Fewer Posts, but More Experiences

What’s Going On Here, Where Am I At?

When I started this blog, I said that a long absence from posting could mean one of two things:

…it probably means I am failing. Or it could mean I am accomplishing my goal so well that something crazy and unexpected has hampered my posting, like a spontaneous visit to the Yanomamö tribe of Brazil to participate in their ash eating ritual of cremated relatives. But hopefully my experiences will be somewhere in between and I’ll post regularly.

The truth is I have been doing tons of fun stuff, and truly enjoying my life, which made this blog take a back seat. Why stop in the middle of an excellent adventure to tell the internet, who is probably not even listening, about it? I’ve found myself thinking less about trying to make money or promote blogs, and more about enjoying the moment.

In that sense, this blog fulfilled its purpose. It started as a catalyst to get me to have more fun, move out of my shell, promote happiness and positivity, and live a life that is not mundane! As my posts have taken a steep nose dive in number, I have also noticed that the energy I felt when I first started this blog did not go away, it was just transferred into my daily life.

Pretty much, I faked it until I maked it. Well I was never really faking it. But sometimes it is hard to be positive, accomplish things, and keep things interesting. When I couldn’t do it in the outside world, I would turn to this blog for help. And help it did! This blog served as a foundation, which I am now building a structure on top of that I call my life. Surely there will still be updates and the spreading of that positivity that I have been able to capture. But I also want to make sure this project doesn’t become a stressor.

Partially motivated by this blog, I will be moving south this winter. I think not having a bitter-cold environment where I am essentially cooped up indoors for six months will greatly contribute to my happiness. Also, this is my first real opportunity to see how much I can produce on my own, working the land, and being as self sufficient as possible. I’m sure the move and the new project of homesteading will give me plenty of fodder for Explaining It All moving forward.

Year in Review

I started this blog almost 14 months ago. It has been with me as I published my first book, which was a huge accomplishment for me, helped along, undoubtedly, by this blog. I posted about pursuing those sorts of dreams, turning off the flow of negativity from certain people around us, and taking steps, large or small towards your goals. I wasn’t writing from a high horse, for the readers’ benefit, so much as I was writing while in the pursuit, planning my future, and encouraging myself to keep going.

I am still very much in the pursuit of many things. Publishing a book is cool, by it is not synonymous with selling a book. That remains on the forefront of my goals.

Buy “Anarchy in New England” now! LOL

But life is always a balance between properly planning to make the future great, and ensuring the present is great as well. In addition to career/ self sufficiency progress, I did a lot of having fun/ enjoying life, including a trip to Florida, a cruise, PorcFest (where I met some AMAZING new friends), camping, the Cape, and finally, Iceland!

So enjoy these pictures of Iceland! I will be making a better effort to post more regularly!

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Blue Lagoon, the required stop for tourists. How did I get the whole pool to myself? Went straight from the airport at 8am when they open!

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A waterfall of which I don’t know how to say the name. It was big though. See the tiny dots in the background over my left shoulder? People.

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Stopped on the side of the road when I saw this awesome hill and rock. Jumped the barbed wire fence, and gave it a good climb.

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A glacial lagoon! Saw some seals swimming around.

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I was trying to pose like Leif Eriksson, but I didn’t have my longsword and giant ax with me.

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Perpetual Energy Loops and Fire Beams: Feeding Off Others’ Energy Without Stealing It

Think of every person as a perpetual energy machine. Imagine a ring of energy inside each of us, and if the flow is not broken, the loop persists indefinitely. The unbroken ring of energy is the state of being happy, whole, complete, satisfied, and at peace. We each have ultimate control over our own perpetual energy ring.

What leads to all the social problems in the world, is the breaking of that perpetual ring of energy in order to either give some of yours, or take some from another. If you break your energy loop to dish out energy, you will eventually need to break someone else’s loop and take energy from them. If you take someone’s energy, thus damaging their perpetual loop, they will eventually have to steal energy from someone else’s perpetual energy machine. It is a domino effect of negatively affecting others’ energy.

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This rudimentary diagram depicts the perpetual energy cycles being broken. Notice the center man is giving energy to one, and taking energy from another. None of the loops can thus be completed, meaning no fire beam of energy off which all could feed emanates above.

This absolutely does not mean we cannot help other people out. But there is a very specific way we need to handle interacting with others in order to preserve our own perpetual energy creation, because otherwise our imbalance will turn into someone else’s imbalance. Imagine a beam of fire that shoots up above your perpetual energy loop. It only does so when your loop is in tact. This energy, others can feed off of without leaving you any less.

