Vortexes and Alien Sightings

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I stopped by roadside America’s “Alien Watchtower” out of sheer curiosity to see what it could possibly be.

The tower itself was fairly uninteresting as it was a small white dome with a platform built above it and lawn chairs scattered haphazardly around the area.

However, just outside was a place they call “The Garden”.

Supposedly, as the lady informed us, it was the site of two vortexes that were portals to alternate dimensions. She told me that if I left a part of my aura there that the guardians of each portal would help my leg but only if I accepted it.

It was an interesting thing to listen to and hard for me of my personal knowledge to put too much stock into it. There was something else that I found inspiring.

The Garden was covered in the trinkets and personal belongings of hundreds upon hundreds of people who had passed through.

Coins from around the world, license plates, state ID’s, hair dryers, sunglasses, shoes, statues, necklaces, rocks, business cards, toys, Walkmans, iPod’s, phones and everything else you could imagine.

It was a garden comprised of pieces of peoples lives who believed they could be helped. It was the culmination of travelers taking the same roads I was. I wondered about who the first was. Who placed the first item and walked away from it to live out his life in a different part of the world.

There was a history at my fingertips. I didn’t believe in the vortex or the guardians, but I wanted to leave my mark. I wanted to be a part of this garden.

If you go, Look for the blue sunglasses.

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Grand Canyon and Flowers

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How beautiful flowers are to be able to inspire happiness long after they are gone. Many things inspire only from the present.

The grand canyon was once a screaming cauldron of primordial anger hacking its way through the solid land. Shredding through the earth using bits of the earths own body.

Relentlessly pounding it for years upon years of archaic dislike, the rock cowered under the constant unprovoked torture of its land.

It bled and bled and bled.

Cut and torn.

Ripped and shattered.

The water laughed it’s way through the screams until we see what it is today. Most hear the power from the scenery at hand. Drinking in the majestic depth of field and wallowing in the provoked inspiration. Breathing in the sky and the mountains. Others can hear the endless anguished wails of the land hoping for a reprieve that won’t come from the knife of water. Dragging the blade slowly over exposed flesh. The fact remains that most will likely see the land only as it is now. The canyon is grand for the canyon after all and not the river it once was.

In a sense, the flower holds equal power in the fact that it can inspire from the past. From memory. After it dies the body will fade but the memory will continue to pervade in wandering thoughts.

The flower is a reminder that the past is beautiful as well. I challenge you.

Wrap memories you hold dear to your heart and store them for safe keeping. Keep the ones that continue to inspire you and glance upon their timeless elegance upon a full moons light to keep the suns rays away from them.

After that, Look, watch, listen.

Put only the best memories on the empty shelves and continue to fill them. Eventually the library that we call personality or experience will be a veritable sea of inspiration and antique happiness. When the library is filled.

You have lived a full life. I challenge thee.

Live a full life. Make full memories.

Seeing in Black and White

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I think I sometimes see too much in black and white, fighting too hard for one side I believe in. Maybe I have too much passion. If I discuss something at school and say, “Three kids started fighting” as opposed to “Everyone erupted into chaos” which story appears to be the most severe? I’d probably choose the latter and I think this is simply two ways of looking at the same situation.

In the first scenario, the class would have erupted into chaos anyway if three kids started a fight, that’s implied, but still seems less of a dire situation given only a stated three kids were involved.

In the second scenario, a blanket statement begs the question “what happened?” And thus a discussion will ensue. Blanket statements beg an explanation; they incite discussion or demand expansion. If I broadly say, “My generation of kids are pampered by tools for instant gratification” doesn’t that spark something more than “There are some people in the world who rely too much on their electronics for answers?” For the former answer, I’d be wondering, “Alright, who does this guy think he is? What else does he have to back this up?” Both of these introductions could be used to start an essay on electronic dependency but, to me, the first introduction does much more.

The outdoors is my love. I may broadly state “My generation is disconnected from the outdoors”, then go about justifying the statement that by all means can be insulting to some. The difference in sounding arrogant in ones argument is to explain why. Making blanket statements and assuming them as fact is arrogance sure, but presenting a foundation for your belief and allowing open dialogue, is that not debate in and of itself? Points, counterpoints, and discussion, a person cannot debate their position without passion and a touch of arrogance.

My wonder is, where is the line in the sand drawn between making assumptions and making a point, and further, being rude, and being passionate?

