I love you all,
It's been a difficult few weeks as I have not been able to speak to you, Psalm and Pascha. Lachlan, I've been able to reach and things are going well with us. Psalm and Pascha, I sent you flowers and then your mom told me I could not speak to you. There was nothing I did to merit her pulling you from me. Hope, this is on you. Girls, I miss you so much. I looked at a book that you both picked out with Whitney. It was a father/daughters journal. It made me feel so proud of you and it made me miss you so much. I had planned to fly to meet you in mid-March but you are being hidden from me. Now, I had to cancel my plans until an agreement can be made. I am doing my best to get to you. My goals are to see you, make money, get a great place here. Once I am established out here I will be able to see you more often and get you out to the West for the summertime. It will happen. It will just be a matter of time. Make sure to check this website in the meantime. I am not sure if you can get to it but maybe some of your friends can get you to this site and past anyone who would get in the way. My goal is to see you twice a month and then have you visit on the longer holidays. It's going to happen. It's just a matter of time. Your best interests are out West. It'll just take time to get you here.
I love you all,
Dearest Little Lachlan,
This summer I fought as hard as I could to get you half of the time but I lost. I left to the West to find a job, build a little place and then bring you out here with your sisters. I weighed all my options, I counted the costs and I drove West. I think you will understand and there are many dads in my shoes that understand. When having you partially in a place I do not want to be is one choice and having you partially in a place I’ve dreamed of being is the other choice I choose the second. I figure you will love Bend, that you will love the West and all that it has to offer. Someday soon, a person will discover a gene that causes someone to long to be nomadic and long for the mountains and the oceans. This gene will cause a person to always be exploring and finding and searching. I have this gene and I won’t be surprised if you and your sisters do, as well. It is a fun gene to have. It must be heeded or it just festers. It must be followed or a person just stagnates and gets despondent.
I was able to FaceTime with you quite a bit and we maintained our happiness together. I ate with you. I read with you. I put you to bed. Now, I am on my way to see you. I can’t wait to hug you and hold you. I want to take you home with me. That way, we can live together, father and son. I want to take your sisters with us, too. That way, we can all live together as a family.
I’ve found that what I want and what I’ve received are very different things. As you get older you will learn that the grace is in the latter.
I love you and long to see you each day.
My Dearest Pascha,
I love you. I sent you a card with Darth Vader walking an AT-AT across a meadow and a stream. You called me right away to tell me that you thought it was so funny. You don't need many words from me but you do need something to hold, hugs of course, but particularly for you, gifts and tokens of my affection. You like these things. You are so much fun because you approach life with a zest that requires little more than the moment at hand. There are times when I think of you, clad in a kid's cheerleader costume, clutching grass in your hands, running full tilt, yawping forth a battle cry, ready to throw handfuls of dirt at your cousins as you all played a game together. You are an amazing young girl with such an strong spirit. You are the best of me. You are what I want to pass along of myself. You carry my name and aspects of me that I will see more and more as you take shape. You will start to see, also, how you are like me. It's a good way for both of us to learn. We are, all of us, mirrors to each other, especially fathers and daughters, especially me and you and your sister and your brother. This mirror is not for vanity's sake but that we might learn to be content with ourselves, the way we have been built. I love you so very much. When I see your eyes I see my own. When I see your excitement I see my excitement. You are my beloved.
We spoke last night. You were at Mason's baseball game. Earlier, you went to the library to pick up Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. You read about ten pages. By the time you read this you will have finished the book.
If you will remember, I recommended this book when I was in Salt Lake City, sitting outside of a brewery where I had just received a Joey Lawrence (good thing you have youtube) placard marking my number in line to get the pizza I ordered. I was attending Outdoor Retailer where I ended up getting my job with DrinkTanks. You were watching the opening ceremonies for the Olympics in Rio. They were running a program about the fragile nature of our world's environment. You said it made you sad and afraid. I told you that we can do the best to protect and conserve this world and our conscience can be clean.
Ultimately, nature is so very powerful that she can do anything she wants in a minute. Three hundred million years ago the place where you are sitting was a shallow ocean. There were no humans to even make this happen. There have been times where either the earth was covered in ice or had no ice at all. I hope those words made you feel better.
The reason I told you to read Hitchhiker's is that in the encyclopedia that covers everything in the galaxy, Encyclopedia Galactica which is wordplay for Encyclopedia Brittanica (good thing you have Google) the entry for earth and all that it is in relation to all that there is, "harmless". That is it, harmless. The earth is harmless. It was destroyed to make an offramp for a galactic highway.
Sometimes, we think we can change the universe but mostly, if we enjoy our lives and help others, the world will be amazing. If you feel oppressed then move. The history of freedom is escaping tyrants and restrictions. Always, know there is a place to go whether it is in your mind or a place you can reach with wheels, a boat or your feet. The deepest drive in humanity is to find a place that gives us freedom. Alight to this place always.
