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A Walk to North Portland: Poetry, Spring Flowers, and Empty Streets

I always find it interesting how many people will drive long distances to go hiking, but many of those same people won’t walk long distances in their own cities. For me, most of inner Portland can be accessed on foot, and I think that a two, three, four, or even eight mile walk across the city is a wonderful way to spend the day. Of course I love being out in wild natural areas too, but if one never walks from place to place in the urban expanses in which they live, they may never truly know the place they call home.

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As I walked across town on this beautiful late winter day, I was particularly struck by how empty the sidewalks were. There were plenty of cars zooming down the roads, but relatively few people out and about on foot. It’s one of the strange things about walking in a city where so many people drive. I can be out in broad daylight in one of the most idyllic neighborhoods, with gorgeous old houses, and towering trees, and not see another person for blocks at a time. I often wonder where everyone is. How could I be the only one person in this spot at this time when there were millions of people living across the city? Where was everyone? Sometimes I will walk at rush hour and watch as people in cars inch their way down the road, angry and frustrated, while I am the only person walking on the empty, but beautiful and perfectly functional sidewalk. I wonder where they are going that driving seems like such a good option? If they are on a city street instead of the freeway, it can’t be too far. I wonder how many of those people just don’t know that walking is an option and one that would make their lives so much less painful.

 

Along my walk, I came across so many curious and beautiful things; friendly neighborhood cats, six poetry stations, colorful murals, endless yard signs, and beautifully landscaped gardens with abundant and fragrant, early spring flowers. I wandered around without any set route and discovered streets and places I had never been before. The whole walk was about four miles and took me a little over an hour. A perfect way to spend the afternoon, with lots of time to think, reflect, and wonder about the world around me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Perpetual Vagabond is Back!

Hello Dear Readers!

I began this blog in May of 2011, while reading Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way, a book about discovering or recovering our creativity. At that time, I was not only unaware of that fact that creativity was something I had lost, but I also came to understand how that loss was impacting my life. Creativity is not something we do, it is how we express ourselves, how we come to understand who we are, and ultimately how we make meaning in the world. Without an outlet for meaning-making, humans can find themselves feeling empty, hopeless, and without purpose; in May of 2011, this was how I felt. Stumbling upon this book about recovering something so fundamental to existence, and yet I hadn’t realized was missing, completely changed my life. Inspired to overcome my fear of failure, rejection, and self-doubt, I crafted my first blog post and put it out for all to see. Of course at the time few people were there to hear my words, but the simple act of hitting “publish” on something that was personal, vulnerable, and of my own making, was liberating. I started slow, with a few poems and some photos. I was searching for my voice and what it was that I hoped to say to the world. Eventually, I decided to start travelling and used this blog to share my experiences. I embraced my namesake and found my voice as a vagabond. However, constant travel was limiting in its own way, and in that process I found that being a vagabond is more a state of mind; a way of approaching the world with curiosity and wonder. I now tend to wander about through my neighborhood and local parks, all the while exploring the world through my senses and trying to understand what my surroundings have to teach me.

My goal in the coming months and years, is to repurpose this blog with an eye towards depth, emotion, and embodied explorations. For many years I have shared my various adventures, but I have paid less attention to the more meaningful aspects of each journey. I have shown beautiful pictures, but rarely offered deep wonderings or insights. While I may have started my creative journey seven years ago, I have really only scratched the surface of what’s possible. If I am to truly live a creative, meaningful life, I must now start to peel away the layers of superficiality and begin to explore in more thoughtful and purposeful ways. I know this won’t be particularly easy, but I hope that it’s worthwhile. I would like to thank each of you that have followed me over the years and I look forward to your continued feedback and support.

With love,

The Perpetual Vagabond

Long Walk

 

 

Grief, Love, and Remembrance

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A few days ago I found myself standing in front of the memorial for the victims of the racist, violent attack that happened last week on a MAX train in Portland. I stood there and cried, while other people did the same. Portland has always been my home, but standing there made me feel like I was somewhere else, in a place I didn’t know, even though I knew in my heart that it is very much this place, that led to this attack happening. This made it all the more painful. We have not done enough. I have not done enough. This incident has put a spotlight on the legacy of colonialism, racism, and white supremacy that is alive and well in our community and in our country. As long as hateful people can see their views reflected and held up in our society, these acts will continue. We must do more. I must do more. But, too many people claim to have the answers; claim to know the one righteous path forward. There is a general lack of humility and refusal to listen, that is pervasive is the current dialogue. Our community feels like it is both coming together and breaking apart all at once. But, I believe that there are no simple answers and I rarely trust those who claim to have them. Humans are more complicated than that. We live in both a causal condition, while also constantly striving towards free-will. Until we can recognize both the causality of our lives and our personal responsibility to act morally and ethically, we will continue to spin in circles of violence and extremism; of righteous self-indignation that leads to discord and the disintegration of compassion for others. We must start using love and empathy as verbs, not slogans. We must start listening, start seeking to understand that which makes us uncomfortable, and working to actively dismantle oppressive systems and ways of thinking that are woven into our culture. I am heartbroken that this happened and I grieve for the families who lost loved ones and those who were traumatized by this act of terror in our community. But, I will also continue to have hope knowing that most people are good people and that together we can work to make this world a better place for all.

