Tuesday, March 30, 2010

"Listening For Echoes..."

Once again...
Finally, wonderfully, quietly and closely,
Because if we keep listening,
Then our echoes appear...
From ages past they call out,
Within experiences long over,
Ringing of inspiration,
Noiseless sounds of such beauty...
From what others have shared,
Precious strengths and their wisdom,
The encouraging substance,
These elemental echoes of hope...
Quietly waiting once more,
A glad tear in my eye,
Being as still as I can,
When listening again,
Now the echoes come calling...

My sincere appreciation to K. Su for the top image above and A. Plummer for the lower image.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


"Remember... The dream that comes true in midocean or at the dry waterhole or on black ice; the animal that appears at the precise and empty instant you need it to whisper in your ear."
R. Shultheis

Remember, my dear friends, remember such moments from within our lives of adventure, and smile once again at the wonder of it all... DSD

My thanks to A. Jones for the top image above, and to G. Glembin for the lower image.

Monday, March 22, 2010

"Spring Shugyo....."

Shugyo is an ageless Eastern tradition and regimen for training and testing oneself. This is a process of personal tempering that is applied in many martial forms, such as the Shotokan and other traditional styles I have studied over the years. It is also an approach to preparation many adventurers I know practice during the spring. Shugyo is a part of the 'Budo' systems where very intense physical training is designed to develop oneself, not just physiologically, but also in character and especially spirit...
F. Morgan wrote, "Shugyo isn't a routine part of training; it isn't something you do daily, weekly, or even monthly... The idea is to find a memorable occasion that will have emotional significance to those taking part... Then shugyo serves as a cleansing rite of passage." He said too, "Shugyo doesn't have to take place in the training hall, and if your spirit is strong, you don't need someone else to drive you on. In fact, undergoing shugyo alone, with no one else to motivate you or look after your safety, can temper your spirit like nothing else can." I and some friends have often thought of our adventure spring training in this way. This kind of journey has also been a part of many of my own solo's through the mountains or when sea kayaking by myself out among the islands. Through such a process we embrace not something we so much learn, or is taught to us, but more so something we find deep within us... It is a part of our shared indomitable spirit and that personal inner voice which says quietly, but firmly - we will return and we will not give up... At certain times and significant points in our adventures things may seem beyond us - and then such spirit can be the difference between being able to go on, keeping safe, or not.
So as F. Morgan writes further, "Plan a project that will truly test your physical and emotional limits, an obstacle you previously believed insurmountable... Where you do need to carefully and intelligently push yourself to the edge of your limits and beyond."
In doing so, we will be both tired and tried, but in unusual and truly rewarding ways. This is about a toughening, but not just of the body... There is a real tempering of the spirit, where we will rise to new levels of understanding and motivation, create distinct enhanced endurance the likes of which we may not have experienced before... This is about developing a different kind of discipline that polishes our spirit like a gemstone...
I believe as with adventures themselves, and as A. Hasegawa wrote ages ago, that "Paradoxically the need for shugyo is even greater in an affluent society."
Enjoy your spring training my friends...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

"A Wide Canvas....."

"Climbing... offers a wide canvas upon which to paint adventures... the mind is working, the body is working, and the spirit is working to get up this puzzling piece of rock. The same elements, I have found, exist in running rivers... tell of magic in that moving water, and its many gifts: gifts of beauty and adventure, of battle and achievement, gifts of joy and skill, of the pride of mastery, gifts of solo endeavour and of rich companionship." R.Robbins

So well said and such truths to be found in these many gifts... What shall we each paint next...

Monday, March 15, 2010

"Why A Mountain Has A Face..."

