How Old is Old?

We were singing 60s songs in the car on the way to vaca things like beatles ... "will you still love me when I'm 64" and Simon and Garfunkel "old friends sitting on a park bench at 70" and I remembered singing those with feeling at 20years old and how sad it would be when suddenly I yelled!! Screammed!! COLLEN said what? What's wrong? I turned off the music and said " the words are all wrong!! It's not old when your 64 or 70!! It should be 95!!! 95 or 100!! Oh my gosh I mean I'm 64 now and I'm white water paddler and wilderness backpacker!!! Today I came across a cave while hiking off trail, so cool! NOT OLD NOT OLD NOT OLD!!! Ok, I calmed down and did a thumbs down on that track, love technology. 

Dinner Table Stories

cloudyOcean.jpg

I sat and watched the tables around me, it was a fancy restuarant and it was full of happy groups of obvious friends escaping the coming storm, its black rolling clouds ominous through the windows, but no one was looking, all were laughing. One womans story was erupting with hands in the air as the (may be birds?) Flue away, another table was gesturing what I guess was running, or a train engine chugging? All at the peopl were leaning in for quite parts an then erupting with excited smiles and wide eyed for the action... Stories do captivate, even a dinner table story, anecdote, scene from life is full of facial and hand expressions!!! I know I'm excited, I know that I'm missing some fun tidbit.... oops im also wondering... what was my wife saying to me just now... oops she just dropped a clue, something about "and on our aniversary" !! 

Thoughts On An Old Path

I held in my hand a small section cut from an old map, a thin black line interested me, not just because of the name, but because it was labeled as "Path" and not trail. And this path was not on the current maps, Interesting... Here I stood because I've got a decision, I'm ahead of the others, they know that I intend to take this other path thats only on my old map, and I'm at a point in the trail where it should be, but realize that now I'll have to push off into the brush, head down this steep rocky wildness in search of what used to be there. And if I wait, they will dissuade , they will add doubt, point to fears, possibilities, and my resolve will melt away. Now is the time, So I grip it and plunge fast and crazily laughing and thinking like a deer jumping over logs and leaping from rocks swinging from vines to get beyond my own point of doubt .

wanderStream.jpg

Now I thought that I should write down a description of the trail but you can't really imagine her (the trail). I thought that I should stop and take a picture of the her but you can't really see her anymore..

Years ago she had been probably had been beautiful weaving through the forest, and she was still on this old old map, but today, years since anybody has ever walked this way. The ground is hard packed where feet have passed time, but you really can't see the ground through the bushes and the logs and the leaves that have fallen across her decades of loneliness, the branches that cloud your view, but look around because there is still the original beautiful wildness here, and the silence is whole. 

You can tell that this path was alive and was beautiful once.  it had Granite blocks, man moved  that kept the water from eroding her, and old rotting  logs for Bridges over the small Rivits of water. Then I found a side turn out were you could step close to the edge of a precipitous drop and see the chasm of the river below, wishing to cool yourself in the swirling pool below or wondering what trout hides in those dark shadows.

but no one, no one, has been here in a long long time.

Finally the old trail turns down  to cross the river, I strip down and cool my self.  I know that I will soon lose the trail in the wash out, in the crush of logs that have come down from the Peaks, the flash floods of previous years have stopped me, and i am saddened. Finding a moss covered rest with the stream playing around me i lay back feet up and just watch, I finally become still and let the coolness of the afternoon calm me, call me.

On the trail, i moved fast, there was no wind, it was a silent and and endless sunny day, the leaves of all sorts in their Beauty and Grandview soaking up the sun and casting shadows that I longed to be in. 

Now I am stopped.

I sit now just sit for a long period of time, and finally I noticed little things, differences. There is movement, every single leaf is moving. Some of the trees shutter, a slight slight breeze that can't be felt. And some of the leaves move up and pull back as if they don't want to give in, they want to stay hidden. They move ever-so-slightly that I wasn't noticing them moving at all when I was moving so fast.

=============

What is it about our lives that we move so fast it obscures the movement around us. We can't see the world because we're moving so fast but there it is! always moving! I lie there I found a very comfortable Rock to put my feet up on and one for my back to make it a moss covered reclining chair with just enough warmth of sun and just enough Breeze to keep me cool I waited I waited and waited to watch what really was happening around me everything was moving everything had an action and a reaction we can't see because we are in such a hurry it amazed me that I missed it all.

