Sow the Ancient Seed Waiting for Living Waters

Travel and meeting new people has been a remarkable journey for me. Truly I see a reflection of myself in the people I meet and talk to. A theme that often manifests itself as I talk to people is that we as humans are wounded. There is a pain that most of us carry. There is a longing that emerges in most my conversations. There is a desire to connect and a frustration that occupies the same ground as a deep hope that we can be better connected. I often find myself thinking about this desire to connect and I am in awe as I see that same desire painted by the conversations I have with others.

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And so with that emerges the question: what are we doing about that need to change something? What are we doing to heal our souls and reconnect to one another? As I traveled through Sandpoint, Idaho, I got to meet Dave. He and his wife have been on a journey of getting back to the basics. Former vegetarians and then vegans, they started to explore what Dave noted some call primitive skills. They started to learn about plants and seeds, animals and more. They learned how to find, harvest, and preserve food. They have been working to minimize their impact on the earth and more than that, live in sync with the earth as they feel—and I feel—we are meant to live. There is a spiritual element to all of this. Dave shared a journal entry about this awakening and beautifully suggested that we could, “sow the ancient seed, long lying dormant waiting for the living water to spring forth.”

 

In sharing Dave’s story and thoughts, I want to make sure that those who listen and read this podcast and blog understand that I’m not here to impose any specific view. However, if any of us feel like there is something more to life than what we are getting from it, I hope you’ll hear the beauty of Dave’s awakening that he shares. To me, his thoughts are sacred. His awakening is ours. It is for us, as his human brothers and sisters. His path is a call to each of us to travel the path to our own individual awakenings.

For those listening to the clipisode, you can use the embedded media below, or check out Ep9 on SoundCloud or iTunes.

I’ve transcribed Dave’s reading of his journal entry that he shared, for those that would like a written version. It gave me chills! Here’s the transcription:

We have forgotten how to be human. Like other animals that humans domesticate and corrupt and who no longer act according to nature. We no longer act according to our best interest in terms of health, mental well-being, social connection, nature connection or evolution. We think we are evolving as a species, somehow improving, bettering ourselves. But I think we have taken a fork in the road, left the good path and are lost wandering in the wilderness. Not the wilderness of nature, which would be good for us, and probably help heal almost all our sicknesses, but the wilderness of the soul.

We took the bait, fell right into the trap rather jumped in with both feet. The industrial revolution it was called, and that it was. A revolution that rot decay, sickness of mind, pollution of body and the earth. With promises of a better life we were lured from our birthright, our forest home. We lost our connection to the sacred, becoming stagnant pools isolated from the regenerating stream. The promise was always more time to enjoy your life, the idea of leisure time being the highest and best to be gained. Little knowing that we would so miss the work of our own hands. That in creating, providing, harvesting, hunting, weaving, carving, tanning and countless other expressions is the tapestry of life. Web of connection to place, one’s self, to nature, to one another, a belonging that we all long for. We lost the medicine of the wheel and wander, now lost inside our own minds, bearing grievous wounds which we know not how to heal, we wound one another.

The container is shattered, the shards, brittle fragments of a lost art. The once eternal cedar now hewn and fallen. And yet, seeds a thousand years old taken from the Hopi dwellings sprouted anew. Can we find the path back, turn our backs on the now all too obvious lies of mother culture, returning to our true mother, leaving the patriarchal father to find our birthright of old? It is not enough that some of us return, though all things start small and with time become the sequoias of majesty. There must be a great turning. What person knows at the beginning what will grow out of the seed they plant? Sow the ancient seed, long lying dormant waiting for the living water to spring forth. Sow it in your heart, sow it in your mind, sow it in your body, sow it in your soul.

May we all find our way back to our individual living waters. Drink up. Be renewed. Let’s connect and live.

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Today, I’m Your Eyes and Ears

Today, I have no podcast audio to share and only one photo. So my words will have to be your eyes and ears. I just left Los Angeles this morning and I’m headed north towards the Bay Area. In a lot of ways it would be really easy to say that my time in LA was a disaster. But I’m a believer in letting life be what it is and not dwelling on expectations not getting met–because inevitably they don’t get met.

