Making Meaning

What is it you're living for?

You can't turn back the clock.
At some point you have to really look
yourself in the mirror and ask

"AM I SHOWING UP"?
 

Our passions do not come randomly.
They are sent to us as a guide to
move forward in a meaningful way.
Life is short and it only gets shorter-
what is it you're living for?

I've been contemplating the existential question of

"WHAT IS MY PURPOSE"

since as long as I can remember.
The signs kept pointing in the same direction.
But I'd avoid it, push it off until tomorrow.
"I'll begin another day" 
"I'm too busy right now"
"I'm not ready"
"What will people think".

Dirt, Dust & Desert Air - A Week Spent in Southwest Utah

I touched down in Vegas.

A White Ford Utility Van swooped me up and off we went. Mike is the ramblin, gamblin gypsy soul I met back in Winter Park, Colorado. A Minnesota boy livin' on the road. Throughout the years we'd adventure into the woods whenever timing and convenience allowed. We've spent our moments climbing fire towers, wandering the Superior Hiking Trail and exploring Stillwater and other Minnesota finds. 

Winter was on the horizon,
so I thought why not make a trip to the desert before the cold set in?

Why not.


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He welcomed me into his home. A built out van fully dressed in character. Tibetan Prayer Flags entangled with Christmas lights hung above the plywood memory-foam bed. A straw hat on the dashboard. Rocks & crystals in every cup holder. Plastic totes filled with kitchen supplies and laundry baskets full of rock climbing ropes and carabiners. A mini book shelf stocked with an Edward Abbey Quote Journal, Thoreau's Walden and a few of Kerouac's favorites. The floor was covered with a dusty striped rug and a gallon bucket lined with grocery bags hung on the door as a garbage bin. Red curtains broke up the space; driving in front, living in back. Shoes and hats dangled from the passenger seat.

Every inch was resourcefully endowed with simple living.

We spent our days crawling up, beside and on top of the rocks. From red, to orange and yellow, to whites, pinks and browns - the landscape was a rainbow of erosion. Years of change captivated in wide open spaces. Within one 30-mile stretch we saw the ecosystem change tenfold. I had the luxury of window watching. Arches and canyons contrasting the bright blue sky. Dirt & dust. Grass & shrubs. Pandorosa Pines, Douglas Fir & Aspen lined trails.

It's funny how you notice the familiarities of home no matter where you go.

Per usual, I denied any insistence of having a plan - stubborn & steadfast - we floated on with ease. Without much conversation we landed wherever the dirt road led. Backroads as our driveway, each day holding a new home-away-from-home. Once we arrived to the new abode we'd pile the brush up for a cozy campfire. Hobo dinners and BBQ sauce filled the air. Thanks to daylights savings the evening fell slightly after seven. Darkness became the coyotes cue to cry. Staring deep into the hot coals, as the guitar hummed chords I hadn't known.

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The desert is a different land. Hostile yet Holy. The air is thin and full of dust, though easy to breath. The space is silent, yet full of insight.

You sit down and you see nothing, you hear nothing, yet you find something. No cell phone or calendar or clock screaming at me to do this or that. A routine consistent with following the sun; up with her glow and out with her disappearance. Time - time to sit and stare. No agenda, no expectations, yet all was exceeded. These experiences are subtle reminders to live in the moment. To be present with the company that surrounds you, the environment that houses you, the heart that holds you. 

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The week boasted a plenitude of these very moments.

Much of life is surface level - until you decide to consciously dig a bit deeper, get your fingernails a bit dirtier, callous the palms and question the obvious.

These wide spaces left little room to hide and the camaraderie enabled the same welcoming openness. A humble acceptance to be as quirky with company as I am in solitude. Gratitude, true, wholesome, loving appreciation filled me up as I hiked my pack on my back. A hug and see you later before returning to the Las Vegas Airport. 

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You meet people in life and each one of them teaches you something. You can love them, hate them, admire them, miss them. They can excite you, inspire you, push you, challenge you, frustrate and irritate the living hell out of you - but they've stumbled in your life for a reason, even if only temporarily. Everyone and everything you see is merely a reflection, a mirror into the soul you call your own.  And by being true to the experience, being aware of your surroundings, being receptive to the symbolism you commence your own meaning. And the interpretation you create emanates through your thoughts, actions and ultimately defines your connection. Regardless of the flux of life, every experience comes and goes in it's own time, and within perfect time. 

You never know what you're going to remember, or who you'll see again, or how far distance will spread, but true friendship defies all boundaries. There are certain people that resurface and their appearance changes with the circumstances. Life is busy and she just keeps moving, and at times the bustle creates a facade of emptiness. A grasping for something more, robust relationships become elusive and you feel on your own. As I touch back down in Minnesota I breathe a sigh of relief, like a whisper of wind. Relishing in the comfort of coincidence. We're never alone, connection is merely a state of mind.


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Connection

What connects us?