I moved West when I decided that I wanted to prepare a place for you here. You being here is my goal and I will do everything I can to make this happen. You will love it here. I started my journey with the stark realization that I could lose it all. Looking back at it, I really had nothing but you, your sister and brother. I would have definitely lost you there in Arkansas because I had no force to move forward. I felt a wretchedness that I pray for you to never feel, despair. It is something that can be escaped and managed and averted.
My journey started when I left Little Rock. I met a person who connected me back to my friend, Bennet. I will tell you about him later. He died of cancer when he was thirty. I drove back to where I grew up, Rogers. If you can, go to Rogers and you can see my name on a sign outside the track at the high school football field. I saw a few friends and the fading world of my youth that seemed to be unraveling like a ragged piece of cloth on which I was standing. The move West was to outrun the crumbling ground underneath me and the abyss that loomed if I didn't go. Then, I drove to Nebraska and stayed with your Omi and Bobpa. I stayed for three days and then truly left for the West at five in the evening that last night. I drove through the night until I saw the mountains through a summer storm full of lightning bolts and winds and run.
When I was driving through the night in the dark plains of western Nebraska this song jumped onto the radio. These words struck me:
You can drive all night
looking for the answers
in the pouring rain
wanna find piece of mind
looking for the answers
I am convinced that my journey required more than wheels and fuel and a physical body. It demanded everything I have to arrive here with contentment and freedom. Never delay this essential journey. If your feet long to run make sure you let them move, with no excuses, with no quarter, to the place you need to be.
With All The Love I Know Exists,
There are thousands of apocryphal stories that go something like this. A father becomes estranged from his child or children, although usually a son. The father decides to write letters to him since he is restricted from seeing the young child. The mother never shows the child the letters. The child starts to resent his own father to the point of hating him. Much later, the child finds the letters. The child is overcome by the father's love for his son (or daughter although the apocryphal story usually involves a son).
Jay, Cal, Zane and Mike drove into the camp. Thirty or so tents lined the forest. The truck bumped along with the trailer and boats. Everyone waved as Jay had attended the camp for twenty years. His dad started the trout camp almost sixty years ago. For some, a third generation attended. Jay brought his friends. They quickly set up camp. A few of the old timers from camp greeted the young men. They talked about where to fish. They talked about what flies to use for the trout. The young guys walked back over to their camp. They cracked open some beers and discussed where to fish. They drove to the White Bull Dam to fish near the shoals in the cold water. Mike got out his rod and reel while the others got their fly rods and slipped into their waders. Zane kept reeling in fish. He seemed hoot and holler the entire time. The other guys just fished harder which does not work. Then, Zane yelled out, "root beer midge." The others messed with their flies. Shortly after, the other guys started catching trout. After they had their fill they loaded up in the truck and drove back to camp. As the fellas drove up the hill from the dam the music got louder and louder as well as the guys voices. They stopped at a lookout and ignored the signs telling them not to jump over the fence or expose themselves to pee. They all balanced on a different precipice and relieved themselves from all the drinks they consumed. There were no rules. It's trout camp. There are no rules. Where there are no rules there is unfettered freedom. There is no flag because the symbol has been dropped in deference to it being a stand in for the real thing, the boys uninhibited, yawping hard and living wild, living as free and as American as anyone ever lived. People should stand in awe of freedom, should offer their allegiance and salute to it more than any cloth object that can never be free.
Mike slid his shoes onto his feet. He took the round dial and tightened up the wire-like laces. Mike pulled his bike off the back of his car. He stepped over the bike. Mike took his shoe and pressed the cleat into the pedal. It made a very pleasant snap and click as the shoe secured itself to the pedal. He repeated this motion on the left hand side. The snap and click meant it was time to ride. Mike stood up and felt his entire body engage the crank and then the bike pushed forward with caged ferocity. He did this with the left side, too. Then, Mike turned left and went up the concrete bridge. Mike looked off to the west and saw the mountains. The sun beginning its slow descent showed him he had an hour and a half to ride before the sun set. Mike shifted higher as he started to descend into a pine covered expanse. John rode over the reddish pine needles. He took a sharp turn to the right. Mike pedaled into a clearing and then over to a swampy patch where leopard frogs could be heard all around. The asphalt trail turned left and then into a clearing with deer all around. Mike turned right onto the road and pedaled quickly out of the park. He hit a long flat stretch and then turned a sharp right before he wound up into the tree covered hills. He found himself propelling up the hills with ease. He turned right to get in an extra climb, one with more pitch but a rest in the middle where he shifted higher, stood up for a second, and then shifted higher again to gain some speed for the final ascent. Mike, again, pedaled up with ease. His breathing was in time with the cadence in which he pedaled. He moved in concert with the bike and the bike moved in concert with him. He descended the hill and let the bike glide as the trees seemed to whir beside him. It felt as if he were silently flying through the forest at the speed and silence of an owl or hawk. Mike continued to ride on the flat. He drank water, a bunch of water, as more for the feeling than the relief that it gave him. As Mike pedaled on, effortlessly, he thought he might as well ride well past dark. The cicadas accompanied the subtle sounds of the bike as it wheeled into the night.