As I was coming to LA I didn’t have any firm interview opportunities set up. I had some leads and ideas, but nothing set. I couldn’t even find someone to host me as a couch surfer, which I’m finding is a great way to get an unplanned interview. Thus, there was this part of me that wondered what I was doing even spending any time in LA.

I found a hostel through Airbnb and headed there after a last afternoon in San Diego. The Airbnb didn’t make the place out to be something it wasn’t. I knew I was going to downtown LA and that it was essentially a warehouse with bunk beds in it. As I drove up to the location, I started to wonder if my car would be safe over night and that questioning thought came to the front of my mind: “What am I even doing here.” I sat in my car before going into the building for a few moments. The realization struck me that this is what I’m doing this trip for, to get out of my comfort zone. So I grabbed my pack and went in. I was greeted by friendly hosts and others staying in the hostel. I settled into my top bunk and let myself wind down from the day. As I drifted off to sleep, I decided to take this lone photo from my time in LA. The view from my bed.

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It was a view I couldn’t have conjured. It was beautiful and unexpected. I truly hadn’t thought to find myself in that sort of a sleeping situation in LA. But thankfully, that’s where I was.

As I went out the next day, after tinkering with the website and reviewing audio from the interview I did in San Diego, I just tried to do a few things I would enjoy in the area and wait to hear on the interview possibilities. I went disc golfing at the La Mirada course. It was a beautiful day and the course was a sublime experience. Because I had never played it before, a local caught up to me and I offered to let him pass, because I had never played the course and would be slow. He offered to play with me and guide me through the course. As we wrapped up the round and parted ways, I couldn’t help but feel amazed.

I’m a low-key introverted guy. Talking to strangers takes effort. But here we were, spending an hour together, talking about this hobby we love, giving some background on our lives. We were brought together by a hobby. Perhaps that’s a mundane moment to find profound. But a man from Utah and a man from Southern California shared an afternoon and connected. That is the beauty of our humanity. We can find ways to connect.

As the day went on, dinner time was approaching and I had decided to head out to Long Beach to find some Cambodian food. I spent a couple years living in Cambodia, so any chance to be around significant population groupings of Cambodians must be taken advantage of. I found a well reviewed restaurant and greeted the woman at the register. I ordered my food in Cambodian. I sat down to wait for my order and as there was no one else in the restaurant, she sat down and chatted with me. She talked about coming to America, where in Cambodia she was from. She asked about my ability to speak Cambodian and my experience with that small Southeast Asian country. I shared my deep love for the nation and its people. It was another beautiful moment of connection with a complete stranger.

I got back to the hostel with my take out Cambodian and sat down at the dinner table with my food. Two Asian gentlemen were finishing up their meals. With my limited ability, I could tell they were speaking Mandarin. They proceeded to talk to me in English and we exchanged basic backgrounds with each other. They both were strangers, one from Canada and the other from China. The older man turned out to know about Salt Lake City when I mentioned that I am from the state of Utah. As luck would have it, Salt Lake is actually one of the cities that he planned to visit, as his brother teaches at the University of Utah. He inquired about Temple Square and what to see there. Here I sat, connecting to this engineer from Beijing.

As I continued to eat my dinner, I began speaking with one of the other men in the hostel. He lives in LA and had come from Virginia to work as a writer. He shared thoughts about his time at the University of Virginia as an athlete and the great education he received there. He talked about coming to LA, like so many others to follow a dream. We talked about the ways one can get sidetracked, but that the possibilities in dreams remain. I brought up one of my favorite books, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I noted my belief that the theme of the book is true: when you are trying to live your legend, the universe will conspire to aid you. Certainly, there are twists and turns, but life seems to lead you there. He talked of a chance moment recently where he needed someone with a particular expertise to help with a project he is doing and ran into someone looking to do the exact thing he needed. It was too perfect to not be what the universe willed.

I went to sleep feeling full at witnessing and experiencing so many beautiful moments of connection throughout the day, despite not getting the chance to interview the people I had expected to interview or even having the chance to interview some of the people I was staying with. The theme of connection played out beautifully. How different all these people were that I shared myself with and that shared themselves with me. And there was no reason to share other than we as humans are built to connect and long to connect.

