Scenes in Adventure Learning (Part II): Reconnaissance

Juan de Fuca Recon w/ DSIt is the second day of spring, earlier the same year, and a colleague and I are shivering in soaking clothes in a damp ring of protective salal and cedar above Chin Beach. We are conducting reconnaissance on the Juan de Fuca Trail, assessing its relative difficulty, subjective and objective risks and hazards, and gauging the potential for the route to serve as a challenging option for the annual TALONS Adventure Trip.

Despite arriving on Vancouver Island in full sunshine yesterday, and beginning our hike under clear skies, the rain moved in on us last night and has yet to let up through the day’s first ten kilometres. We left Bear Beach at just before ten this morning and arrived at the emergency shelter above Chin Beach on the afternoon high tide, cutting us off from where the trail resumes at the western end. With an hour of slack tide to wait out we’ve hung our wet shirts on the lines in the front of the shelter to drip dry in the spring humidity and make warm lunches of hummus, bagels, and multiple cups of tea. We laugh at the accumulated years of graffiti adorning the walls.

Eventually we shudder back into our shirts and make our way down to the beach, where we’re waiting now for the tide to recede enough that we might gain the rocky bluff back up into the woods where the trail continues. Mist hangs in the air between the trees and gusts up the beach as the waves crash and rinse between the rocks. A group of five or six sea lions slithers toward the horizon beyond the breakers, and we wait, jogging on the spot, stepping up and down from a log by a sodden fire circle, and wandering through the prospective campsite.

When the tide falls we head back into the woods, tackling the second 10K section of steep, muddy, and root-laden walking between Chin and Sombrio Beach. The trail climbs, then descends, crosses swollen creeks that soak our boots and gaiters, then climbs again. All throughout the afternoon the rain continues to fall, but we don’t wear our rain gear because with our exertion the insides would be as wet as the outside; besides, we will surely need them come the evening.

The lightheartedness of our adventure yesterday has evapourated, or perhaps more appropriately been washed away, and we hike in relative silence: grunting, breathing heavily, laughing incredulously at the ferocity of the weather and the roughness of the trail. We are out here two months before the hiking season has properly begun, and many of the winter’s deadfall sitka spruces, calamitous landslides, and broken boardwalks have yet to be cleared or repaired. Later in the day we are ankle deep in muddy bogs on the ridgeline above Sombrio Point and the forest canopy blocks out the five o’clock light, making it horror-movie dark as the rain increases above our heads. In the next moment it is hailing angrily down through the cedar boughs and we are resigned to digging through our packs for jackets as the pellets sting our shoulders and frigid forearms.

Juan de Fuca Recon w/ DS

On Sombrio we fight back the first effects of hypothermia while we attempt to set the tarp and pitch our tent. My sleeping bag is soggy and our fingers ache working with the lightweight tarpline. We are on pace to complete the trail in three days – two days faster than our prospective trip with the teens later in the spring – and we are each unbelievably spent.

Tomorrow we will shuffle off the western terminus of the trail in Port Renfrew and ravenously inhale chicken wings and two beers before hitchhiking back to our car at China Beach before dark. I am almost thirty five and no stranger to challenging adventures in the woods, nor is Dave: even with our aching feet and blistering toe-nail beds, soaked gear and thousand-yard stares as we sit over ferry burgers on our way home, we are giddy and proud of our adventure.

But tonight, shivering in my sleeping bag while the rain blasts at the salal and sitka shelter beyond our tent, and throughout our encounters with knee-deep bogs, hundred metre cliffs above the Pacific, and the perilously slick log bridges and creek beds (one of which claims my sunglasses on the second morning of our adventure), I am struck with the magnitude of the trip seen through the eyes of my grade nine students. The thought that the trip may be beyond the capabilities of our group – or for one reason or another one or more of our student group will not complete the trail – becomes a focal point of the preparations to come.

“Let’s think about it,” Dave says sometime the next day while we take water and a break deep in the woods west of Sombrio Beach. “What are the snags, injuries or anxieties – reasons you’d need to stop or evacuate someone – and where are they going to happen out here?”

“If and when they walk off the end of this trail,” he adds. “They are going to be hardened warriors.”

We climb through the soaking rainforest, sweating in our rotten, muddy clothes, brainstorming various emergencies and evacuation procedures, as well as how to minimize our risks.

