The Trials Of Perpetual Learning 

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Like clouds in the sky, so too are the thoughts that wash over my mind. Remembrances of days on mountaintops awash in the glow of the sun, a photo caught in the lens. How far I have come from that day, how much I have learned. And yet many things remain the same, we walk much of the same path, never changing for fear of stumble.

Forward we must, or suffer the same occurrence we will. Straight into the future with head held high, we grasp at a dream with a single minded purpose. Never stronger have I been than this time, reminded by the past of the distance to fall. Each day a lesson to learn, each lesson however small adds to the cumulative effect of a life searching for wisdom and knowledge.

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The trials of perpetual learning are most apparent on a night like this. Alone with my thoughts I sense the miles I have traveled to reach the point of understanding, the trials of acceptance to reach the peak. And still I climb, ever searching for the next lesson, the next moment of enlightenment to fill another space in the recesses of my mind. Learning is perpetual to those who make it so, those who realize never will you know all that you need.

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A life of learning brings more than an encyclopedic mind, it brings the joy of discovery and an undying wonder of what we don’t know. Take a moment to look at what is right in front of you, instead of ignoring where beauty is found. Each day is another chance to grasp something new, add another slide to the presentation of memory. The only thing you take with you when you die is the pictures captured during your time on this earth, if you bother to fill that album.

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The Chariot Of My Dreams

When self doubt rears it’s ugly head, I ask myself “why am I doing this.” Years ago that doubt would take over and I would most likely walk away from whatever it was I feared and give up. But not this time. I will not hang my head and go quietly into the night. This time I will fight with all my might and win.

It’s hard to put into words my motivation, but I feel the true reason for my goal of living on a boat is the fear of the unknown combined with my want of living a minimalist lifestyle. I have a deep need to prove to myself that I can achieve my goals, I can live a much more fulfilling life. I freely gave up all my past friends, sold or gave away anything of value I had, all for a dream that was clouded in the insecurity I have heaped upon myself. I must release myself from this burden or die a broken man.

Now that I have bought a boat, and the overall quest has begun, I also find myself reassessing what is a reasonable goal for my future, what is it I am REALLY looking for. All I know is that everything in my past is NOT what I wanted, so it’s time for something else. Will I sail to distant shores? Not in this boat. I’m afraid that goal was a little beyond my ability to bring to fruition, the costs for a boat of that caliber were just too high.

As I think this through I realize crossing an ocean would be a wonderful experience, but so would sailing to the Florida Keys, crossing the Gulf to Louisiana and Texas, maybe cross the Panama Canal and travel up the west coast to Alaska. There’s so many places this boat can take me that are completely foreign to me, and I could spend the rest of my life sailing and not see them all. So why do I need to cross an ocean? I really don’t. Like most things in life, it’s all about compromise.

So as I refit the chariot of my dreams over the next year or so I now understand what it is I am searching for, what drives my restless spirit to cast off the lines and sail into the unknown. I want to live free from the drain of modern society and all the burdens placed on us to “fit in” and be accepted. I want to conquer the fear residing in all of us, that nagging doubt that stops many from reaching their goals. I will risk it all for the beauty of the human spirit that resides in all of us, and I will do it on my own.

This post and it’s title were inspired by this video by Liz Clark, a woman I admire for her inner strength and courage to take on the challenge. Watch this short video, you won’t be disappointed.

Take The Good With The Bad

I’m at a very bad truck stop tonight in North Carolina. It’s the kind of stop you don’t want to walk around at night so I take Vinny out one last time at dusk. Here you see the usual trash cast aside by those with no respect for others.

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Like I always do I try to find some corner of content, a little wedge of clear elegance in the midst of human disregard. I think I succeeded.

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This field of wheat reminds us that even surrounded by people that don’t care, in the middle of the decay of society as a whole, the beauty of nature shines through to give us something to be thankful for. For one to truly live a life of fulfillment we must learn to look past the jagged edges, through the barbed wire, and take the good with the bad.

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What Is Wisdom, And Where Can I Buy Some?

We all would like to think we are wise, refined in our thinking, complete in our depth of thought. Bold in our actions with the assurance of our ability to discern the proper path, the right way of things. With our perceived knowledge of a sage and the foresight of a prophet we sometimes fall prey to our own misguided plans that lead to sorrow or pain. I have been down this road, sometimes more than once. After careful thought I believe the path to wisdom is found in the realization of our mistakes and the focus of thought in not perpetuating the same.

