I’m riding through the endless narrows, across a frozen landscape. The rearview mirror has been extricated and I’m chasing a horizon that I can’t see. My headlights shine their dim light on failure after failure lining the roadside: broken systems, collapsed institutions, vacant motifs. Still I push forward, driven by something innate: Survival. But my survival must be purposeful. Survival with Honor. Step by step, mile by mile, the point is to Travel Well.
What direction I go is completely up to me, it always has been. My biggest mistakes have come from giving that power to someone else, allowing my personal boundaries to be violated. In doing so, I lost heart, I lost courage, I lost my way. No more. I have been found. I am right here, right now and the rest of it is gone, evaporated into nothingness. I have retired from the past.
My girls, our dogs, our lives and our time together on this Earth, our work and our dreams are my focus. My allegiance is pledged with every word spoken, every action, every waking moment.
The future is ours.
The New Arms EP
Produced By Matthew Ryan.
Release Date: April 7, 2017
I’ve been in the Bay Area for a few days at a Dance Convention with my daughter Lucy but that hasn’t stopped me from getting out on the trail. Yesterday, I did some urban hiking, 8 miles on the San Tomas Aquino Creek Trail in Santa Clara, CA and today I got out to Muir Woods in Mill Valley and hiked the Ben Johnson Trail to the Dipsea Trail back down to Muir Woods Road, taking in Redwoods and this view of the Pacific Ocean.
Yesterday morning I got up early and headed out to Joshua Tree National Park to hike out to the Lost Palms Oasis where I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the shade of the canyon and the California fan palm trees concentrated there. The California fan palm is the only native palm tree to the state of California, and this particular canyon in Joshua Tree holds the largest concentration of these trees in the entire park.
After lunch, I snapped this picture and hiked back out, taking in the beauty all around me. On my way back, I made a detour to the Mastodon Peak Trail Loop where I scrambled to the top of Mastodon Peak for amazing 360° views of the surrounding desert.
It was another great day on the trail. A Super Sunday indeed.
I got up early yesterday, I worked for a few hours and then I got in my car and drove out to the San Gabriel Mountains. I needed some time on the trail: Feet and legs and openness.
I spent six hours hiking along the East Fork of the San Gabriel River, crossing the river numerous times in fast rushing water as deep as my waist in some places. I put down some 10 – 12 miles hiking over the demanding terrain of boulders, logs, spiked plants and rushing water.
The trail I hiked is a rather popular trail as it leads to a destination known as the Bridge To Nowhere. The bridge itself is really nothing special, an abandoned bridge that was built in 1936, and now only serves as a bungee jumping platform and a place for me to eat my lunch. The trail that leads out to the bridge is interesting because in some places you can see asphalt and concrete slabs along the trail where a roadway used to be located, and now after 70 some years of disuse, has seen nature all but claim it back.
As I walked along I thought about how we have such precious little wilderness left, and how it remains under constant attack by those in power, by those who have something to sell, by those looking to influence public opinion. But the race to the bottom is so short sighted, and it gives no heed to the well-being of future generations or to the Earth itself, but instead it values degrading jobs, cheating and lying business men and the intolerable arrogance of our elected officials. What we really need to pledge allegiance to is the Earth, not the swarming, distended bulge of real estate and industry. Instead, we listen to, give power to and are led by people who have spent most of their lives in air conditioned buildings. It doesn’t make any sense.
As I walked back along the river, the sun was setting behind the mountains and the only sound was the water flowing. I stopped in the middle of the stream on a bed of rocks and took this picture. A frozen moment on the trail, a memo to the powers that be.
I’ve Always hated dude-talk.
From an early age I enjoyed playing sports but I Always detested locker room chatter, the conformity of teams and the rhetoric of coaches.
The way that guys would talk about girls, the objectification of women, I found it to be disgusting and lacking of Love and Compassion.
I quit sports.
I quit teams.
I found Skateboarding.
Here was a more sensitive, open minded and open hearted community, at least at first it felt that way, but of course, the other shit begins seeping in.
And then over time, it permeates and becomes the norm.
Conformity, teams, coaches — The objectification of women being offered up as “art”.
The predatory nature of competition.
None of it has anything to do with Skateboarding and everything to do with image.
And we marvel at how it feels like we are suddenly living in the Dark Ages.
How we are confronted by an authoritarian government.
Look at what we have given power to with every purchase we make and every stupid word that falls out of our mouths.
Our values have dictated our course, it should be no surprise.
We’ve been poisoned by testosterone.