“Exactly,” I tell him, and set about making plans for the coming months and making that potential a reality.

Bootlegs Volume 1: the Soundlab Sessions

Admittedly, this is the Casa (not Soundlab), but that is the 12 string Grant was playing in the Soundlab recordings).

Originally dropped in Alan Levine’s Storybox, which I think was supposed to remain a one-stop shop for media content, Grant Potter and I recorded a bunch of songs sitting around the Soundlab kitchen table back in September of 2011 that I’ve played on #ds106radio a time or two, but thought I would share here. I’ve spent the last week assembling different pieces of music, writing and presentations to be collected and shared on a separate page of this site with the hopes that assembling these works in such a way will lead me to the ‘next’ place in each of these extra-curricular directions.

As a kick off, and look back, at some of the music I feel fortunate to have made in the last year, here are a few choice cuts from the Soundlab Sessions, with Grant Potter.

Weighty Ghost (Wintersleep cover)

Dreams (Fleetwood Mac cover)

Hungry Heart (Bruce Springsteen cover)

I like Trains (Fred Eaglesmith cover)

Me and My Bike (Sweet Cascadia cover)

Fashionable People (Joel Plaskett Emergency cover)


TALONS Hunger Games

Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V

Imagine a life where possibilities are opening at a speed that veers unpredictably between exhilarating and terrifying. The familiar, precisely because it’s familiar and safe, still tugs at you, but even so, you want out because your old life constricts as much as it comforts. Besides, your social milieu, which often feels like an endless struggle to achieve, or resist being slotted into some arbitrary niche—pretty, ugly, smart, dumb, athlete, klutz—is changing fast. You feel driven—by inner need and outside pressure—to make choices. Meanwhile, the manipulative, often harsh, powers that be, who created the larger world they’re busy shoving you into, have clearly not done a bang-up job of it, either in their personal lives or as part of society. And they want you to get out there and fix their mistakes—just at a moment when worry over the imminent demise of their entire socio-economic structure is never far from the surface. It can be cruel and scary out there. Dystopian, even. Chances are, anyone not imagining this life, but actually living it, is a teenager.

Macleans

In some ways, I guess it is natural that the TALONS class would incorporate into its evolving storytelling and myth-making the influences of dystopian literature, fan fiction, and the classic zombie film. In the background of the class’ study of novels, history, and current events, math and science, the approaching Adventure Trip (constituting the class’ Leadership 11 Final Exam), the class blog has become the setting for unfolding video, and literary riffs on the classroom setting, as well as TALONS characters enacting both a five part series of zombie films and an epic, multi-authored fan fiction bringing the Hunger Games to the afternoon corhort.

There is no avoiding the violent nature of the Hunger Games, and each post begins with a variation of the following caveat:

(Warning: The following post depicts scenes of violence, using fictionalized examples of real people. Please do not read if you might find any of this offensive  / disturbing. This narrative is for educational purposes only. Any references and ideas taken from the Hunger Games trilogy are the strict property of the brilliant Suzanne Collins).

But what I find remarkable about the TALONS versions of each story – and perhaps what constitute each genre’s appeal with today’s young people – is an awareness and an articulation of the human qualities that perpetuate our survival in desperate times, whether in real life, a zombie movie, or young adult fan-fiction. Each are excellent examples of using an existing structure of genre or plot-line to tell a story that is uniquely personal.

Check them out (and don’t miss the informative ‘Legend‘ to help see into the intricacies of the class dynamic at work in the story):

Welcome to the First Annual TALONS Hunger Games!” Part I

The platforms stilled, each tribute squinting in the sudden light, trying to adjust to their surroundings. They were standing in the middle of a field of grass, an enormous ancient stone city before them, practically crumbling before their eyes. Behind them was a forest, thick with every kind of tree, green and lush with life. The tributes looked around, dazed by the beauty of their surroundings. For a moment, all thoughts of death and murder disappeared out of their heads, but seconds later, the gong sounded and each tribute shot off their platform, scattering in all directions.

There are no friends in the Hunger Games.” Part II

Morning came and Bronwyn wasn’t prepared. She had hardly slept that night after yet another cannon had roared, causing her to wonder who had died this time. She exhaled softly and packed up quickly, sliding down the tree ready for day 2. The moment she hit the ground, she heard the sound of feet running. She ran and leapt behind a bush, peering through and seeing, to her surprise, Leanne. She was standing in the middle of a clearing, holding a badminton racquet. Bronwyn frowned. A badminton racquet? What kind of a cruel trick was that? But suddenly, the small hole Bronwyn had been staring through darkened as someone stood in front of it.

