Monday, October 1, 2018

Wandering


“I don't like either the word [hike] or the thing. People ought to saunter in the mountains - not 'hike!' Do you know the origin of that word saunter? It's a beautiful word. Away back in the middle ages people used to go on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and when people in the villages through which they passed asked where they were going they would reply, 'A la sainte terre', 'To the Holy Land.' And so they became known as sainte-terre-ers or saunterers. Now these mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently, not 'hike' through them.”  (John Muir)

Years ago, on a family trip somewhere, my brother made the comment that as little kids we used to go exploring. We'd be out all afternoon, in the backyard or at neighborhood parks, and if someone asked us what we were doing, we'd say "Exploring!" You go down wood paths you haven't been down, you look around corners just to see what's there, you crouch down and spend untold minutes watching all the caterpillar's legs ripple, or the ants carrying their trappings, or the squirrel rapping his tiny knuckles on a nut.

When did we stop doing that, he asked. When did we stop looking at the world like our only task was to discover it, no checklist, no obligation to the name of Productivity, just wide-eyed kid trying to see what was out there.



In Switzerland, the hiking trail signs all read "Wanderweg." If you ask Swiss people the word for "hike," they'll say wandern, but wandern is also the word for "wander" which makes me think they actually only have a word for "wander" and that there really is no German word for hike. For example, last week, a Swiss lady recounting her day to me said, "I've been wandering today!" (With her accent, at first I thought she said "wondering" so I stared at her expectantly...what have you been wondering about?? Haha)

When you wander instead of hike, you take the time to look at the underbellies of mushrooms. You count waterfalls in the peaks miles away. You get close enough to the stoney mountain walls that you can see their tiny striations. When you wander, you give the mountain enough time to talk to you, and you give yourself enough time to hear it.

 

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

kill the vision


If you lost it, it's because you're meant to find something better.
Trust, let go, and make room for what's coming.

I've been house hunting for the past few months. House hunting is a heart-wrenching endeavor. Truly horrible. You see house after house that is absolutely not what you're looking for, but you behave yourself, go through the exercise of looking at every room, opening every closet door, and trying to believe you could possibly somehow make this one work.

Actual thoughts I've had while looking at absolutely-the-wrong-house:
  • I could transplant three giant trees on the front side of the house to block the fact that's it's pretty much on the freeway.
  • Clearing the cement out of a fireplace and chimney wouldn't be that difficult.
  • Yeah, I can probably live in the oversized closet next to the kitchen, so my roommate could have the bedroom...
  • Living next door to my company's IT offices might not be that bad. I probably wouldn't even notice.
And then one day, just a normal everyday unremarkable Thursday in May or a July Monday, you pull up to a house. Just a house. Maybe it has lilac bushes at the gate, or a clothesline in the back. Maybe you've driven by every month for years now on your way home, or maybe it was on the same street your grandparents lived on, maybe you rode your skateboard by it every summer on your way to the neighborhood park. And here you are now, all grown up and tired of looking at houses.

And then it's game over. You walk through that gate, and it's just. game. over.

You could say things like it blows all the other houses out of the water, or it just felt -"right"-, or until you saw this house, you had no idea how amazing houses could be. But the simple reality is, you just finally found something that was true. Something honest, something that didn't pretend to be something it wasn't, something that faces you straight on and calls you by name and says this is what I am and every part of me is worth loving.

When you find a house like that, you'd move heaven and earth to make it yours.

Not because of materialism, or jealousy, or possessiveness, or because it's a good investment. But because you belong inside of it, and it belongs around you. Because you walk through the air in that house and it's thick with visions. Not visions of what walls you'll have to knock out and showers you'll have to install for it to be livable, but of the nights on the front porch with old jazz playing inside and coming out through open windows. Of bright morning light coming through the bedroom windows. Of the dinner parties in the back with every good person you know. The house starts to make you a bigger person. Expanded, enlarged, enlightened. It grows your vision of what your role is on this tiny little planet.

You love the house because of what it makes you see in you.

---

The hard part though is sometimes heaven and earth won't move, despite your best offer, and the house goes to someone else.

There's a recovery period of course. For a few weeks after, you compare every house you see to the old one... How many square feet did it have, and is this new one bigger or smaller? Which direction did the old one face? Could I recreate the backyard feeling, here? And then you cycle back through trying to convince yourself into other houses.

I had originally set out to say something here about killing the visions. About how in order to make room for the next wonderful house that's coming your way, you have to kill the visions of the last house, because every house comes with visions, and they're different each time, and you have to love a house on its own terms, for what it is, and for what visions you find there. And I supposed that if you got too hung up clinging to the old visions, you wouldn't leave yourself open to recognizing the new ones when they came.

