It is what it is: I was curious about the etymology. It’s a circular kind of thing, but can’t say it isn’t what it is I guess. This is part of me trying to reckon with possibilities and cope.
Avetts Red Rocks 2021: We have tickets for the Sunday show. It times up perfectly with our western trip we have planned for July. BUT… covid looks likely to continue to wreak havoc on the ability of Red Rocks to open fully. 2022… here we come?
Crest High School Football: had to check on the squad. Announcing a game today at noon–that’s right Saturday at noon. Another covid thing. It’ll be after my second dose, so hopefully I won’t say anything too crazy on the mic if the effects start to hit.
Revised Common Lectionary: Staple on the search list. First thing I click each morning. Daily Readings have been good for me.
The Doors of Stone: have to check once in a while to see if Rothfuss is any closer to releasing the third book of KingKiller Chronicles. It’s only been a decade since the last release. *eye roll*
The Leftovers: This show y’all. Phenomenal. I was searching this to see about the book that it’s based on. I ordered it. We’ll see if it is as good as the show.
March Madness 2021: Had to get my streaming capabilities set up. Glad there are tourney games back on today. Sad for Ohio St. and my guy, but the tourney has been fun to watch.
Paul Jackson: bassist for the Headhunters and with Herbie Hancock on many albums. He moved on to the next life a week or so ago. Worth a listen this weekend if you’re not familiar.
Sleep Number Bed: Always looking for the best mattress ever.
The Voice: it hasn’t been coming on on Tuesdays so we had to find out what was up. Sydney loves this show the most. She follows along and builds her own team with the app. I enjoy the blind auditions and the banter with Blake and the other judges. And I like watching it with Sydney.
Moderna Second Dose: coming up in about 2 hours. checking on those side effects and getting my mind right for what to expect. Grateful for the medicine, but I’d be ok with just a sore arm if you please.
Days til July 4: Counting down to when we head towards Bozeman!!!
Spiral dynamics: I was curious. Didn’t get too far down this hole though.
Set your mind on things above: working on it. Relying on scripture and prayer and the prayers of others to get me through this season of trial. If I showed current google searches it would have a lot to do with what to expect from a colonoscopy. I’m trying to remain positive. I’ll be ok. One way or the other. Sometimes I am able to rest in the positive, and other times not so much. But it’s ok. Things above.
All of these fathers with their bald spots Pull to the car line dropping kids off The sons and daughters of their parents wounds Parents of their own
It’d make some sense, if some was made to me Sometimes I don’t see love in anything And just when I surrender to my shadow I snap out of it, and step into the light I step back into the light
Sometimes my mind feels like a valley So I take it to the bar Fill it up like an ocean To drown my troubles in Just to find out what good swimmers they are
It’d make some sense, if some was made to me Sometimes I don’t see love in anything And just when I surrender to my shadow I snap out of it, and step into the light I step back into the light
When my dreams feel like a rusty rail That I slapped on a coat of paint As the layers cracked and chipped and failed This wretched lie is all that remains
It’d make some sense, if some was made to me Sometimes I don’t see love in anything And just when I surrender to my shadow I snap out of it, yeah, I snap out of it And I step into the light I step back into the light I step into the light I step back into the light
We have a few mantras within our family. Remember Who You Are is one that was passed on to us by pop, my dad. He always said that to us whenever we would go out. A new one that we stumbled on this past Christmas is BeLive. I bought a sign, on purpose, with the word on it–still paid full price even though the second ‘e’ was missing. But we have turned it into something to remind us to be present. To be live. I’ll likely write more on these phrases in posts to come, but for today I will return to one that has become a bit dormant.
I love you, no matter what. No. Matter. What. That was a mantra that I would say to the kids quite often. It springs out of the great worry of my life. One that reviving the phrase now is targeted at, honestly. But I get ahead of myself…
Those words blossomed in our home. And they spilled over into the community of folks that frequented our home. My sister made a beautiful framed piece with those words. My brother in law spent a lot of his time and energy and money in order to craft the letters that spelled out No Matter What so that we could put them in our yard. I love you, no matter what. It was quite a meaningful slogan for us.
