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Archive for December, 2013

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Welcome to the Chevy Suburban of the Blogosphere.  

It’s large.

It’s lumbaring.

Just when you think you know where it is going, it changes lanes abruptly and cuts you from where you thought you were headed.

But, it carries a load, sometimes a heavy one.   It may not be the most efficient carrier of words and thoughts, but when one can only work with the limited vehicles available, it gets the job done.

Only, sometimes things are not always tied off neatly.   Allow me to digress.

One of my earliest “television violence” memories is from an old, short lived” 1970’s era ABC series called “The Rookies”.   My parents had just begun allowing us to stay up for the 7 PM prime time slot, and this was one of our viewing choices.

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In the episode so visually burned in my mind, a “bad guy” had one of our rookies and several other innocent bystanders caught in a bank vault, the result of a robbery attempt gone bad.   As the criminal vainly attempted to keep his hostages under his thumb, he asked that they tie their shoelaces together.   “Square knots, please” was his request.    I had never heard of a square knot, and asked my dad what it was and why it was important.   As the episode played out, the bad guy died, violently.    I can close my eyes today and still see him falling to the floor of the vault in slow motion, the victim of a gun shot from one of “the good guys”, who not coincidentally happened to be one of “The Rookies”.

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Fast forward a few years.   I was at a science camp with some fellow students, and we were taught how to tie a square knot.   I finally leaned how to tie them, sort of.   I also learned why it was important to know.   There is no slippage with a square knot.   Things are tied up neatly.

But, even today, a square knot is not the easiest thing to tie when you are under stress or in a hurry.   I usually use it when I am camping or putting things on the roof rack of the car.   Even today, years later, tying a square knot takes effort.   It takes focus.   Sometimes, it takes untying the knot and doing it over again.

Writing is like that.   For professionals, only square knots will do.   For those, driving something less obtrusive than a Suburban is in order.   A vehicle that efficiently conveys thoughts via words and phrases from point A to point B is always desirable, even if it is not always available.

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The bad guys are out there.   And the bad guys always lose, in the end.   And, you may not be able to find John Wayne, or Marshall Matt Dillon to get the job done.   You may need Dirty Harry.    Even better, you may need Paul Blart.

Sometimes you just need to get it done.   You need to get the words out there, liberated from the bank vault of your psyche.   And a Mall Cop has just what it takes to get everyone out safely.

Even if he can’t tie a square knot.  🙂

 

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“There are two sorts of traveler.  The first sets off in the general direction of the destination and is quite happy to figure things out on the way, to read the signposts, ask directions, and muddle through.   The second wants to know in advance what the road will be like, where it changes from a country road to a busy multilane highway, how long it will take to complete the different sections, and so on.”  N.T. Wright – Simply Christian

All roads lead to Portland, or so it seems.   Likewise, all roads must lead from Portland, for you can’t get much farther from here when you are there.   I hope that makes some sense, or at least will when I’m done.

Portland was established in the mid 1800’s near the end of the Oregon Trail.   It was named, by definition I assume, as “the land of ports”, a place where rivers come together, and where ships (and people) come and go, delivering their cargos, their freight, and their baggage.   They might ultimately leave Portland feeling lighter, or perhaps they take more with them as they go.

I had long heard of Portland but never visited there until about 15 years ago.   Then, for the better part of 10 years, it almost felt like a second home.   After that, it was time to leave.   More on that later.

This Christmas holiday, I’ve been blessed to have time to do more than just a little bit of reading.   Courtesy of an Amazon gift card, my interests and inquiries led me to two books: “Wild”, and “Packing Light”.   Neither was quite what I expected, both in what was similar about the books and the authors, and in what was different.

Each book is a story about a young lady 26 years of age searching for something more in life, and choosing to take a daring journey to help them find it.   The first was from Minnesota, and ended up in Portland.   The second was from Portland, but ended up in Minnesota.   Ironic?   I think not.   Each tells a story about our journeys, what we take with us, what we leave behind, and what we pick up along the way.   Each talks of friendship, and the role others play in our lives.   Each tells a story of faith, the lack thereof, or where we place it.