A cluster of nine leaves hit by one beam of sunshine among the others in shadow in the maple draw my attention make me catch my breath! and I watch them after while till I am drawn by the beam of sunshine on a rock in the water, Its water moves around it no longer without wonder, but now above the Rock the ripples were clear and magnify the small Pebbles on the bottom clearly, but below the rock the ripples cross-hatched in obscure patterns hiding whatever crayfish and fish lie in the refuge below. And I wonder, how much more there is, it's just an amazing thing, we are surrounded by so so much and there is so little time.

If I stop, breath, listen, watch, will clarity come to me in life as clarity comes to those pebbles that lie in the pool before the rock? I'd like to try, but will I? but will I?

Reflections Remind me of Great Story Telling

I'm just amazed at how many people I bumped into, just in a store, That don't realize they know how to tell a really great story!!  In Storytelling have you noticed that often a friend brings up a story because another's story suddenly reminded's/(reflects) inside them.

 Clyde Pond Windham NH

Clyde Pond Windham NH

And sometimes, like a reflection, the story is best told top to bottom or end to front. The first line sometimes has to reflect what will be the end of the story, the catch, the anticipation, the lead to pull you into the story enough so you to want what's going to happen next!! How will they get there!! How will they get out of it!! 

Like the Tom Tall Tales "Promise to Bee Careful" or the "Strange Warning" stories where the beginning message is not revealed/understood till the end of the story!! You the participant know that this warning is a reflection that you see at the end of the story, and throughout the story you know it is building, but until the end of the story you don't know what it truly reflects. 

I Recently enjoyed !really really enjoyed! telling a story that was "dynamically shaped by audience response" (True Tales Live)!! A great example of a fabulous audience and the art of "Live Narative Performance" which is a dynamic interaction with the Storyteller that brings out new elements magnifying the story.

So, so today my walk among the beauty of the world, this lake, reminds me that the end reflects to the beginning, (and ps: you may not have noticed, but like my stories, in this picture the sky is the reflection of the ground not the other way around... ha-ha-ha fooled you)

Word for the day: dynamically shaped by audience response!

Stories help with Pain, Fear and Death

I was struck today, more like nocked over by this quote. It is true that we are drawn into stories, that we forget ourselves and enter into another's tale. It has wonderful affects of excitement, adventure and emotion and release. So when John Lithgow started caring for his dying father, and in desperation one night at bed time started reading an old book of stories, this is what he found happened:

"My father was listening to me read him a story as if his life depended on it, and indeed it did, the story was not just diverting him, it was easing his pain, dissolving his fear, and leading him back from the brink of death. It was rejuvenating his atrophied soul. lying next to him, my mother could sense that that by some mysterious force her husband was returning to her." ("Drama" by John Lithgow)

Wow, poignant, I've been in a sad cycle these last few days, with headache's and life stage changes at work and home. It is good to remember that we can have a rejuvenation of our soul. Maybe its time to share a good story and get out..

"How much of that is true"

Note that it was said recently to me "so how much of this is true".

     Well, ... honestly all of it.

BUT NOTE that in our lives, in our heads, when we are going through an extreme situation there are multiple voices.  This day in this cave when the lights started to go out there was, 

  • a voice of calm reason
  • a voice of absolute panic
  • a voice of abstract outer view

And probably many others. I have actually told this story from those other internal voices to people and groups.  These are what I call the "Colors" in a story. For example if you stare at a tree in the fall, it is full of colors, it is a beautiful fall tree, a beautiful vibrant red leafed tree, it is a beautiful forest floor of fallen yellows, a tree of gently falling sounds,  and on and on .... The story then is the same, but can be seen through different colors, or voices.

In this story,  as the lanterns where on fire, one voice said to my self, "OH GOD, we're miles under ground and hours away from light", and another voice said calmly "have to put on the prep list to check carbide lantern gaskets , and later calmly "have to put extra batteries on the check list" and finally abstractly looking from outside "The fool did not remember to always look behind himself".  But the best most liked voice is of course the voice full of emotion and energy, this is the voice most of us can identify with, because this is the voice that echo's our heart rate and the voice we try to control the voice everyone always talks about, "just don't panic".

