. Usually they start at five o’clock in the afternoon, but since it was early Sunday, the peak gambling hours, they would open back up to the gamblers at ten thirty or so in the morning.

Earlier that day, wandering through the cordoned off public square, people we already withdrawing as much as they could from ten dollar fee ATMs and pulling the slot lever in hopes of doubling their investment. Politicians said it would bring much needed dollars to Ohio and more specifically, Cleveland. Only a few weeks since opening, the Horseshoe Casino hums with high heeled gangsters, sightseers, wannabe rounders, day drinking rationalizers, and a slew of other people who bounce from one label to the other. Maybe a handful of them walk across the street to purchase cheaper cigarettes, but it is unlikely they will venture much further. A contingent of the 750 U.S. Marines who were coming to Cleveland for a circus performance explored the city during the day and found it to be mostly sunkissed desolate streets and blocks of unoccupied buildings.

First Lieutenant Marcus had recently returned from his second tour in Afghanistan and thought he was in for a treat with this public relations group which had been occupying various cities in the Union for the past couple years, spending a few million dollars on demonstrating their expensive toys and hopefully recruiting some unsuspecting young patriots. All that did not matter to Marcus though. He had seen the reality of a dozen or so young men driving their self-improved “high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles” around the mountainous roads through backwards-type of villages for weeks on end. His second tour had been fairly uneventful as he was assigned a detail of new recruits fresh out of Quantico who called Marcus, at least in private, Hollywood POG, referring to the Marine Corp Recruit Depot in San Diego. He learned a lot from his first tour and did not like to talk about it. Knowing what the second tour entailed, Marcus did not challenge his subordinates beyond the safety of the mission and let them assume he had not seen or experienced much. They were assigned a series of roads outside of Behsud, an area in the Wardok province, just west of Kabul. The French had an NGO in the area and one of Marcus’ responsibilities was to come to their assistance whenever they appeared to be in a binde. The French and other volunteers of the group were not afraid to show their disdain for America, even though some of the volunteers were American.

All that did not matter though. Marcus was back in stateside after the MADERA incident which was really only a small scuffle, but had resulted in a chain of command perception of a crisis and Marcus’ dismissal from his small rifle platoon. It was more a slap on the wrist and in private the colonel had told Marcus that if he gave it a year or two, he would be back in the running for captain and MEU, the highly regarded Marine expeditionary unit. Instead of heading in for an office position, Marcus had been taken on in advisory capacity to the Cleveland public relations group which was responsible for planning BLE, the Burke Lakefront Exercise, a land from water assault of the fairly empty piece of land on the shoreline of Cleveland near the end of the 750 Marine-strong Triumph. Marcus had some free-time that Saturday afternoon and while walking through some empty streets and the Arcade, I met Marcus. He did not look obvious as a Marine, whatever that is.

On the rooftop of an apartment building, which used to be a swanky Cleveland hotel, three law students sat talking of their first year and how it is meant to weed out the weak and then the following year be worked to death before enjoying a third year of broken promises. Like any job in the world these days, success is not guaranteed. Getting by is difficult enough. Professions that pay high are not easy to procure with those in the upper ten percent of the graduating law class receiving the best and the remainder fighting for the limited entry-level jobs. They knew the game and played it well, but while talking of unorthodox paths and thinking, an alternative way of moving forward, they came to an agreement on things seen and unseen. Before coming to a cohesive point, a fire in the distance near the law school became visible from the rooftop. There were no sirens in the air. Foolhardy fellow youngsters hopped over the railings, risking their lives to get a Facebook photo.

Talking of unorthodoxy, welfare came up fairly quickly due to one of the law student’s experience working in a supermarket. People with food stamps would attempt to purchase items which were either forbidden under the list of qualifying foods and drink. Alcohol of course could not be bought with food stamps.

“Some guy the other day tried to sell me food stamps,” said one of the law students. “I looked at him and just was like, you know that’s illegal man.” The down on his luck entrepreneur did not realize he was trying to make a quick ten dollar cash exchange for twenty dollar food stamp credit from a future lawyer. He was right not to make the exchange though. The investigating board which did what they could to prevent food stamp fraud very often did not go after those who perpetrated the fraud, but instead went after the employees of the store or owners. This meant the burden was entirely upon those who checked identification and ensured people weren’t getting away with buying superfluous items.