Facing Away From Fire

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Facing away from the fire is disorienting. My ears still hear snippets of subdued conversation and my back is warmed by the fire but everything presented before me is sitting in the inky darkness.

A flicker of light will barely illuminate something in the distance but only for a beat, then it’s gone, and I’m left standing for a moment staring only at possibilities in the distance. Such is the lives we lead.

Happy memories and days past will always carry the songs of long conversations and comfort from the “good old days”. I’ll never forget the friends who made me laugh so hard I cried or the friends that made my heart sing.

Like ashes on the wind will some pieces of past come to haunt me, alighting on my shoulder to whisper weakness in my ear. But the way forward, away from the light and the warmth is another story.

The cold is not ominous, but an unsure hesitation, the threat of making a mistake. Like staring into a tunnel with light at the end, we know that the way forward is safe yet that first step is still done with tension. Every time however we walk from the other side into light and whatever stage fright upon us is forgotten.

With our eyes, darkness is the shape of the unknown. With our mind, darkness is the path into future. With our eyes we see the light of present, with our mind we see the previously illuminated past.

My love for fires stems from the idea that, just like a spark that starts it, maybe looking into the flames long enough will spark a flame of thought in me. I always hope a natural cascade of thought provoking revelations will provide me with light to take to my future.  That is the solace I find sitting beside the real flames, those in the present and in my moment.

But once and awhile, I’ll turn away, and ruminate on the fires that illuminate my future. I guess what is disorienting to me is myself. Is the fire behind me sparking my thought? Or the fires that have yet to be set alight what keeps me up at night? Or, further still, is it the smell of smoke and broken ash that disorients my compass rose?

The Old Man and Long ago Memories

dsc_1635The old man sits on the edge of a rotted bench, feet bent head down he’s remembering the moments of youth he spent on these courts. Those moments he remembers clearly and wishes he could play one last time. A cold wind blows and rattles the old, worn nets. It’s the first time he’s been back for years since he ran off in vaguely adult pursuits; those that ended in his now monotonous, sedentary lifestyle. ‘Where are they now?’, he wonders. The team he laughed with, fought with, and grew with ended up their separate ways, after the group disbanded. Life hit and the resulting explosion threw each character to new corners of the world, far from the courts they called home. He alone came here in the hope that one more familiar face would brighten the cloudy day. One more face reminiscent of laughter. But none came and the old man sat. Alone he sat.  Looking for familiarity in a land he no longer belongs.

Talking With Mountains

I wish I could talk to mountains.

Drop my ear down to the earth and converse with the most wise and ancient of beings.  I can’t.  But. I can talk to you.

Being human we are born with the unique ability of compassion and personal creativity. Able to portray emotion in the tone of voice and the silent scream of a writers pen as it’s torn across the page.

Even with this great power, it is regretfully underutilized and with it that, power is lost. More people should talk about the things that matter to them, hopes and fears and dreams and worries and hates and loves and opinions and emotions and mistakes and the future and the past, our past. Your past.  My past.

See because when people talk they utilize this power.  Tears are quenched from worried words and anger is abated from heavy thoughts. Compassion is given a chance to grow.

But, also, how we each perceive our own character is changed as well.  Maybe we find someone who shares in a lovely hobby we thought was weird and it gives us the strength to hold our head high and hearts on our sleeve to show the world who we are and why we are proud of it. This, from a conversation, and now we are confident.

Maybe there is a day that we feel so overwhelmed we need atlas to take the sky off our shoulders because we know why we carry it but we don’t know why it makes every single muscle and joint in our body ache like being clamped in a slowly closing vise and having no way to escape.

You are atlas, and now I am proud to show my sky. We are all great mountains. Mountains of thought and emotion, creativity and imagination, skills and techniques, and compassion. Each of us is a store of knowledge and a life changer. We each can inspire and grow and love and teach others to do the same. Want to know the difference between us and a mountain?

We can speak. I talked to you, and my life will forever be changed.

 

Still Life and Small Adventures

 

It might be a small adventure and maybe signify a bit of insanity to drive and watch the sunset at a local state park with the weather as it’s been. My fingers were cold trying to work the camera and my whole body shivered as the wind whipped up into cracks of clothes and licked bare skin. Goosebumps crawled among my arms and legs as I jumped and hopped from rock to rock searching for the best photo position. I wobbled to the edge, as close as my feet could carry me to the ice, and kneeled down for a photo taken in my favorite view; close to the water and capturing the horizon.

