The Call

In the words of Marianne Williamson: "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

"To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday, June 12, 2010

My Bank Account Of Time

Today is my father’s birthday, June 12. He would have been 97 today if he hadn’t died about 12 years ago. In thinking about his passing which some people wouldn’t call untimely since he was 85 years old, I am reminded of others whose passing could be called untimely. Our friend, Judi Blake was in her 50’s when she died suddenly in her sleep, another friend, also named Judy is nearing her transition at a relatively young age. I once performed unsuccessful CPR on a fellow worker who was 32. We recently heard about a small child who succumbed to leukemia. I bring up all this to remind myself that we come into this human existence with a finite “time” in the “bank of this Life”. When we are young, we spend it unconsciously, if not recklessly, because it feels like we are immortal. But, as we continue to age, we begin to grasp the importance of time in all of it’s contexts. When I passed 50 years, I realized that realistically, my bank account of time was at least 50% empty. As I approach 70, about 75% has been spent, with luck. We never know how much time we are each allotted. Each day represents a “draw” from our “time” account without being able to check the balance. We can’t save some time for a rainy day – it gets spent whether or not we want to. We could lock ourselves in a dark room for 24 hours, not doing anything and it would still get lived. So my lesson for today is to spend each day by living fully, totally present, enjoying each moment as the rich and precious gem that it is. Our dear friend, Mari, wrote us yesterday. It was her birthday. Her words touched us deeply and I would like to share them with you.

"It is my birthday today, so I am taking the opportunity to move slowly and listen more closely than usual to "what wants to happen" today."

Good words to live by.....Larry

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Our Plans for the Summer ~2010

As most of you know our housesit in Sutherlin, Oregon is coming to an end next week. We'll still be in Oregon for a couple of more weeks but then we are headed off for another adventure. We have had several inquiries with regard to our plans and wanted to share some of what our intentions are.

The theme for this summer could be many things -
The Great Summer Experiment OR
Our Vision Quest OR
How Much "Stuff" Does It Take To Be Happy? OR
How To Get Back to Our Heart Place OR
Who Are Larry & Charlotte & Why Are They Here?

We attended a wonderful class in Roseburg, Oregon earlier this year. It was called "The Quest for Wholeness: Healing Ourselves, Healing Our World".

To learn more about the book, you can click in the link to the right below "some of our favorite books".
We have had a wonderful spiritual teacher in Donna Smith and a wonderful group to share and grow with. It has been a remarkable and awakening experience that set us on a path of questions ..... that led us to this jumping off place. Our intention for our summer is to continue "our quest for wholeness".

Before we go on, we have a story we want to tell you. Some of it you may know but not all and we want to speak to you from our hearts. We have been reading through 30 years of journals and looking at photos these last few weeks and in doing that we have made many discoveries or perhaps, the truer statement is to say that we have remembered a lot of things that we had somehow forgotten over the years.

When we met, over 31 years ago, we were both working at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in California. We had very good paying jobs. We lived for Fridays and dreaded Mondays; returning to jobs that felt like drudgery - a week of mundane activities and shuffling papers. (Larry had worked at the lab almost 20 years as a scientific programmer when I met him) When we met, we found that we shared similar dreams of moving to the woods and living by the sweat of our brows with some brains thrown in. We went off to live those dreams together in 1981. Probably, neither of us would have attempted it alone but together we felt that we could do anything. We dreamt of writing about our adventures and at the time I had a dream of becoming a successful artist.

Benjamin Franklin said, "Write something worth reading or do something worth writing about". Our intention was to cover both of those bases. We have done a lot of living in our 30+ years together. I wish we had a record of the location of every bed we have slept in. Some of the things we are really passionate about are traveling, adventures and writing about our experiences.

Our very first home together was on the banks of the North Fork of the American River above Chimney Rock. Lots of people hiked the trails during the day and we wanted more privacy so about a week later we moved up to Shirttail Creek below Yankee Jim Road. These were huge pack-ins since we set up a kitchen for long term camp outs and all of our camping gear and mining gear.

From a Mormon hymnal dated 1862:

I heard of gold at Sutter's mill
At Michigan Bluff and Iowa Hill
But never thought it was rich until,
I started off to prospect.
At Yankee Jim's I bought a purse,
Inquired for Iowa Hill, of course,
And traveled on, but what was worse,
Fetched up in Shirt-tail Canyon.
At Iowa Hill they buried me,
In the Catholic cemetery,
Underneath an old pine tree,
Now I no longer prospect.
Yet from below the gravestone cold,
I think about the days of old,
Still yearning for the days of gold,
When I went off to prospect.

On Shirttail Creek Larry built us a wonderful camp. We worked hard, cooked over an open fire and slept under the stars. Young love was wonderful - beyond our wildest dreams.

In October of '81 the rains moved in and we spent one night slowly washing away below our tarp as the torrents of water came down off of the hills. Thank goodness a caretaking position was not too far in our future. Winter on the creek was looking a little harder than we expected. It wasn't too many days after that we moved up to King's Hill just outside of Iowa Hill, California.

When we headed for the river, we went in search of a simple life that required very little money. We were on a journey to discover who we were without all of the trappings. How much does a person really need to own to be happy? We lived by the sweat of our labor without the security of a savings account, a regular pay check or health insurance. Some people thought we were foolish. Some of our family members thought we had lost our minds. Who, in their right mind, would leave good jobs, and years of education and go off to live in the woods?

