Thursday, April 17, 2014

Laying Foundations...



I missed March... posting I mean.  And am well into April now!

Well, the only thing of note last month was landing a new job.  This summer I'll be the trails foreman at Crater Lake National Park.  It's a 2 pay grade jump, though still not a permanent position.

Realistically I'll probably make the same amount of money, maybe even less on account of missing out on Sunday differential, Holiday pay, Field Per Diem, overtime, fire hours etc...  but I'll be close to my land, and close-er to Portland. and having that grade 7 on the resume may in few years do a great deal to help make the leap into a better permanent position.  I could, at best, land a 5 now...

Anyway, I'm looking forward to something different and being out of the damned sagebrush to which I am brutally allergic for a change.

In the meantime, I'm just back and forth from here and my land to dabble in la cabaƱita project.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Magic from Limitation



This month my interest in avoiding the awkward and often ill-received communication that comes with trying to say or write ...anything... during a mercury-retrograde has come into conflict with my ongoing desire to post at least once a month.  But I'm sticking to the latter will, despite the risk.

It is also a difficult time of year as this is the time of year when I am yet to discover what it is that I will be doing in the way of work-for-money through the spring, summer and months of fall.  It adds a, smaller this year than in others but still palpable, layer of stress to everything.  This uncertainty is part of the cost I bear for the benefits of what has been a beautiful and interesting way of living.  A magical way of living.  Walking free among the mountains, wolves and bears and being paid for the privilege.

One must, it seems, accept certain limitations or costs in order to free one's time, mobility, energy, money, passion, etc to conjure that sort of beauty in one's life.  The more narrow the opening of the geyser, the more explosive and beautiful its eruption.  That is what is meant by catch phrases like "channeling one's energy" it means you must make choices to neglect, forgo or destroy other options, in order to direct energy into one or a few.  Barring physical obstructions and cruelties of fate the results for those committed to that endeavor are often indeed powerful, often surprisingly so to the point of what a reasonable non-positivist-materialist non-anti-spiritualist, nihilistic asshole, might call magic.  And on its flip side that phenomenon of channeling can explain why the vast number of choices today's liberal world presents often leaves people feeling confused and unmotivated.  The energy is diffused and thus can create no magic, no beauty.

That of course is in itself no condemnation of the liberal world, only of the failure of culture to keep up with it.  There is no widespread understanding of the virtue of choosing one's limitations.  Evolution creates options, but it is only within the presence of constraints that magic emerges from nature.  Man was created slow and weak of arm and ear and sight and all senses, and every other niche being taken by fitter creatures he grew explosively, magically into the niche of thinking, problem solving, tool and weapon making.  And the rest was history.  But without the presence of our constraints directing our growth into the niche of the mind it would never have happened.  We were born of chaos, a random series of things thrown to the proving grounds of a harsh Earth, and an unlikely but real coincidence of order, the limitations we happened to receive, channeled the path of our forebears toward the explosive magical result for which we sometimes find ourselves so unique as to feel obligated to create myths to explain that magic.  Things like God and Scientology and endless other piles of bullshit.

Whether by coincidence or collusion or deliberate creation, it matters not.  Our birth as a species set forth a very workable demonstration of how magic works. And we certainly have the ability to wield it within the bounds of hard reality.  The last seven years of my life are proof of it.

The danger of magic of course is that if it is not aligned with your true will then the results may not be to your liking.  For example someone channeling their energy to produce money when what their true will desired was actually security may in time find himself wealthy but in other ways less secure and having wasted enormous time and energy.  So it takes a hell of a lot of soul searching to know how to chose one's limitations, how to direct one's energy lest one risk cutting off more important options when the happiness doesn't manifest.

