The dog barks. Is there any statement more truthful? Most things can be debated, but surely the dog barks. I can feel the weight of my hands pulling my wrists as they hover over the keyboard. The table height is not right you see. The chair I use is a dinner chair. It is wooden and harsh. It is meant for dinner tables. The height of the chair is also not right. I can feel my lower spine crumpling into itself. This is not a fault of the chair and table, but a fault in my general principle about how I posture myself. Each individual muscle can be isolated by its obvious effort to keep me straight. I stare straight down onto a flat screen. This causes my neck to support my head at a forward labored angle. Like the muscles in the back of my neck are straining to keep my face from falling forward. There is no room on the desk to be made. The air is thick. Too many unfinished piles of projects and chores clutter my visual space. They are like quiet sirens with no where else to swim. They are like bright lights in my eyes that I can not move away. I sit in a pocket underground by the roadside. There is tremendous wealth all about me and flowing through me. Smiles from the most important people are easy to come by. Peace is found often. Sound has its own room and I can sometimes visit. There is a critical mass being reached all around me. All of these had come to me as reasons not to write. Reasoning good or bad, fact of fictional seems reason enough to not do the creative thing.
How do I present the truth? What does truth mean to me? Is the truth I represent just a convenient truth? If so how does this effect me emotionally, physically, and, spiritually? The truths we represent as our truths to make peace with reality, or, action or inaction, are the convenient truths that allow us to feign comfort in unsettling environments. To consider speaking and acting completely out of honesty will sound ridiculous for a few reasons. The number one reason I can think of right now is barbarism. It isn’t a stretch in mind that if every individual was encouraged and given liberty to act out of complete honesty then barbarism would occur. I’m not saying that everyone would falter into a state of impulsive murder and whim. I’m saying enough may turn to chaotic behaviors that would endanger everyone. So, we have codes of conduct in various settings and elements, such as societal laws and norms that people generally try to agree on. In other words, be polite to me when you tell me that I am completely useless and I can no longer work at Stanton Metal Enterprises.
The only thing that is real is what I tell myself is real. Sometimes life can be convincing of what reality is and what reality is not. But I have seen enough examples and come to believe that what is thought to be reality can be altered and changed by thought itself. Reality evolves and our understanding of it may allow us to evolve it how we wish. This can be made example of easily by the way I choose to receive news. For instance, I may one day receive news that I scored very poorly on a written exam. I can choose to receive this news as tragic. I can load the weight of sadness that goes along with my inner story that I am not good enough. That I am not smart enough or not try hard enough, or, missed out on too many opportunities. I can use whatever excuse I want to let myself feel bad. Conversely, I can choose to adopt a completely optimistic point of view. I can interpret this news as an exciting new opportunity to do a lot better on my next chance. I can be thankful for the graded score so that I know where I am and what I must do to get to where I want to be. I can choose to receive death of a loved one as a great personal tragedy. I could also choose to view it as a rejoiceful rebirth. Many people do choose to experience it this way. When I do I still acknowledge and feel the undeniable core emotion of loss. However, in the end the choice is up to me on how I write that story personally and internally. How I let it affect me is a choice up to myself. Well I not take that next creative leap because I think I am not good enough or will I do it knowing I can get better?
I will get personal for a moment. Personal stories are a valuable tool. When shared they can cause a great personal easement both for the listener and the person sharing. They are also highly contagious. I think it is this way because honesty, for some, is such a rare occurrence. Honest self expression often encourages others to do the same. Honest expression of self is what I expect from others. That is why I am compelled to express myself honestly. This personal story will be about me and my guitar.
I am very fortunate that I knew how to love guitar from a very early age. Some of my earliest memories are of guitar. I have memories of annoying people by how interested in guitar I was. Those people where usually older than me. Despite my interest in guitar it seemed as though no one I knew who had one was interested in letting me touch it. I’m not sure how this really happened. I’m not even sure if it actually did happen. This is the personal narrative I tell myself . Guitar became a very sacred thing to me. I thought it of something that was hard to obtain. This strengthened my respect of the instrument when I finally did get my hands on a few of them.
Over the years I told myself the story that I could practice very hard and that I could make a career out of it. I never really wanted that though I did tell myself that story. I glamorized the musician lifestyle because these stories where interesting and fun. But my stories about rock and roll never had anything to do with my love for the guitar. My love for the guitar actually has nothing to do with music even. It is just a sonic press board that can literally radiate my feelings. I’m just baffled by that and completely obsessed with it. My love for the guitar is separate than the story I tell myself about other ideas that might relate to the guitar. These would be stories of being a musician and being successful and living that lifestyle. If these stories get to mixed up with my love for the guitar then they can hijack those feelings and use them against me. In other words; if stories I tell myself related to something, I love become expectations of what that love will do for me then I will begin to resent the thing I love when it does not produce my expectations. My love is pure and wonderous, unexplainable and passionate. My expectations are just confinements.
Knowing these things about my relationship allows me to separate my expectations from my desires. In other words, am I playing guitar because I expect recognition, or, am I playing it purely for my love of sound. Deciding on which value I choose is important to me is also up to me. My choice influences the quality of outcome that I produce. So, what does this have to do with the first half of this entry? The first half of this entry draws attention to the narratives we tell ourselves about uncontrollable outcomes in our lives. It is the inner dialog that goes along with life’s ups and downs or however we wish to draw them. Well, I believe the more i isolate my pure values it will become easier to choose actions that produces the highest quality outcome. For instance, if I play guitar simply because I love the sound, I will have a much better time doing that than playing to try to impress people.
The first half of this article talked about the ability to choose the narrative we tell ourselves while the second half touched on the idea of respecting our core values. I will now bring attention to why I believe this is important. When I consider good physical health, I note that a happy attitude is usually associated. I personally would not consider someone who is depressed to be healthy. Good health is established by a multitude of things and mental health, now becoming made aware of, is just as important as any other component of a healthy individual. Therefore, when we consider this, the inner dialogue we speak to ourselves, becomes very important.
