There is a rapture on the lonely shore;
There is society, where none intrudes.
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more...

-Lord Byron

Definition of Walkabout :

a short period of wandering as an occasional interruption of regular work
Showing posts with label death. Show all posts
Showing posts with label death. Show all posts

27 April 2017

leaving despair in Sycamore Canyon

4.18.17

I had just returned to work after a few days in Mexico City, and I was excited to tell my friends all about it. I was giving one friend some rosary beads she had asked for, when my best friend appeared at her desk, visibly shaken.

"My fifteen year old niece just died..."

A flood of emotions took me over, and I went right back to that fateful day of my own when I got the call about my own sister.
4.19.17

It's been forever since we've spoke, but I get a message from an old girlfriend about her support group for MS. She is so young to have to deal with this disease. I know all too well it's devastating effects on a person, and I find no words to console her. I tell her she sounds strong, but the words are hollow and empty.

She doesn't reply back.
4.22.17

I wake before the dawn and driving three hours up North. I'm not prepared in any way, no food and little water, but I don't care. I need to get out of my head and into the wild.

I find Sycamore Canyon, just outside of Williams, Arizona. There is an eleven mile loop that will work, and I start walking.

Four miles in and I get lost. I want to circle the canyon, thinking that is the most logical route for the loop, but I am mistaken.

Further and further I go, off trail and deep into the heart of the wilderness. I hear no other sound than my labored breathing.

but my mind is clear.....

I eventually turnaround and retrace my steps backwards. My water is gone, the new formed blisters on my feet are screaming in pain, and the sweat along my brow has crystallized into salt from dehydration.

I find this to be therapeutic to my well being.

4.26.17

In the way of the world today, I see on social media about a family friend that suddenly died. Only twenty two hours earlier she had posted a picture of her granddaughter at a gymnastics meet, and commented on how proud she was of her.....

I'll be having Counting Crows on repeat for a while, and taking in the advice from Anna begins...

02 April 2017

my U-Turn to Superior

A thousand times have I passed by the U-Turn sign that would take one to the town of Superior.

It was on trip one thousand and one that I grabbed the steering wheel and took a hard right into creepy.
The clock was showing just past five o' clock, but the empty street had signs that the workday had ended years ago.

The Arizona sun had beat down particularly hard here, as not even the scorpions were present on the dusty and crumbling buildings along Main Street.

I walked on down the road....
I see the past frozen in a busted neon Bus sign, the faded artwork on the side of a hotel, the carcass of a picked over coyote lying in the gutter.

Motorcycles are circled like wagon wheels in front of what appears to be the only working establishment, the local bar. You can hear Mexican music crackling from a distant radio, and the clinking of beer bottles coming from inside.

Dark strangers look up from their drinks at me with harsh eyes.

I turn my attention to the sound of a car coming down the street. Two men with long, dirty hair whipping around their sunburned faces give me a look that stops my heart, then they disappear into the desert.
Superior is a place for lost souls to live out their retched and disturbed existence. That feels a little to comfortable for my liking.

I'm not yet ready to admit myself to this dark and haunting world, and hightail it out of Superior.

My soul is not yet ready to be confined in a prison of snake oil.

08 December 2016

the return to Joshua Tree

Everything comes full circle if you have enough time and patience. I seem to have buckets of both. It had been ten years since I'd been to Joshua Tree National Park. I returned to walk the among the beautiful trees and to re-kindle a lost love, to feel the spirit of her that passed away a couple of months after our first trip here....
We talk about how I've gotten visibly older, I tell her she looks the same.

All the natural beauty here fails in comparison to the light she shines.
I sit in the same spot we did originally, high up on a boulder, and watch the sun set low into the sky before it disappears. I feel your warm breath on my neck as the stars twinkle in the night.
Your Angel Rays are here to stay, forever with me in this special place.

20 November 2016

the Life Aquatic with Seu Jorge

I think I was fifteen when I first saw the movie "The Breakfast Club". I had no idea who David Bowie was as the lyrics to "Changes" appeared in the opening movie credits. I just knew they were some of the most powerful words I'd ever read.

"And these children that you spit on
as they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They're quite aware of what they are going through."

