Here is the portrait of a beautiful woman I have become friends with Ebonni. She is also the self-appointed president of my fan-club which currently has two members; my mom and Ebonni. I consider myself lucky.
Facebook: Peace Artist
Anxious? Yeah…a little.
People go camping all the time, but not every night, not in places that aren’t campgrounds/wilderness. Oh yeah, and they usually bring food with them. I’m not having second thoughts—OK, well maybe I have. But, I’m not entertaining them. It is just that when you are told, if you have faith you can move mountains. How does one know whether or not you have it?
Can you heal the lame, raise the dead, cast out demons, and walk on water? Sure it is said…if? If you have faith. Faith in what? Standing on the edge of the precipice the moment before you leap, how do you know that you can fly if you have faith?
As I stepped out today for my run of 21 miles, I thought I had faith, at least a little. I mean come on, after all I’ve seen and witnessed so far? I took the $10 that my friend Leonard gave me last weekend in case I needed it or if I saw someone else who needed it more than I. I found such a guy and the impression I had was to give it to him, I was reluctant at first, money is more scarce. Feelings of fear and self preservation consumed me, but after I thought about it, I knew it was the right thing to do, and I gave it to him. But why did I have to weigh it out before I was generous? This bugged me.
Now, however, I would have to depend upon what I was given by the Universe. The other day when I was given all that food, it was only to see, today it was in earnest. Would the universe still provide? I ran on feeling confident that it would. Confidence, is that the same as faith? I started getting thirsty, and then when I looked— I found a water spigot right in front of me.
Quantum physics, succinctly speaking, is the science of possibilities. When you are looking life is a particle; in a certain location, with a certain shape. When you are not looking it is waves of possibility. Spigots can be anywhere, but when you choose to see them, they are right where you want them. Can faith be that easy…name it and claim it?
I started getting hungry, and viola-blackberries. As I was foraging, a doe and two fauns came and started to eat blackberries too, I turned to see them, excited by their presence, but they scampered away. Too cool however. Then I found more water and some bathrooms at a park. But, these are more coincidences right? Then a sweet lady and another man with his boys asked me about my tunic, the woman and I talked for a bit, and she bought me a water without me asking.
Finally I reached my destination, and jumped into the Willamette river. The water was cold, but welcomed by my legs that were already feeling the tax derived from them by the miles of asphalt. Leaving there, I began my journey back however, my legs were dying. I tried to load up on some blackberries, but it wasn’t doing the trick. I began to get really hungry, and was scanning the trees for apples, plums, pears, nuts, anything to no avail. Then it donned on me.
If I can’t do one day without food in the middle of summer, in one of the most fertile valleys in the world, what the hell am I thinking going off and planning to go through some of the least inhabited, dry, and unforgiving parts of this country? What the hell??? I realized then and there to just let go. I can’t control it anyway, so why try. Just let go and see what happens.
I then remembered that there is food all around me. I had been so focused on fruit, that I forgot all about other things. So, I started chomping down on dandelion greens, clover, and wild onions. Next thing you know, apples and hazelnuts. Then a hose in a vacant lot, I wasn’t chomping down on it, but rather, well…you know. When I finally gave up and trusted, all the things that I wanted were given. How many times do I have to learn that lesson?
I finally made it back, but I really felt the wear and tear today. Much more than normally. Tonight my foot hurt, and the fears of not being able to start or being injured overwhelmed me. Is it possible to believe that you are healed and it will be so??? People pray for health over sickness all the time, but do they believe, do they have faith that it will be as they have asked. Do I have that kind of faith? Do you?
Help my unbelief is all I could muster. It is easy to give all your stuff away. It is easy to give money to the poor. It is easy to feed the starving and clothe the children. These things we know we can do. We may not want to, but we know we can. To do those things that are deemed impossible; raise the dead, heal the sick and lame, walk on water, and move mountains. These things are a bit different kind of a test.
