Tag Archives: Love

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.

 

Lessons from the Camino (written in 2012):

Two years ago this month, I walked 180 miles of the Camino de Santiago. Below are a few of the lessons I took from that experience that I thought I would share again!

Lessons from the Camino:

Judging others and ourselves is the root of most unhappiness

I don’t like too much choice-simplicity makes me more happy than complexity

I don’t like excessive heat-unless doing nothing is involved 🙂

I love walking

I am happiest when I am working to make the world a better place by building something, not tearing something down

Wherever you go there you are (I think this is my mantra)

Even profound experiences don’t change us quickly, change comes slowly and is often unexpected

I love my body

Being ourselves leaves us open and vulnerable, but it’s the only way we can ever experience life authentically

I want to love someone who loves me back. I want to be with someone who is as excited about me as I am about them and is as invested in my happiness and dreams as I am in theirs. I will no longer accept less.

A smile can get you a very long way

Everything in life is a reflection of yourself

How we imagine something will be is rarely how it is

Don’t take to heart people who tell you that your experience is invalid or less than theirs just because you do it differently

The belief that you are right is more dangerous than whatever it is you may believe

It is never about the destination, always the journey, but sometimes having a destination helps you get going in the first place

I am attracted to and value kindness above most else

Unsolicited advice is rarely well received

Flexibility (the mental/emotional kind) makes for more enjoyable travels

I love this world and all the people in it, even when at times I feel like I don’t

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Two Years!

Hello everyone!

Today I am celebrating my 2 year anniversary of this blog! Because of this milestone, I wanted to share some of my thoughts about what blogging has meant to me and some of the many changes I have experienced as a result.

Two years ago when I made my first post (https://theperpetualvagabond.com/2011/05/31/today-2/), I was terrified at the idea that people might <gasp> actually look at my work and that for the first time ever I would be exposing myself to both criticism and praise (which were equally difficult for me to hear). At first I just posted here and there, when I felt like it, as I was crawling out of a dark depression and creative stagnation that had lasted for many years. I was not confident in my work, but I did enjoy having somewhere to put it that I could at least reflect upon from time to time. Up until that first post 2 years ago I had not shared my work with anyone in years and this was my attempt at trying to be daring and maybe spark new creativity in my life.

And the amazing thing is that it worked. Less than a year later I began taking photos at Occupy Portland protests and had my photography featured in a number of local and national publications.

some of my photos from that time can be found here:

https://theperpetualvagabond.com/2012/05/03/may-day-in-photos-portland-or-2012/

https://theperpetualvagabond.com/2012/03/12/shadows-of-the-resistance/

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Also during the spring of 2012 I decided that I would travel to South Korea and Japan and try my hand at travel photography. During that trip my photo essay on Kyushu Island, Japan was featured on Freshly Pressed and suddenly I had an audience that I never expected. In just a few days I received over 10,000 views and hundreds of comments.

https://theperpetualvagabond.com/2012/04/12/photo-essay-kyushu-island-japan/

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This “success” just made me want to work harder and made me feel like there were actually people out there that were interested in what I was doing. So, I kept at it.

I traveled to Spain in August of 2012 to walk the Camino de Santiago and had a life changing experience. I was able to blog about my trip while on the trail (although I’m not sure that the weight of my camera and iPad were worth it, next time I will blog when I get back!).

Many entries from my time on The Camino can be found here:        https://theperpetualvagabond.com/?s=Camino

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Then in the fall of 2012 I was Freshly Pressed again for an essay I wrote on this journey I have been on to reclaim my life and creativity called: The Swifts, Conflict, Decision Making and Following my Dreams. This one, though, was a bit more difficult for me to see end up so public, as it was extremely personal and I wasn’t really sure I wanted too many people to see it…I guess putting it on my blog was risky, but I never thought it would end up getting so much attention. But, there it was and the response I got was incredible. So many people let me know that the essay touched them personally and made a difference in their lives. I felt so honored to have people I have never met feel impacted by my words.

https://theperpetualvagabond.com/2012/09/18/the-swifts-conflict-decision-making-and-following-my-dreams/

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Also over these past 2 years I have found inspiration as a photographer in my home and around the Pacific Northwest, which I had often overlooked before, but now brings me more joy and beauty than I have known anywhere else in the world.

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Which brings be to today. Two years later. I’m happy, inspired, excited about the future and in love with life. I’m not sure that I would be where I am today with these many adventures and personal breakthroughs behind me if it hadn’t been for blogging and my commitment to taking a risk and sharing myself with the world.

So, thank you to each of you that has followed my journey, my photography and my work. Without your support I’m not sure where I would have ended up. I am eternally grateful!

On a personal note, I got married last weekend to the love of my life (which two years ago I would have never imagined was ever possible!). We eloped and took our own photos of the ceremony. Here is one of them:

Lauriel and August

I’m not sure where there next two years will take me, but I can only hope that they will be anywhere near as amazing as the last two. One thing is for sure though, I will continue to share my photography and my words on this blog and I hope to continue to inspire others to find their own creative voice, whatever that may be!

Cheers!

~The Perpetual Vagabond

(AKA Lauriel~Arwen)

A Love Letter to Humanity

(I wrote this letter last week for a class I’m taking on Love and Conflict Resolution and after writing it, decided I wanted to share it here-since really a love letter to humanity should probably be shared with people!)

Dear Humanity,

Let me begin by saying that this is a love letter, but before I can tell you why I love you I need to tell you how you have hurt me.

