Andy “Astro” Lyon, Adventurer to the End

I didn’t write the following, it is a post by Kolby Kirk, a guy I’ve followed on Facebook for a year or so, and a man very inspirational in his own right. I found it moving, inspiring, and a great, if tragic, story. I’d have shared Kolby’s original post on Facebook, but I think there are people that read this blog whom I don’t interact with there that would also be interested in, and benefit from, this post. Here’s Kolby:

I am full of sadness today. On Friday, August 30th, Andy “Astro” Lyon passed away. Andy Lyon had been fighting Hodgkin’s lymphoma since he was 18 years old. For over four years, he had been through chemo and a stem cell transplant to try and stop the disease. But when the cancer came back again in 2012, Andy said enough was enough. Instead of more chemotherapy, he decided to hike the Pacific Crest Trail in April, 2012.

It was a difficult journey, as it is for every thru hiker. However, after hiking 2,302 miles, pain in his back was so great, he had to get off the trail to see a doctor. The pain he was experiencing was a tumor along his spine, pressing on nerves and causing the increasing pain in his body, making it difficult for him to hike. Despite the news, he continued his hike. On October 6th, 2012, Astro completed his goal of hiking the Pacific Crest trail from Mexico to Canada.

In an interview with KEPR News, Astro said, “One of the greatest blessings I’ve gotten from this whole experience with cancer and healing is it’s given me the freedom and the drive to do whatever I want to do. And that includes the Pacific Crest Trail. Ultimately, the greatest healing lies in new things and opening yourself up to the power of the spirit, the power of the universe, the power of nature, letting go and letting that take you,” said Andy.

He was an inspiration to all that he met. He was an inspiration to me, and I had never met him. I will remember him for this picture, taken at the northern terminus of the trail, after Astro had hiked 2,660 miles. You will be missed, brother.

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The moral of this story? Get out there and live, people, no matter what your definition of “live” is. Life is all too easy to take for granted.

 

Giant Shoulders

10538_10151761533340934_88635366_nToday is the 77th anniversary of the death, by suicide, of an icon of American literature, Robert E. Howard. He was only 30 years old. He is best known as the creator of Conan, which is the path which I followed to know him, but his writing amounted to much more than that. He is one of those writers I return to when I need a jolt of what drew me to reading, and from there to writing. His shoulders are among a select few authors that those of us trying to capture the energy of the old pulps stand on. There are certainly better writers — who knows though how good Howard might have become — on my bookshelf, but none I like more than him.

I was fortunate to visit his home a couple years ago; you can check that post out here.

This picture is a recreation of what was on Howard’s typewriter when he killed himself:

All fled, all done

so lift me on the pyre:

The feast is over,

The lamps expire

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R.I.P.

Even if it takes you some time to figure out. . . .

I know I usually only post excerpts from books, but I enjoyed this interview too much not to reference it. From “The Confession Box, with Chris Malloy” at Stab Magazine:

Screen Shot 2012-12-22 at 5.20.37 PMWe feed our kids beef, pork, chicken and venison. Sometimes they get picky but since I know they love chicken, I always tell them we are having chicken for dinner. Regardless of what’s on the table, they’ll eat it if they think it’s chicken. So, they start thinking that all meat is chicken. So, I take my four-year-old son Luke out on his first wild boar hunt. We get a nice one. He walks out to it, thanks it and says, “Dad! lets get the skin off this hog because I’m hungry and theres a lot of chicken here!”

 

Wise Words From a Wise Woman

Here are a couple more passages from Paddling North by Audrey Sutherland, that I noted as I was reading. This will easily be one of my favorite books of the year.

On Sitka, AK:

Sitka suited me. It was about as small as you could get and still have the five things a town needs as a place to live: 1. A community college to take or teach classes. 2. A good public library. 3. A National Park for access to the knowledge of the naturalists and historians. 4. A warm-water swimming pool. 5. A thrift shop. Use money for plane fare, boats, and good wine, not for clothes and oddments you can buy second-hand. My “TS principle” isn’t Eliot or Tough Shit, it’s Thrift Shops.

On life in general:

“If you had a year to do anything you wanted, and had all the money you needed, and could come back to where you are now, what would you do?”

Most people had been living on expediency: what needed to be done that hour, that day. They’d never asked the big question. When they had the answer, my next question was, “Why aren’t you doing it?”

Then came the obvious answers. “I don’t have the money. I do have kids, a family, a job, a mortgage.”

“When can you do it? Can you do part of it? How can you plan toward it?”

We all need to ask those questions every five years, then act on the answers. You get plenty of advice on planning your whole life, but five years is long enough. After age 50 you can narrow it down to a two-year plan. Beyond 60, it’s a one year plan. Beyond that?

And one more:

Doing what you want to do isn’t a question of can you or can’t you, yes or no, but deciding what your ultimate desire and capability is and then figuring out the steps to accomplishment. It’s “I’m going to. Now how? What gear will I need? What skills will I need? What will it cost? When will it happen? When I succeed, what next?”