- 09/27/2015: Ominous red moon eclipse outside my window and in the dark fields beyond the coyotes begin to howl.
- 09/28/2015: Mid-morning saunters the new routine for Darla the Adventure Dog and I, what with evenings getting darker two hours earlier, and for the first time in months our exhalations left clouds of breath floating in the air.
- 09/29/2015: Two beautiful kingfishers — one of my favorite birds — at the river this morning and me, like an idiot (for the nth time), without my camera.
- 09/30/2015: I fell asleep sitting upright on the futon in the studio this afternoon and spasmed awake almost two hours later, utterly disoriented, full of deep anxiety that at that moment I was supposed to be somewhere else doing something incredibly important.
- 10/01/2015: First studio shoot in some time that wasn’t just me farting around, and I was reminded I need to be practicing this stuff much more than I have been, even if it is just a second tier skill I hope to earn.
- 10/02/2015: I stayed up late in order to attend my son’s band’s debut CD release, and as much as I feel at odds with music these days, I had a great time sharing the event — and one song on stage — with them.
- 10/03/2015: Today was the first kind of slow, spend-most-of-the-day-indoors-at-home kind of days that I’ve had in what seems like forever, and it felt fantastic.
From Walking with Abel: Journeys with the Nomads of the African Savannah by Anna Badkhen:
We walk into one another’s lives, we change them and are changed deeply and forever, we part ways. Each time a part of our hearts seems to shrivel and die, it doesn’t. Simply, our hearts learn to beat a different way. We mourn, we break down, then we stand up, and we keep going. Two thousand footsteps per mile. Twenty to forty thousand footsteps per day. Every footfall brings the walkers closer to a reunion. Every footfall begets a separation. Our forward movement, erratic, fragile, relentless, is a quest: for comfort, for deliverance, for squaring the ideal of endurance with the practice of love.
I had a good run some time ago of posting these sentences on a weekly basis. I enjoyed the exercise — some entries comprise some of my best writing, I think — but somehow let it lapse. I’m not surprised; my last entry covered the weeks immediately following the death of my dad almost a year ago. I’ve nonetheless decided to pick up right where I last left off.
- 09/20/2015: Captioning a photo from the riverbank at Council Grove for Instagram, I was struck that for all the epic landscapes I see across a plethora of jaw-dropping images from wild locations at the brutal edges of survivable nature around the world, it is moments in my own backyard that connect me to and make me love the world the most.
- 09/21/2015: After dropping the car for Julia and then walking north over the Higgins Bridge to downtown and our studio, it was nice to arrive without being melted into a puddle by relentless summer afternoon heat.
- 09/22/2015: Never underestimate the uplifting power of an hour or two of good company in a dumpy bar.
- 09/23/2015: My morning sit: window open; birds flapping, chattering, and rustling at the feeder; a flock of geese honking by overhead.
- 09/24/2015: Tonight I remember driving home late Saturday night when what looked like a tiny little man in a ghillie suit hitchhiking roadside turned out to be a great horned owl that blinked into my headlights, possibly irritated at my spoiling of the hunt.
- 09/25/2015: Today I learned of a new novel by my friend Ron Scheer, who always commented on these posts, about to be published posthumously, and I remain startled and saddened anew every time I see his name preceded by the words “the late.”
- 09/26/2015: Something I will miss with the coming of boots-on-all-the-time season are the sandal tan lines and perpetually dirty feet of summer.
I was going to call this post “Ten Things” but feared the assumption would be it’s one of those annoying list posts, like “Ten Decrepit Places in the Midwest to Die Posting Selfies From” or something. No, this is something different that I’m a few days into trying to make happen.
It was Julia’s idea. I don’t know if she read about it somewhere, or if it’s just something she decided to start doing, but she gets the credit. Basically, the goal is to try and do ten things for yourself every day that are worthwhile, and make note of them. I thought it was a great idea, because if you are like us, you tend to focus on how worthless and shitty your use of time can be, and in the aftermath of self loathing devour a quart of ice cream to compensate. Making the effort to do better, or at least even the practice of reflecting on it every day, is surprisingly beneficial.
The list I made is 25 items long so far. Some of it is stuff I try and do every day, some are things I want to do more of. For example, I want to quit drinking soda, so every day I don’t drink any I get to count that as one of my ten things. Others are things like yoga, meditation, etc. I set a benchmark of how much reading I need to do every day and the days I meet that mark, I count as a ten thing item for that day. The goal of the tasks very from being about “filling the pipeline” when it comes to freelance work, overall wellness, or just trying not to treat people shittily. I’m enjoying the experiment.
