Monday, January 4, 2016

New blog title

So, I've been thinking for a while that I need to change the name of this blog. Now, anyone who MAY still be reading from the days I gave it its current title might wonder why, and be right in questioning the change. "I Do Not Belong," the previous title, is also the title of a Kutless song, referencing the Biblical idea of being "in the world, yet not of it." Part of the chorus goes like this: "I do not belong in a world of broken pieces/I was made to be in the arms of Your redemption." Yes, there is good truth there with which I agree...HOWEVER, if you've read many posts on this blog, or have heard me talk about my passions in life, you know how I feel about Christianity's treatment of the earth. A large portion of (particularly American) Christians view the earth as something we should subject to our will. Perhaps few would agree with those words written down, but our actions speak the truth of the matter. Obviously, Christians are not the only people mistreating and abusing Creation, but we should be standing against destructive lifestyles...and we are not. Part of this comes from our upbringing in Western civilization, and I contend that part of it also comes from our hope for eternal life. We've adopted the mindset that the earth doesn't matter, because whatever happens to it will get fixed in the New Creation. Sure, our hope is for a new earth and eternal life...but the current earth is our home RIGHT NOW, and we SUCK at taking care of it. I find myself in a cognitive dissonance often, knowing my lifestyle is harming the earth (buying plastics, throwing away "disposable" items, supporting non-sustainable farming practices, etc.) yet understanding the need for things to change dramatically in order to turn the planet from a path of destruction.

I could go on for a while about how awful my own lifestyle is when it comes to making conscious decisions for the benefit of the earth. Here's the short version of what I want to say, though:

Although I support the theological ideas behind my previous blog title, I CANNOT support the thought processes those ideas have led to in Christians' minds. This earth is our current home, and God wants us to ACTUALLY care for it. The modern Western lifestyle is so far beyond caring for the earth that we truly think we're not doing that bad, and a number of Christians don't see the problem either.

The new title, "West Bound," is one some of you might recognize. I used it as a Facebook pseudonym for a short time after a long absence from the site, it's the title of my (currently stalled) music endeavour, and I've given several blog posts the title. It refers to my (now fulfilled) longing to move to the American West and the mountains, but also more: it represents my desire to move away from the spiritual and societal pressures to live and think a certain way, and find a new, better way to live. You can probably expect more posts along these lines, especially now that I'm reading Wendell Berry.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015


So, let it be known that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love spending time with friends and family, and it's just so much more relaxed during this time than at Christmas.

This Thanksgiving is the first time I've ever had to travel home for a holiday. At first, I wasn't really excited to go across the country again, but as soon as I landed in the Grand Rapids airport my opinions about it changed. Without getting into all the separate stories, I'll say that my friends have given me a royal welcome back to Michigan. Some people have expressed jealousy at what I'M doing with my life, but after hearing how things are going here...I'm pretty envious of them in return. It's all made me very homesick.

Now don't get me wrong, I LOVE where I'm at in life. My several previous posts about how happy I am...I'm not saying any of that is untrue. I'm really living my own dream. But damn, I've missed my friends and family here.

I spent some time verbally processing all of this in depth with one of my close friends tonight. For a lot of selfish reasons, staying in New Mexico for a while would be absolutely phenomenal. For a lot of less selfish (but still personally appealing) reasons, moving back to Grand Rapids is also a great idea. Either way, I know I would be very happy with my decision. I'm in a rather hard spot right now, and I know both Thanksgiving celebrations I'm going to tomorrow are only going to make it harder. At least I'm having this crisis right now, when I have time to think about it. Anyway, I'd appreciate any wisdom, thoughts, and prayers you can offer.

Really didn't think coming back to Michigan was going to be this hard on me.


Sunday, November 15, 2015

Too good

So, I know I've talked before about how nice my new living situation is, but seriously. I can't emphasize enough how happy I am living here. This is the happiest I have been with my life in a very long time. I spent a lot of time thinking about it this week, and realized I have the basic elements I want in life: a house with a fireplace, a job I love, and a home in the mountains. Those seem pretty simple, and probably lame to some people, but it's legitimately all I want. I was trying to tell this to my roommate tonight and couldn't even do it without crying. I'm trying to make healthier decisions in my life: physically, mentally, spiritually, and socially. Things are going so well, I can hardly believe it. Sure, maybe some details aren't exactly how I want them to be, but in general, I can't ask for anything more than what I have here at Glorieta.

Short post, but I just had to say that.


Tuesday, October 27, 2015


The sun has set long ago; now the moon dominates the sky, bathing the whole landscape in a silvery glow. A massive Ponderosa pine shimmers in the moonlight, its needles glazed with lunar hoarfrost. An ocean roars through the treetops all around, and the trees respond almost deliberately: swaying, undulating, waving. During the quieter moments, crickets chirp their own muffled soundtrack of the night in a nearby meadow.

While man sleeps, the earth sings its natural rhythms. Its music is neither uplifting nor melancholy; it merely is.