This rudimentary diagram depicts three individuals with complete energy loops, not giving energy to, or taking energy from another. Because of there complete loops without theft or self deprivation, they are able to create a fire beam of energy, which can be linked to grow with each complete person, with an in tact loop of energy.

This rudimentary diagram depicts three individuals with complete energy loops, not giving energy to, or taking energy from another. Because of their complete loops without theft or self deprivation, they are able to create a fire beam of energy, which can be linked to grow with each complete person, who has an in tact loop of energy.

Jumpstarting a car takes power from the good battery, and transfers it into the bad battery, decreasing each battery’s overall share of energy (until they are recharged). Combining two candle flames makes the single flame twice as large.

Example: Your friends want to go out to a bar, but you are not really feeling it. If you go out anyway, but are bitter that your friends “forced” you out, you allowed them to steal your energy, and are now reciprocating the theft by bringing down the mood at the bar, or tucking away the resentment for future theft. Either way, you have allowed your energy to be thrown off, and will seek to make up for that (probably subconsciously). If you roll your eyes at the conversations at the bar, you are stealing your friend’s energy that they were putting into the story, because you feel they stole your energy by “making” you go out. Their energy is now lessened, because they are insecure about the story, or confused about or dwelling on why their friend is mad at them.

The actual decision to go out or not will not effect your ring of energy, but rather how you react to it. Perhaps staying in would have elicited a negative reaction from your friends, which also has the potential to disrupt your energy level, and make you want to steal their energy the next time they don’t want to go out when it is your idea.

An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind, and energy theft for energy theft makes the whole world bereft.

So the way to deal instead is to maintain your own energy loop. If what you truly want to do is stay home, you have got to make that decision, and then not allow your friends to get at your energy loop. You have to make the decision, and then be done, instead of worrying about your friends’ reactions. You cannot control others, and seeking to control them is a form of energy theft as well, even if derived from true concern. If you text them nervously hoping to abridge any dissatisfaction with your decision, your insecurity is voluntarily handing over energy from your loop. If you text them out of the pure desire to wish them a fun night, you have instead allowed them to feed off of your fire, without disrupting your energy loop.

But perhaps it is your friend’s birthday, and it would actually be in poor taste to just be like, “meh, I feel like staying in.” This all depends on how you handle the obligation. If you go out bitterly, you will steal energy. But if you look inside, balance your energy loop, and realize that sometimes what having friends is about is doing something for them even when you don’t necessarily want to, you can keep your loop in tact. You will actually be happy when you go out, because your friend is happy, because you are not making snarky comments out of bitterness, nor sullenly dwelling on the other things your would rather be doing.

You make the best out of it, realizing you were not forced into the situation, but rather forced to make a choice involving the situation. This then grows your fire beam that extends upward from your energy loop, and allows your friend the opportunity to grow theirs even more, because they do not have to seek energy to steal, since your never broke their energy loop to begin with. You can now both combine your resulting beams, which doubles both of your beam energy, instead of spreading the loop energy, and thus decreasing each individual’s energy in the loop.

Balance

We are in fact thrown into situations which are troublesome, so how do we make sure these situations do not throw off our own energy loops? This involves recognizing what you can and cannot control. Risky behavior of your friends might make you nervous, but attempting to control that behavior can lead to the stealing of their energy, or the giving of your own. Your nervousness at their actions is taking your energy. Your insistence on the way they act is stealing their energy. Do not control, and do not allow yourself to be controlled. Sometimes, walking away is the only way to preserve your own energy ring, as well as stop yourself from throwing off another’s energy loop. But strike a balance: walking away must be of pure intentions, and not aimed at influencing the behavior of your friends.

But what if what I really want to do is run naked through the streets? We can recognize consequences, and adjust our behavior rationally without throwing off our energy loops. Recognize that it is aggravating that we are in a sense beholden to society, but do not take it out on society. Do not get bent out of shape, and angry, because then society has stolen your energy. Instead, internalize the balancing of your own energy, and accept that not everything is in our control. Our own actions are still in our control however, and we can still do what we want, but we cannot force others around us to react in a particular way.

All Boiled Down

In essence, we must analyze our intentions, and stop ourselves when we are at risk of becoming energy vampires. Will what I am saying or doing actually increase the happiness of me and others? Is this just a shallow attempt to make myself feel better at the expense of others? Will this theft of their energy require them to make up for what I have taken, by victimizing another?

We all know when we are trying to negatively affect a person, even if we think it is justified. But we must also realize that their negativity will likewise affect others, whether it is due to a bad mood, insecurity, or the blatant transferal of your negative energy which was directed at them, then being directed at others.

