Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Work from Pushups and Poetry

Dear readers,
Our next update, complete with pictures from the expedition, will be posted when the group gets to Farm and Wilderness.  For now, we hope you will enjoy the following journal entries from the first few days on trail...

What work did I do today?
As cook, I woke up earlier than most of the group to start the fire and heat up breakfast. It takes a lot of will power to climb out of my sleeping bag. Then I helped pack up camp. Later at our next camp that night I taught Adam the basics of cooking. After that I spent my time preparing firewood. This is what I did around camp today, but it is certainly not all the work I did. Simply moving from camp to camp is more work than I do once we reach our destination. The long, icy hills had to be climbed, just as the treacherous and equally icy downhills had to be carefully navigated by ski, until it became more practical to walk. I find the time I spend traveling to be very exhausting. My pack is about as heavy as I can manage. Yet I enjoy this daily challenge. I hope that my struggle on trail does work of its own. I hope it makes it easier for others to continue on with their burdens and I hope it makes me stronger and my future struggles easier. All my day was work, but it was all enjoyable and meaningful…
Maybe this means I did no work.

What does it mean to be strong?
I know this experience is strengthening me, mentally and physically, but I cannot be sure that I am strong. If I can keep up, if I can make good progress and carry heavy gear, that does not make me strong, it just means I’m a diligent pack-horse. If I arrive at camp grumpy, eager only for sleep, and only to satisfy my own needs, I am not strong. If I simply give of my possessions and not of my spirit, I am not strong.  What would be strength then? Strength is selfless sacrifice and patience for others or yourself when you or they are weak. Strength is knowing when to pull and when to push. I am not strong yet, but I am learning. We all are. Strength lies in the choices you make.

My skis slide over fallen trees and thru streams
They slide down hills I’m trying to go up and thru bushes I try to go around
I work all morning and thru lunch
I don’t take my skis off
I ski past my exhaustion and thru my tiredness
with each down hill I leave my fatigue walking far behind
but with every looming hill fatigue always comes strolling up
and only by clinging tooth and nail to determination can I stay on my feet

Over these past few days of expedition I have learned so much. I can now set up and take down our giant tent. I’ve learned how to identify many trees, and my skiing skills are improving. I am having a great time.

Today I tried to carry a lot, and it was more than I could carry. I had to swallow my pride a few times. I was sad and I wanted some time alone to miss some people back home.
But I also saw Malcolm and Everett running downhill with their backpacks and I started running too. I asked Josia what song she was singing and if she could teach me.
I didn’t learn it yet cause we got distracted but it felt good to try.
I felt good to try to carry so much even though it was really hard on me.
That’s where I want to be so it’s good to try to be there. I want to help more.
I was not at my best this morning. I snipped a bit and the water job made me nervous when I wish it didn’t.
I’ll try again when it’s my turn and I’ll do better because I messed up. It takes me time until I can go fast. I build up slowly but I know I’m not back at home anymore.
I like to imagine what I would be like as a teacher or on my own once I’ve gone slow long enough to be fast. But I think I will always like to pause and think and listen. That’s my right way.

We are a group.
Is it a community?
I’m not really sure.
But it’s forming.
How does one define that, though?
Is it by love or the quantity of work put in?
Quantification is messy.
Brings confusion.
We travel
But do we really
know each other??
Will we?
I hope.
It seems
that we still have flaws.
Holes in our woven cloth,
But that is inevitable.
We try hard
To work things through
And discuss
Compare thoughts
Intertwine heartstrings
To make the majority sing
feel right.
Feel welcome, at home.
Be able to fall asleep knowing
that there is love to be had
for everyone,
no matter what.

To be strong is not only to be strong in body but in spirit and in mind. To be strong is not to be unwavering but to be flexible and balanced and allowing. When you’re crossing a great mass of gurgling, cracking frozen ice and your limbs are sore and body tired but your mind pushes itself forward being the only thing left holding the myriad of the other parts together. When you’re struggling up a hill with a heavy pack on your back, sliding down as much as you are going up. Falling and pulling yourself up again and laughing and joking and singing and encouraging those behind you. That is strength, to be cheerful and always present in your mind no matter the difficulties.
-- Everett

1 comment:

  1. You've all really taken off to the great white north! Everett, we're very proud, and whoohoo for the quote on Mother Nature's Child website. If you have trout for breakfast one day, enjoy the crunchy tail for me! Aloha to all--