But then… it really was right around the time that my bro in law was working on the letters. Late 2017 and into early 2018. Things fell apart. The community of folks that we belonged to fractured. The unthinkable really. Turns out our seemingly vibrant collection of saints wasn’t immune to human frailty. Sarah and I were devastated. Broken. It seems that no matter what maybe wasn’t as real as I had imagined.
And don’t misunderstand. Most of the reckoning came from my own reflection and introspection. I don’t know that I will ever fully understand how things unfolded as they did, and so quickly. How friends we thought were so close really weren’t after all. I have spent a great deal of time over the past years examining my own role. My own perceptions. Motivations. Shortcomings. Some of the things were out of our control. Others, seemingly, weren’t. And for those relationships, I have long questioned my own commitment to No Matter What.
So, after a few attempts at humor as our friend Matt packed up to move to Stoneshire, we rearranged the letters no more and put them aside the building. Jumbled. Dormant. I still feel a good amount of sorrow about this splintering. About all my mistakes.
But, it’s time, I think, to revive the phrase No Matter What. A Resurrection.
I find myself now pretty knotted up. Tense. Fearful. I’ve written some about my gut issues the last few months, and the long anticipated doc visits and probable scopes are upon me. And I am having a hard time shaking the nerves. The sense of impending doom.
I had a book recommended to me yesterday after I had put up an Instagram poll and when I looked up the book I found the author was dealing with the cancer I hope I don’t have. And then I saw a story about a 43 year old man that died–though his obituary where his wife called him ‘dead sexy‘ did make me smile a bit.
I wish I could shake this stuff off. I wish I wasn’t so weak. I believe that when I am weak He is strong and all that. I really do. I know that suffering brings sharpening. But I don’t like it. And I don’t like the fact that I can’t master these fears. It feels like a lack of self-control. A piece of the fruit I have never had much success digesting.
And I admit I feel guilty. I feel guilty feeling a sense of anxiety over what I am only imagining at this point. Because I know folks are really and truly suffering. I feel guilty when my symptoms don’t match how bad things could be. How can I be glad about someone else having it worse than me? I surely am a sinner. And I don’t mean that in a self defeating or deflating kind of way. I say it in a self recognition need for grace and mercy and forgiveness kind of way.
So. No Matter What. A driving force, as I said, behind the phrase… a driving force for the creation of this online journal was to stay as connected to my family as I could. As I can. For them to know me. To know that I know them. I see them. They are a part of me.
But I lost my faith in that phrase. I lost my faith in the meaning. In my ability to fulfill that mantra. But it isn’t up to me. It just is. It. Just. IS.
I apologize to Sarah and Sam and Sydney and Isaac. I’m sorry for not believing that you love me no matter what. If I get a bad diagnosis now or in the future. I’m sorry for the unhealthy grip I have on life, even though it is driven by my desire to not see you sad or suffering. But I know You will love me through it all and through to the other side. And you know you will receive that same love from me. NO MATTER WHAT. Even as I struggle with fear. I am scared. Even as I experience weakness and react in ways I wish I didn’t. You love me. NO MATTER WHAT. I know that you do.
And I know that Good wins. I know that the Christ has set us all free. That Grace is. That Hope is. That losing life is the way to gain it. Letting go. “Be more involved with life and less attached to it.” Saw that on the insta today. I know that if the worst things that my fickle and feeble mind can imagine come to pass, that the Christ is. That our Hope is sustained. That Grace is life giving. Eternally.
So… please pray for me. Battling through a difficult Sunday emotionally and mentally and ending up realizing how I can rest in No Matter What doesn’t mean that I am not still weak. I will likely still experience the floods of anxiety as I go in for tests and await results. God I wish I didn’t. I long to be set free from that. So I do covet your prayers, as they say.
But more than anything, please pray that I can find real and true rest in the No Matter What Love that I receive from my family. That is created and freely given by our Maker. Perhaps a person I resonate with the most is the guy in scripture who says “I believe, please help me in my unbelief.”