Over the past few weeks since my father died I have been caught in a battle between sorrow and hope, disbelief and fortitude. On one side I feel the loss of someone dear, a wound only now realized in it’s pain. On the other I feel the excitement of my plans for a fuller life, the freedom of the seas and the restless longing for travel. I feel torn as to how long to mourn before release, how long to wait till I no longer feel guilty for past sins. I am not as wise as I wish for I have no answer.

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I question the wisdom of a job that can be very dangerous at times. One false move and my best friend and I could be injured or killed in the blink of an eye. I tell myself that the journey to happiness is fraught with danger. Only those who are willing to pay will succeed. Again, I hope I am right.

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There are days when the majesty of the open road take my breath away, the beauty of nature overwhelms you and you feel like all is good in the world. Moments like this are the saving grace in my life, the recharge of my internal batteries I so need at this time.

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When I drive in the early morning I feel a sense of peace as the sun rises. A new day has come, another chance to get it right. Even as I write this, tears well in my eyes with the hope of a future filled with the things I am most inspired by. Nature, photography, sailing, solitude, giving back to those in need. I will fulfill my goals no matter how long it takes.

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While stopping at a rest area I notice these two trees. They seem so lopsided in the growth of their limbs, very few between them. It comes to me the simple wisdom of it. It make no sense to grow limbs in the shade of each other, better to send more limbs and leaves into the sunny side. So too should be my life. No more standing in the shade of despair. Better to stand in the light of hopefulness, basking in the glow of the brilliant light of another day. Better to squint in the sunshine than stumble in the shade.

PS: In a shocking LACK of wisdom, the hospital that last treated my father sent a package to my mother a week ago…in that package was my fathers false teeth. Even though they knew he was sent to hospice, they felt compelled to mail them. Unbelievable.

The Perceived Enlightenment 

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Weary am I as the sun fades through the trees. The daily crusade of miles and time demand payment, and stop I must to pay my dues.  A day of introspective assessment behind me now, the solace of quiet as the miles rolled by, only the rumble of the highway received by my ears.  As I nourish body and mind I reflect on my thoughts, search for the thread that binds them together. An index written to allow words to form, a ballet in type. Difficult is the task as eyes grow heavy.

I pondered the image of a life to date, lessons learned and some forgotten. Wiser than I have traveled the same, they too stumbled and fell. We go through life with a perceived enlightenment, a belief that we have the answers to many things, assured by experience we justify actions. Blinded are we who follow this path, trusting in a mindset befallen with error. Only with time can we see the image of truth, only with the acceptance that we know nothing can we truly see the light. Enlightenment comes from the realization we have much to learn.

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Just as this flower blooms with all it’s majesty and beauty, just when it has given it’s all, the hold it has in this world fades, back to the earth from which it came. So too is the life of us mortals, from dust we come and to dust we return. Just like the flower all we can hope for is do some small part to beautify this world, make at least one persons life better, if only for a moment. It’s never to late to make amends, never to late to learn more and build a book of wisdom to base the remainder of your life on, even share with those who seek the same. Like a favorite lyric from a song I know, these words hold great wisdom to follow, a belief to live by…“Life is a lesson, you learn it when your through.”

Suite Madame Blue

Time after time I sit and I wait for your call
I know I’m a fool but why can I say
Whatever the price I’ll pay for you,
Madame Blue

Once long ago, a word from your lips and the world turned around
But somehow you’ve changed, you’re so far away
I long for the past and dream of the days with you,
Madame Blue

Suite Madame Blue, gaze in your looking glass
You’re not a child anymore
Suite Madame Blue, the future is all but past
Dressed in your jewels, you made your own rules
You conquered the world and more, heaven’s door

Oh

America, America, America, America
America, America, America, America
America, America, America, America
America, America, America, America
America, America, America, America
America, America, America, America

Red white and blue, gaze in your looking glass
You’re not a child anymore
Red, white, and blue, the future is all but past
So lift up your heart, make a new start
And lead us away from here

Suite Madame Blue – Styx

My short time on this earth has taught me anything of real value comes at a price, nothing is free. It’s also taught me that time is fleeting, every moment of your life is to be cherished not squandered. When I look out over the vast stretches of Madame Blue, I see more than open ocean, seagulls and dolphins. More than the morning sun as it struggles to break free of Poseidon’s grasp. More than the foreboding feeling as waves grow tall with the setting sun, and the darkness once again takes control. I see my past being washed away in the wake of my sailboat. Each bad memory fading from view as I trim my sails and and stay true to the decided course.