We must also analyze our intentions, and stop ourselves if we are at risk of becoming a victim of energy theft. Is the energy you are giving away disrupting your own, or simply feeding the other? Does the energy the other gets take from your own loop, or simply use the excess fire your loop has created in order to invigorate their own loop? Will the energy you give turn to bitterness, resentment, or anger, causing the de facto theft of others’ (perhaps not easily identified victims) energy because of your negative feelings?

We are able to tell the difference between pure intentions of giving to others for the sake of giving, versus feeling forced into a scenario, or playing martyr. If you view what you have given as a sacrifice, this will most likely throw off your energy loop. If you view what you are giving as a gift, this will most likely keep your energy loop in tact, and grow the fire beam which is built on the perpetual energy loop.

When we all have in tact energy loops, not stealing from others, nor allowing ourselves to be stolen from, the fire beams of energy will combine exponentially to form a peaceful loving existence. The magnitude of these beams we cannot yet imagine, but have felt when in the presence of pure intentioned individuals with the security to emanate fire beams that combine energy with others’ beams, without leaving any less in their beam.

Reset Button Hit!

RESET! I just got back from Porcupine Freedom Festival in New Hampshire. At first I was worried that with such high expectations, with how amazing of an experience it was the last two years, that I would be setting myself up for a let down. Such was not the case. In three years, it has gotten better every year!

I didn’t use the internet from Monday through Saturday of last week–not at all! That is the first level of reset. In fact on the radio on my way home from the event I heard that we may all be constantly overstimulated by the internet, and can benefit from periodical internet fasts. Being surrounded by wonderful people in this little microcosm of freedom was all I needed.

This is like my yearly injection of positivity and energy, which I hope to replicate in the future to a year round lifetime of love and joy. It is a goal to strive for. It shows me how good things could be, and the power of individuals and voluntary groups to affect the type of change we want to see in the world. It starts with the individual.

That is the biggest thing I took away from this year’s event. Instead of focusing on everyone else–you should do this, they should do that, “we” should (when we really means you)–it is beneficial to first be the change you want to see in the world. That is sort of a cliche phrase, but for how often we may hear it, I am not sure people much think about what it means.

floats boat

At PorcFest, we all value freedom. But everyone has a different idea of freedom. The people who want marijuana to be legal are not always the same people who value gun ownership, or the same people who seek equality when it comes to gay marriage and such. At this event, everyone that I met and saw realized that their preferred freedoms are not the only ones that matter. Everyone should be free to do whatever they want, as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else. So there were gays, stoners, gun lovers, Muslims, Jews, Christians, rednecks, executives, rich, poor, black, white, Asian, free range children, and on and on. This was true diversity. This was the live and let live philosophy brought to its logical conclusion for one week in a microcosm of New Hampshire.

Being the change we want to be for those of us at PorcFest meant tolerating things we are not necessarily comfortable with, because we realize those things do not affect us directly. I’m sure not everyone was comfortable with people doing mushrooms, and I am sure not everyone was comfortable with the guy driving around on his ATV flying a confederate flag. Some might have been less than excited about guns, and some might have never been around gay guys cuddling by the fire before. But it didn’t matter, because the people at PorcFest walk the walk: do whatever you want, until it starts to negatively affect me, then we’ll talk.
And I think that is why I feel so mentally refreshed after the weeks I spend at PorcFest. I see my philosophy on life working without contradictions. But we aren’t all as lucky as I am, to have a specific event tailored for my worldview; and one that actually is what it claims to be.

I also have my setbacks. Writing a book, Anarchy in New England, was a huge step towards being who I want to be. But there are many more. I am an amateur forager, but the next step is seeing how self sufficient I can be. At PorcFest I attended a talk on beekeeping, and also a talk on soap making. When I move down south before this winter these are two things I would like to try my hand at, as well as growing vegetables, and raising chickens for laying eggs.

I criticize the government a lot, and something I need to continue to strive for is setting up my life so that the government is unnecessary, as I often preach. I need to be the change I want to see: I need to set up a self sufficient town where everything from trade, to currency, to conflict resolution are handled privately, in order to practice what I preach.

And after seeing things work so well for one week without government at PorcFest, it is time to expand the microcosm, and attempt to set up a full time version. This seems like the natural progression; it has been tested for a week as best as we are allowed within the confines of current government. Now we need to test it more permanently, in order to move beyond theory.

A Stranger in Your Own Town

I have a challenge for everyone. Find a new, amazing, beautiful, or interesting spot in your town that you have never been to.