Hidden worlds exist. Others intrude upon them easily. They can break the spell that allows us to enter into an almost inaccessible world. Immediately, the inhabitants and furniture of that world disappear when an intruder appears. Secret worlds are tenuous. They first stand heavy in air. Then they fly, weightless in wind, unseen, until they unfurl out in a myriad of colors and make themselves known triumphantly. Though the stuff of dreams, these secret worlds impact us more than can be imagined. Secret worlds inspire us all to create and to live and to worship and stand in awe.
One of the worst feelings is to be thrust out of a hidden world where all is green and flowing, where all is in harmony. It is poor luck to be kicked out of a world where the water flows just so you can drink. I fall into worlds many times each day. Some, moss lined and soft, provide a bed, liqueurs potent, intoxicating, foliate, brumal, fern twisted, laden with edible fruit, Naiads attending. Others, brimming, flowing over gold chalice, invigorate, press and flex into cascading rivulets and punch bowl water drops. Here, I run, fly, jump and slam into rock and fire, lava and mountain. I dive into realms unknown and fathom the depths. Here, I breathe water and drink fire. I eat stone and rest in flight.
The rain fell early. The drops sounded punctuated as they hit the tarp. Exclamation point, then comma, then period, the drops rang. We sat, huddled underneath the tarp gathering the gear to make coffee. Buddy grabbed the grounds. He banged the press against his knee. Trap fired up the little stove. He boiled water as the undulated coils sped the process. Buddy poured the boiling water into the press. Elk brought the cups, rubber folding types. Elk poured the coffee. The group drank.
Did that really happen last night?
Did anyone really get hurt?
They pulled that one guy out of the woods.
He got smashed hard. His head was gushing blood.
The girls were all screaming. Theie guys shouldn't have messed with those country kids.
They said that one kid played football.
Fixing fence is is harder than playing football.
That's true. You don't play fixing fence as a game.
Those country kids let the girls ride their horses and the college boys started calling the farm kids illiterate.
You wouldn't tell them that.
Well, those city kids got their asses kicked.
We we are all lucky the college kids didn't have a gun in a backpack.
The farm kids had the guns but that doesn't matter. They didn't need them.
This kid, Lachlan, is straightforward. He knows what he wants. Food, burping, diaper change, hold me, put me to sleep, repeat. When Lachlan cries, there is a reason. When he is happy, there is a reason.
I've heard that a kid's personality carries on with age. If that is so, Lachlan knows what he wants. He is decisive. He is unconcealed. I find this refreshing. I figure a bold attitude will save Lachlan time and wasted emotion, will esteem him amongst his peers and allow him to flourish in a world where most are unsure. If a unswerving attitude is coupled with a penchant for taking care of those feeling thrust out of life then I figure Whitney and I have done our jobs as parents.
What is a man? Simply, he stands boldly for himself and others, for justice. He does not exclude. He executes grace above all. He will be guided by the moment at hand and not allow strictures to guide him. He will prize doing the right thing over laws and teachings of adults. He will please the good rather than the wishes of adults in power. He will give without counting the cost. He will earn without counting the work. He will not be a man of a book but a man of action in time of need and a man of passive contemplation in times of silence and reflection and in times where anger flares.
For my daughters, I expect the same attributes. For the question really is "What is a human?"
I strive to be a man. As it goes, executing grace above all has proven to be the best thing I can do every day. When I have let forgiveness reign I have seen myself grow. I have seen character rise within me and others. I have rejected hate.
The real heroes work outside the corridors of power. Everyday, they serve the people immediately around them. They are outnumbered so they never represent the democratic majority. They care when others hate. They exercise freedom whether there are laws or not to protect or hinder them. They spend more time at home, with their family, than they do at work or assembling to woo supporters. They are men and women who change the world from the ground. They are not elected. They rise and grow where they are planted giving shade and relief to others.
Someday, the majority of people will be heroes. They will rise above and beyond the book and serve the living. I see it when the outcast are drawn into the fold. I see it when false society collapses and it replaced by a living community, meeting over meals and drinks, inviting others who have no home. I see it when people give without counting the cost. I see it when people offer grace above all and thereby fulfill and render pointless the law.
I live therefore I am.