Yesterday I went into Syd’s room to get her Broncos hat out of her closet. She needed it at the tennis courts where she is learning to play tennis–with the aid of her little brother/coach/trainer Isaac. During this past year, she also taught herself how to play guitar. She’s a thinker–guess she comes by it honestly. Also, she’s 14. Either way, I saw these lyrics she had written and framed with a picture she had taken on her wall. And for today’s Music Monday, I got her permission to post the picture and the lyrics here:
What do you want? Isn’t that a grand question? I’ve been immersed in the world of The Leftovers on HBOMax the last few weeks. Thanks for the rec Mack. I have a penchant for superlatives–especially whatever I’m listening to, watching, or reading at the particular moment. So, I’ll come back to this statement in a few months, but for now I’ll go ahead and say The Leftovers experience was one of the top TV/film type things I’ve encountered. Profound. Exhilarating. Thought provoking and filled with consideration of the Human Condition. Sarah doesn’t dig the stabbing and violence portrayed in images, so I bought the book. In fact, I bought two copies so I could read it at the same time as her.
I always wonder how much my own, your own, current experience and perspective impacts a reading or song or cinema. Or whatever. It has to have some impact. I mean, would I have gotten the same things, would the same emotions have been evoked a few months earlier by watching this? Would.
Regardless. It impacted me in the way it did at this time. In the way it is.
I have been restless. Pensive. Eager to move to what’s next, but also relishing the sharpening that is occurring in me now. Sometimes relishing. Sometimes fearing being cut. Slashed. You know, by the sharpening.
My thoughts are scattered on the current subject. Scattered. Like seed? I hope.
The Human Condition. It’s filled with temptation, suffering, doubt, fear, love, joy, anticipation, mystery, laughter, tears, distance, closeness, numbness, pain. Life. Death.
These ideas are nothing new. The commonality in this condition is something I am learning to embrace more fully. To say that I realize that I may suffer fear and tension and withdrawal while simultaneously someone else, in the very instant, is filled with courage and peace and joyful connectivity is not a profound realization in the history of human thought. Yet, when I experience such a revelation it is somehow the most profound event in my own existential journey. Until the next profound event, of course. 🙂
I won’t delve into the motivations and insecurities and whatever else that makes me want to post the picture of my newfound biceps and leaner frame. Don’t worry. I’ll spare you. But I do have those drives sometimes. Too often I suspect. 43 years old. When will I settle into myself? Ha. But like I said, I won’t get into that.
Psalm 51 has been prominent in the daily readings of the Lectionary these past few days. Restore to me the joy of my salvation the writer pleads. I get that on a level that I don’t even fully understand quite yet. Don’t even know how to begin to express. The joy of my salvation. Restore that. Loaded.
I also think about a line from one of my favorite movies where the narrator voice says “everybody looking for salvation by themselves… each like a coal drawn from the fire.”
What do I want? I want to start a church. A gathering of souls. Souls searching for something. For anything. Truth. Peace. Purpose. Meaning. Life. Hope.
I don’t mean to imply I have the answers. Only that I’m searching too. And the search for Salvation and learning to rest in the joy that Salvation exists is a journey I long for with a scattering of other travelers.
Maybe that looks like something I don’t have in mind as of yet. Maybe it’s more training. Perhaps moving deeper into the field of communion with those who suffer. Maybe it’s a leap of faith.
I’m open. To Planting. To sowing. And then to waiting. Preparing. Hoping. Searching. Seeking.
I do feel the words of the Carnival. Feel them. It’s almost like Natalie and I wrote them together. I once thought that was a possibility. I considered some other titles to this post: Boiling Over perhaps or WTF or Lonely Street… But this one captures as much as can be captured.
There are times I give in to the delusion that my voice is needed. That it is desired. Prophetic. As I read back through my Out West Journal and saw some of the things that were written to me, or after I posted my rant about education and got a text from my Dr. professor friend that she was gonna use that to teach her undergrads, or a memory that popped up on FB with a note from a student saying I was an inspiration, or the messages I’ll get once in a while via insta about how much my writing or rants on Co6 means to them… Folks used to tell me good things after I would do a little sermonizing on Sunday morning too… alas!