If I am disappointed when I hear news that I consider unfavourable then I will wear a disappointed face. My brain will read my actions and produce the corresponding reactions. This will create a databank of what it finds, so that it can produce the appropriate moods efficiently. My scowling face will trigger my brain which will become sad, causing a further scowl. If I choose to “look on the bright side”, or, consider how great improvement can be, or, choose to learn from the experience, then I can wear a better mood. I challenge myself to put this theory of what I am saying to the test. Everyday I will adopt the superhero pose for five minutes. Stand like superwoman and raise my chin up. Tell myself with my inner dialog that I am simply amazing. That I can command untold power. That I can accomplish what I truly desire. That I am a bad ass creative soul and nothing can stand in my way. Even if its not true I will believe it. I will do this everyday for one week. Hopefully I will, like many others, find a new surge of power and determination in my being and purpose.
I’m not even going to tell you what will happen if I where to instead curl up into the fetus position on the floor and change my inner dialog to self directed hate and contempt. In fact, I do not even what to write this much about this example. In case anyone is considering trying this please be aware that I DO NOT ROCOMMEND it. It is physiologically compared to the effects of torture. It has a horrible effect on the human body and millions of people are doing it everyday. I bring attention to it here to illustrate the enormous potential of benefits associated with doing the opposite. I.E. I WILL the super human pose and PUMP MYSELF UP! (with my inner dialog).
—— sentences without a home ——–
As I watched her sew I realized the beauty of the world was betwixt the care and contentedness of creativity.
If we define ourselves by our relationships then we loose who we are as well as the relationship.
That’s it. That’s what I must do to write. Extend my arms forward and start finger tapping the words in my head to the device that records my thoughts. Why are you recording my thoughts oh device of mine? What is it you think I must give? I am not talking about the computer itself but instead the incessant mental noise of writing encouragement. I want an expert to show me everything. It hurts to write. My arms hang from my lumbar spine and there is great stress on those muscles. I lean my elbows into the table and small abrasions begin to irritate. Somewhere along the lines I have been convinced that complaining is the best form of finding attention. Although it is not always successful.
Most humans crave attention because it makes them feel important. I crave attention because I am important. Maybe the same is true with you. Right now, I am adding more words to this page for the second day in a row. I am sorry if the topics are juxtaposed. I am making writing a habit. The only way I can do that is by sitting down and writing about it. So, I expect this first little bit to be like this. You don’t though, I suspect, so apologies credited.
Today I lose my train of thought often. Undoubtedly because of marijuana consumption. Smoking marijuana has become a habit. More on that later. When it comes to writing I tend to ask myself, “What is the purpose?”. This question is difficult to answer, and it often causes writing to cease or not start at all. Come to think of it is the same, about, with music. I always ask myself, “why toil so hard for so little in music? It is worthless, it does nothing, what is the point of it? Why not be committed to something more beneficial.”. I often reason with myself that my contribution is not valuable because it is not tangible. Abstract thinking and annoying patterns can not help anyone. Or so I thought.
These days I seem to be formulating reasons and beliefs to why I am important and why music is important. It is important that I think music is important. In fact, everything I do is extremely valuable. I came to this conclusion partly by listening to the Funkadelics. For decades I have come back to the hits and wonders and awe of this band because of their undeniable groove. I knew there had to be something deeper to it. There is to me in the music of Parliament Funkadelic something uniquely alive. Something that calls to all of us, with a message, a message of healing. “Groove can not only move it can remove.”. For me its Parliament, for some its bible hymns, for others, its emo, punk, oldies, memorable songs, gospel, soul, blues, rap, reggae, rude rock, alt, new wav? Nu wave? IS this new wave?
I heard a musician, whose name slips me, a classic writer, a poet of the nineteenth century, reminiscing on stories of crash of the thirties. The rock bottom days. The days with no food and no heat, despair and all that. He said it wasn’t the churches or the priests that did any healing any good. It was the musicians on the street corners. The saxophones and drums, that kept the people going on.
I think music is the most important thing there is. I believe that because I believe all matter of the universe is vibrating to a frequency. I think music soothes us so well because it communicates with the natural harmonies of our bodies. Albeit, much of these “good sounding” frequencies have been learned as a culture over time. That is for when we get into Hz and tuning instruments to a standard pitch. Our brains have natural processors to receive these signals and I do not think anything else communicates more with our raw physical nature than sound does.
Sound is not excluded to anyone. Sound is a vibration and can be felt through touch. In any case, that is my point about sounding being important. Which leads to my justification that it isn’t a waste of time to make noise for “no reason”.
After a lot of procrastination I bring this site back out into the public to share for some reason. This is the new site design. I have lofted on completeing the transistion from squarespace to wordpress for about…. two months. I have neglected putting effort into this site continously for over a year. My writing ambition is dwindled, my hands are heavy. My ability to complain remains.
I am writing this directly into the wordpress blog posting tool. Usually I edit with word or similar before coming over here to post to my website. I am doing this because I must gain familiarity with this platform. And actually this complete paragraph is kind of just an elongated preamble text to fill up space. Half of it is for the jokes.
If you are new here you will find my travel adventures posted. You will find my personality somewhere between all these words. Hopefully you will come back. Because now as I am breaking the barrier of a long hibernation like procrastination.
In any case. I am posting this now. I feel the fore hoarse women coming up of doubt and fog and creative futures.
What do you think about the truth?
The dog barks. Is there any statement more truthful? Most things can be debated, but surely the dog barks. I can feel the weight of my hands pulling my wrists as they hover over the keyboard. The table height is not right you see. The chair I use is a dinner chair. It is wooden and harsh. It is meant for dinner tables. The height of the chair is also not right. I can feel my lower spine crumpling into itself. This is not a fault of the chair and table, but a fault in my general principle about how I posture myself. Each individual muscle can be isolated by its obvious effort to keep me straight. I stare straight down onto a flat screen. This causes my neck to support my head at a forward labored angle. The muscles in the back of my neck are straining to keep my face from falling forward. There is no room on the desk to be made. The air is thick. Too many unfinished piles of projects and chores clutter my visual space. Like sirens with no where to swim. They are bright lights in my eyes that I can not escape. I sit in a pocket underground by the roadside. There is tremendous wealth all about me and flowing through me. Smiles from the most important people are easy to come by. Peace is found often. Sound has its own room and I can sometimes visit. There is a critical mass being reached all around me. I am easily distracted. All of these had come to me as reasons not to write. Reasoning good or bad, fact of fictional, seems reason enough to not do the creative thing.
