The habit of living.
May 22, 2012, 8:13 pm
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I’ve come to the conclusion that life is infinitely more incredible than most people give it credit.  Life has the potential to be entirely captivating.  Call that statement subjective but I am discovering the depth of its reality each day. I think it all starts with an attempt to understand what full engagement even means. It’s not a simple idea.  I believe that the life of our minds, souls and even our physical existence was intended to be held captive by the world they exist within. Of course, as a result of selfish pride, and laziness (sin) we are limited in our perception of the beauty within and without. But maybe it is still up to us what level of engagement we embrace this life with. Clearly, since God plopped us down on this earth, the intention wasn’t to squander each day in utter boredom from a safe distance. We weren’t meant to observe critically from the sidelines but rather we have been thrown into the game to get creative, have fun and make stuff happen.

Our engagement is, of course, ever swayed by circumstances. Perhaps the art of remaining fully engaged and in awe at this life is reflective of truly living. I think abundant living is a choice or perhaps the result of a long chain of choices.  Having the ability to be fully engaged in this very moment in spite of the circumstances orbiting outside of ones control is a treasure of a discipline.  If we each began to see every moment as an opportunity, not just to exist, but to abound, create,  participate in life and actively worship the God who lives, it would show. As a result of our relational hard wiring, action is exponential. When we make the momentary decision to get on board with the grand adventure, people are changed simply by witnessing it. Have you ever been around someone who is living their dreams with reckless abandon? Even if their dream inst appealing at all to you, it inspires you to live big and accomplish something that is precious to you. Living big gives life to more big living.

Because we are surrounded by a culture that is entirely broken, the idea of full engagement generally is hard to grasp. Our culture is at the mercy of the fast and easy. Commitment and dedication are endangered….a lost discipline.  Instant gratification has ushered in a sickening breed of passive existence that has to be aggressively avoided.  The abundant life is the fruit of a way of life, a chain of decision not to simply exist today but rather to free a greater life from our minds, giving creativity hands and love feet. Abundant living denies lame and harmful habits; it has no use for them.

It is a shame that anyone would allow life to just happen to them.  Being aware of the life that beacons is the beginning of freedom from passive existence. Like I said before each moment is an opportunity, what you do with it, what you are capable of doing with the moment is up to you.  There is no limit to what can be accomplished by a fully willing and engaged spirit. I’m not claiming that no one is living with abundance; I am inspired by some free spirit every day.  With that said, abundant life is a dying art.

Let this be a challenge to you.  I want you to step off the side lines. I want you to give up the crap for the depth of truth. I want to get reckless with you. Will you j0in me?


May 22, 2012, 7:17 pm
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I went camping with an old friend last night.  Reflection on the beauty and simplicity of the scenery/escape from the rat race was the theme of the night, I’d say.  After he got off work we got some supplies and took the canoe down to the lake.  The fishing boat was in need of repair so we left it behind for a simpler means of transport.  Once we had crossed the lake and entered the channel to our site, the waters calmed.  The sounds of nature accented the view of the fresh, lush, spring landscape with perfection.  Surrounded by spring we arrived at camp. The previous campers had left plenty dry wood for great night away from the noise of life.

With the fire raging we prepared a simple dinner and reminisced past adventures and dreamed of those to come.  We escaped from all the noise of life for the night, got away from people and just enjoyed quiet company, laughs, and the overwhelming serenity of the Adirondacks.

After dinner we took the inaugural spring swim. It was cold. The water, laced with the chill of the past winter season, was fresh and clean.  The quick rush of frigid lake water washed away the grime of the day.  After some hoots and hollers we ran back up to the fire to dry off. Gentle rain eventually ushered us to stoke the fire and settle into the lean-to for the evening.  After some time of chatting the conversation dissipated and the rain grew stronger.  We found our spots to sleep and settled in for the night

After getting the fire blazing, this morning, we began to slowly clean up.  A few other campers paddled by in the rain, exchanging a few words and passing by.  We decided to wait out the rain for a bit to see if it eased and it did. Once it slowed to a sprinkle we put out our fire and packed up for the paddle back.

The rain eventually stopped completely and the water turned to glass, reflecting the trees and shoreline landscape.  Far from all the toys and responsibility and outside of any restriction of time we were free to be in awe of the natural landscape.

It is a treat to slow down now and again and simply be free from all the stuff that consumes time and the things that stir up noise, blanketing serenity and silence from everyday life. I want to fit as much life in my time as possible. It requires an escape every now and then.

My good friend.
May 19, 2012, 2:59 am
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Owen Walsh is my best friend.  He is from Alaska, which is super cool but it’s not why I love the guy.  Owen is a great example of homeschooling gone-right.  As a public schooler I’ve been programmed to think homeschoolers are just a subspecies of humans that don’t have “social skills” (whatever those are?) and game their brains out because they lack human interaction. I now know that’s a fallacy. Owen proved me wrong, so wrong.  Owen explained homeschooling to me as “being taught how to think rather than what to think” and he showed that to me with his life.  Being around Owen shed light on how shallow my public education really was. School wasn’t about what I learned but more so about parroting the “right” answer back to my social judge and jury. Owen showed me that life isn’t a contest, it’s an adventure and the scorekeepers don’t matter.

