IMJ 26 May 2008
Did you ever wonder what it felt like to just have fun and feel free? Did you ever have one of those magic days when you owned the entire universe, and not one thing could possibly go wrong? I know a couple who live that way every day. Having fun and being free.
I did not know, waking with the birds that high mountain morning, that this day would be a remarkable day.
It started normal enough: find a tree to pee, start a small fire, put high stream water on to boil for 9 minutes, brush my teeth with water boiled last night, and scrub the sleep off my face. Oatmeal in water. Water in cocoa. Socks, boots. Stuff the sleeping bag; roll the pad and tarp, secure stuff to the pack. A nice rock seat where I could watch the trout in the clear lake, while I had breakfast and the sun moved high enough to clear the ridge of gray rocks and trees to the east.
Clean up, grab stick and lean it against a tree, so I could sling on my pack and not need to scrabble in the duff for my stick. Hat. Sunglasses. Off I go.
Ahead of me was a great trail. Easy hiking and pretty scenery. This was my favorite time of day. My most probable encounters this high and far back would be a moose, and elk, or, I hoped, a few owls. My owl list was not gaining any ground, and I wanted to check off more owls from my list.
Just as the trail got steep, there was a spring off to the west, so I slung off my pack and took a noon break, sipping cold spring water – snow melt filtered through mountain: long my most very favorite elixir – and munching on a homemade cookie. I found an old, silver, windfall log, and stretched out on its warm roundness for a short snooze. Just as I was falling asleep, a small sound whispered past my left ear. Fffffssssssshhhhh. Again. I very slowly opened my left eye, to see a small mouse carefully sniffing my hiking stick to gauge its salt content. Content that no small mouse could do much damage, I drifted off.
No mouse gnawings on the hiking stick. Now an hour later, and with the sun visibly in a different place, I shrugged back into my pack and grabbed my hiking stick and began the climb. With luck, I would sleep in a Divide rock cairn this night.
A few hours later and a few thousand feet higher, a comfortable-looking log invited me to stop for a rest. As I walked toward the log, two russet-rich furry snakes slithered around the log and into the brush beyond. I could see them, watching me, still as silence. How could I move with these two being so very still, thereby lowering the reputation of humans in high places forever? I barely breathed. Pine martens are the otters of the deep forests.
A couple minutes later, both pine martens ventured back up on the inviting log, and perched there, having a look at me. I began to hum. They listened. I told them not to be afraid, and they told me they never were. The concept surprised them. I could see this was going to be one of the hike’s better conversations. I slowly shrugged off my backpack, and lowered myself on it, having no invitation to join the charming couple on the inviting log.
There, for the next half hour, we had an exquisite conversation, me mostly asking questions, and the pine martens, with me translating, answering them.
I learned that all of life is meant to be lived in joy. I learned that no life belongs to any other life. Each life belongs to itself. Yes, life eats life, they told me, with beautiful carnivore logic, and that is also a part of life. It renews itself. They told me that to live in happiness; each life must own itself and be self-responsible. And did I know how to catch mice? Well, then how did I propose to sustain my life if I was not skilled in catching mice? Was I a grass eater, like the rabbit?
That day, I learned about freedom. And I learned about sovereignty. Freedom from fear, freedom of self-ownership, and freedom to be happy. And the best that I learned about freedom was that it only works at an individual level. I learned about being sovereign in my mind, being sovereign in my ethics, being sovereign in my actions, and in my responsibility for myself. I learned about having fun and being free from two little sovereign entities who understood Agorism.
I learned that when I know I am sovereign, and I know I am free, then being self-responsible, self-governing and self-sustaining is almost more fun than playing with the pine martens.
I hate having clock changes: it interrupts and unhealthily shifts our wake/sleep patterns for a long time. It interferes with each individual’s natural harmony with the cycles of the Earth, Sun, and Moon. It shifts the sleeping hours of everyone from the baby, to the school child, to the mother, to the worker, to the venerated wise elders.
It is not healthy.
I think this is the last year anyone should put up with this nonsense. We are self-responsible people, and we can conduct ourselves to the same time on the clock though the shifting of the seasons of light and darkness. We were doing that successfully for a long time before that malware of society called government invented stupid laws about clock-changing.
I’m not doing it anymore. I understand time zones, but is there any logical, reasonable, rational incentive for anyone to shift their clocks twice a year?
There is no logical, rational reason for daylight savings time. Stop it. It does not make any sense.
iloilo 14 march 2011
30 December, 2010
I am still laughing with happiness that this letter is available to read. Heres a bit of it:
“We are appalled that any citizen who is not under arrest, has made no threats, nor raised any suspicion of terrorism or other malice should be made to submit to either of these “options” in order to move about within his or her own national borders.
Federal airport security guards are often unskilled, entry-level responders to help-wanted ads affixed to pizza boxes. … No, the good citizens of a free society must resist such authoritarian overtures at least as much as any foreign threat.