Is the truth I represent just a convenient truth? How do convenient truths affect me emotionally, physically, and, spiritually? The truths that I represent in order to make peace with the actions I take can be convenient truths. They can be convenient truths that allow me to feign comfort in unsettling environments. For instance, I could tell myself “I am just putting up with this for now.” Or, “I have no power over this situation so I will just get through it as best I can.”. I find these convenient truths can sometimes pile up and become burdensome. They can be very taxing on the body and even build up a lot of stress. I sometimes wonder what it would be like if I only ever acted out of honesty. How messy would I have to get before I got down to real honesty? How many mistakes would I have to make? If I considered that everyone spoke and acted completely out of honesty it would seem ridiculous to me. It isn’t hard to imagine that if every individual was encouraged and given liberty to act out of complete honesty then barbarism would occur. I’m not saying that everyone would falter into a state of impulsive murder and whim. I’m saying enough may turn to chaotic behaviors that would endanger everyone. That is not hard to imagine. I wonder then what if I did it. What if I acted solely out of honesty? Would I turn to barbarism? Society has codes of conduct in various settings and elements for these reasons. Things like societal law and cultural opinions on what is considered normal behavior and what is not. In other words, be polite to me when you tell me that I am completely useless, and I can no longer work at Stanton Metal Enterprises. Even if you do not like what I represent as a person, can not do the job, or am a general nuisance.
The only thing that is real is what I tell myself is real. Sometimes life can be convincing of what reality is and what reality is not. But I have seen enough examples and come to believe that what is thought to be reality can be altered and changed by thought itself. Reality evolves and our understanding of it may allow us to evolve it how we wish. This can be made example of easily by the way I choose to receive news. For instance, I may one day receive news that I scored very poorly on a written exam. I can choose to receive this news as tragic. I can load the weight of sadness that goes along with my inner story that I am not good enough. That I am not smart enough or did not try hard enough, or, missed out on too many opportunities. I can use whatever excuse I want to let myself feel bad. Conversely, I can choose to adopt a completely optimistic point of view. I can interpret this news as an exciting new opportunity to do a lot better on my next chance. I can be thankful for the graded score so that I know where I am and what I must do to get to where I want to be. I can choose to receive news of death of a loved one as a great personal tragedy. I could also choose to view it as a rejoiceful rebirth. Many people do choose to experience it this way. Whatever I choose of course I still acknowledge and feel the undeniable core emotion of loss. However, in the end the choice is up to me on how I write that story personally and internally. How I let it affect me is a choice up to myself. Well I not take that next creative leap because I think I am not good enough or will I do it knowing I can get better?
Personal stories are a valuable tool. When shared they can cause a great personal easement both for the listener and the person sharing. They are also highly contagious. I think it is this way because honesty, for some, is such a rare occurrence. Honest connection is something the soul craves. The reach of desire for a human to connect is undeniable. Honest self expression often encourages others to do the same. Honest expression of self is what I expect from others. That is why I am compelled to express myself honestly. I will give an example and share a personal story. This personal story will be about me and my guitar.
I am very fortunate that I knew how to love guitar from a very early age. Some of my earliest memories are of guitar. I have memories of annoying people by how interested in guitar I was. Those people where usually older than me. Despite my interest in guitar it seemed to me that no one I knew who had a guitar was interested in letting me touch it. I’m not sure how this really happened. I’m not even sure if it did happen. This is the personal narrative I tell myself. Guitar became a very sacred thing to me. I thought it of something that was hard to obtain. This strengthened my respect of the instrument when I finally did get my hands on a few of them.
Over the years I told myself the story that I could practice guitar very hard and that I could make a career out of it. I never really wanted that career though I did tell myself that story. I glamorized the musician lifestyle because these stories where interesting and fun. But my stories about rock and roll never had anything to do with my love for the guitar. My love for the guitar, surprisingly, has nothing to do with music at all. The guitar is a sonic press board that can literally radiate my feelings. I’m just baffled by that and completely obsessed with it. My love for the guitar is separate than the story I tell myself about other ideas that might relate to the guitar. These would be stories of being a musician and being successful and living that lifestyle. When these stories get mixed up with my love for the guitar they hijack my feelings and use them against me. In other words I create stories related to things I love, such as guitar, and those stories become expectations of what that love will do for me. These expectations do not happen. What I love doesn’t have to do anything for me but I put those expectations on it. Unfulfilled expectations usually lead me to resent what I loved in the first place. My love is pure and wonderous, unexplainable and passionate. It does not need to have any reason or justification. My expectations are just confinements. Taking expectations out of the equation has also removed resentment and stress. This is turn alleviate anger and fatigue. It has left me more room to play and appreciate the time I spend doing something I love.
Knowing these things about my relationships allows me to separate my expectations from my desires. I can decide if I am playing guitar because I expect recognition, or, if I play it purely for my love of sound. Deciding on which value I choose is important to me is also up to me. My choice influences the quality of outcome that I produce.
The first half of this entry draws attention to the narratives I tell myself about uncontrollable outcomes in my life. It is the inner dialog that goes along with life’s ups and downs that are however I wish to draw them. I believe the more I isolate my pure values the easier it will become to choose actions that produces the highest quality outcome. For instance, if I play guitar simply because I love the sound, I will have a much better time doing that than playing to try to impress people.
When I consider a person in good physical health I recognize that a happy attitude is associated with the outcome. I personally would not consider someone who is depressed to be healthy. Good health is established by a multitude of things and mental health, now becoming made aware of, is just as important as any other component of a healthy individual. Therefore, when I consider this, the inner dialogue I speak to myself, becomes very important.