And to all these internal voices I give some credit that in future caving experiences where survived. (I am still here) And survived with less of a close call, auuu not totally true, at least not close calls of the same kind.  It is said often (might be just by me but I might have heard it somewhere) "A lesson learned the hard way is a lesson learned forever". Enjoy. (I also give a lot of credit to Guardian Angles that work really hard at keeping me alive) Thanks

Truth is internal, not on the surface

Very interesting quote about storytelling I just came across by a medicine man from the Wampanoag indians of Rhode Island, it really sinks into the heart of the message that storytellers attempt to achieve:

...... Well... these are only facts. Externals. Truth is internal, not on the surface but imbedded in the spirit. Artists, storytellers, are not interested in the facts, they are only interested in the truth. The surface of life as we see it all about us is very misleading. Reality is incredibly mysterious. The real monsters lie inside us, and our fears are real enough. The only way we can hope to pursue truth is on an inward journey, don't you see, a journey that turns deliberately from appearances into mystery. (Wampanoag Morning, "Wolf Dreamer" by Manitonquat, a Medicine Story

Why True Story Telling

 What is a story, Since I was a child, I enjoyed a good story, I believed that stories helped us to ennoble ourselves, to fix what was broken in us, and to help us become the people we dreamed of being, (Dr. Robert Ford, from West-World))

Where will it lead us?: She told me that: A bit of madness is key to give us to color to see, Who knows where it will lead us? And that's why they need us, So bring on the rebels The ripples from pebbles The painters, and poets, and plays And here's to the fools who dream Crazy, as they may seem. Here's to the hearts that break Here's to the mess we make   (Mia, from La La Land)

What is story telling  “the art of live narrative performance, dynamically shaped by audience response.”  His use of the words “live performance

I believe in Story.  Something very powerful happens when we are able to capture a moment in words and have another person share in the experience.  It heals us.  It makes us laugh.  It brings connection.  Perspective.  It makes us human. (From Jennifer Gyor "Willy Lilly Wool Stories")

When you're in the middle of a story, it isn't a story at all but rather a confusion, a dark roaring, a blindness, a wreckage of shattered glass and splintered wood, like a house in a whirlwind or else a boat crushed by the icebergs or swept over the rapids, and all aboard are powerless to stop it. It's only afterwards that it becomes anything like a story at all, when you're telling it to yourself or someone else. (Michael Polley - Storyteller)

Why art? Its not about being liked, it's about feeling something, anything. Our whole world has become so disconnected from any real emotion we barely even communicate anymore. We're just a bunch of liars, we lie to each other and we lie to ourselves. We don't say how we really feel or God forbid how we really are because we're to bloody scared. Instead we just try to be liked, its terrible.  [From Movie Posthumously (artist fakes death then gets phyisophical about art)]

Great writing can show you what it’s like to walk in another’s shoes, but can also make you feel less alone in your own, can take you down streets you’ve never been, but can also describe an emotion in a way you’ve never heard before that makes you think, Yes. That is exactly what it is like for me, too. For me, reading a good book is receiving a gift. It’s the gift I’ve always wanted to give, and I felt that if I worked hard enough and long enough, someday I would be able to do just that.  (From  Sere Prince Halverson - author)

Are you Happy? "When you think about the people that you admire most, you didn't admire them because they were happy, its always the unhappiness in their stories, the scarifies, the risks, the agony they endured, what we admire most is not the happiness its the greatness. ... At what point do you just accept your life? And maybe accepting is the path to happiness. "or maybe thats just giving up, But I honestly believe that every person on this world has the potential for something great, and maybe all that we really need is a little bit of encouragement." [From Movie Posthumously (artist fakes death then gets phyisophical about art)]

Finding Myself: "I thought if I could touch this place or feel it, This brokenness inside me might start healing. Out here it's like I'm someone else, I thought that maybe I could find myself (From Miranda Lambert Song/Story The house that built me)

Noun1: life story - an account of the series of events making up a person's life. biography, life history,life, 

Our life is the story that we tell. (Tom O)

Reasons for stories 

  1. brings us closer to our own humanity, to each other
  2. to build community
  3. to begin conversations, to find insights (from "Fugitive Story Sessions - West Canton")

Why Stories, Why Art?

