Posts Tagged ‘life’

Williwaw

I enjoy the little things in life. That morning commute where traffic is in my favor, the wind is at my back and humidity levels are low. Those times my cat stretches out and I pet her soft underside without getting bit. Those patches of forest whose sights and smells remind me of other times, in other locations. But the biggest “little thing” that I enjoy is natural disturbances. Those times when Mother Nature is really angry and she just doesn’t care who knows it.

One of my earliest memories is from an evening in the summer of ’92. I was just over 3 years of age, my sister just over 1 and crib bound. It was late in the evening and I woke to find an empty house apart from my sleeping sister. The sky outside was ominous, 7 shades of Armageddonon. Eau Claire, WI was on the brink of one of its classic summer storms. My parents had taken the opportunity of us sleeping children, as a chance for a pre-storm walk around the block.

While in my fragile impressionable state, I was undoubtedly terrified at the time. Yet, there seems to be no long-term psychological damage sustained. Amazingly. That could be attributed to the fact that this was a recurring habit of my parents. It wasn’t long before I was joining them on their ritual calm-before-the-storm walkabouts.

All of this came to me yesterday evening in the residual aftermath of Typhoon Chan-hom (a typhoon in China but just the fringes of a tropical storm here in Korea). After 28 hours of heavy winds and rain, I decided to break from my hermitage and head to the hills. The rains had stopped but the winds were making a formidable last-stand. Clad in nothing but shorts and a t-shirt, and armed only with my GoPro I made the 335m ascent to the summit of my favorite mountain – Goraksan (due mostly to proximity but also because of its ancient mountaintop stone fortresses).

The winds came in angry gusts, bending over small trees and exposing their panicky-mint colored undersides. I could not help but draw parallels to how T-Rex had similar affects as he (she?) moved through the forest in the original Jurassic Park. As I came into the clearing of a hillside earthen mortuary, I got an unobstructed view of the agitated summer sky. Like a portal into summers past, I was instantly reminded of that conceivable Armageddon in the summer of ’92.

In a seeming act of neglect, it appears that my parents unintentionally instilled within me an appreciation for the fearful acts of nature and the beauty that sometimes precedes or follows.

And for that I am deeply grateful. How many Wisconsin boys have stood upon a fuming- cloud shrouded mountaintop and watched the passing fury of a typhoon whip by in the form of swirling clouds, contradicted with defiant rock? When “the view” is unseen, I would argue that one can see their future, there in that void. Passing by. One hurried cloud after another.

Woe is me l Part II

Recently I had been considering what it is that defines our lives. In the country I currently reside, its status, wealth and everything material that denotes who you are. I cannot berate Korea though; it’s the country I come from that’s the epicenter for this mindset. What is the “American Dream” if not a whole-lotta stuff?

I would like to think that the U.S. is redefining its dreams though. This is at least true in many small grassroots movements. One such movement has had me captivated for quite a while now: tiny houses. A tiny house is defined as being less than 400 square feet (37 m2). Due to permitting issues, they are often built on trailers and thus mobile. You don’t have to think too hard to imagine the benefits (and pitfalls) of such a lifestyle. At its core tiny houses advocate living simply and intentionally. A.k.a. “goodbye stuff”.

Despite the “uncoolness” factor, I was heavily involved with Scouting for the majority of my childhood. A sash completely filled with “merit badges” is a physical reminder of the subject matter covered in my 10 years. It’s not the lashings, knots and tourniquet skills that have stuck with me so much as the “learned the hard way” lessons that I still remember. Such as; a canoe moves a lot faster with less gear inside of it. A lighter pack makes for less of a sore back after a weekend of backpacking. And there is always the ol’ tick check routine as well as vigilante eyes always peeled for poison ivy.

All those years of camping have theoretically groomed me for a tiny house lifestyle. Simple, intentional living sounds so refreshing and liberating!

So if it isn’t my stuff or lack thereof that defines who I am, what is it? Obviously it’s a complex question but I think I have a temporal answer. Post-graduation, travel has defined my life. The things I have seen, the people I have met, the soil that I have trod. Experiences.

The sad thing about experiences is that they are fleeting. They are just as temporary if not more-so that everything else that is this world. Our memories are what we were given to maintain these cursory events. But, with genes like mine, I know better than to hang my hat on the securities of the mind. Some 5,000 years ago, perhaps my ancestors had a similar idea and got around to inventing the written language. So now we all have our words, a sound way to hold onto memories no doubt but cumbersome and unwieldy. Early in the 20th Century an ongoing advancement in technology prompted a newspaper to write “”Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words.”

So there it is. The means for capturing experiences. Photography and more recently videography: “GoPro or go home” I like to say. I bought into both of these documenting technologies quite a while ago. Effective and concise. Yet…

I don’t know when or where the thought crossed my mind, **hereditary memory loss** but I know that it was while I was traveling. It occurred to me that while I travel for the experiences, the experience often becomes marred or completely missed by the desire, the NEED to document them. Yet, time and time again I am in full-on documentation mode.

I blame Facebook.

What a predicament that I am in. An existence filled with marred- once documented experiences now completely lost to the void that is the eidolic chasm of cyber-purgatory. While it’s deeply troubling in terms of immense time and finances lost, I cannot help but feel a bit lightened as I was a few months back when I lost that bulky wallet.

I cannot help but think that fate or something bigger is working to whittle me down like a Tiger Cubs pinewood derby car. I imagine if my Macbook Pro were to bite the dust, or my camera were to end up in the drink, that it would probably be the last straw. I would quietly slip off my shoes and head for the wilderness, one day to possibly return to civilization in a quaint tiny house on wheels. Me my cat, and her 13 stitches.