My home town is approximately 10 square miles, with a population of 6,000 so don’t give me the whole, “my town’s too small, I know every inch of it,” excuse! I am moving south by November, and through my omnipresent attempts to not take things for granted, found myself stumbling around an awesome little section of my town that I have never really explored before.

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There is a gigantic abandoned building that used to be the Draper Mill in my town, Hopedale. I may see it everyday, but it isn’t everyday I see the structure from the back side. Indeed I had to cross over to the other side of the tracks–literally–in order to view it. A friend and I walked across the street from his house where an abandoned parking lot hosts an abandoned ramp that used to lead to a large bridge, built to go over the railroad but long since dismantled.

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I knew of all these places, and never gave them much thought. But leave it to the inspiration of a couple beers, and these places warranted some exploring! The abandoned building made me think of something I have seen in Russia, and the view from the “bridge” made Hopedale look like a village nestled somewhere in Europe. I have always had an affinity for abandoned places; I don’t know what it is about grass and shrubs forcing their way through cracks in the pavement that strikes my artistic sensibilities.

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The abandoned bridge entrance was my favorite part. There was actually a pretty decent view from the top; over that concrete block is a good 20 foot drop. It could actually be a nice little attraction if not for the big fence telling you to keep out. So I guess it will remain an attraction for those with enough will to get there, and just a little rebelliousness.

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And you always need a selfie or else it didn’t happen.

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Go out and find a new place just minutes from where you live! Appreciate the scenery, architecture, or new perspective! Find a new place to meditate, or sneak off to. You might find yourself a mini-adventure, and you might just take the place you call home a little less for-granted.

4 Books to Read This Summer!

I always love to share a good book. Here’s a couple suggestions if you’re looking for that book to curl up with in a thunderstorm, or lay out with on the beach!

Science: interested in the way the brain works, and how the field of neuroscience is progressing?

Check out “The Future of the Mind” by Michio Kaku. This non-fiction about “The scientific quest to understand, enhance, and empower the mind,” inspired a post about dreaming, making me wonder if our brains are actually some sort of antenna or connection to another dimension or a higher plane.

But the science in the book is real, and you will learn all about technological advances in controlling things with the mind, artificial intelligence, enhancing our own intelligence, and much more! I’m a thinker, so what I loved about this book is the fact that I had to keep pausing to think over a point made–not because it was too complicated to understand, rather because it spawns multiple pathways of new connections, much like the seemingly (but not) random neural connections in our own brains.

Punk Rock Meets Science: Greg Graffin of Bad Religion weaves punk rock with the science of evolution.

From “Anarchy Evolution” by Greg Graffin, I learned a lot about evolution, and a lot about punk rock. Just when I started to get a little bored by the science, Graffin would delve into an anecdote about the punk rock scene he helped create in California in the 80’s. Then, the punk rock story would get tied back into his scientific point! He draws parallels between the chaos of a mosh pit, and the chaos of life. I love his naturalist worldview, his love of nature, and his distrust of authority.

In addition to being a punk rock frontman for over three decades, Graffin is also a Professor of evolutionary biology at Cornell. I was turned onto the book after being a fan of Bad Religion for years; I even saw them at the House of Blues a few years back in Boston.

Classic Fiction: if you never got around to reading Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien, do it.

This summer I will be releasing a series of essays on JoeJarvis.me about “Lord of the Rings”, the classic trilogy by JRR Tolkien. Everywhere throughout the novels I saw references to power, the corruption it brings, and comments on the impossibility of wielding the power of force for positive ends.

The books are also significantly different from the movies. Tom Bombadil is an apparently immortal guardian of the forest, who has a chapter or two in the “Fellowship of the Ring”. And after Sauron is defeated and the Ring destroyed, there is another whole segment that takes place in the Shire, where Saruman and Worm-tongue have installed a Mafia-style government.

Also, the detail when the company visits the elven land of Lothlorien was not at all captured in the movies. The area is much more magical and mythical in the books.

How could you say no to this classic? It has so much to offer! Except for a couple Frodo/Sam chapters in “The Two Towers”, the novels are gripping from start to finish.

New Fiction: like new ideas, interesting philosophies, futuristic stories, or just me and my writing?

Can’t miss the opportunity to plug my own book, “Anarchy in New England”! I am getting the first round of feedback, and people appear to be pleased. No, not just my family and friends! Feedback from people on social media that I don’t know seems to suggest it is an interesting, exciting read. I make it a habit not to ask people if they liked it, so that I don’t put them on the spot or dig for compliments. But I have received texts from out of the blue from friends and acquaintances, perhaps surprised, praising the quality of writing and attention to detail in creating the fictitious world of New England 100 years in the future, with no government!