But I was reminded simultaneously during this mania of the mind that my voice isn’t unique. There are plenty of people writing and saying the same things. And though I should be glad about Oneness and Unity and such as that, I can’t help but be deflated with the notion that unique is maybe a bit of an overstatement. Even reading that same Journal and recognizing that I’m still thinking and writing about many of the same things 20 years later let some air out of my tires.
Jane Goodall says to chase your dreams as the prescription for living a full life. My dream is to be a messenger. I like to be the one to deliver the news. Quick with a post about the school board decision. Quick with a text of happy bday to a group thread. I like to be the messenger. And I like to contemplate the Message and see if I can’t figure a way to relay it in captivating, meaningful, and productive ways. Some days it seems like I’m good at it. Others, not so much. Ahhh, self-pity, thank you for allowing me to wallow–I think maybe I’ve experienced even more loss than I realize not being able to fully teach on a daily basis this past year.
There’s so much! Spinning. Chaos. Dystopian. I’m numb (with denial or something akin) to caring about much. No doubt the anxiety over the issues and possible issues with my gut is a real thing. I eat the same basic things and exercise and do all the things I think I should to help. I got some results back from the functional medicine labs and there were some red numbers on there… something is off I suppose. The GI doc appointment looms. Maybe the anticipation of it all is the worst of it. Maybe, hopefully, once it comes and goes, whatever the reckoning, the distant ever present heavy fog will lift. I think I am doing ok with it all and then a flood of body changing anxiety. Dammit! Why can’t I have self-control! Why can’t I master these fears?!
And I wasn’t joking about my back deck being a desert island. Loneliness is a real thing, too. Covid be damned!
And I’m tired, weary, of giving a f. Ha. I sometimes envy the folks that don’t seem to. I’m tired of initiating contact and dealing in surface level conversation. I’m tired of the leaders of the so called church, the church that should have the answers, or should at least bring comfort and peace and healing and compassion… instead there seems to be an overrepresentation of smug assholes.
And yes, I’m aware that my current disposition… that my chains of fog, that my decreasing desire to be the one responsible, that my increasing desire to not give a f, that my lavish bath of self-pity… I’m aware of how those things are related to the loneliness.
I enjoy wearing my new tank tops. And wearing Large t-shirts instead of XL. I enjoy seeing the changes in my body back into the shape it was a few decades back. I enjoy cranking out pushup ladders and increasing the number of crunches. I enjoy announcing Crest football, and getting compliments about such. I enjoy writing this blog every day. I enjoy the moments. The times where I recognize. The spectacle of seeing Sam and Luke and JP and Eli playing challenge matches as they have for the last 4 years. Of pulling the pillow from Isaac or talking about the virtues of 2 in 1 shampoo. Of Sydney seeing things eye to eye with me and her casting that knowing glance my way. I know those are real things. I wish I could stay there. Ha. Change. Would. Unique.
Pray for me. Or send your vibes. I rely too much on affirmation. I want things to be. Good. Lovely. Or rather I want to be in those things. I’m tired. Wild Eyed. Misfit. Let me hear. Hear. And Listen to the words below. The word. In these words, I’m glad I’m not the only one. I can find comfort in being a small part of the One. Let it be.
1Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.
2 Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story— those he redeemed from the hand of the foe, 3 those he gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south.
4 Some wandered in desert wastelands, finding no way to a city where they could settle. 5 They were hungry and thirsty, and their lives ebbed away. 6 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. 7 He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle. 8 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, 9 for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.
10 Some sat in darkness, in utter darkness, prisoners suffering in iron chains, 11 because they rebelled against God’s commands and despised the plans of the Most High. 12 So he subjected them to bitter labor; they stumbled, and there was no one to help. 13 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. 14 He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness, and broke away their chains. 15 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, 16 for he breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron.
17 Some became fools through their rebellious ways and suffered affliction because of their iniquities. 18 They loathed all food and drew near the gates of death. 19 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. 20 He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave. 21 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind. 22 Let them sacrifice thank offerings and tell of his works with songs of joy.