That's why I don't like this time of year.  It is a choke point for important decisions, decisions that must be based on choosing limitations that don't compromise the desire of my true will.  And the options do not all lie out before me at once for comparison.  They come in one at a time in the form of job offers that must be accepted or rejected bearing a thousand things in mind.  How will it affect my career?  The relationship with my woman?  Relationships with friends?  The goal of crafting a cabin?  The desire for hearth and home?  The desire for a sense of independence?  My health (I'm allergic to the environment I work in, but otherwise love now).  Time and position for recreation?  My desire to hunt this fall?  The lifetime commitment to the written word.  And the balance of time and money which interweaves all those things.  All these hang in the balance, and I must be prepared to make a decision that will affect them all dramatically on a moments notice.  And then there is the ever quest.  Are these things even representative of my true will?

So as I bore into my heart to answer that question under the duress of a ticking clock that will soon chime the start of at least another year and in all truth on the rest of my life, it is inevitable that some blood will spurt forth from that soul auger in the form of a restlessness that looks to the untrained eye as aggression.  Ground cannot be lost now.  The self cannot be abdicated, because true will must guide my channeling at this critical juncture.  ARG!

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

A Wish



Typically I am posting more heavily this time of year.  For a variety of reasons this time I am not.

The snow melted off the mountain, so snow camping ended up not happening (yet!).  In the downtime I've been studying up on my primitive / natural materials building skills.  Getting a tiny little cabin with a wood-stove, a bed and a reading table built has moved substantially up my priorities list.

It's not from any sense of impending doom, or illusion about homesteading that I want to do this.  I simply want to feel like I've accomplished something, that I've gained a modicum of mastery in anything.  The written word will be, it seems, a lifelong endeavor and, I have resolved, one that is yet perhaps a decade or so in coming before I can truly produce humbly insightful and eloquent works of word worthy of sharing.  My commitment to that end is unwavering, I have but altered my expectations to cut stress out of the equation.

Stress, more than anything, stands in opposition to creativity.  It trammels the mind and shackles the soul.  And within its captivity there can be no playful freedom; the Great Mystery and its fruits cannot be touched.

My life is that of a half-willing nomad.  The Fates refuse to allow one place to be my home.  But perhaps they will allow me a permanent camp as way-point and retreat.  That is my wish for the next year and a half.

Everything else is gravy.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Mike Tyson and Nietzsche



Why lie?  Right now I'm mostly playing video games and spending a lot of time getting ready for winter camping expeditions.

It's self actualizing.  I'm writing a little here and there, but not trying to force it.  It can be emotionally draining to write, when you do it well.  And I'm waiting for a few things to settle out before I'm willing to go full bore into it again.  I don't feel the impending doom urgency about it like I did last time.  Which is good because last time my life burst open like an alien egg-sack on the exact day I feared it would.  And no one writes well with a deadline.

That intuition has always been amazing, in one way or another; it's just been my analysis that sucks.

Today I ran across an article mentioning what Mike Tyson has been reading lately.  Very interesting.  Mike's going for hipster cred.  Or maybe he's experiencing some (premature?) enlightenment.  Who knows.  But Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Virginia Woolf, Napoleon's letters to Josephine.  Anyway I dig it.  And I'm thinking today that maybe old Jocks are the guys one ought to listen to.  They tend to have the most humility about their ideas.  People who have been nerds, or at least told that they were smart their whole lives tend to have an inappropriate certainty, an arrogant fundamentalism to their ideas.  I know, I've been one.  But old Jocks? These guys haven't been damaged like that.  And when they decide to seek a deeper meaning in their lives at an advanced age, they're not going to be doing it to impress women or intimidate men.

Sit by a fire and talk about life with an old cowboy who's "been good for nothin'" but driving cattle, throwing hay, and mending fences his whole life, and you'll find a sort of humble sincere and insightful metaphysics that may be tainted by obvious things but exudes a sense of peace that seems right when no idea itself ever really can be.

They've learned to let the Tao flow through them and they've learned to float its lazy river.  Maybe Ear-munchin' Thug-ass Mike Tyson has learned that too.  And maybe, if he's got enough unpummeled gray matter left to put together a few complete sentences, maybe we ought to listen to him.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Gear Update: Osprey Stratos 34

In April I bought a new daypack.  Today I returned it to REI.  So a little update is in order.

