Early in the last year, I made a a silent yet stolid agreement with myself. I would write as much as possible.
I have always known that I wanted to write. The papers presented to the mr and ms. in partial fullfillment of the course to the stupid little sketches in 8th grade to brit lit. and all the shebers howard. To the jj johnson even though he was a dick. To the shhissel and Mr. Syr.
It was the Timne’s class that was the best. We read Frankenstein and the Romantic poets. She wrote that book when she was 18 with bysshe her bo and the byron lord.
I had so much respect for that monumental accomplishment.
Anyways, I could never commit to writing more than 10k on any given story.
Last year in february I took Christi Kruugs Wildfire Writing class at Clark college. It worked.
Since February last year, I have written 100k+ in freewrites and 65k on my first novel.
Mount Massive was to much of an undertaking and Goldpoint Lodge is located about 90 minutes from the trailhead while Quandary is a quaint little 20 minute jaunt out of breckenridge. So the plan changed, it is good to be flexible.
We started very late into 14er season, I don’t know what I was waiting for, but it took all the way until August 9th.
Mt. Quandary is known as an easy 14er as 14ers go. The thing about a 14er though is that it is a monstrous effort.
The lack of oxygen, the unavoidable nearly straight up ascents. The knee pounding descent, the crazy weather. The intoxicating views and of course, in case it didn’t sink in, the continously increasing lack of oxygen, nearly three miles above sea level.
When I was on the Inca trail, Dead Woman’s pass was an ordeal, but the ascent from 3600 meters to 4200 meters was not quite as high. And there is a world of difference between 14k feet and 13k feet. Plus on the Inca trail, there were coca leaves, those made up for a lot of the lack of eenrgy I may have had otherwise.
What is the point?
As hard as it was, we endured. Near the top, we got to the point where we went 100 steps and then sat down for 30 breaths. This strategy worked well. When you break things into manageable tasks, they become much easier. One foot in front of the other 100 times and you are there, repeat, and you are there in no time.
A 14er is a metaphor for life. It is wild and wide open nature. The world is real out there. Rainstorms can start anytime, winds can blow in a storm and then blow it away, temperature shifts can switch faster than the fastest packer can change into the layers. It is deceptively sunny and then it all changes.
In life, you can meet difficulties at any time. The key is to be flexible, to allow yourself to dig deep and then put one foot in front of the other. 100 steps, then breather deep re-assess, rinse and repeat.
This is my first post of what will be known as “Remembory Mondays.” I was going through my old photos during a bout of nostalgia and a bit of a delayed Reverse Culture Shock Relapse, when I had a simple thought. A good way to process the experience resurgent travel urge would be to share some of the memories of my experiences.
As I started to compose a photoblog post on my adventure on the Inca Trail, I was distracted with memories from my two separate trips to Lake Titicaca and the islands I visited on both the Peruvian and Bolivian side. Then I was further distracted by some of the photos of daily life in Cusco and then after that Argentina and then a road trip I went on last year etc…
The point being that there are a ton of memories that emerge out of the ether of past experience. They are particularly plentiful with each bout of Adventuritis, an inflammation of the adventure gland located just inferior to the pineal gland, j/k.
With each emerging vista on the memorial plane, it is easier and easier to become lost in it all and do nothing. Instead of doing nothing, either by continuously going through my old photos or being unable to decide what to post, a simple writer decides as so often he does, by not deciding at all.
Remembory Monday, a weekly platform, perhaps evolving, always dynamic, like any good trip, never static. Like any good traveller always a fanatic, rarely pragmatic. Please also ignore the fact that it might be Tuesday wherever you are in the world. Monday, like the pirate code, is more of a guideline meaning sometime after noon on monday and before 6 am on Tuesday, give or take a few hours. Since peak creativity of this writer of yours is usually past sunset and well into moonshine and star-time, you can count on it being a late night post.
Five to Ten to Twenty or Thirty photos with a small Remembory’ed note just below (inferior to) the Photo.
And so it begins…
The View from the high trail on Isla Del Sol. We kept trying to get a picture that showed off the mountains in the background. It was really hard to do that view justice with a person in the frame. Real experience note, the water wasn’t clean, the ceramic filter and bucket didn’t work as well for me as it did for others. Had the travelers sickness all week aka diarrhea. The key is, that is now what I remember!