23 Some went out on the sea in ships; they were merchants on the mighty waters. 24 They saw the works of the Lord, his wonderful deeds in the deep. 25 For he spoke and stirred up a tempest that lifted high the waves. 26 They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths; in their peril their courage melted away. 27 They reeled and staggered like drunkards; they were at their wits’ end. 28 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. 29 He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea[b] were hushed. 30 They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven. 31 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind. 32 Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people and praise him in the council of the elders.
33 He turned rivers into a desert, flowing springs into thirsty ground, 34 and fruitful land into a salt waste, because of the wickedness of those who lived there. 35 He turned the desert into pools of water and the parched ground into flowing springs; 36 there he brought the hungry to live, and they founded a city where they could settle. 37 They sowed fields and planted vineyards that yielded a fruitful harvest; 38 he blessed them, and their numbers greatly increased, and he did not let their herds diminish.
39 Then their numbers decreased, and they were humbled by oppression, calamity and sorrow; 40 he who pours contempt on nobles made them wander in a trackless waste. 41 But he lifted the needy out of their affliction and increased their families like flocks. 42 The upright see and rejoice, but all the wicked shut their mouths.
43 Let the one who is wise heed these things and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord.
Six Lists of Six for this Music Monday. These are my favorites, not necessarily what I would argue as best of all time or whatever. Also, I could easily change the order for some of these, or add/subtract from these lists at any point in the day depending on what I’m listening to… but for today:
Best Dead Years:
1981 – This is a surprise move. 81 dead has grown exponentially in my listening as of late. It’s Brent before he was too Brent. That Lost Sailor -> Saint… and Jerry’s voice on Stella!
1978 – Shakedown!
Best Venues I’ve seen shows:
Red Rocks – duh
The Wiltern Theater in L.A.
Riverside Theater in MKE
Township in Cola: Not the prettiest, but always rowdy
Whatever the amphitheater in St. Augustine is called. Very cool.
Civic Center — because Asheville
My fav/most listened to rap/hip-hop albums
ATLiens – Outkast
Aquemeni – Outkast
Liquid Swords – GZA
Low End Theory -Tribe
Licensed to Ill – Beasties
The Score – Fugees
Favorite Broadway shows I’ve seen:
Les Miserables – it’s gospel to me
Lion King – same
Phantom of the Opera
JC Superstar (this one may be higher, but Sarah didn’t like it so much first time; was supposed to see it in 2020 with Sam)
Best Non jam type band concerts I’ve seen:
Mandolin Orange -their music is gold, I just wish they would mix it up a bit and play longer live.
Albums on a desert island — or my back deck which is increasingly the same thing. Also, assuming I’d have a few streaming apps to play Dead, Panic, Phish, and Dave. Cheating, I know, but they’re my lists:
Legend -Bob Marley
Freedom in the Groove – Joshua Redman
Southeastern – Isbell
Willie Nelson sings Kris Kristofferson — (wild to not name Red Headed Stranger here, but this album is magic)
Yeah… I don’t know. I don’t know about the snakes. I don’t know if God sent them or if that’s just the way the folks experiencing the event and telling the story through generations interpreted it. I don’t know if there’s some hidden metaphor. I don’t know the ramifications for today–would God send a Pandemic if he would send snakes.
I don’t know what it means that we should look at Jesus lifted up just like the snake was lifted up. I mean I get the basics I think. But I don’t know why so many people differ on what that means. Why so many people who are looking seem to respond in so many different ways…
I don’t know if humanity is good or bad. I surely can’t get to the notion of my own inherent goodness. Though I suppose I do cling to the belief that the intention of my being created was for goodness. And that at some point that will occur–and maybe even that it has already begun. But humans.