As the years passed, Bowie's music took a stronger hold on me musically. When Wes Anderson's movie "The Life Aquatic" was released in 2004, the soundtrack sung by Brazilian musician Seu Jorge blew me away. Acoustic David Bowie sung in Portuguese?

Sadly, as I'm sure you know, David Bowie passed away earlier this year from cancer. Seu Jorge, in wanting to do a fitting tribute to this amazing artist, as well as to recognize the film that so many of us loved, decide to put together a tribute tour.
This dream all came together in beautiful harmony on a chilly Friday night in Denver.
Red beanies were seemingly everywhere. As Seu came onto the stage, he skillfully wove amazing stories about the film, the actors and director in between songs.
I was so captivated that I didn't want to break the magical spell by pulling out my phone to record, but then I realized I needed more than just my memory of this night.

Here are just some clips of the evening.
Yet I can't leave it at that. Here is his rendition of Space Oddity, probably one of my favorites songs of the evening.
and of course, the song that started it all. Changes.

24 June 2016

the cemetery of a ghost town

On the edge of the ghost town is a dirt trail that leads to a small hill. You can make out a dirty chain link fence through the overgrown weeds to the remains of headstones.

The grave markers of the ghosts of Bodie.
Small fenced in plots of the very old, the far too young, and every age in between. I run my fingers over the smooth marble and feel the presence of Death.

I find an old wooden cross half hidden in the sagebrush. I feel compelled to pick it up and walk among the graves with it raised before me, like a deranged preacher.
Yet I have no sermon, nor a congregation willing to listen.

07 February 2015

Midnight in the garden of good and evil

"Bonaventure Cemetery...1 mile."

A small sign so indiscreetly placed along a simple highway that I missed it the first time.

Not that I was looking for another cemetery to explore....until my brain kept telling me that this particular burial ground was from the book Midnight in the garden of Good and Evil.

So I entered, the wind lightly parting the Spanish Moss to reveal a dusty road leading to the Dead of Savannah.
The stone face of a haunted angel follows me as I step to and fro amongst the graves. She deals out peace to those of us with demons that are strong in a place such as this.
I hear the sounds of old jazz notes floating by, a piano's keys are being softly tapped. The music is a calming demeanor as I read the names and dates on the tombstones.

1619-1693
1701-1703
1835-1906

I find the numbers so finite, yet so mysterious. We go through this life only knowing one half of the final equation....
leaving Georgia on my mind until I'm blue at 2 a.m.


03 January 2015

Rene's playground (i.e. The Colonial Park cemetery....)

Grey clouds all day have hovered over the town of Savannah. Through the light mist falling and between the moss covered bone trees I see the cemetery before me. Started in the year 1750 and the final resting place for many of Savannah's earliest citizens, I step lightly onto the hallowed, haunted grounds of Colonial Park.
The cemetery holds hundreds of victims of the 1820 Yellow Fever epidemic. Many men that fell to Savannah's tragic dueling deaths between 1740 and 1877 lay here. Men that had a skewed sense of  "too much honor".

The presence of spirits encases me as I walk. Stories of Federal soldiers desecrating the graves during the Savannah occupation of the Civil War, an old maid from a nearby hotel following a young man to the cemetery before he just disappeared into the mist....
And  of course there is Rene Asche Rondolier, a disfigured orphan that lived in Colonial Park in the early 1800's.

Accused of murdering two girls whose bodies were found in the cemetery, Rene was dragged by the townspeople to the nearby swamps, lynched and left for dead. More dead bodies turned up in the cemetery in the days that followed.

The townspeople were convinced it was Rene's ghost, and thus the nickname for Colonial Park was born....

Rene's Playground.


13 August 2013

CO Poisoning

Out beyond the reach of email and text messages, the flood of incoming penetrates my phone once I have reception....

"He has carbon monoxide poisoning...in the hospital....being rushed to a hyperbaric chamber...don't know what happened...."

Messages such as this hurtle me back to when we lost another sibling a few years before. My knees buckle and I fall to the floor, thinking " this can't happen again. I'm not strong enough...."

I call and get more details. My brother got CO poisoning while running a gas powered washer in an unventilated room on the job site. He'll be OK, but they need to get the poisonous gas out of his system as his body is currently at 21% carbon monoxide.

Christ. Then I get this picture.....



















