Category Archives: Passion/Creativity

Writing for Change

Taylor View

I keep thinking that something is missing from TheOutLife brand, and I wonder often about what that spark is that’s there, and I just can’t quite put my finger on it. And then I think that’s it’s dawned on me. See, I’ve been using social media as my blog, writing long posts and long essays centered around the idea that people would be attracted to the photo and thus read the caption, and I could then write on the blog too. But Instagram and Facebook aren’t meant to be platforms where people post long essays and then wait for people to respond, they are almost advertising portfolios, I have a blog, I should use it. So, I am going to move over my daily writing posts to my blog every morning and evening in order to gain a wider audience. Hopefully, my photos attract the right people and they feel inclined to click on the “link in the bio”. Also, I need to do a better job of talking about the things that I am actually learning or the things that are changing my life in order to represent a better representation of the thinking that goes on in my head on a daily basis. Towards that end, my photos go to my insta, my writing goes on this here ol’ blog. I’m not a videographer, and I am not good at taking videos at all. But I can write and still post videos here and there and they don’t have to be on YouTube I’m finding out. This is what growth looks like, I hope…


Journaling About Nature: My Therapy Session

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There was a period of time during which I went through a significant amount of inner turmoil and had all these thoughts about life and existence swirling through my mind for no apparent reason than to bury me under stress. It was miserable, I was lost, hopeless, and scared to think about anything that could carry me too far into the endless rabbit holes of worry.

And then I found Nature in the blank pages of a notebook.

I didn’t realize it at the time but when I began writing I found myself gravitating more and more towards topics of the outdoors. Sometimes I’d write on the memories I had and the way the rivers swept away my fears and it was just me getting out all the pent-up feelings I had inside of me trying to claw their way out.

We all go through things that challenge us, things that force us down, and sometimes it feels like there’s nowhere to go. I think part of that is the fact that we have nowhere else to put our energy and emotion and they end up building past the breaking point.

I write often of the need for outlets and a lot of times I wonder if people interpret that as physical outlets, like sports as a form of increasing feel good chemicals in the body. However, I wonder if most people have enough time or attention to find mental outlets. A way to get thoughts out of our heads that don’t need to be there.

They say that when we sleep, our brains actually get rid of memories we don’t need as if sleep is the action that cleans the space for us. There was one instance where I read that a man who had a 100% photographic memory ended up a veritable vegetable because he was overwhelmed by the things he had in his head. While extreme, to me it indicates that thoughts have a tangible form and take up space in the memory card that is our mind.

Beyond sleep, how do we control that? How do we clean the space of useless junk and apply the old phrase “simplify, simplify” to the space in our heads?

I think we need a space to place our thoughts. Whether for you that means writing, painting, photography, or videography, I firmly believe that art cleans out the mind in a constructive, non-destructive way. It presents both mindful relaxation and a focus. Do not try multi-tasking, that’s a myth. Just sit or walk or run and produce exactly what makes you feel as if the clutter is being removed.

Once we find a medium, the next step is to find a focus. My medium is a camera and notebook, my muse is mother nature. Wherever your mind is at, take care of it. Sometimes you’ll find treasures in the dark spaces that you didn’t even know were there.

My Fear of Photoshop and Authentic Photography

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After having downloaded the free trial of Lightroom in no small way do I understand the inherent capabilities of a high-quality photo editor. However, I worry that its use is a double-edged sword. Part of me is hesitant to change a photo too far past the original out of respect to natural photos. On the other hand, as a photographer friend told me, “using photo editors doesn’t change the fact that you have to take a good photo in the first place.”
At my high school, the photography class they offered was much more focused on edit first and take photo second. In fact, the first few WEEKS were comprised of learning how to effectively use photoshop before the class ever touched a camera.
This kind of view towards fix the problems instead of not making mistakes in the first place run rampant in all aspects of American culture and it’s evident of a loss of value in quality. The fact that we want to change what we do have to be good instead of making what we do have that much better is a backwards philosophy. Photo editors like filters and otherwise editing can send the wrong message to people who would be much better off just learning to take photos.
There is a piece of the puzzle that I definitely can agree with and that is the fact that photo editing can be another form of artistic identity and to creatively edit one’s photos is an extra step in the art form of photography. I suppose some people could argue that it’s an unnecessary step, still, it’s a step that can make photography your art form above someone else’s.
This is a step I’m just now discovering, and it’s something I expect to change me in small ways. It’s another step in my art. What is your opinion of photo editing software?