Here's what I said about it in April:

I bought a new daypack this year too which I'm very excited about.  The model is an Osprey Stratos 34.  Osprey makes the best backpacks, period.  They think EVERYTHING out.  The only question is if the model you're looking at had what you intend to do with it in mind.  I'm not 100% sure this one does, but Osprey guarantees everything 100% no questions asked forever, and so does REI where I bought it with my annual membership coupon.  This thing is replacing my smaller, less comfortable, overbuilt, less intelligently designed Maxpedition "pygmy falcon" pack, which was tough and had nice water bottle pockets, but... well that's about it.  The Osprey, while more delicate, has a taught suspended mesh backpanel which keeps you much, much cooler and drier when hauling ass up a hill in the Sierra sun.  And it has a good waist belt to put the weight on my hips where it's not going to F-up my back... that and a whole bunch off other things that Osprey does right.

Unfortunately it didn't pan out as well as I'd thought.  The primary problem was that the wire frame dug into my hips / lovehandles (I'm 5'10" 155lbs so it's not really a fatness issue)...  No amount of adjusting would really fix that.  The design was curved too much I think.  Sure my back didn't get too sweaty, but it put the weight too far back and too low in the pack so it ended up torquing the load (read frame wires) into my hips, to the point I'd often come home from big mile hikes bleeding.  It's probably fine for people running lighter loads, but I carry tools and survival supplies for work and so anything over about 12lbs started to suck.

It was also a bit difficult to load and organize.  The outside pocket intruded onto the interior space as you loaded it rather than expanding outward, the top wallet and keys pocket was always in the way when accessing the main compartment and the heavily curved space of the main pocket which was further intruded upon by the outside pocket made it a royal pain in the ass to find anything.  Plus it just didn't open very wide.

The buckles on the iceaxe holder were also flimsy... way not strong enough to hold larger tools, ie. axe, pick-mattock etc. Nor was it adjustable.

Also the pack cover it came with was bright fricking red.  I bought the neutral "slate" color for a reason.  Though I suppose that cover would be useful in an emergency for signaling or marking an LZ.  Maybe Osprey ought to look into two-sided different color rain covers.  Black on the outside, bright red or yellow on the inside for signaling.

I like Osprey, I have and love 2 other packs from them, but this one's a stinker (for me).

So I've stacked up black friday sales and coupon codes and ordered a Mountain Hardwear "Splitter 38".  It's a cragging pack so it focuses on organization. My back's going to be sweaty, but at least I can organize the living shit out of the load.  It's also a bit bigger.  That Osprey probably would have been big enough but the space was just not that usable.  I seriously considered the Gregory Z30 as it solves a lot of my needs and doesn't have the "brain" that I don't want, and still has a suspended mesh, but it's a hair small, and I didn't like some things about the organization system in there.  Most people carry clothes, food, water and a first aid kit.  I have tons of other stuff and I'm in and out of my pack a lot so I guess I'm going to pass on the suspended mesh for now.  Shame, because I love it in my Osprey Exos 46 ultralight (but fragile) backpacking pack.  Anyway I'll try to give an update on the new one after I get some field time with it.

Right now I'm getting really antsy to do some winter camping and get my system for snow dialed.  But it's been pretty slushy up on hood still.  SOON!!!!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Yakov Petrovitch Durden or Why Zen Sucks



I haven't been following through on thoughts much lately.  Perhaps it is due to the tenuous housing situation I'm in at the moment...  effectively squatting in a house that is going through the foreclosure process.  And treading cautiously through an unfortunate refugee-roommates-turned-exploitative-assholes turned North Portland Cuban Refrigerator Crisis situation.  Never be kind.  95% of the time kindness is repaid with hatred and exploitation.  But whatever.

I'm not terribly unsettled by it.  I haven't written because I just wanted a break from thought.  So I haven't, thought.  But thoughts do pop up from time to time, typically when the caffeine courses strongest through my veins.  Today I had a quick flashback to a book I read long ago.  Dostoevsky's novella "The Double".