About a week into it has already been eye-opening. When one pays close attention, it’s easy to see how much time is wasted. So far I think the practice has actually improved my day to day life. The only thing that has suffered, so far, is the time I’ve spent on social media. That in itself should probably be listed as a win. “Hmm, should I read two more essays in this collection now so I don’t have to later, or should I scroll Instagram for 30 minutes?” When mindlessly approaching the day minute to minute, it’s easy to make the wrong choice. At least it is for me. What I’ve found the exercise has done has made me mindful of every moment of the day. And mindfulness . . . man, that’s important stuff.
I’m curious if anyone else does anything like this. If not, and you were to do so, I’m also curious to know what any of your “Ten Things” items might be, should you care to share.
Random thoughts from the weekend that was….
- Got an early jump on the weekend by catching a movie Thursday night, Black Mass, about Whitey Bulger and the Winter Hill Gang that strong-armed Boston in the 70s and 80s. It was enjoyable, Johnny Depp was great, and Julia and I had a good time. It’s based on a true story, but reading this interview with one of the actual people the movie portrays, it may not be quite so accurate. It’s an interesting, and somewhat chilling, read. If you like crime or gangster movies, I recommend it.
- Friday night we went and enjoyed the new — and “here-only-for-a-short-time!” — Ethiopian menu at Burns Street Bistro. It was so friggin’ good it pretty much forced us to go to Big Dipper for ice cream after.
- Saturday morning I was able to spend time with another of my writing and adventuring heroes, Jon Turk. I’ve mentioned him before HERE, and spoke specifically of his most recent big adventure HERE. He’s quite accomplished. I reached out to him after seeing him at the John Vaillant event a few days ago, and he invited me out to breakfast. We had a great conversation. We plan to work together when his new book comes out around this time next year. I’m looking forward to it. He is a very interesting man.
- After breakfast with Turk, Julia and I made a foray up Rock Creek to do some fishing. I had a brand new, if inexpensive, reel to try out as my previous old hand-me-down finally gave up the ghost when we were in Polebridge. It seemed to make a difference. I find I can make some brilliant casts of length and beauty with the wind at my back. In other conditions? Not so much. We were there at the wrong time of day to catch many fish (I caught one) but it was still exhilarating to be out on the water (once the feet and legs got used to the cold!). Late lunch/early dinner was undertaken at Ekstrom’s Stage Station on the way back down out of the canyon, which was fortunate, since they closed for the season the next day.
- Sunday was paperwork catch-up for me and preparation for the coming week while Julia worked at Betty’s, then band practice. American Falcon has been working with a new drummer all summer, a guy Jimmy and I have played with in the past; Jimmy in an actual band, me when he filled in while our Lazerwolfs drummer was in jail (how rock n’ roll is THAT, eh?). His name is Steve Jacobs, and he’s a great guy. The picture below is Jimmy, Steve, and Steve’s wife when we (drunkenly) played in Steve’s garage for his 40th birthday party, exactly 7 years ago today.
What a weekend. Between the book festival, my trip with John Vaillant, and everything included and in between, it was an exhausting whirlwind. I really don’t even know where to start, but given that I have to get out of bed in about 5.5 hours to catch a flight to Alabama, I don’t think I am going to try. However, having just finished this wonderful book by William E. Tydeman called Conversations with Barry Lopez: Walking the Path of Imagination, the very last quote of the book from Lopez sums up what I come away from the weekend feeling, as deeply as I’ve ever felt anything. It is the result of these deep conversations, these encounters, these experiences, with friends both brand new and old, some brief, some spanning hours.
Be tireless and devoted to the courtship of your imagination. Nurture your friendships, your allegiance with other human beings. If you feel grief, or rage, or love, give it a shape so we readers will know what you mean, and be able to better understand, better cope with the landscapes of our grief, and rage, and love.
— Barry Lopez
Hope everyone else had a great weekend as well.
The new mountain climbing movie Meru opens in Missoula tonight, and runs for a week. I strongly urge you to see it. If you don’t live in Missoula, I strongly urge you to find where it’s showing and see it. It’s a human interest story that happens to involve mountain climbers. It’s one of those rare movies I will actually purchase so I can watch whenever I want to. I have a review in the current Indy, which you can check out HERE. An excerpt:
In 2008 Anker assembled a new team, and that is where the film opens. Joined by frequent climbing partner and photographer/filmmaker Jimmy Chin (who codirects the film with his wife, filmmaker Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi) and hotshot younger climber/filmmaker Renan Ozturk, the three men came the closest yet to actually reaching the summit. Expecting to take a week in the ascent, the climbers were trapped in their portaledge for four days while a storm dumped 10 feet of snow on them. Ultimately they spent 19 days on the wall, rationing their week’s worth of food, before giving up and turning back with the summit a mere 100 meters away.
I’ve been a huge fan of Jimmy Chin for years, and my respect for him is even greater now. His photography is stunning, and he seems to be a very cool guy. I’m just in awe of what these people are able to accomplish. They are world class, best-in-the-world-at-what-they-do types, even if what they do isn’t something most of us can even comprehend as to why they even want to. I love that kind of passion.