Environmentalism and What That Means to Me: A Collection of Thoughts

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That very real and very specific emotion we call inspiration is very different for all of us and in fact there are easily just as many people as there are sources of that profound moment. I think one of the things that truly makes it different is how people respond to being inspired. For me, the outdoors inspires me to write and share my experiences with other people in the hope that they may go out and try something new as well.
I guess put simply, my inspiration works to inspire others. Christopher McCandless (A.K.A Alexander Supertramp) once wrote “Happiness only real when shared,” and I wonder if that is inherently part of the equation. I surely like to have my moments of independence and solitude but when I come back from most any excursion I find myself wishing I could have documented just what I was feeling better. It’s not showing off in any way, but the wish that other people will want to follow in my footsteps.
I want to avoid making people feel jealous or feel like they are missing out on life as that tends to happen so often through social media, while at the same time making the time I spend outdoors as alluring as possible.
For me it’s never just fishing or just hiking but a full mind and body experience of getting out in the natural world and enjoying one’s time there to reflect and enjoy mother nature. I always struggle with the best way to convey that love and passion without seeming to aggrandize or exaggerate my experiences.
It’s beautiful and ugly, raw and refined, emotional and expressionless, and at the end of the day I hope that other people find this relationship as well. I don’t fish to catch fish. I fish to experience the process and environment and philosophy in fishing. I don’t take photos to show off, I try to capture moments and feelings and experiences in 1/1000th of a second.
The “outdoors” is so much greater than the sum of its parts that it’s hard not to be in love with the natural world and all it stands for.
Even that in itself is hard to explain. I believe that the reason environmentalists so often resort to pathos to further their messages is because so much of what they stand for is because they genuinely care about experiencing things on an emotional level. They cannot explain to someone easily about care for the habitat along banks of rivers until that person truly realizes the weight that the area carries for the health and well-being of the entire river ecosystem. It’s not just fishing. It’s a relationship with the natural world through fishing.
Also, those that have the gift of art and a love for the outdoors have a responsibility to bridge the gap between science and the layman using the universal messages in photography and painting and writing. Although only two weeks into my first year of college, I’m realizing why it is so difficult to try to relate to those who are not as educated or not as aware of the world around them. Being truly educated means you can view the world in such a way that you are constantly capable of connecting things to bigger questions, not the shallow, surface equation of things that occur in life.
A formal education is of course not the only way to find this state of mind, but it’s no surprise that there is a significant correlation between one’s level of intelligence and perceived level of conservative thinking or not being open to new things, new people, and new ways of viewing the world.
My goal with my college career is to take a college education and meld it with a very personal and involved approach of environmentalism through the use of social media and content creation to try and bridge the gap between the science and the people.
We are told so often that “the ice caps are melting,” “rainforests are being cut,” and “pollution is producing smog” that pretty soon we are desensitized to hearing about it and no longer care or perceive what that means. The people that try hardest are those personally effected by it.
Now, we come full circle to inspiration. I believe that in order to be inspired to protect the environment, all people need to not just spend more time outdoors but have a better relationship to it when they do go out.
To me taking someone fishing does not mean they care about nature, they just like fishing. We as outdoorsman and outdoor enthusiasts need to instill a respect for the things we do along with the time we spend outside doing it.
That’s is the OutLife. That is the message I started. And that is the philosophy I believe in.