What was that?” Part III

Chelsea climbed up the tree, searching for a place to stay. Sean climbed close behind, trying not to look down. He didn’t know why he had saved Chelsea, but he had. Shaking his head, Sean called up to Chelsea that he had found a branch. Swinging sideways, Sean landed on the branch and pressed himself against the trunk, closing his eyes and listening for any noises. Instead, the anthem played and Sean blinked and looked up at the darkened sky.

I got her with a tree branch. Hell-o, irony.” Part IV

About half an hour later, Alisha was happily roasting several chunks of meat over a spit. She leaned forward and studied them carefully, inspecting them and making sure they were cooked thoroughly. Then, with quick and precise hands, she whipped out a handful of Japanese Yew berries and stuffed them into the meat.

Humming to herself, Zoe loaded up Jonny’s crossbow, and crouched down, lying on her belly and began to aim. Alisha had been right. Only one could win.

Powell River Vocal Summit

As a guitar teacher at Gleneagle, I am priviliged to enjoy many of the magical exploits of our performing arts department. In concerts, tours and festivals over the past few years, I’ve increasingly brought along recording and editing tools in my Macbook & other digital toys to preserve the fleeting nature of jaw-dropping live performances.

This year, I found myself with our Vocal Jazz and Choir singers up the BC coast in Powell River, for the annual Vocal Summit that brings in talented youth and adult choirs from across the province, as well as a few of our southern neighbours, and was able to bring home the following treasures (in addition to the video compilation added above).

You can find video of the Friday mass-choir rehearsal, led by Scott Leithead, and Gleneagle’s evening showcase performance of “Baba Yetu” by clicking their respective links in this sentence.

Africa – Toto Vocal Jazz cover live at the Powell River Vocal Summit by GleneagleMusic

Shenandoah – live at the Powell River Vocal Summit by GleneagleMusic

Battle of Jericho – Concert Choir live at Powell River Vocal Summit by GleneagleMusic

My Last Few Weeks

My new teeth... For now.

We have survived the first week of school! (Though if you’ve seen me recently, you know I’ve been surviving just to make it here! Thanks for the concern from everyone who saw me and stared wide-eyed at the story of my last week and a bit!)

As you may have heard, I was involved in an accident while hiking on the West Coast Trail last weekend. While cooking dinner with my sisters and father, one of our propane tanks exploded, the top half of which caught me across the right shoulder before riccocheting into my chin, cracking my jaw, chipping, breaking and knocking out eight teeth. In the process I also cut my palm, and sliced my chin clean through in an inch long gash below my lower lip. In the following hour, a helicopter arrived to evacuate me and my younger sister (leaving my father & sister to Bog walkin'continue the trek north, which developed into a first aid saga of its own the next morning), and we rode in two ambulances between Port Renfrew and Victoria.

At the ER, I recieved “too many stitches to count” in my chin, another five in my hand, and emerged at 3am bearing the welt of the propane valve on my shoulder (hidden behind the scorched nylon of my sweater). Lindsay and I waited in the downtown parking lot, blood still wet in my clothes, all of our camping gear across our backs, and caught a cab to the Holiday Inn near the ferry terminal. It had been almost eight hours and finally it was quiet, and we were alone, looking up at the same stars shining down on our father and sister, who couldn’t seem further away.

We all did make it back, though. But as you imagine it has been a trying My ambulance portrait; an accurate depiction of my frame of mind at the time.recovery, and continues to be, as I am still waiting many visits to the dentist and other healthcare professionals in the coming weeks. They say I’ll be good as new (better, actually: new pearly whites and a story about cheating death) inside of eight weeks, which, given the countless alternatives, is good enough for me.

Canada Day & Our Country's Parks

Last week I received an early-morning phone call

informing me that a friend of a friend had passed away over the weekend along the lengths of the Yellowhead Highway’s western flank, in Smithers, BC. Weary of the drive through the Fraser’s canyon and the sheer distance involved in traversing the province’s northern shoulder – some two thousand kilometers in all – I offered to provide vehicle and pilot to the expedition (this is where it can help to have vacationing teachers as friends) so long as we could round out the trip by cycling through the northern edges of the Rockies on the return trip. And at 11pm on the last day of June – last Tuesday – we resolved to leave the next morning for Smithers, and the funeral slated for Friday. The next morning, Canada Day, we stopped at Canadian Tire for a stove and several propane canisters, and lit out for the north.

