Dear Reader. . .


Dear Reader,

I don’t know what to write about.  You see, I am sitting here at camp with plenty of time to write but nothing is coming to mind.  So I thought I would write you this letter.  I’ve been reading Edward Abbey and he can just go on and on about a cactus bloom or a slab of sandstone.  Yet when I look around my camp, I just see trees.  A tent.  Camp gear.  Marching ants that want my food.  Mosquitos that want my blood.  And flies that want both.

It’s strange to be on vacation from vacation.  My backpacking trip ends tomorrow but I don’t have to go home.  I don’t have to go back to work.  So it feels kind of different.  I’m not so desperate to get away from it all.  Rather, I’m sort of going inward.  Traveling to a deeper state of experience and appreciation for life.  A broader perspective of my new life, as it is now.  I’m simply relaxed in the knowing that we’ve created all of this.  Actually, we’re creating our reality moment by moment.  Day by day.  And on our own terms.

I don’t think I’ve ever simply done exactly what I want.  Day after day.  It’s strange indeed, this new way of living.  But it’s made sweeter with the knowledge that it’s only temporary.  I’m not rich.  And I’m not retired.  I’m only taking a break from life as I know it.  But what if?  What if there IS a way to live every day exactly the way that I want to?  And if so, what does that look like?  How do I function in the world this way and how do I give back?  These are the larger questions at hand.  Is one year long enough to break away from old habits and lifelong beliefs of how the world should be and how a person living in this country should live their life?

As we travel along, we run into all kinds of people.  And they are all very different.  It really does depend on where you go.  City to city.  State to state.  Country to country.  You can learn so much from travel.  People have a lot more connection to their environment than they probably think.  I’ve learned this by going into the backcountry first and then visiting the towns.  For example, Idaho is almost nothing but forest.  Miles upon miles of rough, unchanged, largely inhabited forest.  Land of the jagged Sawtooth Mountains.  A very masculine state.  And the people carry this same energy.  Oregon on the other hand is soft.  The ground is soft.  The trees are soft.  The plants are soft.  And the people here have a genuine softness to them.  A very feminine energy so it seems.  Where Idaho is live and let live, Oregon is love and let love.  The friendliest people I’ve ever had the privilege to meet.  Instead of rough around the edges, Oregon is soft around the corners.  Even the hills are soft in the fading sunlight.

More often than not, I just run into two types of people.  People who seem happy and people who don’t.  And some places simply have more of one than the other.  I’m not exactly sure why this is true.  Could it be access to recreation?  Where there is lots of recreation, people seem to be happy.  Perhaps it depends on the population.  Where there is plenty of room to spread out, people aren’t constantly getting in each others way.

Wherever people are happy, it shows.  Houses are well cared for.  Yards are thoughtfully kept.  People are riding bikes.  Is it even possible to ride a bike and be unhappy?  People are fit and attractive.  Their dogs are attractive with coats that shine and eyes full of joy and excitement.  Their flowers bloom and their gardens grow.  Local businesses are owned and run by the people who live there.  The shops are tidy, offering local produce, local art, and full of sweet smells.  The signs out front of these shops are artfully handwritten with care.

Here is the key word.  CARE.  People who are happy CARE.

People who are happy surround themselves with happiness and thrive on making others happy.  And it is such a joy to find little towns like this.  And I’m not talking wealth here.  I’m not talking rich vs poor.  For I have run into dozens of little farm towns filled with loving people who seem to truly care about their homes, their streets, and the towns they live in.  You won’t find an old washer or dryer in a yard.  And you won’t find trash in the streets.

I’m not sure what comes first.  The happiness or the caring, but you cannot have one without the other.  If you’re not happy, try simply putting some thoughtfulness and caring into whatever it is that you are doing.  Clean the windows.  Cook a delicious meal.  Plant a garden.  Or go ride a bike.  But do it with care and grace.  Giving it all your attention.  And most importantly, put love into every step.  Soon you will forget that you were ever unhappy.  Living among other people who also care certainly makes living a happy life much easier.  Caring IS contagious.  And it’s really cool when you find little towns where this exists.

Then you stumble into areas of neglect.  Boarded up windows.  Trash in the gutters.  And in the stores, lifeless produce, dusty bags of stale potato chips, and a lonely soul behind the counter with tired eyes.  And I wonder, how did this happen?  And why do these people still live here?  I don’t claim to have the answers.  I’m just asking the questions.  Any comments?


Dear Reader. . . — 4 Comments

  1. I think it has to do with awareness of one’s own body and mind. Some people are completely shut off to feeling, hearing, seeing, knowing, learning, loving, smelling….what have you and some of us get those sensations in amounts so great they are overwhelming. It starts at conception and develops or blocks all through life. The universal energy in us all. Our Chakras are our spiritual centers and if they are not stimulated (through dance, movement, exercise, meditation) then they can remain dormant….sometimes until we die. If we have an awareness of them, which you do – because you seek to comfort your active centers and be able to enjoy them in peace – then we strive to attain that zen.

    I hope you find yoga on this journey and learn to incorporate it into your life. It has saved me. Glad you are well…you will find your purpose soon. I can feel it. Love and Light to you and Val.

  2. Thank you for the letter, Scott. I think you’re onto something. My observation is that it all boils down to relationships. Healthy relationships are important to a person’s health & wellbeing. Healthy relationships help you to BE healthier, this can actually improve your immune system. People in healthy relationships deal with stress better and actually recover faster when dealing with traumatic life events or physical or mental illnesses. Also a happy person feels RICHER! The “job” isn’t the means to the end, friends are the means AND the end. Our society’s preoccupation with materialism, multi-tasking and boosting the # of friends on facebook has long-lasting consequences.
    As I sit here writing I can’t help but think about you sitting on top of a mountain. You say nothing comes to mind to write about, but look what you just wrote! You have an incredible ability to form relationships with all different elements of nature; the weather, insects, the earth, the sky and all the blessings you don’t even mention. You even have a relationship with your gear ~~~ I KNOW you do! You handle it gently, you admire the shape, edges and the material used and you take beautiful pictures of it too!
    I wrote to you before about how you inspire me. Well, I am over-the-moon excited to tell you that I am going on a 6-day, 5-night river trip next Tuesday on Utah’s Green River with 3 friends. I’ve gone on several, however this is the first one that I’ve done without a guide.
    Thank you, Scott. Thank you so VERY much! I am writing because I CARE! And because I care, I’m happy ~ or vice versa.

  3. Keri, I think you hit it on the head. We become shut off from the world, stuck in our mindless routines. When we open up and allow ourselves to feel, that is when we really start to live. And I really do hope to incorporate some Yoga soon.

    Cyndi, you are absolutely right, I DO have relationships with my gear. My tent. My sleeping bag, my camp stove. I have relationships with them all. They are like old friends. I handle them with care and with love and in return, they keep me warm, dry, and well fed. And my mountain bike. I keep it well tuned, lubricated, and cared for and in return, it keeps me safely rolling through the mountains with style and grace (most of the time). Sometimes I really do think it pedals itself. It all comes down to this. We either at war with our world or we are at peace with it. Everything is everything so how you treat others, or even things, is how you treat yourself. Thanks for the comments and I am so excited for your river trip. The Green River is one of the most beautiful as it takes you through some of Utah’s most incredible desert lands. Enjoy and let me know how it goes! Keep on caring and being happy Cyndi.

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