If I am disappointed every time I hear news that I consider unfavorable then I will wear a disappointed face. My brain will read the actions of my face and mind then will produce the corresponding reactions. This will create a data bank of what it finds, so that it can produce the appropriate moods efficiently. My scowling face will trigger my brain which will become sad, causing a further scowl. If I choose to “look on the bright side”, or, consider how great improvement can be, or, choose to learn from the experience, then I can wear a better mood. I will wear a brighter face and become happier and also appear that way. My brain will record these moods and will in turn produce more of them. I challenge myself to put this theory of what I am saying to the test. Everyday I will adopt the superhero pose for five minutes. Stand like superwoman and raise my chin up to the sky. I will tell myself with my inner dialog that I am simply amazing. That I can command untold power. That I can accomplish what I truly desire. That I am a bad ass creative soul and nothing can stand in my way. Even if its not true I will believe it. I will do this everyday for one week. Hopefully I will, like many others, find a new surge of power and determination in my being and purpose.
I’m not even going to tell you what will happen if I where to instead curl up into the fetal position on the floor and change my inner dialog to self directed hate and contempt. In fact, I do not even what to write much about this example. In case anyone is considering trying this please be aware that I DO NOT RECOMMEND it. It is physiologically compared to the effects of torture. It has a horrible effect on the human body and millions of people are doing it everyday. I bring attention to it here to illustrate the enormous potential of benefits associated with doing the opposite. I.E. I WILL DO the super human pose and PUMP MYSELF UP! (with my inner dialog). “I can do this!”, and, “I accept the responsibility of my reactions.”.
After leaving Nantua I follow the general majestic scenery of the region of France I believed was somewhere close to the French Alps north west side. The road through Nantua is not long and is deposited with vistas and winding mountainous climbs. A pepper rain dews around me as I pull off the road once out the town of Nantua. I use a large shoulder turn off intended for trucks to set up my bike stationary. While changing my luggage around I eat a granola bar and a piece of cheese. The first picture I take on this cycle is here. Cars pass by and I wonder what they wonder. I get ready for the next seven or potentially eight hours of cycling through my final slice of France, and, through my first border crossing on a bicycle.
After only two hours of slow and heavy pushing I reach a self-set milestone. I had anticipated this moment with eager passion. And now I was there. I could see them. The alps (I think). From this distance they look like the teeth of some magic beast stuck to the bottom of the earth. They stand dominant over everything else but the sky. They seem to push away any cloud contending with their space. I glow inside from seeing them with my own eyes. These mountains I heard of as legend. I take the required photos and award myself a victory of accomplishment. My body seems less cold and wet for a while. The air between hillside had become damp and cold. I was still wearing summer gear and shivering but this was an energizing moment.
Miles on after this triumphant moment, after a total riding time of about four hours, the day begins to set in. The air changes in pressure to become denser as grey clouds begin to dominate the sky and threaten my precious sunlight. In late October the sun set through my passage of France at around six thirty p.m… I intended to have about eight or nine hours of potential riding time. This timeline included morning preparation and all stops. I think on average I did six or seven hours a day when I rode. My GPS was set to bike trails and I would soon learn this may not have been the best option. With sunlight shrinking and overcast skies I followed my Google Maps guide off-road and into the woods.
At first, I found this tolerable. And then it was beautiful. After an hour or so more, as time brought darkness, it became a test of resolve.
The paths where designed to cut through the winding mountain descent of the region I was now leaving and had been climbing so many days before.
What I think are the alps stand on the horizon like masterpiece paintings. The scene was observable from every angle and absolutely impossible to imagine. I had been training myself to take pictures at moments like these. But these moments where constant. I stubbornly attempt a few photographs. The moon is hanging just right. I can not get an angle without trees or power lines in the composition. The moon is too far. My body is battered from the descending trail. Hungry and unsure of how much further I have left to go I get back on the bike for further descent.
The trails are bolted with large rocks. They jut out everywhere. This trail is meant for mountain bikes. My bike is a hybrid and probably could handle this trail reluctantly if it did not have an additional eighty pounds strapped to its rear wheel. I alternate between riding the bike through portions of the trail, which hammers the bike and its heavy load, and hopping off to walk the bike down, which hammers my wrists and shoulders as I keep the bike steady. This trail is a complete descent. No part of it is flat. Holding on to the handle bars of this bike I walk it down while trying not to let it fall or crash. Which it does manage to do two or three times. I check my map and laugh at just how far this seems to go. How high up was I?
By this time my GPS and elevation tracking gear had malfunctioned. My expensive Garmin watch failed me, so I was no longer tracking any of that stuff. But I will use this now to make a note to go back and check on all my stats.
Every time I passed over a portion of the winding road I wondered if I should chance the road on the bike. On one had it would be faster. On the other hand, it was a narrow winding mountain descent road. It was raining, and darkness was beginning to win the fight of day and night. Cars and trucks where on that road. My legs where fucking tired. So was my awareness. I wasn’t sure which route would be faster anyway. So, I pressed on through a few more trails to take in the sights of the forest. Tall white trees dotted with frail red leaves. Falling in the autumn breeze? Anyhow let me squeeze out a few more words here and bring you to the stories end.
(unfortunately I do not have any photos of the trail. they are lost somewhere on my google drive. I could not be bothered to fetch my dSLR during this descent)
When I reach a few giant steps from the bottom I decide to get back on the road. Ah, pavement! Jean Jean-David Geroges had worshipped the stuff (pavement) and I had wondered why. I trusted him though. He was a true cyclist and no fucking around kind of guy. I will tell you about him sometime. The pavement felt good under my tires. A few cars passed by on this casual downhill ride. I watched their tail lights disappear into the mist and darkness.
After a short downhill ride the asphalt turned flat. This was a challenge in it self again. I did enjoy looking for strength to just keep going. I found it was always there and wondered what it would be like to truly push until it was all gone.