But that's fake. The new ones come and they blow the old visions out of the water all on their own. They don't need your help killing them. All they need from you is your best and honest heart, and a willingness to put new wine into new bottles.

Four years ago I tried to convince someone that every loss is replaced with something better, something we'll be infinitely happier about, once the pain and sorrow of the original loss is gone. This sometimes seems like a ridiculous thing to think, and I'm not entirely sure anymore that I believe that happens for everybody. All I know is, it's been true for me.

I guess this could all be read as being about more than just houses. Maybe that's okay. For me though, it's just about getting over that Spanish Fork home, about the Corner House that made it happen. I suppose I'll be homesick for the Corner House a little while longer, and I suppose that's exactly as it should be.

Monday, August 28, 2017

music monday: forest fires

I have been thinking about forest fires lately, so I started reading about them and here's what I learned.

Wildfires reset the natural landscape. They regenerate the forest, revitalize the watershed, renew the soil, and reset the clock for the ecosystem.

Many forests cannot sustain themselves without wildfire. They require fires to regenerate, because the trees only produce seeds following a major fire event. Fires push the trees to generate seeds, and without them, these sorts of forests would wither away.

Forest fires also recycle nutrients in the water. They replenish food sources. When naturally occurring, they create a patchwork of newer forest and older forest across the landscape, with the younger forests acting as safeguards against catastrophic all-consuming fires.

When forests get too thick, fires keep tree stands thin and open, letting more sunlight in so trees stay healthier.

Fires make a space for fresh growth that is essential to the safety and progression of the forest.

**

Wildfires reset your natural landscape. They regenerate your desire to grow, give new vitality to your source of living water, make new the soil you are working with, and reset the systems in your life.

Many people cannot sustain themselves without wildfire. They require fires to regenerate, because they only produce seeds following a major fire event. Fires can push them to generate more good, more effort, more investment, and without them, these people would wither away.

Forest fires also recycle the nutrients you're using as lifesource. They give you a fresh crop of opportunities for nourishment. When naturally occurring, they create a patchwork in your life, of areas that are fresh and young, and will at later moments be the safeguard against catastrophic all-consuming fires.

When you get to thick in places, or too old, fires will help the tree stands thin and open, letting more sunlight in so trees stay healthier.

You're thicker than you think. Let the forest fire happen.

Friday, December 30, 2016

dead

This little blog has all but gone the way of all the world. Three posts in 2016. Remember back when blogging was a thing people did? Remember when I used to write here when I didn't want to write things like term papers? Remember when I used to post music every Monday?

I'm going to start writing again. At least I think I will. Maybe it will be here, maybe it will be in a journal, maybe it will be in the margins of books, maybe it will be in the mountains early in the morning like a prayer.

This morning the trees were full of birds singing. Don't they know it's the dead of winter?


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Saturday, April 30, 2016

earth day + national parks week

Another Earth Day come and gone and I didn't even plant seeds. It comes upon me every year like a tsunami and I freeze and gasp and say, "It's Earth Day?!"

And it was also Get Into A National Park For Free week. I did not profit from this, but as I was in Zion's just the week before, I feel okay about it. 

I spend a lot of time thinking about plants though. This year I've killed all the ones I've owned. Four strawberry plants, two basil plants, a lemon tree... The hanging plant in my room is miraculously still alive, but that's probably because it was a gift from my brother and every thing his hands touch lives. 

The thing I like about plants is they are so unconcerned with haste. They just grow at their own speed and there is nothing you can do to change that. And their growth is so quotidian to us humans who live in a world of grass and trees and bushes but when you have a plant that you love and are trying to grow, it's amazing what a miracle the whole growth process becomes, and how willing you are to be patient and kind and tender with it. How forgiving you are of its slow humble little pace, how excited you are for any new green shoots, and how any kind of fruit or blossom is a complete wonder.

Anyways, here are some pictures of a weekend away in a secret canyon that heals souls, and a couple of songs that go well with nature.





Thursday, February 11, 2016

the kind of man



Something weird happened to me last weekend. A lil switch in my brain flipped and all the carefully tuned filters by which I've been searching for Mister dissolved and I'm left with a pretty simple thing:

All I want in life is somebody who falls in love with the world every time he opens his eyes. All I want is someone I can love everything about life with. Someone who is captivated by joy and wants to live in that place constantly. Someone I can just go around loving people with. I want a marriage where we laugh and say dumb things and get so so much joy out of every moment. Especially the really hard moments.

I just want someone with a twinkle in his eyes and the milk of human kindness in his heart.

(and if he wanted to move to Scotland and raise sheep together, well I wouldn't be mad.)