Metal Working and Need for Knowledge in The Great Outdoors


“Well, that doesn’t look too difficult, does it?”

I’m sure most of us have been in a situation where we’re attempting to do something new and find that the process for pulling it off is much harder than we had anticipated. Perhaps whatever we happened to see beforehand was done by a master or teacher who has years of experience on something you are just starting. This happens often in my life where the intricacies of doing something are actually much more detailed then I had thought.

I think it probably has to do with the fact that a lot of my hobbies are skill or technique oriented so when I try to attempt something for the first time, my own lack of skill is apparent.

Oftentimes, the reason for why people don’t make it outside for fishing, camping, hunting, or hiking is based around the fact that they don’t know what to do or how to do it right and to a certain extent that makes sense. I wouldn’t want to do something if I had no idea what to do which is why I always turn to the internet for help. However, the internet is so full of information that it all seems like all things are based on personal opinion.

How to compost, how to save energy, how to fish, all these things end up having a trillion methods.

The blacksmith in Japan I was taught by recently showed me an extremely eye-opening example of the difference between a master and a beginner which is shown in the above picture. He demonstrated that his hammering technique with proper heat maintenance resulted in a much smoother and refined metal grain then that of what he interpreted as a beginner hammering technique. To me, the way the blacksmith hit the metal piece was the same, to my untrained eye it appeared that nothing in his actions had changed.

The outdoors is a scary place. To some people especially who have never pursued certain outdoor activities, it’s extremely daunting to have them do something for the first time that they had no previous knowledge of.

Therefore, it is imperative that we who know photography, writing, fishing, conservation, and cooking share what we know with as many people as possible because something that may come as instinct to us may be alien to another person. In this age of knowledge at our fingertips, real people doing real things is still the best teacher than any YouTube video or online article is ever going to be.

The refinement of metal grain would have been lost to me had someone not shown me the difference in small strikes of a hammer. Then, my new knowledge has lead me into an appreciation for handmade metal goods made with the utmost craftsmanship.

The outdoors is like that. Much of what is touted about getting out and about or changing our lifestyles falls on the ears of people who need help finding the first step and the following steps down a certain path. If we’ve been down it, then it should become our responsibility to lead others.

The question now becomes; what is your metal, and how do you refine it?


Forged Knives, Handmade Goods, and How It Affects Our Natural State of Mind


(Photo of master blacksmith at AsanoKajiya handmade knife and Japanese sword company. Check out their site here.)

I think often of how when society leans further and further towards cheap, machine-mass produced goods, we lose an aspect of what is natural in the loss of value towards human made goods. I’m not saying that it will always be any better quality, but for a lot of the goods, people produce them because they feel strongly about what they make.

Having and owning goods made with that passion or attention to pride in one’s goods is an aspect of “natural” that I place great trust in.

The reason why I have such a passion and interest in the natural world is because I have a relationship with the outdoors. Along this same road, people who have a passion for the goods they produce have that special relationship with their work that is missing from most machine-made items. The human connection to the work is strongest when things are made by hand.

TheOutLife focuses heavily on Nature and the importance it plays on our lives, but nature is not only for the forests and lakes and streams but also applies to how close something is to natural. And natural goods have always been handmade. By bearing in mind that natural goods are made naturally, we gain a new way to connect with the life and wild world around us.

We need to create a pervading view that human beings are not above work and use the world in the same way a beaver may build his den or a bird builds its nest. They don’t use tools to live, they produce the means to live themselves.

Automation brings people further and further away from what being a responsible consumer means. It’s consumerism that cuts swathes of forests and automation that means people never see what the cost of living does to the natural world. Getting our hands dirty or seeing the people who do is what truly makes us value the things we own.

Recently, I took a trip to Japan and had the opportunity to forge a knife with a master blacksmith in his shop. As he talked about his art, he said that although he loves and sees beauty in his finished products, it’s the process that he sees the most beauty in. He takes his pride from the process, not the result. This view is never going to come from a machine assembly line like it does when someone has a hand in the process.