My welcoming to Switzerland turned out to be a lot less dramatic than I had imaged. By the time I could see any signs of civilization it only appeared to be a few lights and a neighborhood. I had no real idea where I was. I expected a big border control plaza but instead found only back roads, sewer stations, and the walls of a small rural sub division. According to my maps I only had about an hour left to get to my destination. The sun was gone and the road was a bit wet, but I was very pleased. An hour ride on flat asphalt would be just fine. I just had to trust in my heart that the hostel would be there and that I would be able to find food.
To my surprise there are no check points. I almost feel like I am doing something illegal because it is so late and there is nobody at all around. The roads are empty. I enter a town that looks like any other well populated town. There are apartment buildings, stores, roads, it looks very well developed, except no one is out and about. It is around nine p.m. I believe, on a Sunday.
I pray there is food. It can sometimes be hard to find food in Europe during the late hours of Sunday (unless you are not shy and can ask people for help). I reach my hostel destination. It looks like the Ritz to me. Very clean. I walk inside to what looks like a science lab building entrance. The attendant is young and beautiful. He stares at me with a welcoming smile, albeit a bit confused by my appearance. At this point I am in full cycle regalia. Complete with suspenders, light jacket, gloves, pushing a bike, with massive saddle bags on it, lights hanging everywhere, and of course, myself, looking wild an alive from a few hours downhill ride.
By this point I must get directly to the point. I am used to being greeted strange and usually the people are used to strange guests coming and going. I ask him the usual pertinent questions.
“Is this Switzerland?”
“Oh, crazy, no border control!” I say this but wonder if I just confessed a great crime.
The guy explains some things about European borders. My mind darts around from subject to subject and then comes back to the matter at hand.
“Where can I get food?”
Stay tuned to find out where I get food!
Today I reflect on the circumstance that a culture has come to pity defeat. To look down on defeat or “failure” like it is something to fear. That people, myself included, garner shame from the mere thought of attempting something. This shame comes from thoughts of judgement around the circumstance of failure. Failure being an outcome that achieves lesser than a pre-defined goal. The situations appraisal (the judgement) is fogged with loss, pity and ridicule. This should not be the way. For there is greatness in defeat.
Defeat is the apex of learning. When we fail we discover entirely new things about ourselves and the world around us. In my opinion, this is the purpose of life; to experience it and learn from it. So then why is shame and fear centered around experiencing failure? Why has it come to such a state that many are fearing to take action that may expose them to the circumstance of failure? If we express our regard to failure in such a way that does not encourage learning and progress but instead causes suffering and backlash, then we will abandon progress altogether. In fact, it is a failure that we approach failure this way because just as every failure is also a success, every success is also a failure.
It can always get worse. It can always get better. The glass is half empty, the glass is half full, or, the grass is greener on the other side, or, even still, you are not looking in the right place. One argument is as arbitrary as the next. If it depended on how we looked at things, then that would depend on how we looked at perception. There is no right or wrong there just is and you are experiencing it right now.
It is my belief that failure is the course to fulfillment. Fail brilliantly and you will have outlived yourself many times over.
When you fall you will learn that you suffer and when you heal you will learn that you live.
I am not sure if you yet know what I am trying to say. What I want us to do is to fail. To feel pain and suffer at times. I want that. That is life and I want us to live.
If you fall and it hurts it may make logical sense to not get back up again. After all if you got back up you would sooner or later fall again. To you in that situation it may make sense to stay immobilized. Yet if every day goes by and all you want to do is get back up again but don’t. If you still want to attempt that jump but you don’t because you shame yourself from your past failures harbored as excuses then you will stay in that hole. You might think you are safe but that is a false positive. You are putting yourself in danger.
There is no bottom to despair and no peak to pleasure and that is why change is scary. And in all this we can still find each other. That is a great mystery of life. In all the uniqueness we all have, of all the different circumstances of lives, beliefs, cultures and philosophies, we can still find each other in those endless divides.
Fear of failure immobilizes us. We can not be immobilized. You are here to complete a mission. You have a purpose. Mobilize. We need you.
Live as though you worst fear has come true. Live this way for thirty days. Then you will realize you are capable of trotting through your worst fears. This is a tenant of stoicism. I heard about it from the Tao of Seneca. I learned about it by practicing.
There was a time when I limited my diet, enforced strict budget rules to mimic as though I where living a few tax brackets below myself and cut expenses in every possible way I could find. I remember the feeling was nothing like I had imaged it. There where a couple of awkward moments when I had to turn down my friends. But overall the lack of purchases and instant comforts actually lifted my moods and spirits. If I declined a dinner outing I felt pretty good about it later in the even when I still had energy. I felt like I had more control over my diet. I was eating only beans, rice, and potatoes at the time and found I had lots of energy to burn.
There was a short period in the beginning of this experiment that I felt rather hungry. I had the usual symptoms; stomach growls, hanger, and weakness. But that went away after a few days. I kept my meals small and I think this created a more alert state in my body. My survival modes where activated. I learned a lot about patience. I saved a bunch of money.
Doing this practice I was living out my fear of having little money and scant food. I was living out a fear of saying no to friends when asked to go out and spend money. It taught me a lot and definitely came in handy when I was travelling. The experience taught me about my body and how in handles different situations. By doing this I also learned some of the outer limits of my body. It really is a quite a remarkable thing. I really like engaging the survival instincts of our animal bodies.
I could have went further with my experiment. I wanted to try and stay out on the streets a few days but I never worked up the nerve. Perhaps someday. It would be a hell of a thing to write about!
What are your thoughts on these practices? Should people identify their fees and actively try to confront them? Let me know I would love to hear from you.
This blog entry marks the eve that I have begun writing again. The journey on my bicycle notes will be transcribed and posted shortly!
Hello! Thanks for deciding to read this new post after all these months of silence. I have been putting off writing for long enough and now it is time to pick up the adventure.
I want to let everyone know that I have returned home.
I am very pleased to be home. Returning home was a bit unexpected but it has turned out to be the best part of my trip. I will use this post to give some gratitude to the fact that I am back with family. I will also use this post to describe my reasoning and point to what the future of this blog will look like.