An invisible thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, and circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle. But it will never break.
— Ancient Chinese Proverb

There is something in the universe that brings people together. Call it coincidence, if you must... I call it fate. Each of us is teaching a million tiny lessons in every simple conversation, whether we are aware of it or not.

I have given a small piece of myself to each stranger in which I stumble toward.
I have shown my darkest hour to transient gypsy's. 
I have bonded with the simple folk, the godly intelligent and the silent wise.
I have been touched, influenced, conditioned and inspired
by the seemingly 'random' connections.

And as I count my blessing, I ask a favor-
Ponder this...

Why did we meet?
What do you remember?
What have you learned?
What can you teach?

The answers themselves are not much important. Rather my interest lies in your willingness to reply, your attentiveness to curiously explore the questions and your intention to reflect.

We've all got a message to share. Stay anonymous if you'd like, but consider responding by filling out the form below. Share whatever comes to mind; a personal story, your favorite quote, a memory or lasting impression. Remember- you never know who you're going to impact and you never know why. 

What's your name?
What's your name?

Days Like This

It's mornings like these
when you wonder why you ever slept in...
To miss the purple sky would have been a shame-
Greeted by the light of the fading full moon as the ice reflects the pastel sky.

Walking on water, filled with mystery and wonder.

Some days are like this-
So calm. So peaceful. So clear.

Everything you do and think makes sense-
Every thought, ever feeling, every idea..
Crystal-
like the flakes glistening with the dawn light.

It's days like this,

The ones without hurry and haste,

That remind you of what's important.

Sometimes you don't seek an answer,

You needn't ask why,

The words of your story don't have to rhyme.

Sometimes all you long for is a deep breathe and some crisp air.
A bone chilling gust of wind to bring you back to the simple moment.
The pieces of the puzzle start to look like they fit,
And you remind yourself, you're meant to experience days like this.

It doesn't always happen,
But lately the little things have been making their way into sight.
I mean the real little things...
I've always been in awe of the sunrises, but it's the tiny details of the sparkling ice flakes that catch my eye-
The backroads that I never sought out that continue to inspire.
The life I dreamt of, unfolding gracefully, day-by-day.

Beauty,
it's all around us.

 

It hasn't always been this way, this optimistic state of mind-
Most of the time I'm racing through life with momentum fueling my motivation,
Going through the motions as if it were my day job...
So entirely caught up in what's next that I leave behind what already is.

It's the simple moments that bring about the brightest insight.

Confusion and worry fall away as I realize

the only goal is to not have a goal-

To not have a plan,

An expectation,

A destination.

The real struggle in life is to be present.
And once you find it, you find it surrounds you.
Everything you could have ever imagined is in this second, to experience every one of your senses....
To feel.
to hear.
to see. 
to touch. 
to taste the freshness of this life.
To BE, wholly as you are-
That is what living is all about.

There are going to be cracks, pivots, struggles and lessons-
Yet what is life with out a bit of balance.
It won't always make sense, but once and a while is enough.
Enjoy what you've got before it's all gone and remember life is what you make it.
Make it meaningful, make it joyful, and fill it with gratitude.

Before you know it, it'll all be over-
So take what you need and give what you can.
Every day is filled with pure beauty, all we've got to do is open our eyes and enjoy the ride.

The Ghost of You

I went to the bench to sit by your stone,
Today, like many, I felt alone.

Two days - etched - your forever thrown.
One the beginning - the next unknown.

That little dash that sits between
holds the memories and the dreams.

Who were you, what's your name?
Were you free - or - full of shame?

I went to the bench to sit by your stone-
Is there more than a box filled with brittle bones?

The ghost of you - strange to me,
Speaks in silence;
The wind. The trees.

'Your soul is what is left behind,
It knows no difference between an hours time.'

A life worth living is all you can share -
Yet, how few of us truly dare?

I went to the bench to sit by your stone.
A pile of dirt or an infinite soul?

That little dash pulled me in.
The days that pass,
The minutes won't last.

Who were you, what's your name?
Were you free or full of shame?

Did you live well, did you sin?
Was it worth it in the end?

The Dock

Let’s run away, she said.
Take my hand,
We’ll go to the dock – find new land.
As fast, as fast, as fast as we can.

Hop on, set sale.
Hold on, don’t bail.
Let go of it all,
Roll with the wake.
Watching as the rest of the world begins to shake.

The river of hopes,
The river of dreams,
Come with me, come with me, come with me
She screams.

The only limitations you will face
Are the memories that bring you back to this place.
Let them go with the wind that blows on your brow.

Goodbye, fair well, I’ll see you soon–
Fate is knocking and I mustn’t be rude.

The way to win the race
Is to forget about the chase.

Do it for love
Forget about glory.
What is your purpose, what is your story?

Jump on board, it’s all you can afford.
Stay – miserably comfortable on barren land,
Or- delve deep into the mystery, believe you can.

Let’s run away, she said.
Take my hand,
Leave the dock – lets find new land.

Are You Living Your Dream?