“Why spend time worrying about those people though?” asked Marcus. “Such small potatoes when it comes to the big picture.” One of the military’s chief responsibilities is that of the economic welfare, a continuance of orthodoxy and the safeguard of American interests abroad. Politicians squabbled over the tiny percentage of waste in welfare spending, in respect to the entire federal budget. “They ignore the big pieces of the pie, Social Security, Medicare, the Military, and bloody interest on each year’s deficit.” They continue to replace the wheels on a vehicle which is too heavy and inefficient, instead of a major overhaul in order to lighten the load and even invent a new type of wheel that does not need to be expensively replaced every four years.

Everyone was relatively good to each other, which is all a reasonable person can ask of society. Even though most were distracted by the flashy casino lights and glimpse upon financial gain or sexual conquest, the people in Cleveland at three in the morning were in solid form. Most of the Marines were obvious to pinpoint with their dates, who were shipped in on luxurious party buses from various local universities. These types of public relations activities always required happy Marines, so they would send out a few clean cut recon officers to wander around sorority houses, make Facebook connections, and then match make them with their counterparts the following weekend for a night out on the town. They had figured out the system to a perfect rhythm and aside from a few incidents of too much drink, were usually decent to the women and had them back to their respective sororities the following afternoon. The CO had planned a noon briefing which was more than enough time to sleep in, say goodbye to the girl in good form, and enjoy some complimentary breakfast provided by the Holiday Inn Express. Unlike the Army, which would have probably brought their own food with them, the Marines had to sustain themselves on the fly wherever they were stationed. Marcus had these experiences on too many occasion to remember, but found the stateside obligations amusing, especially in the context of their mission, which was to show-off the best of their equipment that they would unlikely have access to, at least in Marcus’ experience.

All that did not matter though. Cleveland turned out to be a nice place to have this extravaganza, according to Marcus’ CO. The size and availability of space at low cost allowed the CO to disperse more party expenses. There were strict orders on keeping people in line and were able to finagle a seat with the casino surveillance who were also providing $56 per Marine to wet their gambling whistles. Several MPs, younger football types, were walking amongst the rest of the Marines and would text to a central MP point whenever someone had too much to drink or was getting aggressive. They would then convince those around the Marine in question to return to the Holiday Inn for a cold shower. The formula worked like no other and aside from a few of the younger Marines who normally would be allowed to drink, but were unable to in many domestic taverns, so would booze up in their hotel rooms before heading out on the town.

The casino continued to hum with activity and would likely go through the dawn. The law students retired for the evening and the streets became deserted. Driving off, away and out of the city, there was an accident. Detouring around the traffic and into some residential area south of the highway, there were youngsters walking up and down the street looking like they did not wish to be found. I soon rejoined the highway and managed to run down a raccoon and rabbit. They, not sure who to be exact, recommend that you never swerve to avoid hitting animals. The commute to the suburbs of Cleveland is no more than twenty minutes and even during rush hour is not that big of a deal. The sprawl, as it is often called, spread Cleveland out to the point in which people may say they live in Cleveland without ever being within the city limits of Cleveland. When it comes to traffic and commutes, Cleveland is in the better echelon, but that is just a matter of timing in economics. The overt optimists believe that one of these days Cleveland will become a super high demand to be in city with property values tripling with the rise. Is that the reason the Key Tower, the tallest skyscraper, has remained at half capacity for so many years? Are landlords throughout the city keeping things artificially grim so they may profit off the eventual day of Cleveland’s rise? All that doesn’t really matter though. Would a modern day Hemingway spend anytime in Paris? At the time of his rambling around Gay Parie, Paris was one of the cheaper places to live and experience life with fellow writers. Kerouac said he could make any city in the world be like Paris. Could Cleveland be a bit like that? It’s probably Istanbul.

TOM: You were around the old timers — and meeting up on how the family should be organized. How they based them on the old Roman legions and called them regimes — the capos and the soldiers. And I worked.
PENTANGELI: Yea, it worked. Those were the great old days you know. And one was like to Roman Empire. The Corleone Family was like the Roman Empire.
TOM: It was once. Frankie — when a plot against the Emperor failed — the planners were always given a chance to let their families keep their fortunes.
PENTANGELI: Yea — but only the rich guys Tom. The little guys — they got knocked off and all their estates went to the Emperors. Unless they went home and uh, killed themselves — then nothing happened. And their families — their families were taken care of Tom.
TOM: That was a good break — nice funeral.