In Chilliwack, we stopped at the Provincial Information Center by the Trans Canada, and procured nearly the entirety of the resources required for a 2500km road trip over five days: BC Parks & Road map, Camp Free BC guidebook, and regional parks descriptions for the Caribou, the Skeena, the Rockies, the North (yeah, simply, the North), as well as Lower Mainland and Coast. Aside from spending a night in Smithers in a hotel (whose drapes helped us sleep through a night that saw a mere three hours of night), we would live out of the car, making living rooms in campsites around the province.

I have made such voyages before, but never on such short notice. My sister and I have driven the country from Toronto to Vancouver, and spent a month in the wilds of Haida Gwaii, and yet even on a smaller scale, the ease our provincial parks put such explorations of our country’s natural beauty before our fingertips is a remarkable testament to that which we hold to be self-evident: that,

“as a public trust, [our parks] protect representative and special natural places within the Province’s Protected Areas System for world class conservation, outdoor recreation, education and scientific study.”

A. and I left for our trip on Canada Day, our national holiday, and set up tent, fire, sunset and the Tragically Hip on a perch above the Trans Canada Highway and Lac Le Hache. Far from a wilderness venture, our site was raked gravel, and came with sturdy picnic table, fire pit (and achingly dry pine that split and burned too easily), and also included waterfront view at $15 a night. From past experience, I knew that in driving aroundacross our country, the use of a Parks Road map will point out such overnight accommodations at two-to-three hundred kilometer intervals along Highway 1, but also many ulterior routes. But I had not truly contemplated how easy, how reachable, and how inexpensive such experiences could be, and realized that it showed an incredible amount of foresight for our legislators had written it into law that such plots, freckled across our highways and the natural expanses they lead to, be set aside to put future generations in touch with who they are, as citizens of Canada. To enjoy our parks is to view the country’s natural and human history in the spirit of the adventurous present, we thought that night, retiring to a sleep rock-a-byed by the rumbling of 18-wheelers on their night drives, winding through the capillaries of the Caribou.

The next morning we set our sights on the western reaches of the Yellowhead, to Smithers and the head of the Skeena Valley. With 700km to travel, and a date with a hotel that evening, we spanned our day around highway rest stops and campgrounds for meals and swims across the high country. Two years ago my sister and I followed the Yellowhead to its termination in Naikoon Provincial Park, on the Queen Charlotte Islands. But we misread the date of our sailing from Prince Rupert, and spent four days exploring the valley of the Seven Sisters, and the lakes along the Pacific Trunk Railway. Though not as awe inspiring as other corners of the Province, it felt on both trips as though I were exercising some patriotic duty to see and experience as much of my home as possible. Thoreau alluded to traveling in one’s home as important to that accomplished abroad, and while I don’t believe he imagined a sense of home reaching the lengths of BC’s farthest borders, I feel like these excursions make manifest this purpose.

With the funeral behind us on Friday afternoon we drove away from the afternoon sun, bound for Beaumont Provincial Park near Vanderhoof (the Geographical Center of British Columbia). But with the sun still high and the promise of the Rockies not far off, we drove through the northern capital of Prince George and found a Campsite Full sign outside Lake Pruden. Cause for momentary panic – as the long twilight had begun and Mt. Robson was more than an hour’s drive to our next such lodgings – we found that “overflow campers” had been diverted to the picnic area behind the beach. At the same cost ($15), we found ourselves baffled in the July moonrise accompanied by crying loons and the North’s trademark mosquitoes, black flies and noseeums, and retired to an early rest.

The next morning, still in the sun, the eastern border of the province barreled on toward us, opening the highway up into its cursive-writing dive into Mount Robson and the western Rockies. Mount Terry Fox reared up, bald and rounded at the edge of the highway, striking that chord that Douglas Coupland has spent a while tuning in each of our appreciation of the quintessential Canadian Hero. Looking up through the free steel binoculars in the rest area, I remembered standing at the foot of the man-made monument to Terry at the western tip of Lake Superior, and the furthest point reached during his Marathon of Hope. As a graduate of Coquitlam’s schools (just like Terry Fox), I didn’t feel myself a stranger to the mythology of the young man’s courage, inspiration, and the call to rise above, beyond and to become a symbol. But to be twenty two at the time and to see my young countryman in marble looking out at the greatest of the lakes was a Canadian moment rivaling any I have yet experienced.

