The Beauty of Becoming

Spirit Meets Bone

This spring, my friend Terri grew Monarch butterflies. Like most of us, she’s concerned that it’s our human footprint mucking up the planet and not, contrary to what some believe, God or Zeus or Mothra exacting their revenge on us for sport. In the past few decades, the Monarch population has suffered an alarming and steep decline from 1 billion in the mid-1990s to only 35 million in 2014. It doesn’t take a math genius like Stephen Hawking to tell you that this is not good with a side of very bad. Or to put it another way: there’s a profound disturbance in the Force, Luke.

The world depends on harmony, not balance. Harmony is all the disparate elements co-mingling and working together in their own funky ways to create some kind of whole. Harmony is peanut butter and chocolate smashed together to make something delicious. There was a time…

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The West is on Fire

Goodnight Already

Our Cabin in Winter Our Cabin in Winter

This morning, moments after I woke up, Kellie greeted me by saying, “It’s all over.”

“Huh?” I said, rubbing my eyes and starting the kettle.

“Our cabin,” she said, and explained that Aeneas Valley was evacuated overnight. Our cabin currently sits between two rapidly growing fires.

Just last weekend we had traveled there with a weed whacker in the back of the truck because the fire season was well under way, because it was already a bad one, because we were overdue for our annual fire abatement—and also, because we love it there.

interiorWe left on a Friday morning, the same morning that lightning had started dozens of small fires. Some of the fires had grown into big ones. As we drove through Chelan, the air grew increasingly thick with smoke. The parking lot of the elementary school was filled with fire trucks and mobilizing crews…

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right in the neck

gregfallis.com

The Athabaskan people who lived near the mountain called it Denali, which meant ‘the high one.’ It’s a pretty name for a mountain. I like it. Another local tribe, the Dina’ena, called it Doleika, which meant ‘big mountain,’ which is less poetic but still pretty accurate. It really is a big mountain.

The Russians moved into the neighborhood in 1783; they called the mountain Bolshaya Gora, which also means ‘big mountain.’ They didn’t really change the name; they just said it in Russian, which is appropriate. But the Russians left in 1867, and I suspect folks in the area just continued to refer to it the ‘big mountain’ in whatever language they happened to have handy at the moment. Because it really IS a big mountain.

denali2

Then in the late 1880s, the white folks in the region decided to call it Densmore’s Peak, after Frank Densmore — a gold…

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My Shrink Broke Up With Me

Sophie Saint Thomas

Going back to the dark days in my latest for Broadly.

According to therapist-cum-speaker Dr. Julie Gurner, “A responsible psychologist will always make a referral if the client continues to need treatment elsewhere, but it is ultimately the client’s responsibility to follow through with that referral. An exception to the client taking responsibility for follow through might be if they are feeling unsafe (suicidal) or are compromised in some other way.”

Two years ago, on a hot New York Summer’s day, still drunk from the night before, I walked into my shrink’s office and told him I needed to quit drinking and wanted to kill myself. I’m not sure if it was as cohesively articulated as that, but rather a rambling about how high a sixth floor walk-up apartment is, various uses of a cleaver, and that Lenny Kravitz had jumped out of the audience to play drums…

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Monstrously Disruptive Technology: Don’t Turn Your Back on the Toaster

EsoterX

“The ancients, no doubt, were as wicked as we are, but they knew it.  And so they were wise enough to put up protective railings” – Jacques Bergier

Well, that's the last time we invite humans. Well, that’s the last time we invite humans.