“There’s guns across the river about to pound you”

“Billy, they don’t like you to be so free.” Anyone can talk the talk, that’s no surprise. Straw men make for easy self-rationalizations. Some points are irrefutable, like in geography. There is so much more though to consider when it comes to defining oneself in terms of what comes next after a major life event. Moments of clarity can come from any number of seemingly insignificant experiences, but when taken in context with the bigger picture can impact perception and understanding of all that one knows to be right and true. Many of these experiences go by with little notice. Far too often, the lesson is forgotten and old habits return. The measure of growth is found in the realization of meaning and its relationship to one’s purpose in life. Quick analysis determines what comes next. What are your immediate responsibilities? Do others depend upon you? After figuring those answers, you have to decide on what you want and how you can implement the positive changes into your life. It really is as simple as that.

Individuals have tremendous ability to make systematic changes. This evolution of the mind, this resolution to do things different, this belief, is unstoppable once it begins. Deus Impeditio Esuritori Nullus (No God Can Stop a Hungry Man). If you believe this, then wouldn’t you also agree that it is important to guarantee that what you are hungry for is actually what you want? After considering the mass of known information, what is it that is important after these tens of thousands of years of humanity? Is this too much? Perhaps. Imagine the possibilities that come from going after what many perceive to be out of reach. If it results in failure, then so be it. The failure will survive the test of time and will likely inspire others to reach for more when all else suggests that they should simply pursue ordinary success. It is a choice. If the decision is made to not go after what appears to be impossible, that is okay. Without a doubt, there is no absolute right when it comes to making a difference in this world. Whether it be one child or an entire community, people possess enormous potential to enhance other lives.

This is not an existential crisis. Simply take it as a line of thinking when managing new ideas or opportunities. So many have the freedom to do just about anything that comes to mind. What keeps progress from occurring is not a failure of timing, but a lack of willingness to do what needs to be done in order to move forward. Missing out on something is natural. We are not perfect. But, missing out multiple times is just plain laziness. We all suffer from the curse of modern civilization, specifically the convenience of all that we need. This total lack of required physical labor for our needs dulls our ability to achieve what we want. Acknowledging this fact is important when it comes to expectations. The best plans always consider assumptions and bias. Included in this ballpark of preparation is knowing the present environment. Things then become real easy to see. All that comes next is the commitment to put all these new concepts into action. Keep in mind the nature of this way of life. The differing quality to what is considered normal and accepted will likely threaten the establishment. Other’s will not get it and probably will strike back with all their might. Stand tall and proud, for you no longer operate within their context. They are but noise and your song is far more interesting than theirs.

Outside Actuality

I saw a bumper sticker on the back of a truckMoss covered rocks today which read, “I’d rather be lost in the woods, than found in the city.” There were many other cars on the crowded road with no trees in sight. Earlier in the day, I woke up in Allegheny National Forest, under a tarp which prevented the rain from soaking my blanket and rock pillow. My traveling companions and I were lost for about an hour at one point. Creeks flowed from all directions down into a thick ravine. We hiked along the running water passing moss covered rocks and green foliage growth. We must have followed the wrong creek on the return, but were able to find a gravel road back to the campground before it became dark. Sitting around the fire, we were able to see that the temporary lost feeling was the most authentic of the journey.

Being lost is often a personal introspection into what is working and what is not. Forced to carry everything regardless of what feels right, the advancement toward finding what you are looking for is not easy. People are less likely to judge each other when they are lost. Most thoughts are self-directed and as Larry Smith said, “If only I had.” Smith’s talk is titled, Why you will fail to have a great career. Although not specific to being lost in the woods, the sentiment is the same concerning the journey toward self-actualization. Critical thoughts may lead to the unfair challenge which results in the encroachment of fear. Smith believes many people fail to find and pursue their passion due to fear of looking ridiculous so they come up with excuses. “You’re afraid to try. You’re afraid you may fail.”

Afraid to try. That is quite the accusation. When we fail to act in a life full of freedom, we demonstrate how little we appreciate the gift. And it is all a gift. There is not a single individual who achieved their own life. However, the individual can indeed achieve in life. What is this achievement though? Is it the idea of leaving this world better than the way we found it for our children? Such a noble mission statement, but it may inadvertently lead to a cycle of excuses, as Smith mentions in his talk. I hear people talk of why they cannot do something because of school, because of jobs, because of money, because of family and all the budding relationships in their midst. Of course we should take care of our commitments, but what happens when your child asks for your advice on taking risks to achieve their dreams? If there is going to be growth and progression, we must do more than persist for the sake of “the children.” They will be better off trying to emulate our example rather than being coddled incessantly. Again, there is a balance to it all. A child without parenting and a child with too much parenting is for the most part in some serious trouble.