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This trip was a spur of the moment deal where I decided that the lake would be my best bet at enjoying the evening and taking some photos of a scenic landscape that wasn’t just wheat fields. My intentions were to capture sunset in all its glistening glory and hopefully contrast the cold and warm colors of winter to convey the mood of the evening.

I’ve certainly heard it before that the winter is cold, dreary, or depressing but to me this overcast weather with its powerful clouds and blanketing cool hues is nothing short of thinking weather. The melancholy mood that settles upon a table set next to a window or a rock by the side of an iced over lake is the thing that most puts me into a thoughtful air. My connections and relationships borne from thinking about my life are brought to me in new views.

I don’t know if melancholy is the correct word. I’m subdued by the weather but the biting chill is a new sort of awakening. Though the weather freezes, it makes me move; it prompts my feet to pump and my mind to swirl like cold snow falling from the treetops and floating through the swift air. The silence of such weather only hints at the wild creatures flitting about the cold landscape, a rabbit’s prints, a squirrel’s scuffling in the ground. Little moments, these short jaunts into soul-filling settings are the things that recharge my insane sanity.

Little by little these moments heal and burn. They fill my lust for new sights and a presence in the great outdoors but also light the fire in my heart to be more.

To me, being a part of this little world is the closest I may come to the experiences realized by Thoreau in his pond and forest or the great west pioneers who saw the world and laid eyes on untouched perfection for the very first time in history.

Everything is already explored. There is very little to see that hasn’t been seen and very little places to be that someone else hasn’t been. This makes it all the more salient that we enjoy the wild places and protect what tracts of land we still have left, to preserve the world not only for us, but also the generations around us.

I am so honored to have a relationship with the outdoors. It has unequivocally shaped who I am. I can say, with all certainty, that the shape I’ve assumed is not one I regret.

Put on some clothes. Go have an adventure.

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Wanderlust

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Where do most people receive most if not all of their news of the world and where is it that people go to buy the posters and postcards of beautiful mountain and ocean views? The answer to this question lies in the news channel and your local Wal-Mart, respectively. These are places that have the ability to reconfigure your view of somewhere you’ve never seen and replace it with that of their own.

Millennials, with the advent of internet and social media coverage around the world, are explicitly aware of this fact and have access to the information the media does not cover as well as the coverage of anything the media ignores outright. I read an article recently that surprised me about (and I quote the title of that article “You Don’t Have Wanderlust, You’re Just Bored”) how wanderlust can be viewed as simple boredom; seen as just shallow and used as an escape from boredom. The article even states that people use wanderlust as an excuse to escape their problems instead of confronting them.

Allow me to clarify a few things by citing reasons why one should find wanderlust a wholesome state of mind and even go so far as to show why the nomadic lifestyle is a pure state of existence.

We travel to see things outside our general knowledge and challenge deeply held beliefs. Much of high school knowledge derives from rude, inaccurate stereotypes that are usually produced out of jest yet are still taken for truth. Growing up in this type of sarcastic and untrue environment lends a person to grow with a warped view of the world around their little bubble. Stepping beyond our boundaries and seeing with our own eyes the truths in the world is a battle that must be fought if we desire the opportunity to formulate our own opinions.

One extremely current example is the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The news forums recount the events as violence driven and an unlawful and pointless riot being staged by enraged minority groups. Further looking into the matter, one may find that multiple accounts of people actually staged in the area say that the protesters are not staging violence at all. In fact, the military and the police in the area are employing some extremely brutal and inhumane tactics to try and disperse the protesters. It is true that many protesters that are being arrested are trespassing on private land but as near as I can find, trespassing is the main charge that is being brought against the protesters. It appears that the people that are arrested for violence are few and far between. But, on the other hand, there was news recently about a young woman who sustained horrific injuries to her arm that would require an amputation. It was alleged that the injuries were sustained from a concussion grenade. Here’s the kicker, there was another article that said the injuries were sustained from a homemade bomb fashioned from a one pound propane tank. Where is the truth here? The only way to see and understand the situation would be to go to the protests, to see it with your own eyes.

Traveling is good for the imagination and creativity that is true, but it’s also good for knowledge we can’t get anywhere else.