It is an act of faith.
I’m not sure who I am trying to convince anymore with my query of coincidence vs. providence, you or me? I am convinced, and you more than likely are bored, but none the less I am amazed everyday how my life unfolds before me.
“Cujo, sick balls!” The most remembered line from “Stand By Me”. That movie was filmed 25 years and not 50 miles from here. As a boy of 12/13 my life mirrored it almost perfectly. Where there were deficiencies, my gang of geeks and hoodlums made up for it by adopting phrases and scenes from the movie as our own. Lines from the movie were parroted and said with glee. Each boy always vying for or trying to pick the most opportune time to re-appropriate a certain line into a new classic and hilarious situation. But mostly, we valued the friendship that we had with each other and feeling that with each other we belonged. Most importantly an apology was signified by “skinning it”.
The feeling I get when I talk to the homeless is that they have that same sort of code, maxims, secret language with each other that identifies one as part of the group. Real names are never used, and the talk is shallow but interested, and usually centers on destinations traveled and humorous or fortunate anecdotes regarding one locale or another. Fear and greed are present, but so are generosity and cooperation. Alliances are easily made…and broken.
I met a dog named Cujo today, and thankfully my balls are still attached. He and his owner were in my path while running…literally. Jackal, the owner, seemed to have the same temperament as his dog, calm and serene, but cautious and capable of bearing his teeth in a fight. I thought him a nice young man.
There is an underpass I use frequently on the bike path where many homeless men and women tend to congregate. It provides them shade and easy access to the corner where they all panhandle for change and dollar bills. They take turns on the corner, and make $20-$200 dollars a day, depending upon luck, a funny sign, and the season of the year. Near Christmas they tend to make more. In the heat of the day, there are the occasional runs for beer or cigarettes.
Today a gentleman put up a sign that read, “I need $5 for my bikini wax”. Of course he was nearly six foot, with a 8 inch beard, and no front teeth. He said if you can make people laugh, they tend to be more generous. I found that comment interesting. It seemed to me that he was saying, that when you seek to give others joy, your joy is magnified, and your needs are met. Hmmm…I think that is what Scaughdt has been advocating this whole time, and I’ve been find out in my experiments.
After drawing the dog that wouldn’t sit still, and I thought people moved a lot, I moved on. I meandered down the river, and found myself next to a grove of trees and tried my hand at the raking sunlight dappling through the trees—and failed. Finally, as the sun set, I found myself perched atop a pedestrian bridge over the mighty Willamette.
The night was nice a cool, and mosquitoes weren’t out. The cool air rose up from the river chilling the day’s heat with lapping and gurgling from below. The trees were indigo, and the sky was a blaze of yellow, orange, and magenta. The sun’s rays poked holes in the shadowed mass of the river bank’s arbor, causing what appeared to be an inferno amongst the pine and deciduous.
I thought to only capture it with graphite in the limited time I had. Soon various passersby gave a casual glance or talked awhile. One man stopped and stood right behind my shoulder trying to guess exactly which tree I was looking at. It was rather fun. About half way through the opus, Todd and Barb came and introduced themselves. They were kind and patient enough to hear me tell the reason for my pilgrimage. In their generosity, they wanted to help me out in many ways, but we settled on a free beer and slice of pizza at their restaurant.
Despite all that you and I hear to the contrary, people are good. People are filled with love. People are lovable. Todd and Barb left the bridge with a “peace” of art. I left the bridge with Peace in my heart and two new friends. Life is good. Be Happy.
This first one talks about a global project for everyone to do what they can for the world. It doesn’t demand that they do this or that, but that they merely do what they can. If there is any truth to the 100th Monkey claim, Morphic Resonance, and Limbic Resonance, it seems that perhaps we as a species can change the destiny of the planet.
The next video is the winner of the Possible Futures video contest. 317 submissions by video artist in over 44 countries attempted to produce videos to help change the world. Although it is cute and sweet, it is powerful in its example to us all.