Why art? Its not about being liked, it's about feeling something, anything. Our whole world has become so disconnected from any real emotion we barely even communicate anymore. We're just a bunch of liars, we lie to each other and we lie to ourselves. We don't say how we really feel or God forbid how we really are because we're to bloody scared. Instead we just try to be liked, its terrible.

Are you Happy? "When you think about the people that you admire most, you didn't admire them because they were happy, its always the unhappiness in the stories, the scarifies, the risks, the agony they endured, what we admire most is not the happiness its the greatness.

At what point do you just accept your life? And maybe accepting is the path to happiness. "or maybe thats just giving up, But I honestly believe that every person on this world has the potential for something great, and maybe all that we really need is a little bit of encouragement."

(From Movie Posthumously (artist fakes death then gets phyisophical about art)

A Black Cloud And A Sunset

As his cold fingers bent creakily and tried to pull the laces of his boots, a sudden caaaarack  from behind him awakening the feeling of being watched that has been there all day.  Not just watched, but more like an icy finger of fear that races ahead of sudden horror!!!!  It was a heavy heaving big long crack of a very large branch, not just a stick. Slowly, ever so slowly he turns still looking down, knowing it is something that he doesn't want to see, something he hopes to be invisible to, but knowing it involves him and cannot be dismissed . All previous sounds had ceased, only his heart beat could be heard, and his breath, !!! no not HIS breath but.. WHOSE? !!! Massive black clawed feet appear out of the corner of his vision. Causality looking up he stares at a massive bear!! A great cazum of a mouth with jaws open, gaping, but.. is it ?casually like a yawn?.  It is the biggest bear he'd ever seen, and never had seen one from so close that you could feel his breath on your face.    Save me, O God, for the waters have almost taken my life.  I have gone down into deep mud and there is no place to put my feet. Psalm 69

It had been 40 days on the trail, actually 40 days and 40 nights to the hour and he was washing up to enjoy the sunset. Listening in wonder at the beauty all around ?us?. The babbling from the spring nearby, the birds chattering away in the trees, the evening crickets, the frigid water had called him to start the next section of the trail all freshened up. But with it's beady black eyes fixed on him, it stares, not a general stare, and not a stare at his eyes, but more a stare of curiosity at a specific point just under his chin... then he realized, it must be a curiosity of the soap bubbles continue to drip from his beard and down onto the leaves.

Isn't it funny how we humans are? Even in a moment of calm, fear, doubt, anxiety and black clouds suddenly loom up and appear, with claws that could destroy our future (or in this case we'd become a part of someone else's dreams of fulfillment).  Day dreaming we too late see the light is yellow and narrowly escape an accident

To late we walk into a meeting to find that others have questions we are not prepared for To late we see that our distractedness has hurt others we love To late we realize that our food bag is sitting open by our side!!!

  Though for some reason sometimes we can find calmness, just a feeling that a smile at disaster tickles our insides, reaching for a prayer of forgiveness and guidance, with as simple a statement as "God? Help! " And like those rare moments, this time the calmness came, and he said to the bear, "Good morning, I hope you are enjoying this warm spring evening as much as I am, it may be we are both kindred spirits (I hope so),. And I'm just going to finish my wash up and be out of your way."

At this point he could see out of the corner of his eye, the bear's head tilted some to one side, questioningly, and he rolled back his considerable tonnage onto his back hips as if to watch this stranger.

The hiker continued to slowly pack up his gear, and taking out a towel and drying his hair continued to talk calmly, "you know that this is a very metaphysical encounter, you a big part of what is beautiful, and me a dreamer that is searching for that beauty." Wrapping a towel around his head he paused, looked at the sunset from our mountain top ledge, sharing for another few minutes with the bear in silence. Then bowing and with a wave thanked him for the company, slowly backing away.

Life is a wonder, what it is filled with, where it will lead you, why beauty and fear and forgiveness and serenity can all be so intermingled. Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night, not flying arrows in the day,

Not disease that prowls through the darkness, not disaster that erupts at high noon.  Psalm 91

Thanks For Gods Miracles

In the years of the colonies a traveling preacher was crossing the mountains when suddenly rearing up in front of him was a gigantic clawed bear with gaping toothy drooling jaws. Falling instantly to his knees and closing his eyes he prayed “Dear God, Oh Dear God give this bear a Christian heart!!”