I have been home for around two months. I came home just before Christmas. During the holidays I came to appreciate enjoying the company of family beside the heat of cozy wood stoves. I have eaten stomach bursting Christmas dinners, pre-Christmas dinners, New Years dinners, birthday dinners, and dinners in between all these dinners. There has been turkey, fish, chicken, moose meat, deer meat, breading, cranberries, special pea and cheese casseroles, cheese cakes, pastas, roasts, specialty made homemade cookies from fudge, snowballs, eat more bars, chocolate wallops, turtles, plush balls, date squares, caramelized crispies, sugar cookies, nuts, vegetables and bacon. All of this enjoyed on tables as full as family as they where with food.
We enjoyed cheers, hugs, cries, laughs and intimacy. We have bonded closer as a family in since I can remember. This crescendoed my trip and was also completely the best part. Returning home.
“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”
Family is a weighted glue that seems to hold it all together. It also seems so very heavy and sticky and in other words… cumbersome. I guess that’s why the thought of leaving can be fantasized. Family reminds me of singing. It is very difficult and I do not seem to get much better at it but I can not ignore it. What I am meaning to say is that family is so beautiful because it is so difficult.
This blog will be headed in a few new directions over the course of this year.
After writing for a year I am getting closer to the subject matter I want to cover. In this post I am going to cover a bit about being back home and why I choose to come back home.
In the next post and following posts I will continue on my journey where I left off. I got disconnected from being able to post to this website while I was on the road. All my notes are on paper still and I will go through them to continue the story to where it left off “The Mirage of Monsters” in Nantua, France.
I have many many pictures. I will be going through them and sharing the best ones with you in the upcoming blogs.
So here to it, the meat of this post!
I have returned home. What started as a necessary quick return to Nova Scotia evolved into the decision to stay. I was in Rome, Italy, when I decided it was time to pack it up and return home. This decision was easy to make but it took a few weeks to be realized. I wanted to be very clear as to why I was making the decision to return home so I let the idea work itself out in my mind over time.
The biking was fantastic. I covered over one thousand miles on my bicycle. I rode across France, through Switzerland and down south all the way to Rome Italy. The scenery was fantastic, the sense of accomplishment was unparalleled. Gratitude was in abundance because everything was simply amazing to be a part of. There was a constant uplifting air of freedom. I had the ability to do anything and I was doing the very thing I wanted to be doing. My body was ecstatic and growing stronger everyday.
So why return home? Well first I want to draw attention to the wording I used in a sentence of the above paragraph “I had the ability to do anything…”. This sentence is important because it implies the ability to do anything is no longer there. The ability to do anything will always be there. I had it then and I had it when I made the decision to come home and I still have that decision making power now. I will always have that ability and I do not believe anyone will ever be able to take it away from me. I believe you have the same ability. I wanted to make that distinction because it is important.
So why return home?
It became very clear to me.
There is no love like family love. Family is love.
Humans all over the world are utterly fantastic. One single individual has the ability to create worlds beyond anyone else’s scope of understanding, yet these worlds can be made accessible to all. In short, humans are fantastic (you are fantastic) in that they have such a wide range of abilities available to them. I am saying this because I have respect and good faith in humankind and I value all humans as being monumentally important. I want to point out the peculiarity of family love, unconditional love, of our ability to put others before self and to share in suffering voluntarily.
Since all humans are equally fascinating then why the impossibly strong attraction, loyalty, affection, and commitment to those we love and are in our family? What natural force draws us to do this to these particular people? It is something i have pondered on for some time.
I must mention that I am not strictly talking about blood relation. This bond can be formed instantaneously with strangers, forged with length over years with enemies. It has no apparent motive and follows no real measurable pattern. It can strike anywhere and often does. It’s called love. I just happen to be looking at family love right now. It is natural and very common.
Family/unconditional love is unmistakable. It will not go away even if you want it to. It is honest and clear. That is what I find so interesting about it. There seems to be no control over it.
Everywhere that I traveled I witnessed family love.
It was among friends, families, groups, neighbors and strangers. It was clearly abundant in those bonded together by suffering and poverty.
We all know the world is not a paradise. That there exists out there some very real demons and horrible circumstances. There exists the absolute abyss of suffering and in its endless wake a countless continuity consumed by it. There is no end to the ups and downs of life and it never seems very fair in the end. But the most common thing I know of surrounds every single piece of reality.
Its love! Isn’t it? What else could it be? And that is wonderful.
I saw love in mothers caring for sons and in clerics cleaning altars. I saw it in beggars, dirty and humiliated, searching for a scrap of food to feed their loved ones. I saw it in paintings, newspapers, manuscripts, history and on the smile of strangers flashing by on the train. I saw it in those returning home.
Do you see it?
Well love is there and it is abundantly clear! It so very clear!
When I climbed mountains and saw mountain ranges cutting into a angry clouded sky. The wisps of winter floated off ice capped and collected in clouds to ready a vicious storm. I saw horses and cows and lambs. All I wanted to do was tell my family about it. All I ever wanted to do was share it with my family.
What’s the deal with that, eh?
It is this raw essence of brutal honesty that all things can be properly viewed from. Does the action you are taking at this very moment coincide with the feelings of love you have for your family? When you weigh the choices you make against the purity of family love how to the scales balance?
It doesn’t actually matter. Since anything we can measure is measured imperfectly and distorted by our own expectations of reality we can not trust any assumption or measurement made by ourselves. We can only come to most closely agreed upon assumptions and hope that the agreements were made using standards of purity. But is it not interesting that a sin seems so very much more sinful when we keep in mind how it compares to our family values? When we think about how an action might affect someone we love why does it seem so important?
Human is an animal that places great meaning on the value of all things. Usually this value can be weighed economically or sentimentally. With love, unconditional love, it is different. The value is not economical or sentimental. It is emotional and it is among the most powerful (maybe the most) forces of nature. It is curious to me that such a thing would exist. It does though and it is undeniably a part of us all. Some can, and do, build walls around it. We shall discuss that later.