Really? When the Israelites walked around in the desert for 40 years, did they have to worry about eating too much manna??? As I get closer to my departure date, more and more I am being shown to just let go and have faith.
What am I going to eat has been a point of concern, especially for the mommies. They want to load me down with food for the journey. But, that is one of the articles that I am testing. It is said, “Do not store up treasures”, and “Don’t worry about what you will eat or wear”. So…I haven’t been worrying. The thought of bringing a lot of food with me goes against that storing up treasures (of food) idea. The point is trust and have faith. On this point I haven’t had too many concerns.
Today, as I ran, I thought I would try to see how much food was actually available to me out there. If I was just aware of it, how could/would the universe provide? The answer: In abundance! I wasn’t even trying but this is what I collected today at random:
The day started with filling a quart ziplock bag with fresh blackberries. Mmmmmm. I could have filled gallon bags, but this is what I needed/wanted/could eat today.
Here I collected dandelion greens. I have older and younger ones here. I’ve read that the older ones are more bitter, and therefore tougher on the palette. As you can see I only got a little, again not trying to store up. I picked these off the curb as I was running, and as you can see I washed them thoroughly. BTW, the tiny ones do taste a million times better. Also pictured at the top is Queen Anne’s Lace. It is a natural carrot, and it tastes like one. But, you need to be a beaver to eat it. I think I would have to cook or roast those if I were to eat them because they were too hard and stringy to eat raw.
My three favorite foods in the world are plums, rice, and bananas. So these plums called to me. There were about 20 more, but I ate them while running for energy. Thankfully, after eating 20 plums I wasn’t running for the restroom.
All these apples presented themselves to me today. They literally were in my path as I was running. Sure they were bruised a bit, and one had a worm hole, but I washed them and cut out the bad parts. This was the part that was the most “Manna” like. After I found each of them, I looked up to find the tree that they came from. No apple trees around. They weren’t store bought and dropped. They were in my path for me. Absolutely delicious!
This is what I made with them. I hope my friend Bert (a Florida Chef) will put it on his menu! Homemade waffles with a slice of cheddar cheese, a slice of field roast (vegetarian), blackberry compote (yes, made it myself), dandelion greens, apple slices, and finished with a blue cheese yogurt dressing. To some that may sound bad, but I am a big fan of the sweet and sour mixes (pear and gorgonzola, gouda and candied walnuts, etc.), and I found it divine. Others around me were skeptical, but when they tried it, they were impressed with the fixins! The cheeses balanced the extra sweetness of the compote, and the apples tartness cleansed the palette.
At the very least, I impressed myself. What was the bigger lesson; the universe provided half of that meal. Had I only eaten what I gleaned today(no waffles and cheese), I would have been very happy…and regular.
I’ve already had Poison Oak two times this summer. So…I thought I aught to do a painting of it. At least it’ll make me more aware of what I need to look out for.
I met Marty and his wife while they were out for their 4 mile evening walk with their dog. They had seen me working on this piece, and queried as to it’s finish. Marty too had been a victim of poison oak this summer and so it seem right to offer him the painting. I think it made their evening, and it certainly did mine.
Earlier in the day I had run out to a remote fishing hole. While there, I met Wesley a mechanical engineer from Missouri who came up with a brilliant idea to keep a canoe stable. He devised outriggers that adjust to the level of buoyancy of the boat. He made them himself out of PVC pipe, and roped them simply to the rails of his canoe. When the draft is greater, the pontoons splay out farther, when it is just him in the craft, their angle is closer to perpendicular. It was absolute genius, and I promised him should I market his idea, that I will cut him in for at least 50%.
After Wesley left, I began painting this watercolor, it was going well, and I started to congratulate myself on a job well done. Then, a dog came and decided it would be most loving to shake himself out right behind me. All I could do was laugh and try to protect the picture, and realize the universe was trying to keep me humble. Happy.