So, I’ll just keep cleaning the bathroom, and talking with the matriarch of the neighborhood about the .02 inches of rain we got last night, and telling the postal lady at the river thank you for her role during the pandemic, and wading through the shit of my own vanity and self-pity, and trying to understand what snakes being lifted up on poles and God’s provision and destiny and yeah… or maybe I wish I could just quit trying to understand all that. And just live. Stop wondering why I ride my Peloton to achieve some kind of fitness and survival and just ride the damn bike.
We do need mercy and grace. What are the alternatives?
My mind works in lists. And I suspect I will be processing and contemplating these particular veins of thought for a few days… or maybe a few lifetimes. So I offer a patented dt list as a follow up to part 1.
Tennis: I am so glad that our path led us to the courts. I love so much watching you compete. I love the quiet atmosphere of the matches. I like how it’s up to the players to call their own lines and how you tend to call it in if it’s even close. And how when the other guy calls it out and you didn’t think it was, you may give an incredulous look, but you quickly move on and play the next point. And I really like watching you strive, and your response when you hit a great shot or a smash, and the laughter you share with your buddies or your opponent. It’s grand. And I want you to be the best…. BUT I want you to always win because I think that it would make you feel better. Damn you would, why do you always torment me? If you are number one or number seven or whatever that is not the important thing. I respect the game because it challenges you to become. To grow. To learn about yourself. And others.
Watching y’all play ball in the back yard from the clovers to the trampoline has as much value for me as celebrating a victory on the courts. Because it is you being you. Existing. And I get to be part of it!!! I hope I haven’t provided pressure to you to win so that you can feel valued. I’m just glad you are. And it’s fun to see who you are on the courts, disc golf course, in the clovers, playing hall ball, or hitting the volleyball in the air to yourself in the backyard. I don’t know what sense that makes, but…
2. Academics. Oh the rat race of weighted classes and class rank and standardized test scores and jockeying for position to obtain scholarships or acceptance to this or that college, blah blah. You all know how I despise the grading system. We have “school” in which learning takes a back seat to playing the game. You are all so intelligent. Sharp. Witty. And you study hard to make sure that you get the high marks on tests and such that you want.
But I do hate the sense of dread that you sometimes feel about the possibility of not doing well. Usually it’s overblown drama, as you will come home with a 97 anyway 😉 but I understand the pressure you feel. Hopefully not from me.
All I want for you is to continue to be contemplative. Reflective. That you pursue things and ideas and practices that are True and Beautiful. That you realize that learning is good. Learning is good because it adds to your perspective. I wish we could see through the eyes of another as HDT states, but we can come close reading literature or studying history. A glimpse into the humanity of others through time and space. We can catch a glimpse of the wonder of creation studying science or theology or poetry. Learning is an end in itself! It makes you more fully human. Our educational system has forgotten that and transformed itself into a mindless factory churning out economic cogs in the machine. (whew, that was a statement lol)…. Pursue learning. Pursue humanity. Pursue truth and beauty, but please don’t get caught up in the swirl of grades and scores and all that nonsense.
3. Social stuff/relationships. Geez, I don’t even know how to start here. I cannot imagine navigating the tumultuous formative years of adolescence with the constant presence of the connective tech and social media that you all have to deal with. You never get to turn off from that world of imaginary performance and carefully crafted personality.
Look, I’m 43 years old, and I still struggle with relationships and understanding people and wanting folks to like me and want to hear what I think–it’s why I continue posting on Co6… haha one day I will reach millions 😉 .
People will do things that will elicit sadness and confusion and doubt and all the things. You will do things that will create that effect in others as well. As Scott and Seth sing: “I made decisions some right and some wrong/And I let some love go I wish wasn’t gone/These things and more I wish I had not done… but I done ’em” …
Here’s the thing. Or a thing. You don’t have to do anything. There is no bar you have to get over. No race you have to finish. I love you. No. Matter. What. Through all the things. Ups and downs and the places that seem mainly level. I like to see you strive and I hate to see you fall. But the falling is a real thing too. Maybe the realest. If you forget… remember. Remember who you are. A valued human. Valued to the utmost already. There is no way for you to increase the amount of value you have. In my eyes. In the eyes of the Maker. You are. And that is whole. Holy. Now I’m gonna go blast some Aretha.