Railroad through the woodsThere are many trails to this life. Some trails are straight edged and it may feel as if you are locked in with a future not entirely certain, but secure enough to believe in the predictability of it all. Like a railroad, you let it take you rather than take it. On the other end of the spectrum are the trails through the thicket of the woods. The part of the woods where the thorn covered branches bloody up your arms and legs. Surprises are commonplace such as when a tree used for support is actually decomposing which causes a fall into a hoard of ticks. Even in this day in age, most people do not know what they are talking about. Too much information is also recipe for deception. Burning off a tick is not the advised technique due to what they tick does with its mouth when it feels the sensation.

Advice, suggestions, tips, and a few other teachings are not meant to define our moves. Their definitions are limited to a slight nudge, a guide of sorts to assist in the understanding of our place in the world. Take it all with a grain of salt. The literal meaning is very often unrealistic, especially when applied to dreams. A self-analysis will always find imperfections and it often seems there are many other people who are doing it better. The “it” does not matter though if we do not know what “it” is that we believe is important. Some people prefer to be on the rails their entire lives. Many feel it necessary, if only for a time, to be on the tracks in order to figure something specific out. The ability to go off trail from time to time is the true test. Can you easily get back on track? Or will you wander through the world forever? Is that track really going somewhere certain? Who is to judge what is the better way? Knowing where you want to go is helpful. Regardless of all that, because nothing makes sense all at once, keep on going because it is the only way you will get there.

positive change to growth

“The best way to live life is to do your best and be cool to people and be nice and get through this as easy as you can…virtually anybody can put themselves on a positive path.” – Joe Rogan

Anyone can come up with a complex way of living. It is for the most part much better to think of a simple way of life, simple rules, and simple values. Some of us are the same; most of us are entirely different from one another. Dreams, aspirations, plans, all differ ever so slightly. Our ability to identify with another person on a conversational level is a great skill toward creating strong relationships. It becomes problematic when we take personal what someone else says which we many not entirely agree with. When we close up and assume the worst in each other, the course will likely result in negativity and loss. Nothing good comes from negativity and very little comes from being over-realistic.

Train through the woods

For some the path through the woods is clear regardless of fear. Others may spend too much energy complaining about the mud or the camouflage effect of the trees. By listening too closely to the complaint and trying to figure out why the other person is so negative, we become negative ourselves and are less considerate of a favorable outcome. This is not such a big deal when hiking through a small park within city limits. However, if the circumstances were within an unknown environment or translated from metaphor to life in general, then such distractions can become fatal. There is not enough time in this life to be negative.

Do not be hard on yourself if you realize that negativity. Simply make a decision to change and it will happen. Positivity is much easier anyway. It also helps to accept yourself in all ways and to be open to constructive criticism. Being authentic is a great technique to understanding real passion and dedication to some sort of goal. People tend to notice this and respond accordingly by sharing ideas which may then spur great action. These habits of positive action have a profound effect on everyone you contact. They benefit and grow until eventually you find yourself surrounded by dozens of strong individuals who possess the capacity to change the world.

Balanced Adventure

“The word adventure has gotten overused. For me, when everything goes wrong, that’s when adventure starts.” -Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia outdoor apparel

Adventure is a personal journey into something entirely new. We often are better off learning and growing as a result of an experience. When that is taken as the measure, an adventure can simply be a walk around the block for someone who has never left their house. It is exponential from there as people continue to experience more of what this world has to offer.

With greater experience comes wisdom. And those with this quality prove to be great teachers on the ways of life. They design maps, write instructions, and explain consequences of doing things the wrong way. Some take the responsibility so serious that they convey to others warnings of what not to do and emphasize the less is more lifestyle.

Regardless of what people are taught, they sometimes need to pee on the electric fence to understand. Scholars fail to grasp this concept when the same mistakes are made throughout history. “Why can’t we learn from the past?” they’ll ask. We do learn, but it does not mean we understand. An optimistic view upon history shows that we have improved ourselves in a progress over perfection kind of way. We will not figure everything out at once. Some may, other’s won’t. The individual must at the very least know where he or she is going. And then take another step forward.

Sign of the way

The motivation for pursuing adventure is far more interesting than the details of a plan. It should not be so difficult for it to materialize. Near the end of the documentary 180° South, Chouinard continues a conversation with Doug Tompkins, a co-founder of The North Face.