The actual view of the mountains without people is way better, I spent 7 days in December of 2012 on Isla Del Sol on the Bolivian side of the Lake. It was incredible and all of the views from mountain to meadow to water to wood and temple to tableau were epic. I had the chance to experience Incan Rituals and exist in serenity in one of the most peaceful places I have ever been. Thank you Javier for telling me I had to go there.
My friend Enrico’s boot could not withstand the rigors of the Inca Trail. The worst part is it came apart after lunch on the third day at Phuyupatamarca “City Above the Clouds.” The Good news, we only had half a day and the morning left. The bad news, 2,000 plus stair descent to the last camp near Winaywana. The boots made it through though and we all got to the sun gate the next morning where we were both winded and in awe at the picturesque tableau unfolding under the first rays of the sun. That Picture will be for another monday.
Day one of the Inca Trail, something like hour 4. It rained almost the entire first day. It got to the point where we could not even stop to see the first set of ruins, because it was so bad. The Poncho I had did not fit well at all. Hint- Make sure your poncho fits over your backpack. I was okay though, with waterproof shoes, a waterproof back cover and my showers pass jacket I used for pedi-cabbing in the rain it was all right. It cleared up for the most part for the next few days. I admit it would have put a damper on my enjoyment of the trail.
Yoga on the Inca Trail. Showing one of the Germans in our group Eagle Pose. Thanks to Enrico for catching this little gem. Yoga on the trail helped easy the rigors of the hills and valleys. Also pack light, I packed way too much on this trip. I had gotten heavily into Yoga earlier that summer, after I had a muscle spasm that saw me unable to do any physical activity for three weeks, I received a Chiropractic adjustment and then was shown some stretches. All of the stretches were yoga poses, so I found a groupon and jumped in headfirst. After practicing three-four times a week for 3 months. I went back to the Chiropractor for a follow up and they said I was stronger than I was before the injury. It was a game changer. I continue to practice 2-5 days/week. I have now tried many styles, Bikram was how I started but I have moved onto more meditative types since then.
The Flamingo lake ruins about an hour outside of Puno, after my first trip to the Lake. That isn’t the real name, but that is how the trip organizer sold it to us. Yeah lake full of flamingos and ruins on the hill. When we got there, it turned out that the Flamingos are only there in the morning, but it was still interesting to see the ruins. We did see a little cuy though. Guinea pig is a delicacy in Peru. After we got back the car wasn’t there, so this was my first experience of Panic in Peru. But we figured out by calling the organizer, it just ended up being another one of those experiences in the difference in time. Most arrangements in Peru run a few hours later than they schedule.
While in Bolivia I had the experience of realizing I was almost out of money. This unfortunate scenario led to the discovery of bartending in exchange for my stay at the Adventure Brew Hostal, just a few blocks from the bus station in La Paz. The work was pretty simple, the beer was the best I had in South America , though the tap was overly foamy, it was a welcome change from the Cusquena and Pilsen I usually had in Cusco. Hands down best part, other than the people of course, was the Drunk food Sandwiches. While Pouring the two kinds of overly foamy beers, I got to know the other bartenders and a few of the patrons. Three of them could not stop talking about these amazing sandwiches, I think they were called Inguitos or Honguitos. Check out the picture of the sandwich next to me. My face looks like I am regretting biting into it, but that is just my habitual wide mouth teeth bite that avoids getting the mess all over my face, chin, beard, mustache or whatever. Sooooooo goood!
The moon over Amantani on Lake Titicaca. This is where my group stayed on the boat trip on the lake. You cannot imagine how peaceful it was. It was even quieter than isla del sol. This kind of peace is so rejuvenating, I found myself refreshed on only about 6 hours of sleep. And that was after the all night bus ride from Cusco to Puno and then all day on the boat. And the moon was so bright it lit the path when we walked back from the high point on the island. Cold, Quiet, and beautiful.
I meant to use this method to keep the post short, but alas as soon as I start typing the levee breaks.
Comment below to hear more about your favorite memory, I will choose one photo to expand upon for a post of it’s own in the coming weeks. And If you liked any of these memories, check my Peru, Bolivia and Argentina categories for more posts of this nature.