From an Amazon review:

In the author’s debut novel, readers can find all the excitement of a thriller novel while still getting an idea of how an anarchist society could function — and it’s not the chaos with which anarchy is often equated. While the book is for entertainment at its core, the third-person descriptions of private security companies, magnet tunnels and advertisement-funded apartments help inspire the reader to see what could be in store if government gets out of the way.

…With a healthy blend of action — think hit men, fires, even combat — and quieter scenes, the novel will keep you on your toes but has substance beyond its climactic scenes.

Making “Normal” the New “Awesome”

Sunday was a beautiful day outside. I slept a little late, I spent some time on the porch, and made plans to go for a hike with a couple of friends.

We went for the hike up to the top of Peppercorn Hill with a nice view, checked out a little cave in the woods, and went back to my friend’s house. His family had just finished cleaning the pool (good timing) so we went for a swim, caught up with his dad and bros, and threw the frisbee around. Finally we finished with some deliciously grilled cheeseburgers.

And that day felt normal. I was happy the whole time, in a good mood, having fun. When it was drawing to a close, my friend’s brother said, “I am officially considering this the first summer fun day,” or something to that effect, which probably sounded less cheesy.

So that was when I thought back on the day, and was like, wow, this was an awesome day! Nothing went wrong, I did some of my favorite activities with friends, and it was all around a fun, essentially prototype kind of day.

It felt like a normal day. How lucky am I that a day like that is normal for me? I could think of a few things that would have made it even better, and I can think of a million things that would have made it a lot worse. So why do I just consider that a normal day?

I decided, why not re-label normal, awesome? Instead of essentially taking a normal day for granted, I could appreciate an awesome day, and have gratitude that something so perfect can seem normal to me.

That’s what I was doing when I started this blog, but it is so easy to fall back into a mundane attitude. I even had a couple of restarts, that never seemed to stick as much as that initial push that sparked this site.

PorcFest is only a month away, so it is tempting to wait and recapture those sentiments once at the event that makes me feel like my true self. But that is a cop-out! I need to kick it into gear, and re-label every normal day awesome.

That way, a “bad day” can become a “normal day”, and I have effectively dragged my median mood towards the “awesome” side!

Anarchy in New England, a novel by Joe Jarvis

It’s been a little slow around this blog lately, and I am sorry for the lull, but that should change! It is so exciting that fewer than six months into 2015, which I dubbed the year of writing, my first fiction novel is being published, Anarchy in New England.

Anarchy in New England Cover (FINAL)

The story is a thought experiment, in many ways, and offers an interesting perspective. The novel takes place in a stateless society, but not a lawless world. A hundred years in the future, New England has rebounded from a global meltdown, and leads the world in technology. There are still rules, there are still consequences for your actions, and for all intents and purposes, “authority”. But the rules are not centrally mandated, but instead worked out through the market.

But the CEO of one of the largest security companies in New England has an idea to revive the old system. With no government, he can’t get a bailout for his fading security company, so Mr. Drake decides to try to form a new government, which he would run.

Reporter Molly Metis is onto him though. Despite attempts to stop her, she continues to dig deeper into recent events surrounding Drake and his associates. She is sure she can expose the dark plot, but will anybody care? And what will be the cost?

It should be an interesting read that gets you to consider topics you may never have though about, much like I try to do with this blog. How would certain things play-out in a society without government? Anarchy usually is taken to mean chaos, but could order rise without centralized control?

Anyway, that is what I have been up to, as well as working on a prequel, that goes into more detail about the actual collapse in the 2020’s. I’m excited to get out there and promote, and at the same time I know the process will give me plenty of material for JoeJarvisExplainsItAll.

I’m going through the process of trying to live my dreams, and I feel like I am settling into a nice trajectory. I am at the very beginning of my journey still, and there will surely be countless more ups and downs. But the ride is what it is all about, and as long as I use the downs to gain momentum, they can’t be considered all that negative.

This is a scary point to be at in following your dreams, because the book is only going to start being read in the next couple of days. I am braced for the first wave of feedback, including someone with a popular podcast who is currently reading Anarchy in New England, to see if it is good enough for him to have me on his show. So naturally, the left brain and right brain are having it out, trying to balance the optimism with the pessimism. In reality, I just need to wait and see what happens, since at this point, I can not affect the outcome.

But since going into things with a generally positive, energetic attitude seems to work out, that is what I plan to do! The first phase of promotion is going to be focused on New England, because of the name of the novel and because that is where I live. If anyone wants to suggest events, media, or even a book club for me to visit with, I am open for all the possibilities!