It’s been just over a decade since I walked away from the lifestyle that held me in a prison of doubt and fear, a way of life fraught with anxiety and sadness. I feel I have grown more in that time then in all the time before. With a clear head I have looked at all the things I couldn’t see in my youth through the eyes of an outsider of sorts. No longer clouded by drugs I find I can play God with my past, slowly discarding the mistakes and fleshing out the real person that lies within. I feel an urgency to get my life in order before the future is past again. If you’ve never been in that place you can’t possibly understand the willpower it takes to turn away from the hold it has on you. I will never go back.

The passing of my father has shown me how much I still have to learn, how much I overlooked. Like many John Wayne characters, my father did not sit with me and teach me about life lessons he had learned, it was not his way. Instead he taught by example, though it took his death for me to see it. When I think of my struggles, then look to his past, I see no comparison. My fathers past was much more devastating than anything I have been through, yet he stayed strong and steady until the end. In his last days of life I watched his hold on this world slowly slip from his grasp, his body slowly melt away a little more each day. Even when he slipped into a coma, no food or water for over 8 days, he would not give up. My father was the strongest man I have ever known, and I will try to live up to his example.

I look to my future with hope for a change, thanks in large part to the lessons I have learned from both my parents. The sum of my experiences and the steadfast will both my father and mother have shown gives me the strength to carry on each day, the will to make my dream a reality in the near future. When my father is buried, his flag will come with me on my boat as a symbol of what it means to be a man, his lessons not lost on me. He will be with me in every storm, sunny day, distant anchorage and marina. I will remember how he never gave up, never backed down. Though his back was bowed with the burdens he carried, he gladly put that yoke on each morning and made his way through life with few complaints. I will do my best to become half the man he was.

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Simple Man

Mama told me when I was young
“Come sit beside me, my only son
And listen closely to what I say
And if you do this it’ll help you some sunny day”

“Oh, take your time, don’t live too fast
Troubles will come and they will pass
You’ll find a woman and you’ll find love
And don’t forget, son, there is someone up above”

“And be a simple kind of man
Oh, be something you love and understand
Baby be a simple kind of man
Oh, won’t you do this for me, son, if you can”

“Forget your lust for the rich man’s gold
All that you need is in your soul
And you can do this, oh baby, if you try
All that I want for you, my son, is to be satisfied”

“And be a simple kind of man
Oh, be something you love and understand
Baby be a simple kind of man
Oh, won’t you do this for me, son, if you can”

Oh yes, I will

“Boy, don’t you worry, you’ll find yourself
Follow your heart and nothing else
And you can do this, oh baby, if you try
All that I want for you, my son, is to be satisfied”

“And be a simple kind of man
Oh, be something you love and understand
Baby be a simple kind of man
Oh, won’t you do this for me, son, if you can”

Baby, be a simple, really simple man
Oh, be something you love and understand

Simple Man – Lynyrd Skynyrd

I’ve been thinking about this post for days, trying to find the words to best portray the thoughts in my mind. A vision is coming into focus of the person I want to be, the lifestyle I wish to lead, and what it will take to get there. A friend recently commented on a post about the people that inspire her. People that understand what truly gives one happiness, how simple and fulfilling life can be when lived at it’s most basic level. There is one man that really inspires me, one man who’s footsteps I would like to follow, albeit with a slightly different abode. That man is Richard Proenneke.

