The Golden Few

While always trying to bring you joy
Great lengths were gone just to avoid
But only so much cover can
Be purchased by another and
To those who feel too overwhelmed,
Intense emotions we both felt
But now, alas, to be forgot
Perhaps intended, maybe not.
Or even worse, to be ignored
And maybe it just straight occurred
But as for now, I need my peace
I need your love, to be released,
Continue searching, wish you well
For I'm already damned to Hell
But all we need, the golden few
A shame it will not include you.


Red River Gorge

As a third year master's student, this could be my last spring break as a student. I probably would have been better off just staying at home and working over the break, but my wandering fever caught a hold of me and I took a trip to Red River Gorge, Kentucky with my buddy Andy.

I went here the previous spring break and knew of a nice area to do some hiking and camping. We got a bit of a late start on St. Patricks Day and didn't make it down there until 7:30 at night. Last year I was introduced to a nice little pizza and rock climbing shop named Miguel's. I took Andy here to get some pizza for dinner. We decided that we would also camp here the first night, as it was already getting dark (and camping is only $2 a person. The atmosphere at Miguel's is very chill, with outdoor lovers and social bonfires abound. I was enjoying a peaceful vacation in a welcoming setting.

Then everything changed...They didn't call our pizza and after 45 minutes and complaining they refired it. So it was twice baked and not very fresh. Then the kicker: apparently only climbers are allowed to camp there. When we inquired about camping they asked us what we were down here for. The response "To do a little hiking" was enough to be refused permission to camp at Miguels. As if owning a rope and some climbing shoes makes people "better" or more deserving to be around. I am not often discriminated against this blatantly. It's not like we were going to be a nuisance or start fights with the climbers. We were just running late and needed a place to camp. I feel greatly offended by the snobby attitude displayed by Miguel's Pizza and the climbing community. If you really are this elitist and judgmental, I can promise I'll never be a social climber. In my mind, any person with a love and appreciation for nature is just as good as any climber.

So at 10 o'clock at night with bellies full of overpriced asshole-made twice-baked pizza, we went to the gas station to purchase a backcountry camping tag. Turns out it is even cheaper than staying at Miguel's. And there is no discrimination in the wilderness. We reach camp on top of a narrow ridge surrounded by cliffs at 12:30 am. Here are a few pictures from this night.

The first night was clear so we both set up tents and I slept without a rainfly. The breeze was cold and swift and the moon shone brightly through the pine trees casting shadows on my face. Despite trouble getting used to the slight slope and hard ground, it was one of the most restful nights of sleep I've had in a long time. The next morning came and we did some day hiking to get water and to explore around the area. The best water source was in a trickle waterfall. It took a few minutes to fill a bottle but the scenery was so grand that it didn't matter.

After a day of hiking around and getting views, we returned to camp just in time to beat a thunderstorm. Andy was using a cheap and non-waterproof tent, so we tore it down and stuffed it under the rainfly of my tent. Being gone all day, we were both hungry, so we took dinner supplies and portable speakers into a small cave near our campsite. As the thunderstorm blew through, mix vegetables and beans were cooked to a backbeat of Joanna Newsom newest album.

A few rounds of cosmic wimpout and whiskey made for a distraction while the last of the storm passed through. How wonderful of an adventure this trip turned out to be. Being in the wilderness provides an infinite number of opportunities for exploration, discovery, appreciation, and unpredictability. You never know what is around the next bend in the trail. And with so many things to see, you can't help but to be sucked into a constant meditation brought on by the density and variety of textures and forms in every direction. Instead of being in a confined room of walls with geometric objects and simplicity, you are inundated by vastness and complexity and randomness and variety. Like roads there are trails but you don't have to follow them. Ultimately your path and destination are hardly limited. It is easy to convince yourself that you're seeing things nobody else has ever noticed. Even if this is far from the truth, the sense of discovery is yours to hold.

After a rainy night next to a snoring friend, I awoke with a spring. My muscles were getting used to sleeping on the ground. In a couple more days I would probably have my stride again. The acclimation period for backpacking is usually a few days for me, but after that I feel like I could continue indefinitely. I know in my soul that hiking will always be an essential part of my life. I'm starting to think pretty seriously about doing the Appalachian Trail in 2012. Better get it under my belt before the world ends, right? And before I am too old or professional to have the energy or time.