Get in touch with me here, by contacting me through my other blog JoeJarvis.me.

Click here to order the novel on Amazon!

Dragon Chasers

Dragons are notorious teases. It is well known that dragons can recognize someone that they have only met once, and one meeting with a dragon is all you ever get. They are creatures of novelty. At best they are bored if you attempt to find them again, and their lairs are strewn with the bones of the victims of obsession.

The ones who don’t waste away on their quest to find the dragon they once met; well it is hard to tell if they are lucky or not. The only people who find the dragon a second time are killed by him. See, the dragon doesn’t care about anyone. The only reason he doesn’t kill at first contact is the dragon’s interest in a new obsessor.

Personally, I never cared to see a dragon. While it is rare he kills someone who sees him for the first time, the thought of being that close to a two-ton fire breathing monster terrifies me. And then suppose I become obsessed? Lots of people think they can just find the dragon once and be done, but there’s a dark magic in dragons that we don’t completely understand.

When I first met Akamu, I didn’t know he had ever met a dragon. He had a job and a hut, and seemed to be just a normal island boy. But Akamu didn’t want to hide anything from me. One day I met him at his hut, and we walked back to mine. I could tell he was nervous, and finally he spoke up.

“I should probably just turn around now,” Akamu said, “You won’t want to hang out with me when I tell you, but… I’ve met a dragon.”

I was surprised. Akamu didn’t look like the typical dragon chaser. They tended to become so obsessed with catching their dragon that they forgot to eat. And most of them had scars and burns from close calls with dragons.

“I haven’t gone on an expedition in six months,” he explained. “All the same, most people don’t want to associate with dragon chasers.”

“Everyone makes mistakes,” I said. “If you’re done with dragons, I want to stay friends. But if you ever decide to chase the dragon again, I won’t hang around.”

I had known others who were killed by a dragon after trying to catch him, and didn’t want to watch that happen to someone I cared about.

Everything was fine for a while; Akamu and I swam in the ocean, and hiked up mountains. Akamu heard that a friend of his had been killed by a dragon, and this was tough for him.

We laid under palm trees, we basked in the sun. Akamu found out that another friend of his had been eaten by a dragon, which made him very sad.

I had to go out fishing on a boat for a week. Akamu and I knew we would miss each other, but it was only a week. When I got back on the island I ran to Akamu’s hut to say hello.

Akamu was staring at a chart of the island, eyes darting back and forth across it. His hair was longer and messy, and he was much skinnier, more skinny than it would seem possible to become in only a week. He didn’t look like he had gotten much sleep either. He just furiously scribbled notes. He was planning another expedition to catch the dragon he once met.

“Just go,” Akamu said to me, “I can’t stop now. Hearing about my friends… it was too much to think about. But when I am chasing the dragon, I don’t think about anything else.”

I didn’t understand. How could he be comforted by his quest for the dragon, when his friends had died engulfed in the dragon’s flames?

Another lonely week passed, but island wisdom says there is not much we can do for dragon chasers; they have to abandon their obsession on their own. Then, when I was walking in the woods, I saw flames shoot into the sky. I ran towards the fire to find Akamu huddling crouched outside his hut, while it burnt to the ground. Akamu had a burn on his arm.

“He was so close!” Akamu said. “The dragon was so close I could almost touch him.” He started to cry. “I can’t do this! I don’t want to chase him anymore, I wish I had never met that dragon!”

I helped Akamu up, and we started walking back to my hut. He wanted to take a different path, so we walked up a hill, and over a cascading river. Around the corner he stopped and looked toward some rocks.

“There’s a cave in there.” Akamu said. “That’s where I first met him. Sometimes he returns here, and you can see him flying over the valley”.

His eyes were glazed over, and he seemed to forget the world around him as he stared into the cave. A song about dragons came to him, and he smiled as he hummed it. But I didn’t smile. I saw the cave drawing him in.

“Let’s go Akamu. This is the last time you should come here,” I said, and he agreed.

After spending the night in my hut, Akamu and I walked down the island until we came to the beach where small but well built huts were kept. The island people all chipped in to build these huts as far away from the mountainous dragon lairs as possible. Dragon chasers could come to this beach, and rest easy, knowing that they would not spot a dragon in the skies.

I let Akamu be, and after a few weeks, he was looking and acting like his normal self again. Akamu was grateful to me that I helped him abandon his dragon chasing quest. Since his hut had burned down, Akamu came to stay with me while he figured out the best way to move on, and not again catch the obsession with dragons.

One day, I heard Akamu get up early and leave the hut. I hoped that he was going to find another job. When he returned he seemed distracted and aloof. I was suspicious but didn’t want to jump to any conclusions.