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Richard Louis “Dick” Proenneke
(May 4, 1916 – April 20, 2003) was a self-educated naturalist who lived alone for nearly thirty years in the mountains of Alaska in a log cabin he had constructed by hand near the shore of Twin Lakes. Proenneke hunted, fished, raised and gathered his own food, and also had supplies flown in occasionally. He documented his activities in journals and on film, and also recorded valuable meteorological and natural data. The journals and film were later used by others to write books and produce documentaries about his time in the wilderness.
(copied from Wikipedia)

This man was a true naturist, not some granola crunching nut who ties them self to a tree or lays on a highway to try and stop a drilling rig. This man lived in and with nature in it’s purest form. He lived mostly from the land, both animal and vegetable, cultivated and culled by his own hands. He brought with him only the tools he could not make, and only the best quality so they would last. He understood what it meant to be self sufficient, unlike many today who wouldn’t last a week without a supermarket or Starbucks.

If you watch the PBS documentary about his time in Alaska you cant help but come away with a deep respect for this man, a sorrowful feeling of having never met him. I wish I could have spent a day talking with him about his philosophy on life, whether he had any unfulfilled dreams, any regrets. I bet he had none. I think that alone is something we should all strive for…no regrets.

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This is also my quest, to test myself. When my sailboat is purchased and fitted out with only the needed, and best quality equipment, I will try to find my inner peace. I will separate myself from society as much as reasonably possible and live a life in harmony with nature instead of trying to control it. I will have to work some but I will choose an occupation I enjoy even at a much lower income. I miss looking forward to going to work.

I look forward to honing my photography skills, maybe have some pictures published. Sharing my boat and time with those who could use some real quality time with their children such as Veterans. Exploring my writing wherever it leads. Letting go of the regrets of my past and replacing them with feelings of accomplishment and generosity. I want my life to mean something other than just another name in a computer, another face lost in the masses.

Like you Osyth I admire people who see life for what it is, not what we surround ourselves with. There is so much in this world that people walk right by each day and never fully appreciate the beauty of it, so much we take for granted. When was the last time you spent time with someone just talking? No TV, radio, cellphones or any other distractions, just words and eye contact? It’s part of what make’s relationships work over the long run. The true understanding of others only comes from direct and meaningful conversation.

In time I will be writing my posts from the cockpit of my boat anchored in some quiet bay. I will share the pictures I took that day in the hopes of letting you see the world through my eyes, feel the day as I experienced it. My life will mean something when I have found the skill to help others immerse themselves into a world of simple pleasures from a simple man.

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Forward, Ever Forward….Never Give Up

If I made a list of the 10 worst places I have had to reset, this place would make the list. But let’s back up a little, the trip here was OK…here’s a sample.

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I delivered the load yesterday and today I did some shopping and sleeping! I ran really hard the last few days and I needed this day off. There’s not many truck stops in this area and I think I found the worst one! Everywhere you look it’s trash, junk and more trash. The building was run down and even the sign was dirty!

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But if you frame your shot just right, there’s still some interesting pictures to be found.

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I could look at this day as a disappointment, a day spent in a dirty place. I could resent the fact I’m not where I want to be, out of my comfort zone. But that would be pointless. Today is just another test, another moment in my life that will make my future plans seem all the better. Each time I complete a day like this, the days on my future sailboat will be all the sweeter, the reward deeper and more meaningful. I will pay the price, continue doing things I really don’t like.

The road to fulfillment is paved with disappointments, rewards are shadowed by trials of life. Only through perseverance can we attain the best things in life, only by the sweat of our brow will our dreams come true. Forward, ever forward….never give up.

 

Every Day I Write The Book

Don’t tell me you don’t know what love is
When you’re old enough to know better
When you find strange hands in your sweater
When your dreamboat turns out to be a footnote
I’m a man with a mission in two or three editions

And I’m giving you a longing look
Everyday, everyday, everyday I write the book

Chapter one we didn’t really get along
Chapter two I think I fell in love with you
You said you’d stand by me in the middle of chapter three
But you were up to your old tricks in chapters four, five and six

The way you walk
The way you talk, and try to kiss me, and laugh
In four or five paragraphs
All your compliments and your cutting remarks
Are captured here in my quotation marks

Don’t tell me you don’t know the difference
Between a lover and a fighter
With my pen and my electric typewriter
Even in a perfect world where everyone was equal
I’d still own the film rights and be working on the sequel

Every Day I Write The Book – Elvis Costello

Is that the 80’s or what! Don’t you just love the Charles and Diana look a likes? The lyrics perfectly describe youthful love, the in between years after Jr High, but before you start to settle down. A time when relationships were as fleeting as the last rays of sun on a winter day. But I also see a different parallel to my every day life.