I’ve quietly slipped into the status of an old curmudgeon.  I thought there would at least be cake, but it turns out that the only thing that marked the transition was that whenever I hear the phrase “disruptive technology”, I want to reach for a gun.  For a few years now, the go-to adjective to describe the latest technological or scientific innovation has been “disruptive”, lauded by management wonks and big-brained technologists as an ideal to strive for, neglecting the fact that the man who coined the term, Clayton M. Christensen, was quick to point out that technologies themselves are not disruptive, rather that particular business models enabled a disruptive impact and quickly stopped…

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A Letter from One Mother to Another

The Rahma Diaries

Dear Irresponsible Migrant Mother,

What exactly were you thinking when you woke your children in the dead of the  night, picking up the baby still asleep?  Don’t you know how important it is for children to get enough sleep? They’ll be cranky during the day if they don’t sleep enough.  They won’t develop properly if you keep doing this.  Children need routine.  That baby you’re holding needs to be warm and comfortable, cocooned and safe, like a tiny bud, waiting to bloom in the morning. Those toddlers won’t be able to walk the miles you want them to in the black night in worn out shoes without a good night’s sleep.

What’s that? Speak up.  You had to travel at night? It was safer? It was quieter? There was less chance of being discovered? Less chance of being caught if it was dark and the threat that hung over you…

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“How the f*ck do we change anything in this place?”

Alex Farrow

These were the words I inked into my notebook as I led on my hotel room bed in Kazakhstan. More specifically, I was in Ust-Kamenogorsk, which is the regional capital of East Kazakhstan – one of the 16 regions (or oblasts) that make up the country. This one region is the size of Germany.

From Ust-Kamenogorsk it is about 120km to the Russian border, 400km to China and 500km to Mongolia. To the 9th biggest country in the world, these distances are thought of as just a short drive away.

Yet all three borders are considerably closer than the 1100km to the capital city, Astana, the previous capital Almaty, or 3660km to the oil capital of Aktau on the Caspian Sea. This is roughly the same as traveling from Manchester to Athens. The shortest flight time from Ust-Kamenogorsk to Aktau is 9 hours 40 minutes with a stopover in…

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Thanks for reading

izzygutierrez

By Israel Gutierrez

I’ve been agonizing for months trying to figure out how to do this.

It’s been incredibly difficult, to the point where I usually talk myself in circles and end up making very little sense.

So I decided on this simple blog entry. No formalities, no restrictions, just me letting you into a portion of my life I’ve kept largely separate from my professional career.

I’m gay, which plenty of people, I’m sure, have either deduced or just guessed as much over the years.

But this isn’t me “coming out.” The truth is, I’ve been out to friends and family for more than six years.

The reason I’m tackling this now is, primarily, because I’m getting married on September 12. And besides the fact that it would be annoying to tell my story every time someone sees my wedding ring, it just seemed like a natural time to…

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John Muir Trail Day 10: Kearsarge Pass to Guitar Lake

Trail to Peak

“Mountains seem to answer an increasing imaginative need in the West. More and more people are discovering a desire for them, and a powerful solace in them. At bottom, mountains, like all wildernesses, challenge our complacent conviction – so easy to lapse into – that the world has been made for humans by humans. Most of us exist for most of the time in worlds which are humanly arranged, themed and controlled. One forgets that there are environments which do not respond to the flick of a switch or the twist of a dial, and which have their own rhythms and orders of existence. Mountains correct this amnesia. By speaking of greater forces than we can possibly invoke, and by confronting us with greater spans of time than we can possibly envisage, mountains refute our excessive trust in the man-made. They pose profound questions about our durability and the importance…

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A Rural Idyll in Steady Decline

Critical Dispatches

The people of that plainly built farming town led simple lives and were proud of the hardship and forfeiture that rural existence assumed of them. They knew their place in that world and – as is customary in such isolated surroundings – they conducted themselves with the same sheltered constancy as so many of their forebears had abided for generations before. In the summer months, they worked on the bog, cutting and footing the turf as the midges ate at their faces and the sun reddened their necks. In autumn, they collected the dried turf in sacks and shifted the load onto rented wagons for bringing home. They burned the dried sod for fuel during the winter and prayed to the mother, the father, and the Holy Spirit in heaven that it would be a short cold this year and that spring would not be long in coming.

As soon as…

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