Silence fell, and a warm light surrounded him. Peeking out through closed lids he sees the bear also on his knees with this great paws folded together.

“Oh Lord of miracles in today’s world, thank you.”

At this the Bear cleared his throat and spoke “Oh Lord, Thank you for this meal in which I am about to partake.”

I remember lying on the trail

On A sunny thick grassy knoll, a temporary flat spot on a steeply downward sloping trail, and then gazing across a valley of deep green trees, with the sounds of a distant waterfall playing a mellody below me hidden beneath the tree topped carpet that I suddenly felt a part of.

There are times when we feel a part of the "garden that is full of life", when the needs of the world are pushed off and outside so that the “real world” is forgotten. Forgotten is the insistence of moving, of going, of needing to do and be some were. And instead you are enveloped in a stillness, not a silence, but a stillness that surrounds and widens your perspective till it seems you see a wider perspective around you and hear more intricate sounds that have always existed, but were not before perceivable.

In that short time, in that pause, you know there is wholeness and a presence that also has always been there longing to give you joy and company. You feel him hold you, envelope and warm you. I so much do want to pause today and “just lie here, and forget the world” so that I can see "the garden bursting into life".

“If I lay here, If I just lay here Would you lie with me, And just forget the world? Forget what we’re told, Before we get too old. Show me a garden, That’s bursting into Life. “(Snow patrol)

If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,  even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. (A Psalm of David 139)

The Problem of Being Lost

This strikes a cord with me, a big one, a personal one. There are few people in the world with this skill, (in fact the only other one that I know of ((and who's name will not be revealed to protect the ino.... well..)) anyway I will not divulge this name (Chris you owe me)). This train of thought was once again brought to the surface by a book I was reading:

(From P. McManus “The Grasshopper Trap” 2009.): Several years ago I wrote what many experts consider the most authoritative work ever published on the topic of getting lost. The idea for the article germinated out of my observation that where as millions of words have been written about how to survive when lost, absolutely nothing I had ever read had ever been written about the basic problem, how to get lost in the first place. What is the point of knowing how to survive if you don’t know how to get lost.

It probably started when I was hiding from my mother in clothing stores (auugg no more trying on sweaters and collard shirts!!!), or hiding from my dad after my invisible dog prince broke another lamp (NOT MY FAULT). These were the beginnings but not satisfying  (unless I awoke and didn't know where I was) because although I was "lost" from them, I was still knew where I was. The point to being lost is to not know where you are.

Take the prime tenants of course on how to survive when lost

1) Don't Panic : If you walked into the woods on dirt cleared by millions of foot prints and marked with tags on trees, Not a good place to practice survival skills.2) Hydration : if you know where the nearest Duncan Donuts is then, Not a good place to practice survival skills.3) shelter : if you left your car in the parking lot a mile behind you then big deal. Not a good place to practice survival skills.

So to be really good at using survival skills you need to find a way to be 1) panicked, 2) thirsty, 3) shelterless, and really LOST. I can help. So here are my notes to be added to McManus's consummate and authoritative treatise on the the subject. I have found one more mechanism that is failure proof.

First, like the above, just take a hike on a trail, better if its one you don't know, long and winding, and walk till you pass a few twists and turns, THEN AS SUDDENLY AS POSSIBLE, act as if your scared and scream and run off the trail and perpendicular to the trail. It is best to practice running at random angles to the trail, run fast and not in a straight line, dodge trees, running with your head down is the best way. Even better is to add a hoodie or pulled down beanie so you don't have any peripheral vision (the beanie also softens the blows as later discover). Run fast, run furious, run scared, run panicked and run all over the place with no purpose. Dodge trees at the last minute because you see their roots, jump rocks suddenly and go over logs with your head always down. If you hit a few bushes and branches all the better, well just plow through them. Hopefully (not hitting a tree straight on), but you will get better at this (there are less knots on my head these days, [thought there is no hair]). This will remove the chance of memorizing interesting and unique objects, distinctive rock formations, uniquely curved trees, denseness of surrounding ground growth, hill steepness or precipitous drop offs. After doing this till you are out of breath, grab a stick, put your forehead on it and spin around 10 time till you drop to the ground on your back and finally now enjoy the quiet sounds and sights of truly being lost, really lost.  Now you are ready to practice survival skills, now try to find north, to find water, to find shelter TO NOT PANIC!!!!. And you better, because at this point none else will find you either.

