Sunday, January 17, 2016

Life Is Too Short!

I need several more lives.  There is simply too much to do, see, experience!  Life is too short!  Although I've loved the life I've lived I'm now open to a wider array of possibilities.  The choices I see going forward are much broader than the choices I saw as a young woman.

I've written about Brad and his 5000 mile trek in this blog posting and this blog posting and beginning here on my homeonwhidbey blog.  His journey was deep and profound inwardly as well as physically challenging.  What Brad accomplished always gets my blood flowing with enthusiasm and pride.   Hiking new terrain in unfamiliar countries, often solo, stoked my imagination.    Although, (and drat!) with an ankle that can barely do four miles, I must creatively find my own "hike".

I find myself searching for inspiration.  Adventure stories with philosophical depth.   I want heartfelt tales of people going after their on-the-edge dream right along side their in depth scrutiny of what motivated them.    I  look for  "something else" in the narratives I seek out.     Critical insight!  That's it, and humor.   Adventure, travel, and lifestyle storylines are all slightly awkward fits for my criteria, yet, in some curious way, they can all nestle together in a kind of puzzling compatibility…so long as they have that "something else". 

The Zapps are a creative travel family I've mentioned on this blog previously.  Their twist on traveling the world caught my imagination immediately.  I've been all over the world with this family since I first found them, and have just ordered their book Spark Your Dream.   Their life style fascinates me.

In 2000, Candelaria and Herman, childhood sweethearts, left Brazil to travel.  Their home and transportation is a 1928 Graham-Paige vintage automobile.  Top speed, 35 miles per hour.  In the 16 years since they began their travels, they've gone from a family of two to six, having welcomed four new babies while on the road, all born in different countries.  The notches on their belts show 5 continents, 50 countries, and an unbeatable world-wise education.

Photo by Mana Meadows
Zambezi Traveller, 2013

For me this family is a wanderlust tonic.  

And then there's Charlie.  Brad met Charlie on his Te Araroa trek back in 2012.   I've followed Charlie on his Facebook page since.   Charlie has journeyed hundreds of miles as a full-time traveler and adventurer. 

He has visited so many countries and hiked, or occasionally biked, so many trails I'm left dumbfounded:  New Zealand, Australia, Patagonia, Argentina, Chili, Colombia, Finland, Pyrenees, Thailand, Nepal,  Iceland, Scotland, Israel, and on and on… But he doesn't just trek.  

Charlie pays attention.  He observes.  He refines his sensitivities to environmental, political and social issues.  He makes friends.  He participates.  After the earthquake in Kathmandu he rolled up his sleeves and went to work rebuilding destroyed homes.  

Charlie far left, next to Brad
Te Araroa Trail, NZ 2012

On Charlie's most recently completed hike he had this to say:

1/16/16 ~  "Day 67: Eilat.  Today I reached the end of the 1,000 km Israel National Trail."

"The last three weeks through the Negev desert have been physically demanding (carrying over 10 litres of water at times) but intensely memorable.  So much so that I've forgotten virtually everything that went before.
And the aspect of the desert I'll miss the most…not the subtly changing colours, nor the extraordinary geology nor the fantastic shapes, nor even the starlit nights but…the profound silence." 

It's almost possible to hear the
"profound silence"

I'm so hoping Charlie will find his way to the U.S. one day because I most desperately want to sit down for a cup of coffee and hear all about his escapades.  Well, make that several pots of coffee…  Or perhaps a book is on the way, although the perfect title, Travels with Charley, has been taken.

I continue to follow Bumfuzzle, a blog I've mentioned here before.   Bumfuzzle is a vintage Dodge bus and the home and transportation for an American couple and their two children, both born in Mexico, both bilingual and both hotshot surfers.    I've developed admiration and curiosity for the lives of Pat, Ali, Owest and Lowe.  Their past has been one adventure after another. Their blog is rich with observations of people, politics,  geography…life.   Pat, the writer, is not afraid to express his thoughts, kindly but frankly and he can let his humor fly.