Our new home, King's Hill, was 3000 acres of forestland owned by a group of land investors who lived in the Bay Area. It was remote to say the least. We actually had a cabin but there was no phone, electricity or running water, unless you ran down the hill to get a bucket of water at the spring. Or, I almost forgot, in the winter rain water did run off of the roof and into our aluminum boat and we bucketed water out of that . We lived mostly off of gold for those first 7 years.... gold, walnuts and firewood. We had 40 acres of dry land walnuts to tend and we got the crop in exchange for caring for the orchard - at least what was left over from the ground squirrels and the bears. We thrived on the hard physical labor of hauling water, cutting firewood, building fires, shoveling snow, hunting for food, mining for gold and even washing clothes by hand.

If we had a "poor" week we ate beans - if we had a "rich" week we ate steak and drank wine. We ate a lot of beans in the beginning but it made the steak and wine experiences all the more delicious. What we discovered in a very short time is how much we had taken for granted and how many of the pleasures of our lives we had missed because we were walking through so much of life in a semi-conscious state. We thrived on the challenge of making ends meet - seeing how little money we could live on and still be happy.... sometimes deliriously happy. We had very little "stuff" . We chose not to sell our souls to the devil for a $ so that we could buy more "stuff". Our greatest extravagance was the purchase of books.

We chose the "road less traveled" and it has made all the difference. We have traveled the highways and bi-ways, had amazing adventures and experiences, met wonderful people and spent long summers camped out in the woods. Our pursuits have brought us moments of great peace and exhileration but we have also been presented with challenges and obstacles to overcome; illness, injuries, homelessness. We can always find a place to camp and hang our hats.

We have lived an extraordinary life and adventure but we have never found a way to make a living doing it. I think that we made up the story that we could choose to suffer through in the corporate world and make good money or we could live the life we dreamed about and live on the edge. We did not dream of making lots of money. We dreamt of living life off of the land, in the wilderness. We dreamt of a simple life where we could discover the essential facts of life. We used to tell folks that we had read Thoreau one too many times because we made a conscious decision "to go to the woods, to front the essential facts of life and see if we could learn what it had to teach, and not when we came to die, discover that we had not lived".

A friend asked us once if we had taken an oath of poverty. It seemed an odd question at the time but after consideration, we had to answer "yes". Basically we did take an oath of poverty. We went in search of a simple life that required very little money. We were on a journey to discover who we were without all of the trappings. It has been an amazing and wonderful adventure. Periodically, we would drop back in for a few months and get "jobs"; working for a National RV guide visiting all of the privately owned campgrounds in California selling advertising, working for the census, Hickory Farms, working as organic farmers for 8 years, caretaking, paintings houses, digging ditches.

As we have traveled our path, we have shared our journey with others but not in an organized way. This journey is a process of ups and downs and all arounds. There are paths to walk, mountains to climb, rivers to cross and rivers to navigate. There are challenges and some rough roads. But, there are also wonders to behold and many gifts and blessings to be had along the way. One never knows what is around the next bend. It is a journey of discovery and awakening.

We lost a dear friend last month. Judi was 50 years old. She was a very successful and brilliant business woman. When we spoke to her in February she said that she was in the process of reorganizing her life because she didn't have enough time for fun and family. She was in apparently good health but she went to sleep on a Saturday night and never woke up again. Her husband, David, discovered her the next morning. I cannot imagine the pain of that for David.

What we learned from Judi's passing is that you can run out of time while you are trying to find more time. You can run out of life while you are living for that "someday". You can run out of days while you are chasing after the dream, instead of embracing the journey. When we were young, we thought we had all the time in the world. Larry will be 70 this year and I will be 60. As one gets older, one becomes more aware of their clock ticking. If one wakes up, one finds that things that have been important, lose their importance. Your priorities change.

We are seeing things very differently these last few weeks. We realize that "stuff" can still own you, if you aren't careful. Dreams of ownership; whether it be a home, car, RV, the latest gadget, lots of clothes, toys, stuff, stuff and more stuff, etc., the illusion of security - they all cost us time. So we are asking ourselves how do we want to spend our time, and in the end, will it really be worth it? This is a very personal decision for each individual. That is where we are.... taking a close look at how we want to "spend" our lives..... our time on this planet. It's just like money in the bank except we don't know how much we have. We want to be fully awake instead of lost in our delusions and illusions.

This is what we know for sure - we left our jobs in 1981 because we did not want to live lives "of quiet desperation"...

"Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them."

Henry David Thoreau

We want to live each day to the fullest. We still have hopes and dreams but we are not exactly sure what they are any longer. We got lost along the way and started marching to the drums of other people. We are igniting our fire once again. It has just been a glow of embers for awhile now. We almost forgot that it was even there. The fire of life burns from the glow of passion in our hearts. What are we really passionate about? Why are we here?

I won't say that we lost our way. We made the perfect detour to learn the lessons we came here to learn but now we return to "our woods".

We know that the way to get back to our heartplace is to spend lots of time alone in the wilderness ~ walking through the woods, sitting by the campfire at night, sleeping under the stars, writing, meditating and just being still in the sights, sounds and fragrance of nature.

When were were farming we used to go out to the pond and see how long we could sit there in total silence just noticing our surroundings..... counting birds, so to speak. It was an amazing experience. We haven't done anything like that in a long time. We know that it is in the silence that our Divine Source speaks to our hearts.

It feeds our souls. We are headed to California in the next few week to do just that. We will be calling Tofte Ranch our home base but our intention is to spend long periods of time camped out and backpacking. We have an invitation to spend time on a gold mining claim way up in the high country. It is a place where we have spent many summers all alone and look forward to time there again. There are also many other options for us that we will be exploring. We will post to our blog often throughout the summer and look forward to sharing our adventures.

We aren't sure of our departure date at this point but our intention is to head south somewhere around the first part of July. We are planning to spend about a week working at Tofte Ranch down in Chicago Park, California before heading out for the wilderness. Happy trails until next time.........