Back to Portland for a moment.   Portland (and the surrounding areas) is the home of many good friends, and of Powell’s books, Columbia Sportswear, and organic food.   Each of those people, places, or things has been a big part of my life, my thoughts, my hobbies, and resulting actions and attitudes these past few years.    And, Cascade College.   Portland is the forever home of the former Cascade College, and I have a baton, and a large framed picture of Mount Hood at sunset to prove it.   Each tells a story about our journeys, what we take with us, what we leave behind, and what we pick up along the way.   Each talks of friendship, and the role others play in our lives.   Each tells a story of faith, the lack thereof, or where we place it.

Wild – From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail is the story of Cheryl Strayed,  a young lady who lost her mother, made mistakes amidst her grief, and set out to find herself.   She had no experience as a long distance hiker, and the trail was little more than “…an idea, vague and outlandish and full of promise”.   The book was a real page turner, a fact that was emphasized all the more by my accidental choice of the large-print-edition when I ordered my copy.   And yet, when I finished this read, there were but a mere one or two “dog eared” pages, a symbol marking when I was particularly moved by words and phrases I wanted to remember or repeat.    This book has its shocking moments, and is not for everyone, so caveat emptor.  What I came away feeling was joy for Cheryl at her completed journey, and the life she has made in the twenty years since.   I came away with an appreciation for the Pacific Crest Trail, and as a Christian man named Albert, her pack-lightening trail mentor said about his time on the PCT “…now there’s something I’d like to do before I go to meet the Lord”.   OK, for me, it may mean a slightly smaller pack.   And, I may not take the full 1,500+ mile excursion that the book describes, but I  also don’t plan to set out alone, as did Cheryl.   I look forward to hopefully being on the trail with a friend or two, and to walking the miles together with my God.

Packing Light – thoughts on living life with less baggage is the story of Allison Vesterfelt, a young lady who had a neatly orchestrated life, but knew she was missing something.    She had no experience as a long distance traveler, but chose to leave almost everything behind to see the country and find what she was missing.   She left almost everything behind, except a big suitcase, a back seat full of “treasured belongings”, a good friend to accompany her on the journey, and her faith in God.   At the end of this read, I found just the opposite of my “Wild” experience completed just a day or two prior.  I have “dog eared” no less than 30 thoughts and quotes from Ally’s book.   Suffice to say, I’m not packing light when it comes to what I want to take away from this read in the form of thoughts, quotes, and remembrances.    And yet, I’m no more impacted than by what Cheryl had to say about things that cross our path.

Each tells a story about our journeys, what we take with us, what we leave behind, and what we pick up along the way.   Each talks of friendship, and the role others play in our lives.   Each tells a story of faith, the lack thereof, or where we place it.

Back to Portland for a moment.   “The land of ports” is a symbolic place for each of us.   We drop our heavy loads.   We take a rest.   We enjoy the beauty of the creation around us.   We celebrate our achievements, and grieve our losses.   We re-stock our packs.   We cull our baggage.   And, ultimately, we pick up our next load, our next set of objectives, our next destination, and we start the journey anew.

As I set out with my friends and my beloved Little Frau toward 2014, many things dot the horizon.   A wedding (lightening one pack, and adding weight to another), new objectives for my company and career (shedding excess weight where I can, and acquiring lighter, more nimble tools), and of course being prepared for the occasional rattlesnake or moose that appears on the path before me. (something Cheryl and I almost have in common).

I look forward to walking with my God each step along the path.

Who knows what lies before us?   I said ‘no’ to a wilderness  trek experience with a good friend almost 25 years ago, but stand eager and ready today with plans we are making to live that moment, now with a few of our almost grown children (the more adventurous, not-yet-married ones).   I’ve even got the overloaded (but ever shrinking) pack to prove it.

…you can’t get much farther from here when you are there.   I hope that makes some sense, or at least will when I’m done.

2013-12-27 10.50.20

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…to make sure we get a good

still shot of the whole family…

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