But then in the middle of the night, I heard a rustling. I got up and found Akamu at the table, pouring over a map. It was labeled with the movements of his dragon, and the most likely places the dragon was to be found.

Akamu was surprisingly efficient at chasing the dragon. He was capable of organizing a fruitful expedition on a moments notice, with hardly any supplies. In fact he was so adept at chasing the dragon, it would have been a marketable skill… if there was a market for chasing dragons.

Akamu’s initial defensiveness quickly turned into sadness and shame.

“I don’t want this obsession,” he cried, “But I just can’t get away from it! I wish I never saw a dragon, it ruined my life.”

“But your life isn’t over, Akamu,” I said. “You are so young!”

“How can I get away from dragon chasing though? Everywhere I go I am reminded of him–his breath is in the camp fire; the glisten of the sun on the waves, becomes the shimmer of his scales. There is nowhere I can go, it is all I think about!”

“When we swam together you didn’t seem distracted. When we ran through the hilly trails, were you thinking about the dragon then?” I asked this dejected.

All the time spent with Akamu had been the best time for me.

“No,” Akamu said, “I didn’t think about dragons then.”

“I know I can’t replace what chasing the dragon gives you,” I said. “But can’t I be your reason to stop looking?”

“It’s not fair to you!” Akamu said. “Dragon chasers are playing with fire, we wrestle with a two ton monster! We can’t have people that we care about.”

“I care about you Akamu, I don’t have a choice in that.” I said. “If you can try to forget about dragons, I can be here for you”.

Akamu shook his head, “But this is what happens to dragon chasers! I can’t promise you I will never pick up another map and start another quest, all I can do is take it day by day.”

“Well, let’s start today,” I said, and walked with Akamu back to the huts on the other side of the island.

As I left and walked back to my hut alone with the setting sun on my back, I started thinking. This was the second time since I had known Akamu that he once again started chasing dragons. I told him that I couldn’t be around him if he continued, but then I didn’t follow through with my ultimatum.

Each time that Akamu went back to chasing dragons, I went back to chasing Akamu. But there was a relief in it. Something in me told me that I could make progress. Something told me if I kept chasing Akamu, then I could get back to the place where we happily began.

Was Akamu as elusive as the dragon he sought? Was I caught up in my own kind of obsession, desiring love from Akamu?

Akamu told me that if I’m involved with a dragon chaser, I can’t expect him to forget his obsession forever.

I told Akamu that if he’s involved with me, he can’t expect me to remember my obsession forever.

Prime People Watching on Mount Chocorua

I felt like a scientist studying different sample groups of humans, as a dozen or so people stormed into Liberty Cabin where Eric and I were brewing some coffee. We had already been to the clear summit of Mount Chocorua, trudged through the snow, taken the wrong trail, fell a couple times, backtracked, and finally arrived at the cabin all by around 1pm. That meant we were happily inside the basic structure with wooden platforms as beds, sipping hot coffee, when the dark clouds rolled in.

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Lightening streaked across the sky. First came the downpour, then came the hail, and the wind. It would have been quite scary to be on the peak in such weather, and we would soon hear first hand accounts. It was hard to distinguish who was with who as three different groups of people and a lone hiker came streaming in. With only 9 platform beds in the cabin, Eric and I were glancing at each other and thinking the same thing, “Are they all staying here tonight?”

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The answer was no, two groups were just out for a day hike, and had not anticipated how snowy it would be at 3,500 feet. Compared to them, I felt so very prepared for this camping trip, but I must admit that I had not expected the snow either, for some reason. It melted around my house, so snow was out of sight and out of mind; it is springtime!

I lucked out that my hiking partner Eric was much more prepared than I. He even brought extra hiking poles, which I don’t generally use, but proved invaluable on the snowy and icy trails. He also had a lighter, which I had forgot to pack. If I was alone, that could have been a disastrous mistake, being unable to light my camp stove to heat water. I still had enough other food, but it would have made the overnight uncomfortable.

I also lucked out with the temperatures. I brought many layers of clothing, but nothing extremely warm. This ended up being fine, but had it been ten degrees colder, which it easily could have been, I probably would have froze all day and night. So I am not trying to act like I was all set to hike Everest, but I at least brought plenty of extra socks, a map, flashlights, etc.

Party at Liberty Cabin!

As I stood in the cabin, trying to discern who was staying, a girl with booty shorts and a tank top walked in, bleeding from both shins. She was in good spirits, which could have been her disposition, or shock, or perhaps she had more than the two beers she admitted to earlier. See, it was her 21st birthday! And it was either hike a mountain, or go to clubs in Boston. Apparently she decided to dress for the clubs, but go hike the mountain.

