Tag Archives: slowing down

Siouxon Creek Trail

In late June, 2020, I emerged from months of sheltering in place, due to the coronavirus pandemic, and ventured out into the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, in SW Washington State. It was a beautiful, sunny, 80 degree day, with a light breeze. The forest service road to the trail head was mostly paved, but full of giant potholes and rough, slow-going sections. This was a part of this forest I had never been to, but had seen photos and had heard about it’s spectacular beauty.

The trail was gentle and meandering, as it followed a crystal clear river and was punctuated by magnificent waterfalls along the way. Salmon berry were beginning to ripen and I imagined that by the following week they would be prolific throughout the area. Although with the number of people hiking the trail, it was unlikely they would last long. There was a near constant stream of other hikers and backpackers; many families with children making their way towards camp-sights along the river’s edge. We spent much of the hike moving off the trail to give people space to pass, as we feel that it’s important to follow social distancing guidelines, even when in the outdoors. Most people seemed appreciative and many people even wore masks as they hiked. It was a reminder that even in the restorative beauty of this place, the reality of what was happening in the world today could not be ignored.

These are hard times for everyone. My own sense of self and the ways in which I interact with the world have been disrupted and changed. My work, my studies, and community have all been thrown into chaos. And there is also this constant undercurrent of uneasiness and disquiet, even when doing simple things like making dinner or going for a walk. It often feels like nothing makes sense anymore and that I am just going through the motions of life, despite them feeling inconsequential in this moment in time. But, nature is a good anchor. It reminds me that I am of this world and that I can find myself again in these places. Life makes more sense here.

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