Simply Be

We’ve all been there we get caught up in life and forget to actually live it. We turn our lives into chronological lines and mark the passing of time through tangible objectives that we have deemed important. A dramatic reminder for you is that we continue on and eventually we die. No amount of successfully completed objectives will stop that.

Occasions will arise throughout our lives that allow us to slow down and see more than just a straight line. In these moments we are given the benefit of seeing ourselves with all the depth and complexity that we contain.

One of my recent experiences with this is a weekend I spent camping. Not a rare occasion for me, but this time I was entirely surrounded by fellow Catholics. Now we weren’t doing anything religious per se, we were just enjoying each others company along with the beautiful weather. On Sunday morning there came an aha! moment for me. It was like we hit a pause button on the weekend and an altar sprang up in the middle of our camp. As we gathered around it occurred to me that we had not come together to specifically do anything Catholic, and yet there was no doubt in anybody that mass was the central point of our weekend. It was beautiful because we were being Catholic. We were fully alive in that moment.

My challenge for you is to simply be. Be present. Be you. Be whatever defines you, and allow that to encompass the moment you’re living in. That’s what allows us to see our lives for the inspiring functions they are.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

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“Staffers” aka Crazy People

This summer I once again have the privilege of serving at a Boy Scout Camp here in the midwest. Of course, as the staff gathers we only have a vague idea of what the summer holds for us. And yet we cast ourselves headlong knowing that in less than two weeks our camp will be fully alive with activity.

We’re staff. We’ve given up our summers, time with our friends, and good paying jobs. We’ll push ourselves to the breaking point and then carry each other over the edge. We do it all for the camp we love. And facilitating a great program is never easy; we’ll be working in less than ideal conditions, and by the end the stress will break each of us in some way. But when we fall we always catch each other. Because as staffers, we’re so much more than coworkers, we’re family. And that’s why I know it’s going to be a great summer.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

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Personality and Shoes

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As Forrest Gump said, “you can tell a lot about a person by their shoes.” Well these are my shoes, and they sure don’t hide much. I got these as something to wear instead of my hiking shoes. Though the other night during my commute I pulled into this local Conservation area to check out the river. Of course now they’re dirty. I guess as much as I try to fill the role of a typical university student, I can’t hide that I’m really an outdoors junky at heart. That I belong somewhere else. And I suppose I’m okay with that.
Peace, Love, and Happiness…
–Joe

Be Still

 

Sit here and listen with me for awhile. What is there to be heard? From the other side of the hill a cow is lowing. Above the devil’s cross roars across the blue sky. Down here below the wind wisps gently over the hill I’m sitting on, the last few dead leaves rustling in the tree line. There is a crash as a dead limb falls to the ground. A squirrel chatters at me from the brush. And an owl hoots from high up in some tree. In the distance I hear the sound of a tractor as a farmer prepares his field for the spring planting. Then this little song bird lands on the rock beside me calling out. He seems to beckon his comrades home from their winter’s flight. And if you listen carefully on this cool February afternoon, you can hear God at work in his creation. So, what do you hear?

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

free writing for better writing pt2

author’s note: this continues the series where I take a free writing prompt and present it to you in it’s rough form. this is all in the effort to create characters for my fiction work.

A Perfect Day

deep breath. Smell that? it’s a warm spring morning and there was a thunderstorm last nite. I see the leaves dripping, the winding dirt path is slightly muddy, all around there is a surreal glow as the may sun hits the foliage, and crashing though my thoughts is the sound of countless song birds beckoning to each other. As I shoulder my pack I smile at my friend. Let’s do this.

we begin down the trail turning the bend and losing sight of the car. Our goal today is to reach the overlook, to see for miles. But that doesn’t really matter, does it? What I’m doing, where I’m at, and the time of the year are all second rate to who I’m with. What makes it a perfect day is spending time with a friend. It’s about catching up, laughter, discussing life, and meaningless shit. That’s what brings me to life more than anything else.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

I am Conservation

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Baba Dioum is a powerful name for conservation and agriculture in the country of Senegal. I absolutely love this part of his most quoted speech. It really captures the essence of what every conservation minded organization and individual must do. Both governments and non-profit organizations do a lot of regulation and activism, but ultimately we must carefully teach what is important and why we should care.

Personally, my greatest teacher has been experience. I have been exposed to the outdoors quite a bit in my short life. I have seen the garbage along highways; I have observed the erosion of our waterways; I have heard the wolf cry in the distance; and I have felt the magic of an early morning autumn day. Through simply being outdoors I gradually come to understand it. This understanding is never complete, and for that very reason I come to love the outdoors for everything new it can teach me.

Now this can be applied to any part of life. Whether it be friends, money, music, knowledge, faith, and on, and on. Whatever it is, it all starts with being taught. What are you teaching? What are you learning?

I am in love, I am conservation

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

Backpacking Equipment

enjoying the view of the St Francois mountains

Enjoying the view of the St Francois mountains.

As promised, I will also be including bits of my outdoor adventures here. This is my current summer backpacking gear list. Very similar to what I packed earlier this summer when I went hiking on the Ozark Trail in southern Missouri (I’ll tell that story at some point).


3-Day Summer Backpacking List

  • Shelter and sleeping          =4lbs2.15oz
  • +Hammock                             =13.5oz
    +Rain fly                                 =13.75oz
    +4 Stakes                               =2.9oz
    +30*F Sleeping bag               =2lb 4oz
  • Water and food gear           =1lb 6.65oz
    +20oz Water bottle (empty)    =.85oz
    +2L Water bladder (empty)    =6.7oz
    +Cook kit (3cup pot, bandana, stove, lighter, stuff sack) =10.65oz
    +16oz Fuel bottle (empty)      =.35oz
    +Sawyer squeeze water filter =3.15oz
    +Medium dry-sack                  =.95oz
  • Clothing (packed)           =1lb 14.05oz
    +T-shirt                              =8oz
    +2pair Poly ankle socks    =2.7oz
    +Bandana                          =.95oz
    +Gym shorts                      =8.45oz
    +2pairs Compression shorts =8oz
    +Knee Brace                      =.85oz
    +Large dry-sack                 =1.1oz
  • Other gear                        =3lbs 10.25oz
    +Penlight                            =2.1oz
    +Map                                  =.75oz
    +Notepad & Pencil              =2.55oz
    +Compass                          =1.65oz
    +Carabiner                         =1.6oz
    +First aid/repair kit              =3.8oz
    +Rain jacket w/stuff sack    =6.6oz
    +20ft Paracord                    =1.3oz
    +REI Flash 45 Backpack     =2lbs 4oz
    +Sunglasses                       =.75oz
    +Penknife                            =1.15oz

Total base weight =11lbs 1.1oz

  • Clothing (worn) =4lbs 1.2oz
    +Zip-off Hiking Pants =14.15oz
    +T-shirt =8oz
    +Compression shorts =4oz
    +Poly Ankle socks =1.35oz
    +Adidas Trail Runners =2lbs 5.7oz
  • Consumables
    +2.5L Water (on average) =5lbs 8oz
    +Food (1lb/day) =3lbs
    +Fuel (usually) =1lb

Summary
Base weight =11lbs 1.1oz
Consumables =9lbs 8oz
Pack weight =20lbs 9.1oz
Clothing worn =4lbs 1.2oz


So yeah, very happy with what my kit has evolved into; with a base weight under 12 pounds it is unarguably a lightweight load out. This allows for the potential of me cranking out major miles (though not necessarily). As in all things, there are many equally important factors to backpacking, the gear is just one small part. Nothing can replace being adequately prepared.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

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