Owen is different. He isn’t conventional; he questions things and shrugs off the silly junk.  He does what he wants and I love that.  I have a clear recollection of driving down the cascade pass with my good friend on a beautiful blue bird summer day.  Owen was driving and we were going on about random business. As we passed the first lake I, thinking I might get a rise out of my friend, said that I “missed being spontaneous” with him. It had been a while since the two of us had free time to do anything adventurous.  I expected Owen to respond with something simple and profound or maybe just a couple grunts, like he does. He didn’t respond for a moment. It didn’t really phase me. Owens non-response is rarely a statement. The man was thinking.  Then, out of nowhere, he yanked the wheel right, into one of the parking areas along the lower lake. I’m a bit confused as Owen throws the car into park and runs through the bushes stripping his clothes and throwing them to the air.  Reaching the water, he throws off the last of his clothes and takes a big goofy jump into the cold lake water.  Finally realizing that this was the response to my statement, I followed in-suit, or out of suit I guess you could say.

That moment, and most moments I’ve spent with Owen, inspired me. It was one of those moments of comfort where you know no one is going to call you silly or naive or immature. Real people give up criticizing things are and they actually do stuff.  I don’t think Owen would criticize me or call me naive. He will call me out if I’m doing something harmful but he won’t hesitate to jump in and join the adventure if my hearts right. He will back me up.

There was another day Owen inspired me.  It was a couple summers after we had been roommates. At this point Owen is back home in Alaska, and happily married to his beautiful wife, Jess.  I called him, in tears, because I had made some stupid decisions.  I had blinded myself with emotion and felt I had no one to lead me out of the emptiness.  I explained the situation to him and tried to get him to see my point of view. He understood.  He made it clear that he understood. But he called me out. He told me that I knew what I had to do and that he expected me to do it.  For a guy that’s not known for his great communication skills, he made his point. His words had become my true north.  I was lost at sea and he had shined through like Polaris. His words were a point of navigation that I could work with.  That night Owen spoke the truth to me, in love. He saved me from some serious crap. He is a true friend.

If you haven’t got the picture yet, I really look up to my best friend. Owen is a real man. He is quirky and weird and he would never deny it. I love that about my friend. I’ve yet to find another  friend like Owen Walsh. I don’t mean to exalt a guy more than its called for but Owen has had such an impact on my life that shrugging it off  would be a dis-justice. I thank God for my friend.

Owen wants to live in a sail boat someday…I think he will do it.

May 10, 2012, 4:45 am
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Contrasts seem to me to be the signature of Gods handiwork on the earth. Take the seasons for example or light and dark, hot and cold, fast and slow.  Contrast plays out like a story, there has to be a little simplicity so that we can establish the plot and get to know our way around the setting but as soon as we get “used to” things they get a little crazy, just to keep us captivated. It is as if when God created the world He intended to broadcast a message that each day should be examined, taken apart then put back together because time changes things and you’ll want to keep pace.

We live within the confines of time, unlike God. Therefore contrast is projected to our understanding accordingly. As time progresses we begin to become part of the setting we are encompassed by. We tend to slowly allow ourselves to blend into the background. Take the seasons for example. I am totally a winter guy, I love the pace, I love how raw and primitive it is. Things feel so much more basic in the winter. During the winter season I listen to slow folky music like Jeffery Foucault, Gregory Alan Isakov or Alexi Murdoch. My frame of mind meshes with the season until it I get used to it. Everything slows down (except the skiing) and I posses the season within myself. But just when it seems winter is here to stay the sun comes out and the snow begins to melt. Slowly but surely the mountains shift from a dead gray and white to a living and lush green canopy.  It’s like clockwork. After everyone gets their fill of grumbling, the clouds part and the sun shows it’s self. I hang the hammock, listen to something with a little more get-up-and-go and burn to a crisp at the fury of the spring sunshine. It gets me every time.

I don’t think that was a mistake, I think that it was intentional. A Lesson.

Light and dark pan out very similarly .Light exposes one thing then the dark blankets it all, simply to allow us to ponder its meaning. I love mid day when shadows don’t exist because light floods everything. In the light everything is exposed, from the minutest speck of dirt to the vast expanse of the mountains. Light invites distraction and exploration.  It is the absence of light, darkness that expresses how magnificent light really is.  When the sun goes behind the hills, blanketing the contours of the land in darkness, it draws a person within.  I also love night, specifically driving at night. I do my best thinking driving in the dark.  At the steering wheel there is absolutely nothing you can do but think and look. You can listen to the radio, if you so choose. There is no sensation quite like driving long straight roads blanketed in black, just me and road noise, no radio, no passenger, nothing. The night takes away all the distraction, momentary sensory fixes,  and pulls the experience of life into your head. It’s reflective. If there was never an absence of light I would never get anything done because there is always something to do when the sun is out but in the solitude of night there’s only room for thought.

I know I’ve said it before but I think that the contrast displayed in the seasons and the days and even in people is a constant reminder that this isn’t supposed to get old. It’s God lighting the fire under our seat so that we don’t blend into the background but instead live and create. It’s the still small voice reminding each of us to live vibrant lives and tell a greater story to those around us and the generations to come.