Some few thousand miles west, into the promised land which Terry traveled as a picture of heroism which defies description, I looked up at the mountain bearing his name and thought about the land between these honoured points, and that it is the fabric of our country, our home, and diverse as the people who live upon it. But each of us is bound to this sense of distance,  and the immensity of our separation. In distance we are yet close.

At Mount Robson, we stayed in the spray of the Fraser headwaters as they begin their teeming glare out of the belly of the province to spill the land’s sediment into the Pacific. Here begins the highway that the Northwest Company would utilize in its efforts to reach the ocean; how much hope welled within those earliest explorers – Alexander MacKenzie, Simon Fraser & David Thompson, among others – when they sensed that these streams were to be the culmination of a continent, the end of the future? I waded into the freezing waters on Sunday morning, waited for the numbness to take my feet and shins (though in the meantime worried I would throw up from the pain of doing so) and submerged myself in the broiling eddy of the main current, stumbling and rolling against the riverbed before coming up.Later in the day, A. and I would each swim in the Thompson before stopping for a final night on the shores of Lac Le Jeune.

It may only be a Canadian ritual 1  to ceremonially immerse oneself in the waters of the various regions of one’s country, or in the least is exclusive to countries – where through frigid temperatures, dangerous currents or predatory animals – where rivers, lakes and the seas command human respect. Where the opportunity presents itself, I keep a tally in my mind of the local bodies of water I have swum in: from the Adriadic, Atlantic and Pacifics, to the Frasers, Thompsons Rivers, Cultas and Pure Lakes, among a host of others. I was raised a water child, swimming before I could walk, and to emerge from these waterways is to become a citizen of these places.

“I have been for a long period among the Rocky Mountains, but have never seen any thing equal to this country, for I cannot find words to describe our situation at times. We had to pass where no human being should venture. Yet in those places there is a regular footpath impressed, or rather indented, by frequent travelling upon the very rocks. And besides this, steps which are formed like a ladder, or the shrouds of a ship, by poles hangining onto one another anc crossed at certain distances with twigs and withes (tree boughts) suspended from the top to the foot of the precipices, and fastened at both ends to stones and trees furnished a safe and convenient passage to the Natives – but we, who had not the advantages of their experence, were often in imminent danger, when obliged to follow their example.”

Simon Fraser

Having journeyed north through Cache Creek and the Fraser Canyon, winding through Hell’s Gate and what must have seemed the apocalypse to Simon Fraser and his band of Norwesters, we spent Sunday passing through Valemount, Barrierre, Clearwater and the country north of Kamloops where Fraser first came south, along the Thompson. With the ghosts of the high country fading, we discarded the relics of the north en route back to life, civilization, and pavement.

We made it through Kamloops, filling up on what would be our trip’s final tank of gas, and stopped at Lac Le Jeune on the Coquillhalla Highway for our final night in the tent. RVs rumbled through the afternoon taking up sites, and

the moon rose on a cloudless, bugless night. We lit an early fire with a surplus of wood, and listened to a large family playing Wolf and the Townspeople up the hill from our site. Our fifth night out, we slept soundly amidst crickets in the surrounding grass.

Civilization came calling early the next morning however, with an industrial weed-whacker tackling deep swaths of the cricket-grass before the sounding of the dawn’s first rustling birds. Yawns and bed-headed tenters emerged quickly – checking watches, craning their necks to the overcast sky – and by 7:30 the camp was fully stirring, as the weed-whacking parks employee had continued his rounds through each of the campsite’s four concentric rings of sites. Our dusty wares were stowed and we stopped for coffees before arriving in Port Moody in the rain, 2512km under our tires in five days.


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  1. I say that this could be a Canadian phenomena based on two experiences: When my sister and I found ourselves within a stone’s throw of the St. Lawrence, in Montreal, grasping the history that had sailed that canal in the preceding four hundred years: as Canadians, something of us is born in rivers and lakes, as they meant the birth of our country. In BC, we are witness to not only the proximity to European and Native interaction with the land, but the millenia which have sculpted salmon’s relationship to the land within its waters. Such is this impulse in British Columbians that on a recent trip to Copenhagen with a large group of Canadians, several were instinctively drawn to diving from the corner of a busy downtown intersection into the channels of the Copenhagen River, yielding many inquisitive stares from the uninitiated European observers.