The reality is, being a Warrior has nothing to do with displays of machoism.
It’s actually a matter of Sensitivity, of Self-Reliance.
The Courage to Stand Alone.
The predatory age of machoism is over.
There is nothing to win.
Let’s try a more Courageous and Meaningful path: Kindness and Cooperation.
Travel day back to California after spending the weekend in Beaver, PA with Matthew Ryan working on music. Matthew and I met back in September on the Street Plant Open Hearted Mid West Tour, and it was an immediate connection. Really, it was just a chance meeting but it is one that has blossomed into a friendship and now a creative relationship… Open Hearted, truly. After meeting Matthew, I immersed myself in his music. His records have been the soundtrack to my Autumn and Winter and they will be a part of the rest of my life. Working on music with Matthew these past 3 days has been an inspiration. The heart, soul and guts that he put into these songs really means a lot to me. I snapped this pic while Matthew was putting some guitar down, his playing on these songs is nothing short of beautiful and I can’t wait to share it all with you.
Yesterday morning I went for a walk along the Ohio River. I was thinking about my wife and our daughters and how far we all now seemed to reside from the world that we thought we’d be inheriting. And I thought about all those other people who also feel like the clock has been turned back on them. And as I walked, I watched the fog lift off the river as the sun burned down and through. The light was beautiful, the way it touched the trees, the river, the grass, the street, a bench. I thought about the reinvention of language for political purposes and how history gets to be rewritten by those in power, to justify their actions, to arouse patriotic fervor. But how our duty as citizens is to Not be intimidated into conformity. And as I walked along, I once again thought about my wife and our daughters and all of the people who felt this devastating and unjust blow to their sense of self, and my heart broke, and yet, it was also strengthened all in that same moment. That’s what Compassion will do: Give birth to Hope. I then stood still for a few moments, taking in the beauty all around me. I snapped this photo and then I kept walking. I had and I have so far to go.
I’d been laid up in bed with “flu-like symptoms” for nearly 72 hours, so when I woke up this morning feeling half way decent I knew I wanted to get out on the trail. I had to drive Ann and Lucy to Anaheim for a dance convention by 8:00 AM and I needed to be back in Anaheim to pick them up by 2:30 PM. I figured that’d give me more than enough time to get out to Laguna Coast Wilderness Park and put some miles down. I have hiked Laguna Coast many times but before today, and usually due to time constraints, I had yet to hike anywhere on those trails near to or overlooking the ocean. Today would be the day.
When I pulled into the Willow Canyon parking lot, it was already filling up with other hikers and I had a good buzz of pre-hike excitement pumping through me but then the damn parking permit machine would not read any of my credit cards and I had no cash. I nearly panicked. I was in no mood to get back in my car and drive who knows how many miles to an ATM Machine. A few hikers behind me started making noises in their throats as I retried each credit card over and over. Finally, I gave up, went back to my car and sat there and pouted for awhile. Then I decided to instead of driving to an ATM Machine, to drive to one of the other Laguna Coast parking lots and try their permit machine. Bingo! I got my permit at the James Dilley Preserve and then jumped in the car and sped back to Willow Canyon. The lesson, I don’t know how many times I have to learn this one, always have cash!
I hiked up Willow Canyon Road Trail to the Bommer Ridge Trail. I moved along Bommer Ridge until I saw a more difficult trail to my right. I checked my map and saw that it was the Old Emerald Trail and that it connected to the Emerald Canyon Road Trail which seemed to end at or near the ocean. I took it. This was a great hike and I thoroughly enjoyed every second of it until it came to an end at a chain link fence, plastered with “No Trespassing” signs around some sort of maintenance lot in front of tennis courts at the base of some homes. Not the payoff I was looking for.
I had my heart set on seeing the ocean today and so I turned around and moved quickly back the way I came. Up Emerald Canyon Road, up Old Emerald Trail and back onto Bommer Ridge. I moved along the ridge and chose to take the Water Tank Trail towards the Pacific. It worked out perfectly. I got out there, ate my lunch (always PB&J) and snapped this photo. After soaking it in for a bit, I turned around, headed back to the car and was back in Anaheim to pick up the girls with time to spare.
The Songs I wrote with Saints Of Low and Good For You represent the road to Street Plant. I had been lost in my own darkness for many years. The writing of these Songs was an exercise in self-assessment. Whatever rueful reflections they engendered, they also Illuminated the first steps in what would prove to be a long ride home. The Songs on this playlist represent that journey. These Songs were Good For Me, maybe they could be Good For You.