Zika, Pesticide, Genocide, and Social Media

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I’ve never experienced the desolation and loneliness of a one man trip to Alaska but, sometimes, I really want to find out what it’d be like. Leave to take a break from the world, ah what a dream. The rate of environmental destruction that the world is generating is at an unfortunate all-time high and the notion of “pick your battles” is harder to listen to. After reading a book called “Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson, I’ve been pushed further to realize on what scale the predicament is that we’ve created for us. There are so many aspects of human life that hurts the natural world.

“Silent Spring” is a non-fiction and incredibly informative account of the human use of pesticide and is the book that is partly credited to the formation of our modern EPA. It is a book involving saddening accounts of pesticide and herbicide use, most of which resulted in the decimation of local wildlife populations. The book cites not only environmental effects but also the human bodies response to poisons made in the hopes of managing other species.

My reaction after reading this book was to immediately think of the blanket spraying being done to combat Zika virus. Already, there has been mass devastation of many bee hives in the area numbering in the millions that happened moments after the death rained down on the land. Some people were able to witness the dying colonies in their final moments and were powerless to stop it.

With the already low number of natural bees in the wild, killing well cultivated and long standing hives kept by beekeepers is a severe blow and a few dozen steps in the wrong direction that we need to go. In her book, Carson cites many events in which the local flora and fauna payed dearly for blanket spraying where only one species was actually being targeted. The Zika virus is dangerous, but there has to be a better way. The ecological ramifications as well as the human health worries are and should be enough to at least prompt research into alternative ways to combat the virus.

More recently, a rumor has been circulating that actually cites the pesticide known as Naled as responsible for the birth defects that are attributed to the Zika virus. This pesticide disrupts the larval development stage of many insects and thus the mosquito populations are not able to reproduce effectively. It has been said that this pesticide has not been tested for its effect on human development but scientists are fairly certain that no detrimental effects will occur.  This pesticide rumor has been refuted by many high ranking officials in both government and scientific positions as an untrue statement generated by untrustworthy media organizations. One piece that is cited as proof is that Naled was actually inserted into the water supplies of local areas to further combat the virus. Soon after the injection of pesticide was it that birth defects began to be reported in patients afflicted with the virus.

It is certainly interesting to note that the pesticide is banned in Europe and it is due to the fact that Naled develops into a carcinogen when absorbed into the human body. Almost all pesticides, including ones used today, effect the nervous system in blocking body receptors so that in extreme cases, death by paralysis occurs.

Many people cite our changing diets as the driver for our raising amount of health maladies but if we are directly inserting pesticides into the drinking water, is that not cause for concern?

These pesticides are in our rivers, our food, our drinking water, the oceans, the fields, and the air. In short, they are everywhere.

During Rachel Carson’s time, the public had raised such outcry at the heavy use of pesticides and herbicides that many were banned outright due to the fact that she brought to light the adverse effects of chemical use.

In our time, Puerto Rico banned the use of aerial spraying for the Zika virus and Florida is trying as protests erupt from angry residents. With the news flying around Facebook and other Social Media outlets, the truth of current events is hard to keep covered.

This is a vivid example of evidence that if people know, they care, and it makes the job of community aware environmentalists and conservationists all the more clear; teach, educate, and inspire from your position in the world. Inaction may not be a matter of opinion, but of knowledge.

Go Out and See

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Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the rigors of everyday life and it gets to a breaking point where I might collapse from the weight on my shoulders. At any point in time where this occurs, I take a walk.
There’s a small patch of wooded forest near my house where I go to ease my burdens. It’s the quiet inspiration I find in the woods that I wish to show other people. Loving nature is so much more than being a “tree-hugger”. It’s getting down to the roots of who we are and the environment in which we used to live.
It’s the feeling of something pure and calm.
It’s the crunch of leaves and snapping twigs.
Tweeting birds and croaking frogs.
It’s the freedom and beauty you stumble upon.
It’s the thoughts and emotions that are released.
How does a person explain that a love for nature is inspired from being within it when a person has never been in it before?
Schools get rid of outdoor Ed and families go to Disney to see Mickey. They tell their children, “We’re a hotel family.”
A president removes endangered species acts and the media never bats an eye.
Polar bears drown in droves and a person says that they will just be able to see them at the zoo.
I want to show the world that we need the wild. That it’s beautiful yet sick and we need to help it.
But the world is looking in the opposite direction.
And I don’t know how to turn their heads.
This flower carries all the beauty of the outdoors.
But if nobody steps outside, how am I supposed to show them?