When we got to the car, we were packing things up and changing into driving clothes. A girl that we had passed on the trails the day before approached us and asked where we were headed. We ended up giving her a ride to her car and having a conversation. After a little smalltalk, we discover that she was childhood friends with the wife of my boss. What are the chances? It really is a small world... The trip back went a little quicker than the trip down, with lots of reflection and optimism for the future. I hope this trip is just what I needed to help me move on to the next phase of my life...whatever it is.

Oh, and if for some reason you want to support a discriminating place like Miguel's Pizza in Slade, Kentucky and aren't a climber, make sure you lie to them and say you are. Or if you want to boycott them and help to expose the truth about their unfair treatment of paying customers, please join me!


I feel infected with a fever. Not the ill type, at least physically. The more I think about life and time, the more I realize how important time management is. Ideally you find a balance between being productive and rewarding yourself. Too much of the former and you grow miserable. Too much of the latter and you accomplish nothing. But as I gaze at my plate of cheesy bacon fries from Outback Steakhouse, flakes of pepper falling like black snow upon a mountain of grease, I realize that I better suck it up and start eating.

There is too much to be done and too little time. I have to budget at least 25 hours a week to paying the bills, and would like to budget the same amount to finishing my thesis in a decent hour. This makes it hard to reward myself as much as a balance would suggest. I am forced to reconsider how I live each and every moment in order to extract a respectable amount of reward during any given day. Its so much easier to simply meditate my way through driving or a work day or chores, but much more of a challenge to actually make the most out of it. Realize and recognize the small things that remind you to appreciate the fact that you are alive, regardless of what you are doing. The infinity of variety which exists in every single gaze, yet fails to be entertaining if we forget to look. The simplicity masking complexity beyond understanding. The wonder which can be had by anyone willing to seek it out.

Sometimes all it takes is a new perspective...or a longing for change; a readiness for adventures which cannot be had until some loose ends are tied up. An attempted guidance for the future, ensuring that whether or not everything works out how I might imagine or dream it to, at the very least I will still get the most out of life. There are several different routes which all lead to the same destination. The only choice I have to make is when to branch off of the trail and blaze...


A New Year Realization

I attended an excellent New Years party at the Antler house last night. Lots of karaoke and champagne. Dalton asked me to compose a short bit on time for reflection...this is what I came up with on 12-30-10:

And through the lines of time
Another year has come to pass
A time to pine on all things
That are different from the last
Reflect upon dynamic fads
The music and the news
Accomplishments that humans made
In their fruitless pursuits
And memories which you have kept
From this year and the past
The grudges that you always held
And those that didn't last
But also all the times of joy
And love for fellow man
When once again you were convinced
Of goodness in this land
But if we dwell on what is done
The things we cannot change
Then we forget to guide ourselves
Toward fortune, fear, or fame
And so we try to plan it out;
To have control of life
Idealize a perfect plan
With your ideal wife
Decide which things would be enjoyed
And buy them with a card
Accept the scripted humor and
Consume the processed lard
Direct which way your future goes
For better or for worse
Develop expectations for
Your net financial worth
And if by chance it doesn't work
Your dreams reduced to trash
Your mind will become bitter
And your lust for life will crash
So best you are to minimize
What you expect to come
While guidance can be helpful
You should only permit some
The future is an open book
Influenced by the now
Its not about what you could do
Or what you've done, or how
The choice you have is in the
Present moment of your life
So stop to smell the flowers
And forget about your strife
The journey is the destination;
Joy is in the ride
It really doesn't matter
What's ahead or what's behind
Time will stop for nothing
And it never runs reverse
Living in the moment
Is a blessing, not a curse
Make the most of every day
For each could be your last
Live to love and love to live
For time will move too fast
Make your resolutions and
Remember where you've been
Never stop exploring
And you're guaranteed to win.

I guess that captures the essence. Maybe I will add a couple of stanzas each year as my understanding of the world becomes more seeded in experience. The only thing I am sure of is that that nothing is certain. I hope this year is a great one for all of us...


A few stanzas of thought

Well I want to be heard
And I struggle to hear
Or to listen descriptions, illicit sincere

You can preach what you pray
But you preach to the choir
As the soloist lead is procured by a wire

The intentions are true
The attack non-misguided
A perception, it always exists multi-sided

So you see from your own
And perhaps from another
But the vantages left cannot ever be covered

You can go with the flow
You can settle for now
Your selection of options is always known loud

But to never explore
What you think could bring joy
To ignore what reality tells you is good

We must follow the path
Bounded by least regret
For this life is too short and there's no time to bet

I can say what I think
I can do what I say
I will cherish the moments and life for today.