In The Middle of Nowhere

For some reason, which I don’t fully comprehend, I often long to be in the middle of nowhere.

These middle of nowhere places are often not the most beautiful places in the world, in the typical sense – but they have another type of beauty. Last week we drove through a middle of nowhere. It was called Camas County in  Idaho’s High Prarie country. With the size of about 1,100 square miles, it has about 1,100 people in the entire county… about 1 person per square mile. And, about 400 of the people live in the town of Fairfield, the county seat (where their courthouse is) leaving 1,099 square miles for the other 700 folks.

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When I am in the middle of nowhere, there is lots of sky around and it does something to my psyche. I am happy, inspired, and often in awe of the space. Why? Perhaps, it puts my mind in the middle of nowhere too. There are no distractions and no expectations, just a sense of being. I do find myself wanting to create like maybe writing something, a story or a song. In the middle of nowhere my mind seems  to be free of all the noise that usually fills it up. I find my breathing even slows down.

I think, in our mind’s middle of nowhere, the mental air is cleaner, the mental views are boundless without a bunch of fences to navigate around, and the social aspect of our lives, including our own ego’s desires, is diminished, relegated to a lesser position in our consciousness. As I said, I don’t really understand it, but I can’t deny the feeling. The middle of nowhere is great place to spend some time, physically, mentally, and spiritually.

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Jumbled Thoughts from a Road Trip in June

It is the summer solstice and I am in Sun Valley, Idaho. Every year we try to take a little road trip to somewhere we haven’t been. We flew from Sacramento California to Boise Idaho, rented a F-150 and began experiencing.

Why Boise you might ask (and many did)? No particular reason besides the “never seen it” response. If I go again it would be because it is a great city. Amazing public parks, miles of bike paths along a meandering river, clean streets, great food, reasonable costs and some friendly people are all part of Boise.

Here is a video of the river outside one of our hotel rooms.

The state Capitol is Boise and the building is really impressive.

Boise really seems to concentrate on making sure children have the opportunity to play outdoors.

There is also a botanical garden where the old penitentiary used to be and now they also hold concerts there, which I think is a much better use of the land. The koi are so beautiful.

Then we headed down the road a couple of hours to see Shoshone Falls. Nothing like waterfalls to quiet the mind and stir the soul. I could have sat here for hours and just let the rushing water clear out my useless thoughts.

Finally, this afternoon we headed up to Ketchum or usually known as Sun Valley.

In this lodge, on the 2nd floor, Ernest Hemingway completed For Whom the Bell Tolls. Years later he shot himself in his new home in the same area. However one of his favorite watering holes in town was a tavern that was just 500 feet from our hotel room – so I went up there, sat at the bar and had a beer in his honor, to the creative spirit, and to the great struggle we all face sometimes.

The beer was good.

Father’s Day

Today is Father’s Day in the U.S.. I miss my father, but thankful. Also thankful for all the other men in my life – those who coached me, taught me, cared for me, tolerated me, and prayed for me, all teaching me how to be a father.

What do you do on Father’s Day? We’re heading out to the river for dinner on a little island.

Maybe take a little snooze in the new hammock while waiting for the sun tea to brew in the summer sun. Happy Father’s Day which is just another way of saying I Love You.

I Floated

Today I floated upon this rather over-sized pool floaty thing and I thought and felt…

It was really the first day of my summer vacation…and so I did what I have often done, for more than 20 summers now – I put Jimmy Buffet’s Banana Wind album on, turned up the volume and let it all just float on me, by me, with me.

I floated by Yesterday and thought about when I was sitting around in my office with 6 college students who are working with us this summer. They were laughing with that type of laughter that only the hopeful can laugh. I started thinking how much I have enjoyed working around hopeful young people these past 22 years or so and how much I will miss their collective spirit, when I finally retire. I almost got tears in my eyes thinking about all the young people I have met and have been a small part of their lives. I had to think to myself, “Don’t cry. You will never be able to explain it to them.”

I floated by my struggles to understand my spiritual beliefs. I have tried hard these past months and years to develop an authentic faith. I have “miles to go before I sleep.” (Poet, Robert Frost) Where am I with it all? I am thankful. I believe in God. I believe in God’s spirit. Two out of three ain’t bad. I still struggle with the presentation of Jesus by the Christian gatekeepers. So here is my prayer, ” ” (it is silence with a heart full of thankfulness.) I shall keep floating with this one.

Still floating, I felt the sun on my eyelids and thought, “You’re going to get skin cancer.” And then, I thought, “Tan fat is prettier than white fat,” and I floated some more.

I have 9 days off and hope to do some more floating. Might get some sunscreen lotion though.

Lost

I just finished Thomas Merton’s autobiography “The Seven Storey Mountain,” written in 1943, I believe.

It was quite a literary journey, but what touched me most was his description of his brother being shot down in WWII while returning to England after a bombing mission along with the poem that Merton wrote when finding out the news.  Merton was just beginning his life as a monk in a Trappist Monastery.

The link will take you to a Goodread copy and paste of the short section. Formatting is a little odd, but you’ll see the poem about in the middle of the section.

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