I assumed the girl patching up her legs was in the same group as the bloody birthday girl, but I soon learned the healer was with another female friend. The bleeding girl’s two male friends (I use the term lightly) seemed more interested in getting back on the trail. One added that maybe they could stop at a liquor store on the way home. It seemed a hospital might be more appropriate, since the now patched up girl (no thanks to her hiking partners) had removed her wet socks, and put her unlaced Tims back on her numb red feet.

Since more important matters pressed, that group of three got back on the trail, at least taking a picture of my map with the phone that had 9% battery left. That is when we realized the other two girls were not with them, and only slightly more prepared. They seemed equally caught off guard by the conditions and weather, but at least possessed mental toughness.

They had pants on, but their thin canvass, flat bottom vans were not helping in the ice and, I kid you not, over 3 feet of snow in some places. Luckily their phones had more battery, and they took pictures of our maps. We offered them a map to take, but they declined. However when we heard at 3:30pm they didn’t have flashlights for the 4ish hour hike back over the summit, and down to their parking lot, I insisted they take an extra flashlight (I had two plus a headlamp), and the father of two from the third group also sent a flashlight with them. And they were off.

The Overnight Crew

Now the smoke cleared, and everyone who was left exhaled. We had a few jokes at the booty-short-wearing-birthday-girl’s expense, and situated ourselves in the cabin. It was me and Eric, the lone woman hiker, and Brian, his 11 and 13 year old sons, and an 18 year old girl he had adopted at some point in the last few years.

We really had such a good time, getting to know each other, laughing, joking, and commiserating. See, the family wasn’t super physically prepared either, but they were chalk full of mental preparedness. Not to criticize too much, but taking extra socks is like hiking 101. But Brian had only been hiking with his sons for a year, and it was great to see the enthusiasm. They had plenty of water, which was a lesson learned the previous year. Next camping trip, I am confident they will have plenty of socks.

So even though it was technically against the rules to start a camp fire that close to the cabin, we all looked the other way while Brian got one going to dry their socks and shoes. Rules are made to be broken, and this seemed to fall into the survival category. We certainly weren’t going to start a fire, but that didn’t mean we weren’t going to enjoy one that someone else lit.

Brian seemed like a really great, fun dad. They discovered hiking sort of by accident last year, and fell in love with it. There is a big learning curve with camping that I take for granted. My dad was a seasoned camper before I ever went with him, so from an early age I learned all the do’s and do nots of camping and hiking. And even then so much is unforeseen, and new experiences every trip teach you more.

I give Brian tons of credit for getting his family out for camping trips, and enthusiastically making the best of everything, even when they were a bit cold and unprepared. Plus, his kids enjoyed the whole experience, and didn’t complain at all, which is probably more than could be said of me at the same age.

Liberty Cabin with Mt. Chorua peak

Liberty Cabin with Mt. Chorua peak

Over the course of the night, we learned more about what transpired on the mountain in the hours and minutes leading up to the storming of the cabin. Brian was already feeling guilty that his family was on top of a mountain in a lightening storm, but weather is unpredictable, especially on mountains, and I don’t think it was negligence on his part.

His group, the group of two girls, and the birthday girl’s group all came together in the storm on the mountain, counting on strength in numbers to get them to safety. Birthday girl apparently panicked when lightening cracked nearby, and running in hysterics fell in some icy snow, lost a boot (but reclaimed it), and cut her shins on the ice when her feet punched through the top layer of snow.

The lone woman camper followed the trail of blood from the birthday girl’s shins, and arrived at the cabin minutes after the rest of them. She was a 31 year old seasoned camper who was the most prepared of anyone (and even she got her foot stuck in the snow at one point), except perhaps Eric who I was with, and probably made me look more prepared than I was. I have a habit of packing and planning last minute, which makes things harder when your phone dies, and you didn’t bring a charger. But that is when it actually helps that I don’t have a smart phone. I have a phone for texts and calls, a tablet for everything internet, and a GPS for the car. All these would have been on the same device if I had a smart phone. What is normally an inconvenience therefore proved to be an asset.

Brian’s sons were fine that night, since they shared a double sleeping bag that kept them warm. But Brian froze all night, with just a thin blanket, and the clothes he was wearing—sweatpants and a light jacket. He joined Eric and me for the sun rise, which was amazing. I decided not to take a picture of the sun rise since it would not have done the view justice. You’ll have to stay at Liberty Cabin for that image. But maybe wait a few more weeks if you don’t want to have to deal with the snow.

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