Live Bravely

“If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down, we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.” – Jack Gilbert

In Light the Dark, Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Big Magic) wrote about finding the work of poet Jack Gilbert (no relation). Shortly after reading this over the past few days I came across a quote by Benjamin Franklin which stated, “Either write something worth reading, or do something worth writing.” And the two seemed to complement each other.

Elizabeth writes, “Live bravely when you’re young, we say. And maybe again when you retire, if you play your cards right. Jack Gilbert refused that argument: No, I’m just going to live that way every single day of my life, thanks.”

What would that look like? To live bravely throughout our days? For Jack Gilbert, who worked at steel mills before becoming a poet, that looked like a Pulitzer nomination for his first book. Then, accepting relative obscurity, he went to live and travel in Europe and Asia. He published five collections in five decades, and two novels. But he stayed away from mainstream literature and academia.

But he lived truthfully, to himself, and to others. He experienced life and sampled all it had to offer. Fellow poet and lover Linda Gregg said of him, “”All Jack ever wanted to know was that he was awake—that the trees in bloom were almond trees—and to walk down the road to get breakfast. He never cared if he was poor or had to sleep on a park bench.”

Life is different for all of us, but bravely living it will leave a mark on those around us regardless of who we are or where we come from.

In other words, do something worth writing.

 

 

Alaska countdown

Started packing, sort of. Less than two weeks until the trip, and I am getting more and more excited. Yet staying busy as ever.

I pulled the suitcases I’ll be using for this trip down. It’s weird not packing my either of my backpacks. One went with me to Europe, twice, for over a month each time. The other was for a quick week trip down to Costa Rica.

But this isn’t a backpacking trip. This is some exploring, some relaxing – including hiking and a glacier cruise. And in less than two weeks, I’ll be trading sunny Florida for the Land of the Midnight Sun.

Week’s Highlights

Some of the things that caught my interest this week.

  • Stu Larsen’s “I Will Be Happy“. This may be my new travel anthem for a while. I had listened to George Ezra’s Wanted on Voyage, especially on my last trip to Europe. (Barcelona was a particular favorite.)
  • Fountain Pen usage. After listening to Neil Gaiman’s interview on the Tim Ferriss Show, where he talked about Moleskine and Leuchtturm notebooks, and the fountain pens he uses, I decided to look into breaking out some pens that I’ve had stashed away for quite a while. I usually use Uni-Ball Vision Micro, but I’m always willing to try something new.
  • “How Not to be Boring”. This was an interesting video that I think came to me from one of the few newsletters I didn’t unsubscribe to. There’s a lot going on here, and I think it touches on charisma, introversion, honest and truthful exchanges with others, and self-discovery.
  • Godel, Escher, Bach. This is a book I came to through Seth Godin’s blog some years ago, and I started reading it but never finished. While perusing a used book store a couple of weeks ago I found a well-thumbed copy, and I decided to give it a go. It’s been my go-to nonfiction for the past week, and I’m excited to make a dent in this tome.

Alaska

Starting in 2016, I’ve made excursions out of the US. Ireland and Scotland, then 8 countries through Western and Central Europe in 2017. Last year was Costa Rica.

One funny thing about traveling out of the country is that you meet many locals there (or fellow travelers) amazed you haven’t seen all of your own country. So, this year I’m seeing Alaska – somewhere I’ve wanted to go for a long time.

Flights are now booked, and in two months I’ll be exploring what John Muir has called “one of the most wonderful countries in the world.”

Back to Form

It was 2015, and I started doing The Artist’s Way. What I was expecting, I’m not sure. I just knew that something wasn’t working for me.

That New Year’s, on a white board at work, I wrote this:

BACK TO FORM – 2016

That’s it. I believed that it would take me somewhere creative. Somewhere in touch with what I wanted, as well as what I needed.

A relationship ended. Another started. Depression hit. I left my job, travelled to Europe, and moved out of my house.

That was in the first six months.

Whatever siren song back to form was, it shook up every aspect of my life. All the cobwebs that were creeping in.

Sometimes, when you’re not really certain what you’re asking for – you get just that.

Back to form.

Japan

My first introduction to Japanese culture was an anime my brother gave me to watch when I was around thirteen. I still remember watching it. Ninja Scroll, a little film about a traveling samurai, and I remember being amazed by both the culture depicted as well as the entirely new style of animation that I was seeing. It was captivating, and I was absolutely hooked.

Shortly thereafter, after making some friends in high school who shared my love of all things Japanese, we discovered that one of our teachers had lived in Japan, and spoke fluent Japanese. We decided that, as freshman, our school needed a Japanese class. We set about creating the petition, getting the signatures, and convincing him to teach the class. He accepted, and then in sophomore year, we started Japanese 1.

It still ranks as one of my two favorite classes that I’ve ever taken. (The other was a choir class that I took.) I learned more Japanese language (hiragana, katakana, and a decent amount of kanji) in that first year than I did in any subsequent class or tutoring session. We also delved into culture, issues of politeness and honor. Our instructor was also an Eastern medicine practitioner, and he did a live demonstration of acupuncture on another teacher during our class. He made the language a fun and exciting proposition for us – learn Japanese, explore the world.

Unfortunately, our beloved Japanese instructor moved on to bigger and better things, though many of us have kept in touch with him over the years. The incoming teacher was of a more traditional countenance, and suddenly the joy that inhabited the class was lessened.

Since then I spent much of my time in vocal or acting training, and spent several years working as a professional actor in Central Florida. I received my bachelor’s in business administration, considering running my own theatre someday. Upon hearing of the closing of the Kabuki-za theatre, I had wanted to travel to Japan then and see a performance. Regrettably I was unable to make the trip at that time.

It had long been my dream to travel, but the common everyday things made it impossible, or so I thought. In 2016, following the end of a three-year relationship, I decided to travel to Europe. So, in just over a month I booked airline tickets, a couple of nights in a hostel, and bought some gear. From the decision made in the second week of February to travel, and at the end of March when I actually left, I had just five weeks to prepare.

Then, last year, another month in Europe. Still, Japan has been calling to me the entire time. My Dad and Step-Mom are even getting over there in two months, before I have the chance to.

That then is my intention for this year. To make it to Japan. Possibly a few other places (Nepal, Bhutan, China and Thailand, perhaps).

Hopefully something will work out, in the way it always seems to do.

Sayonara!