His look says it all, and I smile in the midst of a scary situation. I know he is thinking, " you've got to be freaking kidding me...."

At least he'll be able to tell the story for years to come.

19 July 2013

Uncle George

George Hilman Hunt
Born : June 15th, 1920
Died : July 11th 2013

I was a mere ten years old when George first came into my life, as we met at his new stepdaughter's wedding  (my cousin). He married into our crazy family, and fit like a final, perfect piece of a jigsaw puzzle.
His stories and sense of humor are what I loved most about him, like the hat in the picture above.....Priceless.
I'm not sure why it is that when people attend funerals, they remark " I never knew that about them...." yet I think part of it is that we all like to have some privacy, and the other part is that some people don't like to reminisce about the past.

I didn't know that George was in the Air Force, ready to battle Hitler in WW2, but the war ended before he had the opportunity. I remember him ALWAYS saluting whenever he saw the American flag, but didn't realize his deep and profound patriotism until his death.



I didn't know his first wife died from cancer in 1978, that he had five children from that marriage. What I did know was that his love for us was unconditional, and I admired him for his knowledge, good heart, and love for life.

I salute you Uncle George, God rest your patriotic soul.

11 July 2013

Boxer

I remember when you were a puppy, such high energy as you raced to and fro.
My brother and sister-in-law's first child...
Hard to believe how the years have passed so quickly, as life has changed while you continue to be our dog.
Two kids have grown up with you as their guardian, ever watchful protector....friend.
 Lately your limp has become more pronounced, a new growth on your side is cancer's ugly mark. Time has inevitably caught you, as it does with every living thing.
I ask when you will be put down, and Emily states, matter of fact, " When his dog food runs out."
I laugh, but that is the reality of it, no sugar coating.
I sometimes wish it could be that easy for us humans.
Love ya Boxer.

Soon your ashes will be here, and later so will mine. ( that story coming later.....)









*****

25 January 2013

Bohemian music

It's mid morning, one of the last days of 2012. I wander with eyes furtively glancing up, left then right and back and forth.
The architecture in Praha is mesmerizing.
This aimlessly walking takes me to my first European Christmas market.

The smells wafting out from the booths entices one closer.
 Breads, sweets, roasted meats.
Hot Wine calls out my name.

The streets become crowded as the day gets longer.
 I sip the warmth and move to Old Town Square.
 I find Bohemian musicians performing.

From the shoes to the sounds, Bohemia puts a temporary spell on me.
I feel happy.
It's ironic that I write this on the day you died. Hope you like it.

16 January 2013

walking the grounds of the Paradise Ghetto

The Nazi's called Terezin the "Paradise Ghetto" because this place was an experiment for the SS. Eventually Hitler wanted to turn this peaceful little town into a German city were people in his party could feel comfortable living outside Germany.

That is, once all the current inhabitants were exterminated. The German forces built a high fortress wall around the entire town, and used the local river to create a deep moat, with a high barbed wired fence on top of the wall.
what remains of the moat and fortress wall around Terezin today.

As I walked the town, I was chilled to the bone to see people still living where such horrible atrocities occurred. I couldn't imagine being constantly reminded of what happened, especially when many of the people that perished were direct ancestors of those living in Terezin today.
Terezin today ( Dec 2012)

We were shown where the SS lived, more of the dormitories where hundreds of Jewish families were forced to stay, all while walking past people on the street going about their business, children heading to the city park to play on this December day.  The strength and resiliency of the Jewish people was suddenly so apparent. Their will to survive against all odds, all enemies.

We then came to a gate. I looked down and saw the beginnings of railroad tracks. As I looked up, the rest of my group was slowly walking along the tracks, some of the women sobbing. It was the rail to Auschwitz....

The stark contrast of a town during World War Two to the modern day. 

12 May 2012

in The Swell

I first heard "licensed to ill" when I was around 14, listening to it on my friend's walkman in the back of a van heading to the mountains to ski. The memorable times of youth.

When I heard on the radio that one of the co-founders of the Beastie Boys, Adam Youch (aka "MCA"), passed away on May 4th, I wanted to give tribute to this incredible artist.