So that is reason number one to why I returned home. It is a subject that I will return to again and again in upcoming blog posts.
Love of family and desire to be back with them is not the only reason I have returned home. Music has made me do it as well.
When I was travelling it was very hard to commit to any practice of any sorts musically. In France I did borrow a guitar for a while and I practiced my vocal techniques as often as I could. I would sing to cows and empty fields and wonder if anyone could hear me howling at seven in the morning. Eventually though I craved a committed space to work musically in. I wanted my guitar and a new piano. I wanted sheet music, binders, and posters to help me study theory. I wanted to become immersed in music. My soul began to scream for it
It’s a peculiar thing that my desire to practice and make music would be so strong that it has such an influence over my life. I feel physical pain and discomfort when not being able to play my guitar or stretch my voice. I dream of piano and often find my hands twitching as though there was a ghost piano under them.
It is extra peculiar because I am not particularly talented at music, especially singing. However the desire is probably the strongest I have. I simply must make noise and I must find harmony or else the whole nature of my being goes out of whack.
One of the first things I did when I returned home was buying a piano and I now practice it everyday. I try to sing and play guitar everyday. I try to make time for things that I have decided and found by trial that are important to me.
I have many projects on the go and I am spread pretty thinly trying to get them off the ground. Having a space to work on my creative outlets is critical for me. It became clear to me what I had to do. Just like it was clear to me when I had to travel it was clear to me that I had to return home. It is so interesting because a lot of this journey has been in the name of “follow your heart”. That is what I believe I have done and so far the benefits of that have been outstanding. I still feel precocious about the whole idea. It is a very abstract idea and difficult to explain clearly. However that is what I have been doing. That is why I quit my job. That is why I sold everything. That is why I traveled the world for a year. That is why I am reconnecting with my family. It is why I play music and write and feel passionately about self expression. Because my heart tells me to. And even though I still have the gull to not completely trust the process, it has not yet led me astray. In fact I am happier than I have ever been.
There is a big project in the works right now. I hope to get it off the ground in the coming weeks. If it goes well it will be the largest testament to how listening to my heart works. In the future I will write all I can about the process that I believe got me in touch with my soul, my heart, and my animalistic nature. It will be interesting I promise! So please stay tuned and subscribe with the form below.
A lot of this clarity is attributed to my travels. A lot of this clarity is attributed to before my travels and came with the whole planning process. I hope you remember, reader, that I got rid of everything before embarking on a world tour. This meant the obvious material possessions like car, house, and appliances. This process also meant the getting rid of anything that would weigh me down which included notebooks, pictures, and various extremely sentimental objects. This was difficult. The payoff though is that today when I sort through my belongings I find only things that are critical and important to me. Anything that was attached to an idea or an abstract value is gone. This process has eliminated the unnecessary from my life and made clear the necessary. This is so beneficial to getting things done. I intend to write on this subject with great detail in the upcoming posts. The clutter is gone.
For now I will leave you with this post. I am safe at home and the bicycle trip is for now over. I felt I learned and discovered so much on my journey that I had obtained what I was looking for even if I am not exactly sure what it was. I decided it was time to come home and take a new perspective on my entire life. That is what I am working on now.
I have a very exciting project on the go. I can not wait to share with you. Please subscribe to stay in the know!
I feel battered and fatigued. I took my first bicycle crash yesterday enroute to Nantua France from Lyon France. Luckily the crash was minor enough to only produce scrapes and bruises. The crash also taught me a cycling lesson. Do not attempt to dart onto the sidewalk at too fast of speed. It also taught me to respect the road and to remain calm. Abrasions incurred on my right elbow, shoulder, hip and ankle where minor yet bleeding with a sting. I shook off the damage to my ego.
While cycling on a narrow pass through town I heard a large truck coming up behind me. I thought I would be generous and give it more room to pass. I tried to hop on to the sidewalk next to the road. My front tire skidded along the groove and I lost control rolling into the sidewalk. The first thought that went through my head upon stopping against the sidewalk was “That could have been worse.”. I rose to my feet quickly to let passing traffic know I was OK.
As I gathered my wits and examined my wounds a car pulled in behind me. The man inside sounded his horn and motioned me to move forward so he could park. He exited his car and noticed my bleeding wounds and speaking in french asked me what had happened. I was able to explain in poor french and hand gestures that I had taken a fall. That I was alright and that it was minor. The man offered me disinfectant which I accepted. He went into his house and returned with an alcohol spray and some gauze. Together we cleaned my wounds. I thanked him and I told him I was from Canada. He wished me luck. I straighten the handlebars of my bicycle and made the last ten minutes of my journey to Nantua in slight discomfort but good spirits. I was thankful for what I had learned and grateful the ordeal was not worse.
I have to admit. I would have preferred to show up to Gailes with a blood covered arm. Although this would have likely scared her it would have satisfied my ego and the cool made up image of myself. I chose instead to accept the french man’’s help and had my wounds cleaned up.
As I arrive at Gailes I pass alongside a lake surrounded by the mountainous region. Cliffs overlook a pristine blue body of water that calms the otherwise hostile overlooking cliffs creating an atmosphere of protected relaxation. The sun is setting and the scenery is lit in its most golden way. Once I pass the lake I enter the town of Nantua. The buildings are of typical grey stone and red clay roofs so very common in France. The streets spider in many directions. There are kebab shops, tea shops, boulangeries, a tattoo parlor, and the neon green lit pharmacies. Most shops look permanently closed with the exception of the kebab, pharmacy and boulangerie.
At Gailes flat my wounds have reached a persistent sting. I abate this with the memory that it could have been worse. I have to guess which buzzer is Gailes. I still do not know her last name. I buzz the first on the list. Luckily there are only two to choose from. She answers and buzzes me in.
