Notes and Reflections by feoMike


a big warm (not chill)

we gathered after a long absence. we didn’t gather b/c one of us killed themself. no one came to get pregnant. we didn’t hook up w/ each other (in fact we are all happily married). we did have a soundtrack better than than the big chill. we shared an intense time many years ago and came back. we made dinner together, and we sought the ethic that randomly put us together 30 years to the month earlier.

in college, in the fall of 1989, instead of a semester abroad, i signed up for a field geography class studying the public lands management of the colorado plateau. this past weekend, 5 of the 12 of us from that trip gathered in rocky mountain national park as a reunion. we, perhaps nervously, perhaps giddingly, perhaps excitingly, perhaps cautiously (or all those or more emotions) gathered because we recognized the foundational importance of reuniting. all of us spoke with conviction and emotion of what that field class and those 8 odd weeks of pack-backing through the desert southwest meant to us. all of us made connections and wanted to understand where in the puzzle of life that trip fit. all us wanted to laugh, and hike and cry and just see each other. we left with lists of songs to listen to, movies to see, books to read, pod-casts to subscribe to, but so much more.

in reflecting, no single thing could possibly capture what i felt in ‘89 or after this weekend, but for me i gathered a handful of themes. these are not finite, nor are they the limit. i write them only to underscrore a piece of life fabric today.

  • growth in community - at 19, 20 and 21 years old, thrust into the wilderness, some of us perhaps for the first time, we had to rely on each other for support; for food, for water, for shelter, or navigation. we told stories along the way, we cooked for each other, we listened to the heart of our emotion and to what the earth had to say. we grew through the community we idealized. 30 years later we, through love, loss, life and being, we realize the need for growth in community. we struggle with the large enterprises that harm individual life, or the seemingly random (they aren’t random) events that tear us apart individualy, but more importantly recognize that coming to community is necessary for the support and continued growth along the path of humanness. communion is the foundation for the twists and turns and curve balls thrown at us that gives us the courage to get up the next day. we stand on the shoulders of the giants whom we have had the pleasure to cross paths and continue to provide us sustenance.

  • friendships old/new - perhaps a tangent, perhaps a collorallry, perhaps exactly the same thing as growth in community, we connected once as friends, now 30 years later we establish that we have new old ones, or old new ones and something more. friends. my wife likes to say to our sons that true friends and true relationships are the things that bring out the best qualities in each other. i knew i left 30 years ago having recognized that these people brought out the best in me, and could only hope that i had a fraction of an impact on them. this time, i absolutely know the two to be true.

  • soundtracks make the plot better - life has a rythmn, often best illustrated through art; books, movies, performance, visual or otherwise. emotion can often be relieved through a compilation of songs that help tell the story, indeed amplify it; the soundtrack. as a kid, the best soundtrack ever, was the big chill. however, it was and never and would never be my soundtrack. one’s soundtrack first had to be lived. a true sound track supports the emotion, the ups and downs of the trail. our sound track is too detailed to list here (perhaps one among us will write it), but it travels through the under the radar bands and openning acts, to those sitting at the box office with a i need a miracle scribbled on cardboard to the jazz solo that delivers oxygen. our soundtrack is a quiet rebellion of spice to the curry of life. and now it is ours.

  • laughter is good medicine - laughter is sometimes foreshawdowed. a dad joke told too many times sometimes delivers a new meaning and comes with that no fucking way moment. some among us have an ability to be pure; to constantly see the good and positive and to seamingly never be down. these who laugh like this, infect us with the good cheer. they help us remember who and what is really important. the no fucking way momement can be the joke, or the how did you remember that detail from 30 years ago, or standing at the base of an emerald pond in awe of its simple presence. it is a pure witness to life, and we need that refelction to face the race.

  • give thanks to those who paved the way / continue the thread - some have come before us, had the vision and were able to establish the natural momuments for the protection and enjoyment of future generations. let me just say, that you teddy. this past april i stood on shoulder of highest peak in ireland clutching my wife’s hand saying we have to do this everyweekend; be outside hiking and getting dirty and tired on trails. 30 years ago, we saw the granduer of the colorado plateau, and this weekend the high altitude trails and lakes of the rockies. we are so lucky to benefit from teddy’s vision and implementation. the lessosn doesn’t end here; go out there, leave no trace, ensure we pass on and protect these things for the next generation and hold the hands of our loved ones in sunday morning natures service. this is church.

these themes are individual and communal. they stem from person, blossum in collective, and provide nurishment to go on. this weekend wasn’t a chill, it was the big warm. warmth that will go on.