So, how do handmade knives correlate to the belief in what is natural?

They are made by hand.

And it is the human hand that will make or break the natural world.

An Elk’s Call

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Only once, early in the morning, as the sun was barely coming up over the mountains, I was lifted awake by the piercing call of an Elk, shouting his wishes for companionship. Ever since, the elk has been my favorite animal. There’s just something else about the way the it’s call echoes hauntingly through the trees.

Moments like that where your life is intertwined within the natural world lack severely in the urban landscape and it’s the elks call I crave to hear again. It’s a sign that the silence around me has emptied the air of polluted vibrations and the calls of the earth can be heard at last.

In the city, the noise pollution is so heavy and constant that there is little you can do to escape it.

I’ve seen and heard that some much prefer the city soundscape. They say the hubbub of the city is indicative of the life thriving among its skyscrapers and asphalt. The landscape is alive with the crawling of cars and trains and busses and bikes and people, all traveling from their homes with a destination in mind. This is contrasted against the silence of the forest as dead, unnerving and boring; something easy to forego for the city sounds.

I see it differently.

The silence of the forest is the sound of thought, of a quieter form of energy. It’s different from the din of the city because it’s sensory stimulation that gives us only what we need, nothing more nothing less. In the wilderness, our body resets to a gentle thrum of life. We eat, we walk, we see, we hear; all at a level of purity.

The city is gluttonous. The sounds are loud and pervading with signs telling you to buy more, be beautiful, and that to live richly is the sure way to happiness. The air is thick with the smell of food and gasoline and humanity’s greed.

As I sit in my room, with the window open I will list the sounds as I hear them for a moment.

A finch chirping

The highway

A car with a trashed muffler

The car pushing past my room and turning into my street followed closely by the next car behind it.

An airplane flying overhead.

A truck coming down the street with a bed full of rickety ladders.

If my memory serves me correctly, sitting at a camp or on the edge of a lake means I will hear

Lapping water



Wind through the forest

And… wait… that’s it. Yet although the city and outdoors have a certain level of constant noise, the difference is machine versus life. I understand that the city is this wild, frenetic mixing pot of people and sounds and ideas but whether or not we realize it the sound is deafening.

Humanity’s downfall will come when we reach a point where we can longer hear ourselves think. After all, thinking is the only thing we have. In the absence of claws and fangs and strength and speed, the only thing we have is human ingenuity.

Let’s not wait until it’s gone.

Let’s seek out the Elk’s call.


Cloudy Mornings and Meditative Brain Waves

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Studies have shown that the brain produces patterns that mimic those seen during meditation when it responds to nature or natural scenes and suggests that it is indeed meditative to hike, fish, or camp in the outdoors. These waves, known as Alpha waves, are present during deep relaxation and are thought to produce an organic sense of calm and peacefulness. This sense of comfort is closely associated with natural phenomena called “fractals” that are a specific complex pattern that our human brains instantly pick up and recognize. Because of the brains ability to predict these patterns it becomes less distracted by extraneous sensory stimulation and leads to a meditative state. It’s almost as if with nothing to react to, our entire body takes a deep breathe.

In normal life within cities and urban areas, our brains are constantly reacting to some sort of stimulation and never have a chance to slow down. Whether or not we realize it, this high-strung state of attention impacts our very ability to think. The cars we see as fast-moving predators, the airplane flying overhead distracts our ability to hear, and then our phones and TV’s and music further dampen the quiet thoughts that swirl gently in the back of our mind.

Nature, at least to our senses, is predictable and stable so it gives our brains a chance to breathe.

Now, as I write this blog post I’m sitting on a porch swing the morning after a rain storm, the air is chilled, and the sky is a beautiful mess of clouds slowly undulating as they make their way through the air. The thing is, I can FEEL those brain waves. It’s in the way the next thought and next sentence comes through without thinking as if this entire paragraph is already written in my head and all that comes next is to put it down on paper. I can hear the cooing of a morning dove and the way the birds tweet happily in the wet air, their song pausing only to eat a surfaced worm and fly it back to their young.