Of course there are many other ways to get in a good situation to practice survival skills, like falling off a ledge, following um .. Chris) and steam stomping till you then leave it trekking to another different steam, then another, then wander off on the other side of a hill to maybe get home. There is also the night hiking technique, and the "lets try this random animal trail" (till you have to leave it realizing it is a bear trail). But truthfully none fully fills my loved old memories as well as the tried and true simulation of "panicked running with no clue". Works every time.

With love, East Mtn Strider

I am an explorer Of Life

"I am an explorer then, and I am also a stalker, or the instrument of the hunt itself. Certain indians used to carve long grooves along the wooden shafts of their arrows. They called the grooves lightning marks because they resembled the curved fishers lightning carves down the trunks of trees. The function of the lightning marks is this, if the arrow fails to kill the game, blood from a deep wound will channel along the lightning mark steak down the arrow shaft and spatter to the ground laying a trail dripped on broad leaves on stones that the bare foot and trembling archer could follow into what ever deep or rare wilderness it leads."</p>

"I am the arrow shaft. Carved along my length by the unexpected lights and gashes from the very sky, and this book is the straying trail of blood" Pilgrim at Tinker creek by Annie Dillard...

He said , "you've heard that our life is a stage, well our lives ARE the story, a story given by God. Given for our growth, self awareness and perspective." (Strider East Mtn)

The Holes we Step In

Interesting how long it takes to get one self out of the holes we step in,

While show shoeing a quiet and open path in the woods yesterday, suddenly whoosh, my feet disappeared, knowingly I leaned so as to spread my weight above what ever chasm just opened up beneath me, Luckily I fell on my back with my feet down into , .. into what I asked my self. (know that in books this is usually where the author is echoing on page what the character is saying in his head, but when I take solo hikes I tend to talk out loud) so I said again to the trees,

“what have you fallen into”.

Cautiously I craned my neck, just my neck, trying not to change any pressure points on the thin crust that was holding the rest of me from falling int the pit.

“Auuu” I said,

The faint mummer of running water rose from what looked like 5 feet down below me in the blackness of cold dark watery hole in my trail.

“No, not good, not good at all”,

Taking this moment to revel in the beauty of the trees telescoping up above into the snow laden sky, hear the gentle wind rustling the final half dozen leaves on small beach trees around, what I now know, is the bank of a river.

“wow, beautiful, but guess I'll have to go around this one"

In the silence, a slight shiver ran through me thinking of the miles back to the car along a trackless, wind blown trail that I had "invented" just to follow some topographic features. Then, cool, my heart beat sores with excitement,  I hear the –huff-huff- snort of a deer, and saw 2 of them running along through the woods. Probably laughing at me stuck on my back.

“after we get out of this, lets follow those tracks" I whispered, "bet they know how to avoid the thin ice.”

What to do next? It is usually to take stock and see which way is the water running.  Why you may ask, well it would be best to roll away from where the current is and avoid the thinner sections cause by the water rushing into the pool below..

"looks to be running off to the left” (though I couldn't quite see where it came into the pool below me), "guess we'll just have to guess some, But good news is that the guessing will keep the suspense alive".

So gently, ever so gently, I placed my polls flat on the snow to the right of my shoulder and my butt. Then I began so scooch over onto the polls, thus spreading my weight, sliding along, and I gingerly lifted my feet out of the hole when I got closer to the bank,

“good, no cracking sounds” 

Finally after half an hour I reached the trees. Funny how life is, just this week going about normal path of commute, work, dinner, shoveling snow, sleep, over again and again. When suddenly whoosh, fell into it , broken snow blower, car is rattling and needs to get fixed, heating bill is suddenly shot up higher, bank account empty, and on and on.  Am I in a rut, in a hole?

The ice land hole took me a good 3/4 hour to get out of, but out of it I knew I'd eventually get, as long as I didn't panic, and moved slowly, but surely. Well thank you nature, I’ll just take stock, and listen to some beauty, enjoy what I have and slowly scooch out of this hole one foot at a time. Life has beauty all around you.