 

What is Portland? A Poem

I wrote this poem in response to a prompt on the Blog, Mismanaging Perceptions, which can also be found on the following link:

http://www.mismanagingperception.com/what-is-portland-response-1/What is Portland? 

What is Portland? A Poem.

Portland is cherry blossoms during a warm snap in February

That brings everyone out of their homes

To revel in what is quickly described as an “unseasonal event”

Even though it happens every year

 —–

Portland is a love of place but with a disconnect to now

A desire to occupy the charm of a slower, more intentional time

While finding itself being on the cutting edge

A city of people motivated to make a better future

Although sometimes in image only

 ——-

Portland is a town built on industry and exploitation

That forgets its past as it becomes a town of “new ideas”

Today, people see the glamour in a city that found its place

By pushing out those who once knew it as home

 ——–

Portland is long rainy winters and the best summers on the planet

A city of bridges, a city of roses

Of coffee, of beer, of bikes and of farmers markets

It has some of the best public transportation in the country

But, it mostly serves those who need it the least

 ——–

Portland is and has always been unique, but not always for sale

It’s soul becoming more transparent as it becomes a thing not a place

What makes it beautiful still exists, but only for some

Much of the “livability” disappearing

——

Portland is not a doughnut shop or an image

It is not the businesses that sell us our city back to us

It is not even a movement or a style

 ——-

Portland is the smell in the air after it rains

And people getting excited about “snow”

It’s the way the sun hangs on the horizon in winter

And it’s people who look each other in the eye when they pass

 ——-

Portland is a city divided, although you only know that

If you live on the “other” side

Where walking becomes a liability and you feel

That you are somehow forgotten anytime “Portland” is discussed

 ——-

Portland is beautiful, colorful, and full of life

Portland is my home

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Search of Adventure Abroad and Community at Home: Thoughts on Being a Vagabond

I am a vagabond; that much is clear to me. But I am also drawn to building creative and meaningful community at home. This makes me feel torn on a near constant basis and the process of fuzing these two realities together seems to be more alchemy than a hard science. At least I have yet to discover the secret. It seems that the life of a vagabond is lonely and isolated from stability, while filled with adventure and personal growth; while life in community is repetitive and predictable, but gives the opportunity to know others and a place intimately. Now these two realities are not necessarily mutually exclusive, or even reflective of what I describe above, but for me it feels this way. And of course while traveling I dream of my life at home and while at home I can’t stop thinking of getting back into the unknown.

This time around I made it just over a month in Portland before the itch set in. An itch that I couldn’t scratch without buying a plane ticket. After returning from Korea and Japan this past May I was excited about being home for some time, putting in my garden, maybe further developing my romantic relationship and hopefully finding a job. I figured I could at least go for another year before needing to travel again. But, the good feeling of being home only lasted about a month. The vibrant green of spring in the Pacific Northwest began to fade, my garden went untended, my relationship spoiled and only rejection letters from potential employers found their way to my inbox. My new dream of living a full and exciting life while remaining still dissolved…

…Now to be fair, I probably didn’t give things enough time. I expected stability while demanding excitement. I didn’t allow things to flourish from a place of newness, but allowed them to stagnate though a place of the familiar. Instead of holding tight and allowing for a new chapter to emerge, I chose to escape. It’s what I do best. So, I decided that I would spend 6 weeks in Spain in order to walk the Camino de Santiago, something I have wanted to do for years. I figured this would buy me some more time to try my hand once again at growing roots when I return.

While I desire some of what stability offers and often find myself attracted to staying put, the feeling never lasts. Some people find the idea of traveling frightening, but exciting; I feel that way about being stable and in one place. But, just like people who are afraid to travel and would benefit from facing their fears, I should probably face my fear of staying still for a time in order to gain the lessons of that experience. So now I intend to try again when I return from this trip. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if in the end it turns out that I am destined to be a wandering vagabond and will have to find my desire for community and stability in other ways.

But, I am excited to embark on this next adventure in search of clarity and to have the opportunity to do more travel photography in a part of the world I have never been. Who knows if I will find any answers on my journey, but I know it will help fulfill my wanderlust while giving me time to contemplate my next steps at home.

I leave August 2nd, so stay tuned for photos and stories from the road!

Cheers!