I offer my condolences if your flight should be delayed or canceled because the TSA won’t let us in the door. But I suggest that your freedom is more important. At any rate, ours certainly is.
I walked out into the woods this early morning, and watched the sun come up. Tall trees shadowed the sun and left me in cool shade for a long time. While I stood there, leaning against a tree, I watched a doe and her fawn thread their way between bushes and trees, making for the pond and a morning drink. The delicacy of their hoof placement gave them the air of two dancers following a well-memorized movement of limbs and heads. Then they reached the pond, and lowered their heads down to the water.
It was a quiet time. No other humans seemed to be anywhere about, which is normal for my little forest. Because so many creatures live here, I knew I would soon see rabbits and chipmunks, too. Birds would be foraging, and giving final lessons in foraging to their young ones. The parents often leave for south a week or two ahead of their nestlings. The lessons in foraging, you see, are very important.
As the sun rose, so did the life of the forest, with flickers, pine siskins, chickadees and bluebirds all beginning their morning discussions.
I stood very still as two young rabbits hopped past me and toward some succulent sprouts of grass, green from the recent rain. Then, moving slowly, I started back for the house, thankful to live in a place where the elk still call, the fox still hides in the tall grasses, and the bluebirds forage on the lawn for grass seeds and grasshoppers.
There is no government in the forest here, and there is peace. I have come to think that these two concepts are antithetical. I am happy I live in this forest.
3 September, 2010
Many years ago, when asked my definition of Life, I answered by saying,
“Life is awareness making love with existence.”
Nothing has happened to change my mind, except that I could now add that since life is often measured in time by humans, then it is the awareness of the acquisition of new data that allows humans to experience time. I can be awareness unbounded by time when I decide to stop counting data and dive into the ever-present awareness of Existence, and travel as one with the river, rather than as some bit of land floating between its banks.
Because it is whenever I dare to risk it all—to let go of it all for a grand adventure, to leave the shallows, and to flow into the ocean with the tide—that the most beautiful miracles occur. Adventures begin when I let go of what I know, lift the sail of curiosity, and sail off the map of the “known.” Fortunately, there are other grand adventurers and we often travel together, in pairs or in small tribes.
I think back to the times I have stood on mountain tops and have left this body to fly over the tops of nearby peaks, or have fallen asleep in high mountain cairns—those small sanctuaries of stone against the high winds—and have felt Me leave this body and fall headlong into the stars. Within my mind is this flying thing, and it can take me to other places on wings of thought. My eyes pull me into the stars, while the starlight spins sleep in my body. I am cradled in starlight when I sleep in high places.
I have slept in small boats, rocked by soft waves, alone on a world of water. But the stars are there to guide me, and I am at home with the stars. Leaving the world of safe behind, one can find flying fishes on algae-lit waters. Where some see danger I see only Existence.
My totem is the dragonfly. Dragonflies are superb under sudden pressure changes, abrupt turns at high speeds, and at maneuvering through obstacle courses. I didn’t pick this totem, but it seems to fit. I like that. Being able to make fast changes makes life more interesting, and brings a lot more data to synthesize as well. Enjoying Existence is about gathering data, and playing with the new knowledge.
Dragonflies and Forest Fairies live where I live. We share this bit of land. There are also mushrooms, cacti, bitterroot, and ladybugs here. We are all bits of life enjoying Existence.
Soon, the dragonflies will be starting their young in the pond. I started to write “my” pond, but it is the pond of us all; of me, the deer, the raccoons and skunks, the chipmunks and fox, the elk and jackrabbits, the cottontail and coyote. It is the pond of the water beetles, and of snails, of water lilies and cat tails, of swamp grasses and moss and mint. It is the pond of the dragonflies. Ours is a shared, cooperative ownership. We honor each other in our sharing.
And when I fall asleep on the high ground, with the only light the stars above me, I leave it behind—pond riverbanks and all—and fall into the stars.
Falling into the stars is immersing myself in the river of Existence, flowing with the tide of time. My awareness folds into Existence, and I know I am one with Life. I feel the wings of the Dragonfly, and the soft fur of the rabbit, and the grass growing beneath me. There is nothing better than messing around in all Existence.
28 April, 2010
Ours was a lonely choice. Most people paddle into the Boundary Waters of Upper Minnesota. We waded in.
Most people see the boundary waters from a canoe in the middle of a lake. We walked into the land, packs strapped to our backs, our minds filled with legends of early voyageurs portaging loads of beaver pelts and canoes across the paths between the lakes. We were one with history–their rightful descendants–as our packs leaned into our backs, making a small spot of shade to compensate for their weight. We carried our shelter, our equipment and our food for several days of July vacation. With confidence born of years of mountain wilderness trekking, we set out to see this land that was new to us.
The Boundary Waters bordering Canada and Minnesota have not been designed for foot travel. Dotted with lakes, swamps and marshes, this is a land for canoes and paddles. This is not a land for hiking boots and walking sticks. This is not, to the eye of the walker, a land plentifully dotted with lakes. It is a body of water with a sparse smatter of solid ground.