Yvon Chouinard:  The hardest thing in the world is to simplify your life. It’s so easy to make it complex. What’s important is leading an examined life because most of the damage caused by humans is caused unintentionally I think.

Doug Tompkins:  In response to people saying “you can’t go back,” I say well what happens if you get to the cliff and you take one step forward or you do a 180º turn and take one step forward? Which way are you going? Which is progress?

Yvon ChouinardThe solution may be for a lot of the world’s problems is to turn around and take a forward step. You can’t just keep trying to make a flawed system work.

washed-up too soon? NO!

“If you go to the Buddhist meditation center, they make you taste each bite of food, so it takes two hours—it’s horrible—to eat your lunch! But you’re conscious of the taste of food! If you’re just eating out of habit, then you don’t taste the food and you’re not conscious of the reality of what’s happening to you. You enter the dream world again.” – Andre Gregory

Large disillusioned masses flock to city squares with little to no agenda and are often criticized for being so stubborn within the myth of participatory democracy. “Occupy a job,” so many will say with absolute resolve. Maybe we are witnessing the stages of grief of a people promised far too much by the American Dream. There is no way that everyone is on the same stage and therefore they have difficulty understanding each other.

Shock and denial that things have gotten to this point; they feel it will recover regardless of new leadership or worse believe it depends upon the upcoming elections. Others who do not believe this turn to pain and guilt. Being 2012, the world is quite chaotic and ominous, maybe more so than any other time, although probably just like any other year. When people begin to see what is really going on or see the system as broken, they turn to anger and bargaining. Yelling, protesting, resolutions, and all the other emotions at peak capacity are followed by a crash into depression under the impression that nothing will change.

Press on! It is the only way to break free from this despair, things start to get better, we begin to work through our collective problems, and then finally we accept the system and creative rules of the game to make things better for everyone. Seems easy enough and why not? There’s no reason to complicate everything or assume that most people are just wrong. Experience and education vary from nothing to too much. Many cannot even have a simple conversation on the world without reverting to “it’s just too complex to talk about, let’s talk about what was on the television last night or the weather.”just a man pointing at the horizon

Sometimes you have to find a new scene in order to see things more clearly. Remember one thing though. You bring you wherever you go. Changing your scene should not be thought of as an escape but instead as a way to better understand yourself under different circumstances. Everything is evolving regardless of where you are at the present moment. Generalizations, which are often regrettably used in this and many previous posts, can be dangerous unless you are willing to go and see for yourself if what you are saying is valid. Consciousness of the world is great. Do not take it personal though. Even if you were not part of the equation, most of it would remain the same. Since you are part of it, take a moment and talk about it with a friend sooner rather than later.

Turn it upside down

The idealized memory of the promising few casts a shadow of fear that many take to heart. This crisis of perception is not new and is used each year to justify so-called original works of art. The founders said this, the founders believed in that, the founders would roll over in their graves. Those who write history are people just like us all. They struggle to meet their editor’s deadline and from time to time compromise on accuracy. We should all take a moment to turn the argument upside down and see what makes sense and what does not. The truth seldom makes sense compared against a beginning to end fiction. What actually happened may come across as cliché compared to a sonnet written under duress. How do we judge source validity? If the grammar is off, do we lose confidence in the final conclusion? The same goes for people who may not have the best reputation, yet were there when the event happened. They saw with their own eyes, yet many would rather believe the spin of the corporate news anchor. The accuracy of interpretations matters less and less these days.

Self-diagnosis is not recommended when it comes to serious conditions. We have more access to information than at any other time in history. So when we notice symptoms of an ailment, it is easy to assume the worse, which creates a situation of self-fulfilling prophecies. The ramifications of this ability intensify when looking at the affairs of the modern world. Talking heads on every channel give their confident perspectives which very often contradict what they said the previous day. Politicians manipulate everything to suit their agenda and those who support them. Pollsters make ridiculous predictions with plus or minus two percentages and are taken literally by the undecided voters who either support the underdog or jump on the bandwagon. Millionaire strategists understand this concept and are paid even more to set up the wealthiest candidates for victory regardless of their ability to inspire. Instead of becoming pawns in their game, why not take another moment and really think about what is going on? Imagine the possibilities if everyone took an extra fifteen minutes a day to read and acknowledge that which they normally find to go against what they believe in. This advanced citizenship is not an easy feat, but would probably lead those individuals seeking positions of power to take a more human approach to their campaigns. Maybe then, the habit of seeking the truth will finally sink in.