As I left LA this morning, I thought I might drive around the warehouse district where I had slept the last couple night and take some pictures of the graffiti and life in the area. I’m no photographer. I don’t have any skill in taking photos. As I started to drive around though, an essay I read in college came to mind. It spoke of an unusual form of entertainment that arose in the U.S. during the industrial revolution. People from wealthy parts of town would take day trips to the slums of their cities to just watch people. Now I don’t want to imply that people watching is bad–I think it’s fun–or that capturing pictures of places different from where we live has some moral implication. I think it’s important we know what else is in the world. But the essay illuminated to me that sometimes there is this sort of voyeuristic mentality that creeps into our minds. We watch, take pictures of and display the lives of others without really knowing what we’re doing. For some reason, I felt like stopping to take pictures today would be overly voyeuristic, that I just need to watch and see for myself and feel.

I started to drive through town and work my way out of LA. The textiles, the bulk produce, the delivery trucks everywhere all filled my view. Industry and motion were happening all around me. Beautiful graffiti covered entire walls. Bright colors, filled the lettering that spoke to an individuals craft. I was seeing things I would never see anywhere else. The artist will never be known to me, but their moment of impact of me was undeniable. They captured my attention, turned my gaze and moved me.

Then I rounded a corner and realized that just a few blocks from where I was sleeping was the mission in downtown LA. The sidewalks were lined with tents and people. Homeless men and women milled about. I’ve spent time around the homeless shelter in Salt Lake City, and I lived in Cambodia where I witnessed poverty unlike any other place on a daily basis. Yet my heart was overwhelmed as I saw this scene in downtown LA. Tears started to well up in my eyes. Poverty never gets easy to see. And suddenly I realized why I felt like my taking pictures was a little voyeuristic: the outer walls of this area are the inner walls of these peoples’ home. They live here. This is their home. I was a guest. I was an outsider, coming from a charmed life in the racial monolith that is the place I’ve called home for the last several years.

I think it’s important that people do capture images of these scenes and share it. We all share a part in this universe where other people sleep in tents on the sidewalks of LA. I’m not the one to capture those images though. All I can do today is tell you that it’s so easy to isolate ourselves as humans. We have that capacity and we so often do it. When we do, we miss out on what is happening. We miss out on connection. We forget our brothers and sisters in life. Connection is powerful. It can move us and shape us. But isolation can move us to forget and falter.

More on Episode 3

As per usual, I just want to give a little more background for episode 3. I had the chance to couch surf at Alan’s home in San Diego. Immediately it was clear that he is a very kind and welcoming person. He was gracious enough to let me ask him a few questions about his life.

While the clip in this episode focuses on his decision as a child to become a Lutheran pastor and the journey that took him to the realization of that decision, Alan shared a lot more about himself. It would be really easy to make Alan out as this one dimensional person: Alan the Pastor. Though we only had a grand total of a few hours around each other, it was clear that he is a complex and well rounded person. His identity is multiple.

As we talked about his time as a pastor, Alan illuminated a passion for people. His work as a pastor enabled him to articulate moving thoughts to his congregation and support them in their lives. Clearly it suited him in a variety of ways to have spent several decades of his life working for the people of a small Wisconsin town. Yet Alan is the type of person that is aware and open to new things. He spoke of retiring and realizing soon after that his presence may make the transition to the new pastor more difficult than it needed to be. A series of experiences and considerations brought him to San Diego.

What is so striking about Alan is that he is full of youthful vigor for life and people. Retirement isn’t about making it a time for him to be self-serving and collecting what he earned. He emanates character. The genuine nature that I’m sure was a hallmark of his ministry as a pastor continues to be an ever-present part of his life. This came into full view as he described his experience getting into hosting couch surfers. He relishes the opportunity to have a variety of people from all over the world stay in his home. He shared many stories while I stayed with him about various people that he’s hosted. And those connections have led him all over the world to places he noted he never imagined going to. Yet connection to others has led him all over the world.

I felt privileged to have crossed paths with such a balanced and welcoming human being that is just curious about life. I’ve actually borrowed from him as a tagline something he said as we spoke: “Everyone has a story. Everyone’s story is interesting. Everyone’s story is important.” I couldn’t agree more.

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