Pat and Ali's first Bumfuzzle (before children),

Bumfuzzle #1

But there are other kinds of adventures.  Take Chisan, a practicing Buddhist monk.  Chisan is the interpreter for Harada Roshi, abbot of Sogenji Monastery in Okayama, Japan.  I got to know, and love, Chisan during my involvement at Tahoma Zen Monastery here on Whidbey Island. Years ago I designed and helped install the monastery gardens and along the way found peace and friendship, laughter, wisdom, and beauty.   Chisan, an outstanding potter, hippie traveler from New York,  and now an ordained monk, took a spiritual route for living a life-of-meaning.   Chisan radiates peace and passion.  She is gentle and warm.  Her humor is top notch.  She is wise.  We love to talk politics.  

Chisan, front row, to the left of Roshi

What Brad, Charlie, Bumfuzzle, Chisan and the Zapp family have done for me is to demonstrate creative life styles.  They have shown me distinct ways to custom design my life.     The excellence of their quests has contributed to the decision Ed and I made...our buy Thistle.  Our excitement builds as leave-taking grows near and exploration schemes tease our imaginations.


"Appreciate the excellence of another while realizing it is not an excellence of one's own." 

~ Edwin R. Anderson

Friday, January 15, 2016

Are You Kidding Me?

"Are you kidding me?"

We hear these words often when we tell people we have not had a TV for 30+ years.

Moving to Langley happened thirty-two years ago on New Year's Eve day.   Ed was just becoming a part of my life, but we did not get married until the following year.  Striking out on my own, I purchased the building across from WICA for my home upstairs and new garden center and landscape design business downstairs.   My son, Brad, was living with his dad in North Bend, so I was solo and looking for a new kind of life.  After searching about a bit for the perfect relocation spot, I selected Langley, and since that first day in January, 1984, I have not looked back.

But that first day had it's challenges.  Brad,  Ed and a number of others  helped me move to Whidbey Island from Seattle.  Despite our exhaustion from the previous day's  moving  exertions, we spent  a glorious New Year's Day eating and playing and exploring Langley.

The fun was interrupted when I heard, "The next ferry leaves in 20 minutes. I need to be on it." Everyone vanished.  That's when I learned the lesson that there's positively no room for separation anxiety when you live on an island.

Abruptly alone, I surveyed the mess of moving boxes.  I felt the full impact of being in a new home and a new town...all alone.  At that moment, TV would have been a nice escape.  Instead, I sat down and cried, feeling oh so sorry for myself.

The next morning I woke up, tears and fears gone,  ready to begin my new life.  I never again looked back, and I've never again needed a TV to fill such an emptiness.

Occasionally, over the years, I've watched TV news with a stunned disbelief at its deterioration. The days of Cronkite are over.

Instead, there is an endless repetition of topics chosen to make me fearful or angry, yet with a disturbing absence of substance.  I equate the dumbing down of the news to the frog in a pot where the gradual deterioration (or heat) builds, unnoticed.

What else could account for the fifty hours a week retired folks spend watching the tube?

Recently, as I was writing this piece I read Dan Pedersen's blog, and was struck by his words:
"News, or what pretends to be news, is marketed as entertainment, and it is reprehensible. Watching it will make anyone sick and miserable. I much prefer a day in the outdoors, enjoying the peaceful normalcy of wildlife and nature. I believe this is why I am fundamentally happy." 
And there you have it.  Dan jumped in at the right moment for a lovely wrap-up of my thoughts:  turn off the TV and go outside!  

A perfunctory observer would conclude that a huge segment of our nation's population is consumed with fear, hate, anxiety, or depression yet, for many, there is a quick cure  --  walking.  Of course, gardening, swimming, playing with the dog, biking and the gym all work too, but nothing is as easy as opening the door and stepping out.

When Ed and I purchased Thistle, the TV had been removed by the former owners.  We considered that an improvement and have not once thought about replacing it.

Just know, though, there is no high horse for us.    We are plugged in!  Computers have corrupted us!  We travel with an assemblage of iPads, iPods, iPhones, and laptops. We have speakers, earphones, disks, cameras, and chargers.  The superstar topping off our technology is Thistle's wifi hotspot.   No way can we defend any TV snobbery, not with our array of techie gadgets.


"If you are mesmerized by televised stupidity,
and don't get to hear or read stories about your world,
you can be fooled into thinking that the world isn't miraculous--and it is."

~ Anne Lamott