We were by the rocks and rushing waters deep within that valley; feet up, cloud gazing - when we each said in almost exactly the same way, 'Why do you think they say a mountain has a face?'... It must have been because we were both looking at the same cliff above us that had some very interesting hidden images seemingly within it.
A mountain, we mused, is most certainly an entity... a creation of nature and those mystical forces that blend elements and energy in ways not fully understood. Peaks always have their own personality too and in that way have many faces. The profile of a summit is as unique as any human figure, and the weather, among other elements, puts a new face upon that rock that is never the same twice over in any season. It may be well too that we believe in such images because of how these high places support us in facing up to so much out there...
Cliffs and slopes and summits of mountains are mysterious places where we become by overcoming - we meet confidently, resolutely, and steadfastly, that which we must face in ourselves by letting our real natures be seen and experienced. We turn our faces upwards and discover courage, determination, and composure too upon such a visage...
When we trace the face of a mountain with our chosen routes we now more closely experience this adventure with heightened senses. Then a mountain slowly allows us to get to know its' image, the emotions hidden within it, the expressions of its' moods, all with such intensity...
Even after many years and seasons have passed, we can then return yet again to the familiar faces out there, and smile... Much like how the mountains surely smile back in return, as we reach out and touch our close friends' face once again...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

"A Threshold....."

"At some point in every wilderness journey, a moment comes when triggered by a sudden sensation, a glance backward or a stop to look all around, the trekker realises that a threshold has been crossed, that the last vestiges of tamed landscape have been left behind and the surrounding territory is purely wild." M. Mardon
I do so love that very moment..... And often ponder how it seems very much like that, both externally out there, and also within our internal landscape as well.....
My gratitude to C.Rouse for the top image above, and to B.Carmichael for the lower image.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

"A Thousand Meanings....."

Deng Ming-Dao mused, "When one walks in the woods or climbs mountains, there is a wonderful unity of body, mind, and spirit... One is freed to observe nature's lessons. Gnarled roots. A flight of swallows. Bladed reflections of rushing water. Just budding bare branches. Gray rock, cracked, shattered, and worn. A fallen tree. A lone cloud. The laughter of plum branches. Even a little circle of rocks beside the trail - who put them there, or did any hand arrange them, and no matter which, what are the secrets of that circle? There are a thousand meanings in every view, if only we open ourselves to see the scripture of the landscape."

Today, I hold a single rock in my hand, from such a circle, remembering one meaning from within a thousand... Now, I think I will splash just a little bit of paint upon this stone, and place it somewhere special just for you...

Thursday, March 04, 2010

"Tracking Them... Tracking Us..."

They are such beautiful, ephemeral entities... Wisps of fur and grey that we are so lucky to hear let alone ever catch a glimmer of... Their beauty is a reflection of those truly wild beings within the timeless wild places. No wonder they are such a cherished spirit animal and clan whose ways of being many have wondered over. This day I am remembering, was unusual in that late season - the conditions of the ground, such moisture, remnants of the last snow, and that cool air, made for a perfect combination of elements...
As we set out we were just beginning to sense what an amazing day this would come to be. We were simply hiking and had no initial intentions of any kind of tracking. Yet now, when we discovered their fleeting impressions crossing the trail more than once, this now grasped our attention closely. We followed what we could in our inexperience and excitement, hoping to be able to see more of what we were attempting to read. But spirits like that don't leave much sign and mostly only give a sense of their presence, and that I pondered, is exactly as it should be...
But the distinct moment that gave us such pause, that took us in real surprise, was to come near the end of this full day of wandering and followings.
Not long before we regained the trailhead, at a curve in the path among old thick trees, we came upon a different kind of layered tracks... These tracks were our own, still apparent although changed, for clearly across them and also right within them were more fresh tracks of the grey ones themselves. We were startled with this discovery, trying to understand what was represented there. Then with a dawning of awareness we became amused by what it likely meant. From the number and direction of their unique prints, there could only be one interpretation. We pondered in wonder over, at what point in this day, as we had slowly journeyed along - at what point, did our novice attempts to track them - become moments when they were now tracking us...
The shivers of excited realization experienced at that moment were from much more than the dropping temperature...

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

"Momentum From The Inside..."

The great mountaineer Reinhold Messner wrote: "There is no greater stimulation for one's own enthusiasm than self-determination... motivation is momentum from the inside... The critical dimensions of self-motivation includes mind, spirit, and body. It controls the will, stokes an 'inner fire', and lets us do things completely... Motivation does not fall from heaven. It is hidden in all of us. It has only to be awakened... Motivation is like bottled, concentrated energy. It is stored for a long time as expectations, hope, and dedication... I know that the strongest motivations come from the inner depths of the soul."

Time to mine those depths we all have for the gems of motivation that will surely be found there... DSD