Hello for the last time.  I’d like to redirect you to the new site, which is now up and running.

Go to MountainLessons.com

No more content will be posted here.  I’ll see you in the mountains.

I’m pleased to announce that this blog, which has been known by a few names over the last few years, is evolving once more, and with finality.  I’ve written here for the last few years with varying objectives, but I have been working to resolve the purpose of my writing, and I have chosen a single direction in which to proceed.  I’m not sure why I began to write, but I suspect that it was to escape the rigors of my education and put pen to paper about what I loved, rather than about biology or chemistry or anthropology.  Over time, my focus has shifted onto various tacks with varying degrees of ego and self-absorption.  Despite what I want to be, the truth is that I am a sponge for praise and attention.  I want to be noticed, I want to stand out, I damn well think I’m better than you, probably wrongly.  But this isn’t a side of me that needs any more reinforcement or encouragement.  It’s not going to go away, but I hope to stop slathering it on my readers quite so much.  All three of them.

I’m going to make the redesignated purpose of this blog public, short, and well defined, so that you may understand what I am trying to do.  I will still be writing the blog– I can’t remove that kind of  ‘I’-ness from the process, but if I have written anything here that has been of value to others (self-reported), it has been the writing that contained little of me.  What you have responded to was my writing on travel in the mountains, and the lessons that I have learned about life and living.  This leads me to the purpose of the latest resurrection:

Mountain Lessons will not be about me.  I will be a character in this story, but I am just the eyes that see and the ears that hear.  Mountain Lessons will contain writing and photographs about what the mountains lead us to learn, and about a life moving through them.  They are the guide, the mirror, and the judge, and there is much to be learned from them because they can be nothing but perfectly, cruelly, and beautifully honest.

I hope you’ll come and follow along soon.  Sitting Stone will no longer be updated, though select posts will move with me to the new domain.  The link will be posted here as soon as the site is up and running.  Winter is nearly here, and the snow’s starting to fall–  I must be off, but I’ll see you soon.

A new post on Station 515 talks about making time.  Not finding it, but making it.

Why is it hard to find the time?  Why is it so scarce, and where is it going?

Recently I put the knife to all the information that I consume.  The blogs, the radio, the tweets, the videos.  What was it doing anyway?  By asking what of this media I actually used, what media actually benefited me in some way, it quickly became clear that the answer was ‘very little of it’.  The reason that I found myself reaching for the mouse or for the dial was rooted in habit.  Cut off the habit and what happens?

Interestingly, very little.

When I took the distractions away, only then was I able to realize how little I do in an average day.  Sure, these days I take care of the most important and pressing things before I even turn the computer on, but what happens during the rest of the day?  Just filling time really.

This, I expect, is why entertainment is even a spending class on most budgets.  If you don’t do much with yourself, then you have to fill the empty spaces in your day just to support the illusion that you’re not worthless.  If you spend your day consuming, and you produce nothing (your job doesn’t count unless you’d do it without the pay), you’re just a cog, part of the herd of sheeple.

Turn it off.  Sit there.  Face the truth.  Only then can you start to do the real work of making your life into what it can be.  If you can’t go without, isn’t that addiction?  I’m going to give it a shot because I don’t want to be mediocre.  Do you?

This morning, I’d like to paraphrase a story that I read that helped me to deal with all the chaos in my life, in which I’d gotten a bit caught up.  This isn’t such an enjoyable way to live.  It goes a little something like this:

The was a great samurai who went to visit a meditation master in a cave high on a mountain.  He approached the man on his cushion and said, “Tell me the nature of heaven and hell”.

The teacher looked up at him and said, “Why should I ever tell you, you dirty, miserable slob?”

The samurai grew red in the face and angrily insisted that the master deliver his teaching.  The master said, “Why would anyone ever teach anything to such an ugly brute as yourself?”

The samurai, caught up in great anger, drew his sword, and was about to strike the teacher’s head from his body when the teacher looked up at him and said,

“This is hell”.

The samurai, being actually quite sensitive and perceptive, immediately understood.  He fell to his knees and began to weep, pressing his palms together in thankfulness.

The master said, “This is Heaven”.

Hell is the state in which we are so absorbed with ourselves and our problems that we close up in our emotions and can do terrible things, because we see ourselves in opposition to our world and have to defend ourselves and our sense of self from its insults.

Heaven is the moment when something jars us, breaks our shell, and makes it possible for us to take a more expansive view.  This is because our perspective governs how we treat ourselves and others in every situation.  Gentleness, space, and wonder can coexist with our negative emotions if we don’t let ourselves fall blindly into our own stories.

I hope that this will be helpful to some of you.  Enjoy the weekend, and if you can, get outside for all of us who are in the PNW, where it will be raining all weekend.

p.s. this is a bit goofy, but illustrative nonetheless:

Northern Talkeetna Mountains, July 23, 2010.  Copied by hand into my notebook from course documents.

“I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees: all the times I have enjoyed
Greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those
That loved me and alone; on shore and when
Through scuddling drifts the rainy Hyades
Vexed the dim sea: I am become a name.”
(Tennyson – Ulysees)

“The passage of time can work for me or against me: I must not drop the ball, and I must keep my name, so painstakingly discovered.
Listen! I know that something similar will happen to you someday, for in our wide world there are many goings home. We must hold on to our dreamings, all of us, now that we have earned the right to dream.”
(Morgan Hite – After the Adventure)

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