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, to discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and to be able to give a true account of it.
Be careful what you wish for…you just might get it. Would you hire an assassin to kill someone for you? Kill someone with whom you only hold ideological differences with? Kill someone with whom you have never met? No??? Of course not, if you did you would go to jail. And yet everyone who pays taxes does exactly that. They pay highly trained assassins to kill for them.
I was 17, and the war in the Persian Gulf had just started. I didn’t really know anything about; I didn’t watch TV. Andy, the lovable guy that worked with me at the outdoor store, asked me when will I turn 18, and had I filled out my selective service card yet? I had no idea what he was talking about. “You might get drafted”, he said. I still had no idea. My mind was filled with U.S. History, Physics Labs, memorizing the new score for choir, and the plays for the football field. I wasn’t aware of the history being made.
The year was 1990, and the U.S. was about to enter Kuwait and Iraq. I had just received my selective service card in the mail. Not sure what it was, or why it was important, but I knew I didn’t want to kill another. I researched it, and found that people like me could declare themselves a conscientious objector. A conscientious objector (CO) is an “individual [who has] claimed the right to refuse to perform military service” on the grounds of freedom of thought, conscience, or religion.
As the war escalated, it seemed more and more probable that I may be drafted. Of course now that seems a little far fetched, but at the time, I thought it would happen the next day. Several students organized a walk-out, and walk-out we did. On a cool crisp morning during forth period, all the students that in someway felt opposed to the war, and those students who just wanted a reason to get out of geometry, met out on the steps of US Grant High School to protest. The media were invited and some showed. Dr. Myra Rose, the principal, watched from afar and I noticed a glimmer of pride in her eyes. Happy we were becoming…something at least.
I was the student body president, and everyone expected me to speak. I didn’t know how I felt, I didn’t even know what I thought. I certainly wasn’t going to get up in front of the student body and profess…my confusion over the whole matter. What was I to do, what was I to think. All I knew was that I wasn’t a coward, but I just didn’t want to kill another person.
In school I was given detentions and nearly expelled for fighting when I was younger. There was the time Scott Eschelman was bullying me. He pushed and shoved me to the ground and I defended myself and we duked it out for 30 mins. There was the time a bully, Tim Kapperman, wouldn’t leave me alone, and finally I knocked his tooth out with a punch. There was the time in seventh grade when a group of boys didn’t like me. The all followed me home after school and I had to fight the class hero. Each fight I cried afterward. I thought I was going to die during that fight. I knew I wouldn’t kill them…but I wasn’t so sure that they wouldn’t kill me if they had the chance. It was a brush with your own mortality…and it was scary.
Each time, I was pulled into the principals office, why…because I
won, the bullies never got in trouble. The movies show that the underdog who beats up the bully is the
hero. Real life doesn’t work that way. A bully can torment you for years
until you snap, punch him once in the face, and then he learns that his
actions have consequences. That is what happened with Tim Kapperman. I'm not advocating fighting by any means, but Tim, Scott and I all came to see each other as more human afterward. We all were deeply effected by the violence. We dropped being mean to each other, and became the best of friends after that.
However, the powers over our 11 year-old lives would give us maxims such as: “Two wrongs don’t make a right”, “Fighting never solves anything’, “Be the bigger man, just walk away”, and “Fighting is wrong because it always escalates till someone is hurt so bad that they don’t recover.” But, when you turn 18, the same people in the seats of power make you sign a card saying that at a moments notice you will be called to fight for someone you have never met, for a cause you don’t believe in, and with means that you think are un-ethical.
I knew that there had to be a different way to not participate in the war and actually do something about it. We had just finished reading, “On Walden Pond” by Henry David Thoreau in English class. Thoreau’s answer was Civil Disobedience (Resistance to Civil Government) is an essay that was first published in 1849. It argues that people should not permit governments to overrule or atrophy their consciences, and that people have a duty to avoid allowing such acquiescence to enable the government to make them the agents of injustice. Thoreau was motivated in part by his disgust with slavery and the Mexican-American War. He also refused to pay a poll tax because he felt it was wrong…so he didn’t.
Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every man a conscience then? I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward. It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right.
I made a pact then and there to impede the government’s decisions that I didn’t agree with. I vowed to oppose a government’s decisions that I in good conscious believed were not ethical. While I had little clout in the world, and that very government wouldn’t listen to all the voices raised in opposition, I promised to use what little means I had at my disposal to not give in to war. The only tool at my disposal was the dollars taken in tax to support the killing of my fellow man. Thus, like Thoreau, I refused to pay a tax that I felt wasn’t in good conscious.
Since making this decision, I have never paid nor filed income tax. 20 years of holding fast to what I believed. It isn’t that I have a problem paying taxes, on the contrary I am more than happy to do so, but when over 50% of the US budget is being used for defense (read Offense) I will not contribute. If I could give my tax dollars to schools, roads, cleaning up rivers, or creating more bike paths and green spaces, I am all for it.
When enough coincidences start happening you begin to understand it is probably providence. So I’ve been waiting 20 years, many things have happened and changed and yet all the while, I’ve been waiting for the government and the IRS to challenge me. I’m not going to say it has been easy waiting. But, the wait has been far easier to bear than the guilt of asking my cousin who served in the National Guard (who aren’t even supposed to be deployed over sea) to take the debilitating injury he received in Afghanistan because I asked him to with my tax dollars. Far easier than asking any mother to give up her son for a cause that they both weren’t sure they believed in.
Well, my wait is over. The IRS confiscated the last vestige of funds I had left. I had planned to give those funds to those in need upon my departure. Now over 50% of those funds will go to buy a rocket or a gun that will kill someone, instead of to a hungry girl and a single mother to feed them. It will go to buy bullets to kill and maim rather than to senior citizen who is too crippled up to walk let alone work.
The universe is laughing at my “plans”. Yet I am humbled and in awe. The universe waited to spring this surprise upon me when I was finally prepared to handle it. I am ready to go to jail now. I am now mentally and spiritually ready to face the “punishment” that the government will meet me with for speaking my conscious. I’m OK with that. In jail, if it comes to that, I can tell all the wonderful people inside about the nature of love and compassion. I also join a good group of people who were imprisoned for their conscious— Thoreau, Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, etc. Funny how all of this happens only 12 days before my departure. The universe has quite a sense of humor.
I on the other hand have much to learn about humility. I had grand plans and designs about getting a new pair of shoes before I depart. However, with humility, this experience has taught me to remember that most of the people that our bombs and rockets kill don’t even have shoes, let alone brand new ones for their “Peace Pilgrimage”. I had planned to buy this and prepare that for the pilgrimage…and yet as I see now, all that is required is my willingness.
Yet, the universe is compassionate, giving me 12 days to back out. To go running to the IRS saying, “I’m sorry I’m sorry. What can I do to get back into the good graces of the government that would choose to shackle me to my station within the mine and dig”. It graciously has giving me 12 days to give up. To be like a 1000 other peaceful pilgrims who would succumb to the pressures and weight of stepping out of line.
Let it be heard now. I am only one man. But, I will not be made to change my allegiance out of fear. Perhaps I am only one man, but perhaps one man that two or three might follow, and perhaps two or three might follow them. Fear, that is really the only tool they have within their grasp. And yet this great tool of their only resides within ourselves. Fear of what— death…prison? The death of my conscious and the imprisonment of my sense of right is far more weighty on my mind. And yet I have compassion upon them.
I have compassion for all those who think that war is inevitable, and that peace isn’t possible. My heart goes out to all those who lay down their conscious and picked up their stones. All those who stood by the side and went along with the status quo. I love you military personnel. I love you officer of the law. I love you judge. I love you IRS person. And yet, I love peace more.