We all have to be aware of our personal calling. Why are we here, what is our purpose, what makes us unique and what is it we are supposed to share? When you figure it out, you are filled with enthusiasm and passion; your questions fall short and the answers surface. But the older I get the less I see people living out their dreams. This constant feeling of imprisonment, trapped in the life they lead, thinking this is the way it's 'supposed' to be.


What happened to our curiosity,
the imagination that shined bright in our youth?

I talk a lot about conditioning but haven't taken the time to explain exactly what that means, so for better understanding, I will elaborate. The dictionary describes a condition as something that has a 'significant influence', it can be looked at as a determinant, a factor that decisively affects the nature or outcome of something. Conditioning is everything that has influenced us throughout our lives. It is a behavioral process whereby a response becomes more frequent or more predictable in a given environment as a result of reinforcement. Conditioning can also be looked at as the stories we were 'told to believe', without question. Conditioning is second thought, it is taking someone else's idea and making it your own; no analyzing or questioning, rather pure blind acceptance.

Whether we like to believe it our not, we (humans) are a bunch of animals. We are no different than Pavlov's Dog or the deer that come to lick the salt stick. We are conditioned by the environment we have been raised in. Our eating habits have been passed down from our parents, our personalities are transformed by the experiences we encounter and our desires are shaped by the society we are brought up in. Every advertisement you see, every TV show you watch, every song you listen to, all the love you make is subtly changing the way you think. The people you surround yourself with and the thoughts they provoke are undoubtedly affecting who you are.

What conditions you?

Most people are completely unaware of this natural process, lost in the idea that things are just the way they are because that's the way it is. It's when you start becoming aware of the process you realize you have control over the outcome. An old English Proverb says a man is known by the company he keeps. We are the average of the five people we spend most our time with. We are nothing more, and nothing less, than the environment in which we live; our life is a compilation of all we have been exposed to. Knowing this allows us to gain control and understanding of any situation; realizing that if we want something better, then we better do something about it. We better continually push ourselves to be involved with people who want the same things in life, surrounding ourselves with experiences that inspire and motivate us to grow and pursue our dreams.

"What do you want to be when you grow up?"

As a child we are asked 'what do you want to be when you grow up?' And for a while we are told that we should follow that dream, that anything is possible as long as you put your mind to it... but somewhere in the race to grow up we lose comfort in this idea. From childhood onward we become conditioned to believe that our dreams are impossible, they simply become a means to pass time in empty thought. As the years pass the layers of fear, guilt, and doubt accumulate burying our dreams in a mound of impossibility. We are conditioned to believe our only security can come from money, so much so that we put off our Dreams to 'make a living'.

I'm not saying everyone is lost in their 9 to 5 but many of us are just trying to get by. If you have found and followed your dream and live happily, I congratulate you. For those of you who have questioned yourself throughout this entire essay, I challenge you. I challenge you to dig deeper, notice your conditions, and consciously decide if the life you are living is the life you chose to live. Or is it rather the accumulation of societal expectation? Graduate high school, head to college, get a job, get married, make babies and once you've done all that maybe, if you make it there, you will retire. By that point you will be so exhausted by constantly trying to live up to what other people expect that your old, fragile soul will bask in sorrow. You will look back and say "I wish I would have".

I know I'm young, and I know I don't have attachments or a family or a house or anything else to 'hold me back'... but I also know that those are excuses stemming from fear. Fear of failure and fear of change. You only have one life and you might not make it to the end of today, so what are you waiting for? What is holding you back? What is your Dream, your Calling? If it were all over tomorrow, would you die with regrets? It is never too late to go after what you've always wanted.

Look yourself in the mirror and be true with what you see.. Are you where you want to be? Are you living your Dreams? Do you wake up excited for a new day or are you trapped in monotony? If you decide life is falling short, what is it you will do to change that? Our society has conditioned us to believe we are victims to all that happens to us, mere cogs in this empty machine... But how far from reality do we have to stray to see things how they really are. Find your inner child and ask him or her what is it that makes you truly happy. What fuels your fire, what makes you grow?

All we believe we will eventually see. What we think we will become. 

Create the life you want to live and live the dream you have created. Once you decide to go after what you love, the Universe conspires to help you achieve what you are meant to be. Know that when you are doing what you love, you are inspiring others to do the same. Even though we are one in seven billion, one is still one. One person can make a ginormous difference. Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Buddha, and Jesus were individually one being. With their trust and courage they influenced millions and will continue to do so as long as humans roam. The life you lead will always and forever influence others, so do what it is that you love and do it with passion and compassion. The happier we are as individuals, the happier the world will become.

To persue ones dream is
ones only real obligation.

Let the night time thoughts come to life. Be creative and courageous. Let go of the fear and the doubt. Choose consciousness over conditioning. Forget about what is 'expected' of you and realize that you only get one chance to this life. Your body, mind, and soul is unique and made of magic. We have purpose, that is not a question... If you can dream it, you can do it. The only gap between a sheep and greatness is action.