BeLive. And think on the comment below that someone wrote about Pop. Grace and Peace my beloved kids!
I just booked our family trip out west to Bozeman, Driggs, and Littleton for July and that got me excited about being back out west. I’ve been out a few times–Frontier Ranch, a few drives around with Sarah, a trip or two to Red Rocks… Below is a flashback to a trip I took in 1997.
My second freshman year, first at GW, I had a class with Dr. Tom Coates called Outdoor Adventures. We did a lot of things including canoeing in the toxic looking swamp called Lake Hollifield–powerful incentive not to flip over. The culmination of the class, though, was a chance to take a trip out west, camping along the way, and doing some work at a couple of National Parks. It was a top trip of my 43 years!
We loaded up our 15 passenger van at Mars Hill and took off to Maryville College in Tennessee. We camped there for the night with our trip mates from Maryville. It was a solid fit. A lot of 19ish year old dreamers trying to make a difference and have a pretty good time doing it.
We drove through Iowa and Indiana and into South Dakota where we camped at the Badlands. Amazing sunsets. We visited Mt. Rushmore which was underwhelming to our idealistic minds–still is to mine. We did some time at Devil’s Tower–a majestic and glorious sunset, moonrise, and hike up to the base at that spot. It was quite something.
Hmmm… maybe Little Bighorn and a few others spot along the way before we arrived at our destination: Yellowstone National Park.
The task for our work crew was to repave with asphalt one of the walking paths that led to and from the boiling mud pits. The air was thick with sulfur and it wasn’t cold since it was the summertime. But we worked. And we worked hard. They had set aside the entire week for us to finish the project, and we knocked it out, with quality, in just a few days! Get a couple of idealistic 19 year olds together and things can happen!
So… they came up with a new project for us. We rode about 45 minutes across Yellowstone Lake and ended up on an island. Our new project was to repair a horse corral out there. Now that I’m typing this, I’m not sure why they would have horses on this island, but I’m pretty sure that’s what we did.
But… wow. The few days we were out there we had Elk tacos and Lake Trout. And we sat out on the pier and saw fee billion stars and THE NORTHERN LIGHTS! If you’ve witnessed anything like that, you know there’s no point in attempting to assign words to it. Awe. Pure awe.
The mosquitoes were a real thing too, though. We used 100% deet and those monsters laughed at us. Although I did find that spraying that level of deet on a tent was a bad idea as it ate through the material–makes you reconsider lathering up with that stuff on your skin. But anyway… Yellowstone Lake.
We concluded the work part of our trip at the Grand Tetons. We built and finished picnic tables. That work was a bit of a letdown because we could do anything since we were young and full of it. Haha.
Jenny Lake was gorgeous and the snowcapped sunsets. But the highlight of the Tetons was a hike we took up to Lake Solitude. There were wildflowers along the way up that had colors that I don’t think I had ever witnessed before. Then we got to the top and there was this isolated, quiet lake surrounded by mountains on all sides. Lake Solitude. Snow lay all around. And wisely my friend from Maryville named Dusty and I decided we’d hike all the way round. I’m sure I wasn’t into impressing anybody. Even if I was it didn’t turn out too swift.
As I hiked around I stepped into a snow drift and gashed my shin on a rock. Bleeding. Had to pack snow onto it. Embarrassing. Still have the dent and scar in my leg to this day. Hiking down was not quite the event as I was hobbled in many ways. But still…
I kept a journal during the trip. Turns out all the dreaming and contemplating about Beauty and Truth and such is nothing new for me. I’ve been ruminating on those ideas for more than 20 years at least. I was reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance at the time as well. I ate up the wisdom from Dr. Coates and the leader of the Maryville group. His name was Tom. And he was wise in the lore and thinking of many of the Native peoples. It really was a life changing trip! Although, beware, the word change is one that I may tackle some day soon.
I made some good friends and had some fascinating conversations along the way. On the pier. Up the mountain. At Devil’s Tower. Amye (yeah with an e) and Dusty and John and Amy were thinkers as well. Someone I could talk to, you know? 🙂