I see every day as a chance to write more than a page, but another chapter in my life. Each day is so much more than can be written in just a few hundred words, each day is a chapter full of sights and sounds, smells and tastes. A day of wonder at the sky and clouds, searching for a thought to surround the view, encompass the colors. The fresh smell of the trees in spring, the scent of salt water fueling your fantasies with images of faraway lands covered in swaying palm trees.

The taste of fresh fruit, savoring every splash of flavor as it accosts your senses with it’s brilliance. The feel of a cool breeze flowing over your skin combined with the warmth of a thousand rays eager to lull you into sleep. The soft cry of birds courting in the sunset, the sound of joy and fulfillment for a lover found. All of these and more fill my days, brightens my soul.

Such are the thoughts of a simple man trying to make his way in this world. Each day brings me closer to the dream, one more step down the path towards my final destination, my vision of what will bring me happiness. Only through hard work can we hope to achieve a life worth living. Only through sacrifice can we finally behold what brings us the most joy. Only through an understanding of oneself can you do more than dream. Every day I write the book of me.

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Where The Streets Have No Name

I want to run
I want to hide
I want to break down the walls
That hold me inside
I want to reach out
And touch the flame
Where the streets have no name

I want to feel
The sun on my face
I see the dust cloud disappear
Without a trace
I want to take shelter
From poisoned rain
Where the streets have no name

Where the streets have no name
Where the streets have no name
We’re still building
Then burning down love
Burning down love
And when I go there
I go there with you
Where the streets have no name

I can’t take my eyes off of you
I love you baby
And if it’s quite all right
I need you baby
To warm my lonely nights
So let me love you baby
Let me love you

The city’s a flood
Our love turns to rust
We’re beaten and blown by the wind
Trampled in dust
I’ll show you a place
High on a desert plain
Where the streets have no name

Where the streets have no name
Where the streets have no name
We’re still building
Then burning down love
Burning down love
And when I go there
It’s all I can do
Where the streets have no name

I can’t take my eyes off of you
Love you baby
Let me love you
Where the streets have no name

Where The Streets Have No Name – U2

This song is from The Joshua Tree album released in 1987. I was 22 years old then, and I still remember the first time I heard this on the radio. I liked U2 before this album, and even though my favorite song is by another group, they became my favorite band from that point to date. I can’t think of one song by U2 I don’t like. I think this album planted the seeds of my dream, I just didn’t know it.

Years ago when I started driving, I went to a school in Tennessee to get my CDL license. I rode a Greyhound bus from Bangor Maine all the way to Memphis. Someday I’ll write a post about that adventure! After school I was trained further by a mentor in his truck for six weeks. He was from Joshua Tree California and we spent four days there at his house.

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Words cannot describe the unearthly scene to someone who grew up surrounded by trees. I had never been in a desert before and the majesty was not lost on me. This is the closest thing to walking on the moon that I could imagine. 90 degrees in the day, 35 degrees at night. I saw my life in that space, the stark contrast undeniable.

I lived my young life in a mental desert, a place where the streets had no name. Wandering from place to place in search of something I couldn’t quite see, an unconscious need yearning for the light of understanding to satiate it’s thirst. The burning sun of misdeeds and mistakes draining me of my will, emboldening the hold of what kept me down.

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Now I travel those same streets, but they have names after all. Endurance, willpower, trust, vision, truth, commitment. These are the names of the streets that are leading me to my future, the roads to a better way of life. Even though they have rough spots, I will continue to travel forward, the journey is not always easy. I may be tired, but the goal is coming closer every day.

You get out of this life what you put into it. You can’t control everything that happens, but you can control how you cope, what your response is to the struggles you endure. If you fail, if you give up, you have no one to blame but yourself. Whatever you can’t control, you must adapt to and face. You can’t cry for long because adversity will still be there waiting for you to finish. Life does not forgive quitters.

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I remember taking this picture in Colorado and thinking how hard it would be to climb this mountain. We are so small in the grand scheme of things, and life is this hill. It’s best not to look at the top, just focus on the next step. I’ve taken the biggest steps, and if I stay focused the rest will be easy.