When I was very young, maybe 5 or 6 years old, I lived in rural Norther California. One day on my way to school, I looked out the car window and I watched a tree go down the road on the back of a logging truck; it was just one tree as that was all that would fit on that mammoth semi-truck. I watched in awe and horror as this once majestic tree that was older than anything else I knew to be living was transported down the road to its grave. I understood (even at that age), that that old growth redwood bound for one of the local lumber mills was an insult to the future of the environment and to humanity itself and in the blink of an eye I was turned into an activist.

From that day forward I began to learn all that I could about humanity’s impact on the environment and found comfort in studying science and history as a way to guide my path. While the peak of old-growth logging in the redwood forests was happening all around me, I began to learn that this was not an isolated incident. I discovered that globally, the tropical rainforests were being cut and burned at an alarming rate to clear land to raise cattle. I learned that plant and animal species were going extinct daily if not hourly (sometime even ones we had yet to discover!). And I learned that human beings were producing so many toxic chemicals that we were putting our own bodies at risk by constant exposure. The more I learned the more I couldn’t believe that we were letting these things happen. Why would we destroy the very ecosystems that we relied on for clean food, water and air? Why would we trade in our wild places for malls, cars and T.V.’s? Why would we allow for short term gain as a trade for long term survival? And why even when we knew that our behavior was problematic, would we keep doing what we were doing?

But, on the bright side I also found people and organizations that were doing things to stop the destruction of the environment and try to ensure a better future for us all. By the time I was 8 years old I was a member of Greenpeace, The World Wildlife Fund, and other activist non-profit organizations. In order to pay the membership fees to join these organizations, I began fundraising by making arts and crafts to sell in the community. I would set up a table with a donation jar and items for sale, as well as information on the cause I was fundraising for at the moment.

By the time I was in middle school (and had moved to Olympia, WA), I began to realize that, despite that hard work of activists across the globe, things were only getting worse. Of course there were many success and there are many things that have been saved as a result of activist work, but overall, on a global scale, our problems were increasing, not getting better. But, I still had hope. I believed that not enough time had passed to make the real kind of change that was necessary. I believed that things would get better, we just had to fight harder and educate more people. And I believed that people wanted to change, they just didn’t know how.

After high school, I went on to work professionally as an activist for various political organizations and personally began to engage in acts of non-violent civil disobedience during mass protests that had quickly spread across the country in the late 1990’s. I knew that I wasn’t just fighting for sea turtles, or trees, or air and water quality, I was fighting for our future; humanity’s future. I was fighting for a world where progress didn’t mean that some species got to keep living and some didn’t. I was fighting for a world were people didn’t have to question if the plastic bottle they drank from would give them cancer. And I was fighting for a world where people could still find peace and solace in wild places.

But, the crazy thing is humanity, you fought back. You kicked me and called me names. You pepper sprayed me and threatened to arrest me. You created T.V. shows to mock me and tell stories that questioned my intelligence. You even started to tell kids that to be like me meant that you were “un-American” and dangerous. And amazingly enough, you fought so hard to save your own destruction, that today, in 2013, you seem to be winning.

But, the crazy thing is that I’m fighting to save you because I love you. And I love you despite the three decades of fighting me back. I love you despite the threats and the harassment. I love you because you are the most beautiful thing I have ever known and I want future generations to get a chance at living.

Yes, life is difficult and not always pretty and there are horrible things that happen to people every day, many of them caused by other humans, but life is still beautiful and we owe it to future generations to let them experience it. And irrationally, the biggest reason that life is difficult and sometimes horrible is because of stuff that WE do to each other and to the planet, so helping to fix the problems in our environment is really about helping to fix problems within ourselves.

I don’t love humanity because of the terrible things we are capable of, I love humanity because despite these things, we mostly treat each other well and are capable of great love and empathy. I love that even though people experience unimaginable tragedies and sorrow, we still make art, poetry, and create deep connections again and again in our lives. I love that despite the fact that we are often separated by language, culture and tradition, we all still share common experiences and emotions that bring us together.

I love you, humanity, because of love itself; the love between parents and children, the love between lovers, and love between friends. I love you because you write incredible books and cook amazing food. I love the way that you will get up early just to watch a sunrise and the way you will cry when your dog dies. I love that you love beautiful things like dancing, art, wild natural places, and flowers in the front yard. I love your sense of humor and your ability to see the best in the most unimaginably difficult situations. I love your diversity and the thousands of languages you speak. I love your celebrations and decadence as well as your ability to be humble and introspective. I love that you live in mud huts and wood houses, tents and high rise apartments. I love that you know how to track an animal across the plaines to feed your community and that you grow gardens on the rooftops of new buildings. I love the way you smell and that you have dreams larger than anything we have ever known to be possible.

And I love that even though things are getting worse and the fight seems impossible at times, some people are still fighting because they love you and they have hope that someday you will learn to love yourself enough to ensure the continuation of our collective future. For myself, I often loose hope and am not sure that anything will make a difference, but despite that, I know that I can never give up because I love you and without love there will be no humanity left worth saving.

Love,

The Perpetual Vagabond (AKA Lauriel~Arwen)

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Poem: She Danced Her Way Through the Morning

She danced her way through the morning

The songs of the night before singing in her mind

If anyone could see her they might question such unabashed joy

They might be afraid of such raw emotion

But, she was alone with her thoughts

No one was going to see her smile

No one would see her dance through her day

Her happiness was hers alone

She knew that what she was feeling was special

And never guaranteed

So she cherished every moment of it

And since the music continued to play in her thoughts

She just kept on dancing

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