The San Rafael Swell worked just fine for this purpose.
Climbing stone outcrops onto the edge of existence, looking for memories. I find the past in this land, the VW bus and a girl named Angie. Family trips when sis was still with us. No cares and the world ahead me.
Tired after hiking through rock and sand with the spring sun baking my skin, I go on the search for a refuge from the heat and night winds. The hidden splendor of Hondo's Arch will work.
I set up camp, cook a meal by the fire, then retire to the tent. The night is brilliantly clear, a full super moon shines down, illuminating cold earth in it's light.
A settlement of horse traders sing and play guitar. John Denver pierces the darkness. I close my eyes look forward to comforting dreams instead of stress and nightmares.
The morning brings an exploration of abandoned uranium mines and shafts. Eerie and hauntingly beautiful. Mixed in between are remnants of the past.
At the end of the journey was no great epiphany waiting for me. Only the faint words out of the lips of a wise man, saying....
"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop to look around, you could miss it."

04 February 2012

Feeling stress...

The crippling pain in my side returns, bringing me to my knees. Incapacitated.
One month into the new job now, the long hours are starting to vanquish my will to live.
Losing sleep to dreams that haunt my consciousness. Garbage goes in my mouth, choking my insides with artificial satisfaction and secret poisons.
Through the haze I conjure memories of a simpler time to the surface.
I do not want to work with a dream of the future, as retirement is an allusion, a fantasy.
Life is too short, as I have seen with mine own eyes. The end is one of piss and pain. Spoon fed bland pureed meat, a side of warm milk that dribbles down your jowls, missing your wrinkled mouth.
I want to live to see ice sculptures hanging from winters branches, listening to woodpeckers break the stillness of the mountains with their song.
I need to seize today, not dream of tomorrow....
Breaking free from the constraints of sadness and weary, I trudge through the snow in the morning light. Two hours in, my heels are screaming as the skin is rubbed raw and the dark stain of blood seeps my socks.
The pain awakens me, healing the dreariness.
Nature's parachutes never fail to catch me when I'm feeling down.

10 December 2010

pay it forward

Dear Anonymous,

I know that we don't know each other, but I am here for you.

When I heard about your loss, we became connected.

For I also have loss in my heart.

And although nothing in this world can change what has happened,

I know that a simple gesture, a kind deed, a thoughtful word

can make all the difference.

I want you to know that I care for you. that I will pray for you. that I love you.

So I bring to you a little something to help you through the day,

the season,

and, with a little luck, it will bring you a little joy.

Take care Anonymous. You aren't alone.



25 November 2010

Inspiration through giving

Around this time of year, and today especially, I keep on the lookout for something extra special that truly embodies the meaning of "Thanksgiving". I was surprised where I found it this year.

I remember hearing the shocking news on December the 16th, 2009 when it was announced that Chris Henry of the Cincinnati Bengals had been killed in an MVA. I watched the rest of the Bengals season, hoping they could find the strength to continue and win games for their teammate, but it wasn't meant to be.

But what did come out of this tragedy, and was shared with the world today, made me weep, and brought me closer to a more honest meaning of being thankful, and has me headed in the holiday season in the right frame of mind.

07 October 2010

til another year....

ding.
" Ladies and gentleman, we have now reached our cruising altitude of 36,000 feet..."

These are the calming words heard more times than a wanderer like me cares to remember. Now I can relax and ponder about what exactly are the important things at this stage in one's life.  All while playing with leopard sharks. Life is what we make of it, I suppose.
I found myself wandering over to Balboa Park after a morning of exploring ocean caves and being around most curious sea lions. Hopeful to have an afternoon filled with great work of all sorts, and maybe come away with some inspiration of my own. The discovery of Maggie Taylor and Jerry Uelsmann was the best part of the day. This J.U. piece in particular seems to speaks volumes, yet I'm unable to express any of what I feel about it in words. I wonder how other people would describe it....


Maggie's work from her book on display, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, is a magical journey of creativity and imagination. I was captivated by her work. Not to mention that I also long for my own rabbit's hole one day. But who doesn't?




 

As another year of life goes by, one hopes that death will bid me over til another year, so I can see this world, and help those less fortunate along the way. Spare me over til another year.



22 August 2010

A life alone

When I find something made that is so poignant, haunting, and real I have no choice but to share.
Is it better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all?



A Life Alone from Maisie Crow on Vimeo.

Thank you Hannah.