A Daily Journey

Every day is a journey. The sun is rising, we open our eyes, and we are embarking. Bravely, we face the world. We meet other characters along the way, many of them recurring, some new and surprising. Even the recurring characters often surprise us. We meet challenges, face obstacles, and sometimes we descend into darkness. Not every day or every journey has a clear resolution or a happy ending, but at the end of the day’s journey the sun flashes like fire, red and orange, as it sets in climactic glory. We sleep, awaiting another day, another mysterious journey into the unknown future, another chapter in the larger journey of our life.

Once upon a time, Lauren and I were on a journey. A grand adventure. Then it ended. Suddenly it was over, and everything was ordinary. Mundane. That was how I saw it, but for only a moment. Then I learned to see the extraordinary in the ordinary. I met the single, solitary day. I introduced myself. “Hello, today,” I said. “Who are you? What can I do with you? How can I get to know you better?” Be. Here. Now. …this is what I learned to start saying to myself. And it has made all the difference.

Not in the future. Not in the past. Nor elsewhere geographically. Just BE. HERE. NOW.

Geographic travel is empty if you do not know and love the present moment. You must be thankful for today: where you are, what you have, the air that you breathe. When you can do this in your own back yard, then you are prepared for new geography.

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“Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” – Lao Tzu

Today, I write from new geography, but that is only a side-note. This place is as ordinary as my own back yard, and my own back yard is as extraordinary as this place. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to travel, to see new places and to meet new people. I do not take it for granted. But if the focus is on travel, travel only breeds discontent. My first focus is to be thankful for the very air I breathe and the land beneath my feet regardless of where I am. To appreciate and honor the simplest of things. If I can’t do this, then the trips I make become only a gateway to later discontent.

So when I wake in the morning, no matter where I am, I greet the day and the new journey that comes with it. I am thankful for that journey. And I set forth on the voyage of today.

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Thanksgiving Post

“Thanksgiving remains the US national feast-day, but most Americans today probably do not recall that the turkeys consumed by the Plymouth Brethren at the first celebration of that feast four hundred years ago were provided by local Indians who would have been exterminated or sold into slavery within a matter of years. Most are also probably unaware that over ten million

"Treaty of Penn with Indians," by Benjamin West

Indian people inhabited America when the Puritans first landed — scarcely a tenth of that figure exist today (1.4 million); or that these natives possessed over 75 per cent of US land up to two hundred years ago and less than two per cent today; or that they spoke more languages than were spoken in Europe then or now; or that they signed over 371 legal treaties with the US government between 1778 and 1871, most of which were ignored or traduced. But the question of the Indian stranger within the nation has not gone away… The return of the repressed serves here as a reminder that there are masked nations within the nation — and that every nation has its hidden tales to tell.” (Kearney, On Stories, 105)

When we remember Thanksgiving we typically remember that feastly day when the Native Americans brought food to the starving pilgrims, thus symbolizing their intentions to help the pilgrims survive in the new, harsh environment.  However, we forget how the pilgrims and their associates violently and oppressively repayed their benefactors in the coming years.  It is good to remember the feast, but we should be careful to remember the rest of the story as well, lest we repeat their same mistakes.

So what was their mistake?

“In 1620 a boatload of Pilgrims arrived in Cape Cod. Half of them were separatist Puritans (‘Saints’). The other half were non-religious adventurers called ‘troublemakers’ or ‘Strangers’. Saints and Strangers alike had left England because they felt, for different reasons, alienated from their native

"Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor," by William Halsall

 land.” (Kearney, 103)  To survive in this new harsh environment these pilgrims needed a new communal identity. They needed to break down their divisions among them of Saints/Strangers or Us/Them.  They needed to become a united Us, with a new understanding of who Them was… The “primitive savages” quickly became this new Them. (Kearney, 103)

This, I say, was the root of the problem.  This classic us/them dichotomy in which the pilgrims (a diverse group who had not interacted in the previous world) sought to unify their view of themselves by finding a new “them”.  So, by viewing the Native Americans as them-who-are-not-us rather than as us-fellow-humans-who-share-meals-together, it became very natural for conflict and dispute to arise.

So remember what followed the feast in history and be warned lest strife, violence, hatred, and non-forgiveness continue.  Instead, take joy in living out each day what the Thanksgiving feast should have represented — the breaking down of barriers and the sharing together of meals.  Consider those who you think of as “them”, as “those who are not like me”, and invite them to daily meals so that we can remember that we are all just Us.  One collaborative Us seeking a clear path through the forest together.  We are a giant family.  We share each others’ problems, we rejoice at each others’ joys and cry at each others’ heartaches, we share the disfunctions that exist in the world and try to find solutions together, and we also realize that each of us has done our share of wrongs through which we contribute to the disfunctions of our global family.  So we forgive each other, work together, and try to find a better way once again.  And all this we do as one, in unison, listening to each others’ voices and discerning together how to navigate (as a unified whole) the diversity which we inherently are.

"Discovery of the Mississippi", by William H. Powell