Moonlight glowing
Fall wind blowing
In the middle of the night
Pine trees swaying
Now I am weighing
The merits of the light

For life and death
Are but a breath
Held in, and then let out
This silent peace
This strange release
I knew nothing about
'Til I stared stark
Into the dark
And heard a whisper and a shout

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Have and Hold

Twang! Ring! Pluck the string
And sing those blues in time
Slap! Crack! Now pass it back
You're so pretty it's a crime

C: And I want to travel south this year
Cuz girl, you know it gets so cold up here
But as long as we got each other
To have and to hold, we'll be alright
We'll be alright

Look at that bling! Now here's the thing
Those pearls sure do look nice
You don't need jewels to turn me the fool
Your love's my sweet, sweet spice

C2: And I want to get out west this year
Cuz there's just too many people here
But as long as we got each other
To have and to hold, we'll be alright

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Silence, the desert, and an apology to Edward Abbey

This post is composed of two journal entries and some current thoughts.

March 2015:
"The smell of manure spread on fields
Will always, always remind me of home
Spring peepers singing from dusk 'til dawn
Silent night, holy night

I am about to leave this behind
These sacred moments become all the more so
Ah! But the earth has more to offer!
Soon I shall discover the sacred places of the deserts and mountains
The wild places of solitude
The great silence of sand and stone
Silent night, holy night"


At the time I wrote this, I had just recently read "Desert Solitaire" by Edward Abbey. He spent several years as a park ranger at Arches National Park in Utah. He loved the place, and wished for people to experience it, but on its own terms. It was a hard place to spend time in back then: few amenities, difficult dirt roads, and far from much civilization. He fought the Park Service as best he could to keep them from making it easily accessible. One of his greatest fears was that someday you could drive through the park and see everything without even leaving your car.

This summer, a bunch of my co-workers organized a weekend trip to that same park, among other places. I initially expressed my concern that we wouldn't be able to spend enough time in each place in one weekend, and I was told, "Oh, it's ok, we can drive all the way through Arches and it only takes an hour and a half!"

Oh Edward, what have we done!

I admit I was a bit of a downer while we were in the park, as it truly hurt me to see all the things he feared had come to pass. Even some of my best friends were confused by my actions.

"You're reading a book about wilderness right now, why aren't you coming out here to enjoy this?"

Well, it's no longer wilderness when you can drive right up to the damned rock.

Here is the journal entry I wrote in the park:

7-26-15, Arches:
"For a while I felt as though Edward Abbey understood me. Being here at Arches, I finally understand him. There is no wilderness here. You can drive anywhere you want to go, and see everything without leaving the car. His worst fears confirmed. There's barely a difference between such a drive and staring at a painting (or even worse, glossing over someone's Facebook pictures!).

I almost had a moment of real silence today. I told a couple of others if we stopped talking, it would be one of the few moments in life where everything could be truly, truly silent. They laughed at me as if I was joking. It wasn't hurtful, but it was eye-opening.

Through these things, I'm also starting to understand Thoreau a bit better."


Silence and true wilderness are things I am starting to really embrace, and the more I do, the more I have realized how very little of them exist in our world today. I can't even climb a mountain in the heart of a designated wilderness area without hearing airplanes pass overhead. True wilderness is not something you can drive to, and it's not something you can be entertained with for a moment and then leave behind quickly. The Wilderness Act of 1964 actually has a beautiful definition:

"A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain."

It doesn't stop there, but I'll let you go read it yourself if you want a better idea.

I urge you to enjoy the silence you can get. Get away from the sounds of computers humming, fans whirring, televisions blaring, and find a true moment of silence. Sunrise is a wonderful silence when you can find it, sunset as well. Find a park and spend some time there and listen for silence. It is beautiful, but usually brief.

I'm starting to get preachy. I'll leave you with this quote from Abbey:

"May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds."


Thursday, September 3, 2015

New Home

"You really love your job, don't you?"

My roommates caught me landscaping our front yard after I got of work today. I'm trying to clean things up around the outside of our house, maybe get some native flowers growing on top of the retaining walls by the stairs.

But yeah, I do love my job as a grounds worker here at Glorieta Camps. This is the sort of work I like: working outside all day with my hands. Even on the hard days (like today, when we were chipping branches all day), I would take this over just about anything else.

People here ask me often how I like working here, and I find myself giving them more and more positive answers every time I hear the question.

I am so happy here!

Seriously, let me tell you some of the reasons why. First, I've been actively trying to move out West from Michigan for several years now (as many of my friends there know), and it's been a lifelong dream of mine to live near the mountains. Second, my work situation here is fantastic. I have my first salary, free housing, a job I love, great supervisors, and it's stable.

That's the key right there. I haven't felt real stability in my life in sooo long. I'll get a job I love, but it's a temporary position; maybe I'll get a job I really don't like and I'll be looking for different work; maybe I'll get a good, stable job, but I know I won't be living in the area for long. It was often some combination of those. Now I feel like I can finally sit down and rest in life. I don't need to run around looking for jobs or try to figure out how I'm going to move somewhere else. It's a great feeling.

Another reason I'm happy: I finally live in a place where I can do the things I love. We are surrounded by mountains, close to national forests and wilderness areas, and not very close to any big city. There's great hiking and camping both on camp property and just off it. Rock climbing and mountaineering abound. It's almost like a dream to me.

Sometimes I feel like I'm overwhelming people when they ask how I like it, but I feel overwhelmed myself. I don't know if I'll be at Glorieta Camps for life, or for more than a few years. I don't necessarily feel like this is "it" for me. It's just...everything seems to finally be going right for a change, and I haven't felt this way in a very, very long time.

That's why I'm so happy.