Although I sit on the front porch at my home right smack in an urban neighborhood, I am able to find the flow of life thick and deep when the world and light is subdued by mother nature’s natural events.

Watching Robins catch worms, writing, swinging on the porch swing with my golden retriever snuggled next me, it’s little wonder why inspiration hits strongest when nature is present. I’m so familiar with this sense of peace that it’s become an addiction for me to seek out and experience.

The world outside is beautiful. If you’re not already out there, go find where you feel happiest.

Go find some Alpha waves.

Real Memories and Manufactured Feelings: The Difference Between TV and OutLife

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During a recent camping trip, a bolt of lightning struck a nearby mountain and the resulting thunder was the loudest and most severe crack I think I’ve ever heard. Immediately, those at camp looked at each other in shock and the ones out gathering fire wood came running back in a half panic lacking any of the wood they had gathered. I was laughing in the way you’d laugh after getting off an intense roller coaster while some of my group wished for that sound to never again happen in their lifetime. Then, if that weren’t enough, the following downpour was so heavy that we were sitting on the table portion of our picnic table and huddled under the canopy above us. To make things even worse, the smoke from our sputtering fire started to push under the canopy after we had lowered it and so it was a cold, wet, burning lung mess as we were truly caught between two terrible options, pouring rain or choking smoke.

After the rain, bleary eyed and coughing, we emerged from under the canopy, raised it back up, and continued the evening preparations. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that at this point we had to use flashlights to see anything.

It was a heck of a way to spend the evening.

But, I absolutely loved every second of it and have decided that it is among my favorite camping memories.

It was scary like a roller coaster ride.

The moment was riveting as a car chase.

And it was as difficult as the final boss in a video game.

But, and the reason why I used simple examples, is that these things I compared lightning to are manufactured examples of organic thoughts and emotions. The video games and theme parks are just attractions that monetize the exact same feelings that we can have in the outdoors for free.

Theme parks sell fear and adrenaline when the ear-splitting roar of a thunder crack and flashing lightning will inspire in the mind and body the same fight or flight response.

Television and movies sell excitement and edge-of-your-seat anticipation when the first few seconds after a lightning strike will do the same thing as you wait for the thunder to follow.

The whole situation itself was time consuming to work around and difficult to deal with as there were elements outside of my control that I had to deal with.

In every single aspect of the outdoors there are things that will show you the beauty and danger and magic in the world but we insist on receiving those feelings manufactured and reconfigured for us on TV screens and attractions.

Fear is fear as excitement is excitement, there is no chemical difference from fear adrenaline and excited adrenaline except for your own frame of reference for that situation.

When we experience something, see and taste and feel and hear, that thing becomes a memory of something we did, not a memory of someone else’s life. For this reason, I find it hard to play video games or watch TV anymore as those actions are so empty that many times they cease to perform any function at all but a way to kill time. As humans, our lifespans are short and precious yet within that time there is so much that we could actually do.

Yet a book CAN become an experience to be paired with getting outside our house and car and reading in a hammock on a mountaintop. Books travel with you and thus become essential to you in a way that transcends videos and movies. It’s an effort to read a book, to pick it up and flip the pages instead of turning it on and passively laying and vegetating on a couch or chair. Books tell you “Take me on an adventure” and urge you to have a journey on two fronts.

Manufactured goods are nothing new and we grow up with a plethora of options before us, manufactured foods, emotions, and experiences all fall under the same title. Yet when we dig deeper and see what happens when we gorge on the easy way out, we all dissolve hopelessly into decadence.

The outdoors is one path towards real life. But, put simply, we will discover who we are in the process of pursuing things that are natural and true and honest to character building.

That is why I fight for what‘s real.

That is what I believe to be the natural way of life.