I hear Gaille at the top of the stairs. I unstrap my gear and begin to climb the steps. The staircase is a long narrow spiral of brown wooden steps chipped with years of neglect. They crunch at the bottom of my feet in a sound only old hardwood can produce. At the top Gaille and I greet each other. She is of small frame and looks like a mature child. Her hair is thick brown and curly. She wears a woolen red sweater with a brown scarf and jeans. Later I find she refers to herself as the racoon and her boyfriend is the sloth. He is tall, lanky, slow, and cute. When I meet him I find this to be true. They are a lovely couple and compliment each other well. I never get to know Francoir but his company is sweet and hospitable. I return to my bike to retrieve my luggage. I lock my bike and return upstairs.
During the next two days Gaille and I practice French and English. We watch movies, grocery shop and make some meals. Her mannerisms remind me of my cousin Leo. She makes insane guttural sounds to accentuate feelings, crux’s of jokes, and weird awkward moments. We have a few drinks and dance to garage punk bands including the B 52s. Rock Lobster was a big hit. I made her soup but it was too spicy. I am told Francoir likes spicy food. I am hopeful he will like it.
My stay here in Nantua is fun and as rewarding as all the encounters I have had on this journey. There are some obstacles though that are beginning to become more visible. They appear on the horizon of my thoughts like a monsterous looming army. They become taller and grin wider as I move closer. They will not yet deter me. They have just become apparent. I will attempt to write of these monsters in this post.
The crash was minor. My scrapes will educate me. However they have raised awareness to what could happen if something worse where to occur in a more desolate place. My first aid supplies are low and need to be examined. Couchsurfing has been amazing but so far I have no accepting hosts beyond Nantua. I am met with many refusals. This raises the concern of finances as paid lodgings will eat at my budget quickly.
Couchsurfing also takes up a lot of time and planning. I have to search, message and correspond with potential hosts for the next city on the tour. I do not like to be on my phone making routes and finding places to stay. I worry about the fact that I will not stay long enough in any one place to truly ‘travel’ it at all. I am spending money that I shouldn’t be. My accounts back in Canada are a mess. Corresponding with those that represent my financial interests are becoming exceedingly difficult the longer I am away.
I am behind on many important personal things. The terrain is becoming difficult. The excess physical excursion is tolling on my body. Although I take a few days to rest in between routes it is becoming apparent that I have no idea what I am in for. The weight on my bicycle is too heavy. My legs, hips, back, wrists, shoulders, neck and elbows are beginning to murmur whispers of mutiny. I have no idea about the many countries I intend to pass. How can I plan the routes? Google seems useless beyond Switzerland.
Those aforementioned are just obstacles. Everyone has obstacles in their paths. My only choice is to continue on and deal with them. The uncertainty of the future is a myth I tell myself. Every mountain I climbed so far, though somewhat tortuous in their ascent, only ever lead to the discovery of some majestic beauty previously unknown to me.
It astonishes me to think that for some reason I have pushed myself, with the weight of fifty pounds added to my bicycle, to slowly traverse a fine portion of this earth. To discover its regions and find in every crevice an infinite amount of beauty, awe, and wonder. That the human spirit of love is painfully abundant in us all. That friends can be found everywhere. That there is no need to leave anywhere, go anywhere, or change anything to witness this vast supply of indescribable astonishment. Be grateful! We have to look nowhere to find it. It is infinitely abundant. With the smallest amount of effort can be found countless wonders of the entire universe. This is because beauty IS in the eye of the beholder and that is you.
So how many resources must I deplete? How deeply should I risk financial ruin? How close must I get to these scary monsters? When will I realize they are just shadows of mountains I have already climbed? Why do it at all that on faith I follow some unidentified child like voice from within? How can I at all be certain that what I am doing is worth it? I can not at all be certain about it. I have faith. I have faith that I am, as Paulo Coelho put it, following my own personal legend.
During lunch Gaille and I finished our pizza from the night before. Gaille has a high voice supplemented by a strong French accent. She is hilarious both by design and effort. Her smile and laugh are pure, stern, and genuine. She is a sophisticated punk rocker in that she is wild while still being calculated and peaceful. She is a serious joker.
After we finished our pizza Gaille searched for a dessert. She brought back a handful of grapes to the table and began to munch on them while talking and making jokes. At one particular stretch of silence Gaille decided to show me a trick. With her French accent and highest of high voices she said “Look it’s funny!” and proceeded to put a whole bunch of grapes still on the vine in her mouth.
Her goal, I think, was to pull out the vine while keeping the grapes in her mouth for consumption. This failed. Instead she pulled out broken pieces of vine while choking and coughing and continued to grab at and pull out still more pieces of vine debris. This display had me in a fit of tears. She then watched me while laughing and choking, still with grapes in her mouth, reenact the scene I had just saw.
“Look its funny!” I said with her accent and pretended to reach in my mouth while feigning to choke and cough. This put her into hysteria which then made her choke and laugh and cough more. I was crying I was laughing so hard. The joke was compounding on itself through its mirth and the imminent risk of death that hung over it. Her choking and coughing became more severe. Unable to control her efforts to elegantly subdue the situation she had to spit out the mess of grapes. Her face turned red and eyes went teary and widened both with uncontrollable laughter and fear.
She became lost in that place of desperation and hysteria. We were laughing at the possibility of death through laughter. Trying to get a hold of ourselves in the situation only made it worse.
I began to think of the heimlich maneuver. Thankfully I never had to use it. I got her a glass of water instead. When Gaille and I finally gained composure she told me I had “Almost killed her”. This was hilarious as well. We continued to snicker about the whole thing afterwards but I could tell she was slightly mad at the same time. It took a few minutes to become normal again.
During breakfast the next day we regale this moment which again brought us to tears. Even now writing it is difficult to not laugh.
The sun climbs above the mountains and illuminates them. Sharp stone tips of yellows and grey radiate the overwhelming awe of earths natural beauty. The blue sky appears as a haze caused by the abundant beam of the sun. The sky is completely vacant except some clouds bordering the sun. They gather there and participate in the course of mother nature’s provision to all things living.
Under the visage of monstrous obstacles I write this. I reflect in the gifts I received from them. The many more coming.
Under the Mirage of monsters.