We are what we practice.  And while certain avenues of thought are exceedingly dangerous to quality of life, (haven't I argued for nihilism enough?) what are we if we are unthinking?  Or if you're a Cartesian, hehe, Are we if we are unthinking?  If only it were that easy!

So I'm letting this one roll.   Yakov Petrovitch Golyadkin, the sorry fuck.  He sat by and watched an image of himself, assertive, confident, aggressive, spry and dominant, ruin his life, steal from him his identity and career and whatever sorry relationships he had.  Mind you.  I read this 7 years ago, in Ecuador, in the jungle, distracted by women and wonder.  I remember little of it.  But this morning in the bathroom, wondering why we persist despite the logic of nihilist action, Mr Golyadkin popped into my mind.

And I thought of entertainment.  And I thought of Tyler Durden.

Mr. Golyadkin created his double.  He never admitted it, but he did, just as the narrator created Tyler Durden to remedy his pathetic life, and perhaps just as I took on the attitudes I did to break free of the existential horror of life in the low-pile carpeted hell of a Des Moines Iowa high-rise, to journey from jungle to mountain to Antarctic Wasteland.  And all three Doubles guided our narrators, our respective points of consciousness on a tour toward the bottom.

The rabbit hole goes deeper and deeper.  The deeper one falls the more intense the fear of striking the bottom, the more horrifically exhilarating...  But at a point it becomes numbing, you relax a bit starting to wonder if the greater and greater novelty and sadness, and pain and darkness actually is in fact accelerating you to an imminent SPLAT.

Golyadkin, of course was consumed by the fall, he got his Splat, the door to madness was opened to him, even if only in the form of a license to perpetual self-pity, our universal love.  But Durden's narrator achieved no such reprieve from the horror of his reality.  His mind-hack failed.

So I wonder if Golyadkin was the stronger of us.  Did he create the stronger guide and reach his freedom? Was "The Double" really a Utopian Fantasy?  Did Tyler Durden's narrator fail to write himself fully into a freer reality?  Did he simply have to settle for authenticity?

“Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.” - Thoreau said.  But I think he just capitulated.  He tried so hard in Walden to sell us on a route to happiness and freedom, but I think he was just trying to sell himself on that route.  And I think he was failing.  And I think he knew it.

“It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see.”

“Never look back unless you are planning to go that way.”

The former is acknowledgement of the benefits of delusion.  And the latter!  How would he gain the wisdom of the latter without experiencing it?  Thoreau failed.  He saw the virtues of delusion, but couldn't maintain it.  Anyone trying so hard to tell you how happy they are is a dirty fucking liar.  And so he took the consolation.  And so did Durden's narrator.  Failing madness the next best thing is Authenticity.  "Give me truth."  Perhaps he should have said more clearly, Give me truth; I do not have the resolve for madness.

Zen I think is a coping strategy for those who cannot go mad.

Be at peace with being wholly yourself.  What drab capitulation...  Grasping authenticity means your narrator's double merely becomes a perfect copy of your narrator.  And you just try not to react to the horror show through which he passes.

I have failed to imagine a bottom to this rabbit hole, and so the dreary horrors continue to whiz on by.

Imaginative failures before me who have found no sweet bottom and no floor from which to spring back have left behind a strategy that passes the time till death.  Uncaring.

But it is not easy, and it is not sweet.  How then, to try madness again?

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

About October


So the furlough ended.  And I went back to work for a few weeks.  Backpacking, and 4 wheeling and painting and wrenching and digging.  Soaking in remote hot springs and sitting by fine campfires.

And now it's over.

The leaves are dropping.  The rains have come and the snow is falling up high.

And I'm in a City.

I've turned on my computer for the first time in almost a year.  So much to delete.  What a cluttered mess my life had become.  And not just my files, I've hung on to a lot of things of little value and a great deal of hindrance to my mobility and efficiency.  I need a dumpster.  But there are things of worth in the mess.  So I suppose November is the month of the sieve.

Panning for gold in the river sand of my life.

Sort.  Purge.  Repair.  Clean.  Upgrade.  Plant.  Nourish.