Starting is always the hardest part. The last two nights I had pretty clear ideas of what I was going to write. Tonight, I do not have one clear idea, but I am tired right now and would rather log out, go to sleep and deal with another very long day tomorrow. Bad idea. Why?
Momentum. I know that if I can post every day for a few weeks, I can build the habit into my life. This practice will then give me a tool to gain momentum and build my currently swirling and coalescing project once it is actually ready to be realized. I am not sure where I am going, but I still have to pack. There is still work to be done even though I do not know all of the details of this work.
So this is what I will do. There are many types of learning, absorbing and doing. So far in life, writing is always key. To learn, I must write. I process externally. This can be annoying in a crowded room as I tend to share my thought process with the world, but in the silence of the night with the dim glow of the screen and the cool air coming through the windows, I am able to think deeply.
Writing is hard. Building your dreams is hard. Deciding is hard. That is what I am stuck with at the moment, many wheels are turning and it seems that I come up with a new idea every day. When the sheer volume of choices overwhelms me, I need to think logically. Which of these things can I do now. I am also guided by the stickiness of the idea. There are some that come back to me over and over again. That get fleshed out in my head and seem to grow massively every few weeks with each new insight or application. The evidence is clear by the magnitude of files in my many “ideas” folders scattered throughout my antique laptop.
Back again to Momentum. It’s a showstopper present and pervasive throughout life. With it, it all flows, without it halts and sinks into mud. I see this issue tonight as I sit here and write. It is 3 am right now. I went upstairs at 1 am after watching the DVR’d Argentina v. Netherlands game. The outcome had me feeling good. I was set to write. Then I checked facebook, looked up types of nightshade foods, researched grad school programs on sustainability and fisheries and signed up for a coding site. And I watched a few videos of Messi and Rhonaldino and for some reason something about 5 foods to never eat.
Distractions and Procrastination all. And that is where inertia affects my life in the moment.
Zoom out, widen the perspective, take a look at the range and not just the mountain and this marginally more evolved pattern recognizing monkey can distinguish said pattern.
Writing, been dreamin’ of it since 14. I laid awake at night dreaming of my first book. I obsessed over the fact that Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein when she was 18 when I was 16. I devoured the blue room at Powell’s every chance I got. I analyzed their techniques. Once I was watching Conan interview Scorsese about Gangs of New York, love that movie. Scorsese talked about the first time he had the idea for the movie which was when he visited St. Patricks in New York and realized that the then Italian congregation used to be Irish. I am paraphrasing. Imagining the future I saw myself there in that position being interviewed for my first book. It haunts me to think of the number of hours of practice that would be in the bank already if I had jumped in fully earlier. Then I work on my presence, which is another topic for another post.
Writing has always returned.
Still I keep putting up obstacles in the path. Getting a B.A. was useful but it did not help my goal directly. Travelling helped me gain experience and more inspiration, but again I was set waiting. Working in restaurants and in schools just took up all of my time. These are all the facebook shares youtube videos of my life. A lot of information, but obstacles to the dream.
The world has opened up in the last 15 years. It is much easier to write and be read than it used to be.
And though the project is as of yet undefined, swirling around in sea of thoughts and occasionally ascending from subconscious and then drifting away again.
For now, the task is-build momentum. Writing is writing is writing. And when I have something profound to say and those stories are ready, I will be ready to write it.
In my last post I spoke of epochs in life, of finding your passion, diving into your work and putting the time in so you can reap the benefits of the lightning strike of inspiration as it channels through your spirit. As it so happens this very metaphor played itself out tonight in my post-yoga headspace and in the Denver skyline.
The feeling was evocative of an epoch. So perhaps this really is it. The feeling that has been building in the gut, not talking about my gut flora, that tells me I may be arriving soon. The fear has not reared yet or perhaps fear’s time is past. The kind that has held me back from striving forth and grasping my dreams from the air. The fear that kept my soul in a nice neat little box until a few years ago. And so that is all there is right? The fear is gone so now it is just an easy dreamlike sway into the free life, the real life.
Oh how very wrong. You know better than that.
