Have a “Wanderful” New Year

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This curious little book caught my eye when searching for a book on spiritual practice in my local library.  It was called “TheWander Society by Keri Smith.  Flipping through this img_1738book like a combination of discovering a little cache of buried treasure and opening a door into a world of mystery and intrigue.

The author stumbled upon the existence of The Wander Society quite by accident as she was perusing a used bookstore in her town. She picked up a worn copy of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass from the shelves.  In it were hand notated references “WW will show you the way,” “Solvitur Ambulando,” “The Wander Society,” along with other underlinings and strange symbols in the margins.

This is a book about Keri’s subsequent research into the “Wander Society” – which actually exists, taking inspiration from the life of Walt Whitman.  Then there is information on how to be a wanderer and her handwritten written underneath the type in how her practice of wandering was changing her life. Anyone can be a member- however, but there are img_1736certain requirements…….

I’m not going to spoil the fun.  Go out and read the book.

I must say, this little volume sort of upended how I’ve been thinking about my life.  Of course, I’ve been in one of those places where I was on the verge of being upended, like the big earthquake we have been expecting in Oregon. This was a catalyst.  I have always been a doer.  That’s what our culture demands of us- achievement! productivity! Branding!  But maybe there is another way to look at things that is…..

much

more

sane

At the dawn of 2019, I am going to strive to be more of being than a doer,  a wanderer more than a seeker.

Wish me luck

Hope you will join me

Happy New Year to all of you.  Here is a poem from my favorite poet, Mary Oliver to close out the year…..

Continue reading “Have a “Wanderful” New Year”

Someday and the Power of Now

vintage-1135015_1920I was taking an evening beach walk last week when my two friends, a couple, each pulled out a pair of Zeiss binoculars to look at a bird.  “Wow,” I remarked, “Someday I am going to get myself a decent pair of binoculars” as I inspected one of the pairs.  Then I stopped and said to myself, “What the hell am I waiting for?”

About 30 years ago on a hike, I had difficulty identifying a bird that my companion easily did.  She said “take a look through these” and she handed me an expensive pair of Leica binoculars.  There was the bird with its colors and features crisp and crystal clear.  I was astounded at the difference between her glasses and my inexpensive pair at the same resolution.  “Someday,” I said to myself.

Those excuses…too expensive, too extravagant, too precious, not practical.  What bunk. I’m in my mid-sixties. Practicality can only work so long as an excuse. Really, sometimes it’s good to reexamine your longings, take them seriously, then take action.downy-woodpecker-68673_1280

I got home, did some research and ordered a fabulous pair of high-quality binoculars with all the features I could ever want.  They came yesterday.  I love them.  This morning in bed I watched a Downy Woodpecker at the feeder with my new binoculars. The colors and features of the bird were crisp and crystal clear.

Someday

The somedays roll past

Like tumbleweeds on a desert highway

Piling up on fences

The calendar pages turn

“Someday I will…”

I declare longingly to myself

Until I realize there are a limited amount of pages left to turn

I stop and grab a tumbleweed

Before it rolls by me

And declare that someday

Is indeed today

Now

Right now.

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Photo courtesy Jez Arnold

 

 

 

The Reluctant Traveler

On Saturday, June 3,  I will board a plane for three weeks in Ireland.  I feel both excitement and anxiety about this trip for I am a reluctant traveler.  You see I have this IMG_0749cozy little life in living in an old farmhouse in rural Oregon.  I don’t always feel that need to get away for I am “away.”  Mind you I will always jump at the chance to go camping, hiking or kayaking in the Pacific Northwest but heading across the ocean with a tourist guidebook in hand does not attract me.

Yet every few years I feel that pull to experience the unknown, go to a far off place and savor the sights and culture of someplace foreign.  The one caveat is that I need to travel with purpose, rather than being a tourist bouncing from attraction to attraction. I require a mission and an opportunity to learn about a new country from “the inside out” rather than just be a casual observer. When I was in my 20’s, my work in wildlife research & as a river guide required me to travel to the far reaches of bush Alaska.  Past adventures have also included numerous solo Spanish language immersions in Central America and Mexico with homestays with local families.  Once I traveled to Northern Guatemala alone, arriving Christmas night to a home in an impoverished town to participate in an environmental project there.  In 2013 I walked the Camino de Santiago from France through N Spain with a friend to mark my 60th birthday.  This type of travel is often uncomfortable but offers such opportunities for perspective & personal growth.

patharrisblackThis coming trip will not offer such extreme physical and emotional challenges as my previous journeys. I will make my way from Dublin by bus to the Ballinglen Art Center in the small village of Ballina to take a weeklong mono-printing workshop from artist Ron Prokrasso.  Three friends will join me at the workshop’s end.  We will spend 2 weeks traveling about NW Ireland in a rental car staying in several cottages we have reserved.

It will be a fabulous trip but I am already missing my “spousal equivalent” of 17 years, my two goofy dogs, the stray cat that comes to the porch every night to be fed, the hummingbirds that frequent the porch feeder, my studio & all the other ingredients that make up the life that I cherish.

IMG_0748But I will allow myself to be uprooted for a time to be pruned and enriched by the wonder & challenge that travel can present.  I hope to grow as an artist and bring back a host of fond memories as my souvenirs and a lot of new artwork.  Until then, I better get packing!clover-445255_1920