This isn’t of tonight, but I am sure there will be some magnificent photos popping up from tonights light show. Photo by Christopher Bebout, his site is http://500px.com/beboutphoto.I found this photo on this post http://staggeringadvice.blogspot.com/2014/03/these-extraordinary-photos-of-us.html
This is where the real work begins. Work? Uh oh fear is back, why though? This is what I have been waiting for, the beginning of the ascent. I have to channel that pre-meet feeling. The morning of, early in the water for warm up. Stepping up onto the blocks, the anxiety hits hard, but the closer I get to those moments the desire trumps the fear and in I go lungs full of air, dive in undulating and breaking out one or two breaths per length, powering through the third wall and into the finish. That is the kind of drive I need to channel. The 100 butterfly drive, swam that event more than any other in my life, and so I must apply it to each moment. Looking back I can see that I have used it before. Before the Triathlon, I was nervous, I wasn’t sleeping, but I was excited and that drive got me through. And so I know I can channel this spirit in my adult times. The athletic prowess is long gone and I am but a shadow of what I once was, but those lessons remain. The drive to do things that matter, to put in the work is still there, waiting to be used.
This is what I prepare for. What took so long? Maybe fear of failure maybe fear of success. None of that matters now, at least not at this moment. Now is the time to work and build the dream. Committing now is gold.
“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”—Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho
And so the epoch is here, lighting has struck, so many times now that I must pick a bolt and wield its thunder to forge this dream, carving out with the tools of my soul.
While I may not know where this will lead, I know the free life awaits down the next bend, even if I don’t understand the meaning yet.
“Just because we don’t understand doesn’t mean that the explanation doesn’t exist.”—Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time
I am not a movie critic. Sometimes there is a movie that really hits home, hits deep and doesn’t whisper, but yells loudly into the depths of my soul. I have been hearing the echo of this movie’s voice for the past 2 days. so now it must be spoken.
Ben Stiller finds an excuse to travel and work. He gets to visit Greenland, Iceland, and the mountains of the Himalayas. What a perfect way to express this theme. It would be awesome to be a filmmaker.
The movie is about a man who lives an ordinary seeming life, but has deep and adventurous visions for what his life could be.
A change occurs at his work and he is finally forced to take some of the chances he always dreamed up. Inspired by the chance of love and adventure he finally sets forth and does something worthy enough to write about in his online dating profile.
I am not going to go into details on Plot points, because spoilers are bastards and I am not trying to ruin anyone’s future movie theater, or more likely, Netflix experience.
I will stick to the meaning that hit me square in the chest.
Dreamers gotta dream. My last blog was on presence and being in the moment. And this movie focuses on making the best of the moments you are given. To make the best Life possible.
Last year I finally went to South America on my own. I had gone to Argentina the previous year, but this time I went to Peru and Bolivia for three months solo. This was one of those moments where I finally stepped out into the world and had the adventure I dreamt about for so long.
It was freaking magical, surreal, enlivening, epic, crazy, frustrating, hard, awesome, tiring, energizing, etc.
The point is that these moments are concentrated brutes of life. They are the real moments. After the trip, my friends and family would say, “Oh that sounds so awesome! I wish I could do that. Those are great memories, but now it is time to get back to the real world. What job are you going to get?”
The point is that the real world is not being stuck trudging through the day, barely making ends meet so that I can get old and finally have a vacation when I am too tired to do anything. The point is to live now. Make the most of the moments you have. Be dedicated to your work if that is what fulfills you, but make sure whatever you do is fulfilling.
Daydreaming is key to creativity, but if you are checking out so often that you are hardly engaged in the world you inhabit, that is a good hint that it is time to change your world. Travel is not everybody’t thing, but the point is to find your thing.
Live with focus and enjoy it however that works for you.
The movie had a more subtle and deeper meaning when it tied itself up. I will not get into that here, because it is good, and I ain’t trynna ruin anyones moment.
It was kind of amazing to see a movie that encapsulated the theme I was trying to incorporate into my life in this new year. The Joyous Presence and the manifesting of the future, not through grand schemes, but by building moment by moment.
It made me rededicate myself to getting back into the real world again. When something speaks deep and the soul hears its echo is astounding.
curl the path,
**my 500 words #3 for January 3rd. Minimal editing.