Harnessing Consumer Rage

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Several years ago I was sitting in the aisle seat of an American Airlines 737 in Dallas, catching the evening flight to Vancouver. While we waited on the tarmac, a serious man in his early fifties cleared his throat and pushed the attendant button above us. When the flight attendant arrived to inquire as to the man’s concern, he was told by my neighbor that the baggage handlers were getting a bit “loose” with their duties below his window, and that they should “correct their behavior.”

The flight attendant offered a mild retort along the lines of the men are trained professionals, or I’ll make a note of your observation – in short, refusing to see to his customer’s concern. Before he turned to get back to the rest of his pre-flight routine, the man in the window seat said, “No,” and unfolded an FAA’s Inspector’s badge from his wallet. “They should correct their behavior.”

Not only was the runway roughhosing interrupted at that instant, but our row of seats – the first set of coach seats – seemed to enjoy the benefits of the first class cabin, as warm cookies and free beverages made their way through the still-drawn curtain. Probably a clerical error.

Short of brandishing a badge, Dave Carrol has drawn up the second-best response to cavalier baggage handling, in his song, “United Breaks Guitars,” which takes aim at the Airline and tells the heartbreaking story of not only his Taylor’s demise at the hands of United employees, but also the frustrations of lodging the complaint, and obtaining retribution. From his website:

“In the spring of 2008, Sons of Maxwell were traveling to Nebraska for a one-week tour and my Taylor guitar was witnessed being thrown by United Airlines baggage handlers in Chicago. I discovered later that the $3500 guitar was severely damaged. They didn’t deny the experience occurred but for nine months the various people I communicated with put the responsibility for dealing with the damage on everyone other than themselves and finally said they would do nothing to compensate me for my loss. So I promised the last person to finally say “no” to compensation (Ms. Irlweg) that I would write and produce three songs about my experience with United Airlines and make videos for each to be viewed online by anyone in the world. United: Song 1 is the first of those songs. United: Song 2 has been written and video production is underway. United: Song 3 is coming. I promise.”

He’ll either be sued, or made the national spokesperson.

On Thoreau's Birthday

Between 2003 and 2005 I spent three consecutive summers working in the woods of the Ozark Foothills in Arkansas at a summer camp, living in tents alongside sixty some young instructors huddling our lives around the idea that the indulgent experience of nature could provide some truth. We would wake with the dawn and attend daily meetings in our staff cabin where daily scribbled on a slate blackboard would be a quote that solidified or represented the philosophy of our idealistic enclave. More often than not the board would be adorned with the words of Henry David Thoreau, who today celebrates his birthday.

“Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.”

Walden 1854

The quotes indulged a romantic literary bent in many of us (I was at the time a 22 year old creative-writing student at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock), and gave way to discussions about Matthew Arnold, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Hemingway and Conrad as we paced the dewy grass on the way to the flag plaza for daily pomp and ceremony. With soil under our boots, and a day’s toil in sweat and filth that would last satisfyingly until after dark for six running weeks (day’s off from noon Saturday till Sunday), the transcendental words of the late poets and authors confirmed our suspicion that we had truly left nothing back in the cities of Little Rock and Conway, Vancouver or Coquitlam, and that we were pursuing something elemental, in the woods, something vital.

“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, discover that I had not lived.”

Walden 1854

As with any evidence supporting an individual (or collective) belief, the details of such arguments are not checked into fully, and the lustre of Thoreau’s mythology was not fully tarnished by the truth surrounding it. I commented to a coworker that we seemed to be using many of Thoreau’s words on a daily basis and that this quotability amounted to a different appreciation for his works than might have otherwise been the case. “Which was probably by design,” my friend commented, something that has stuck with me in interpreting the writer’s legacy, not only of Thoreau, but of a wider sample of authors.

As noted in Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac which pays tribute to the author’s birth today, we are familiar enough with the ridge-poles of Thoreau’s biography:

“Born David Henry Thoreau in Concord, Massachusetts (1817). He grew up exploring the woods and fields of Massachusetts, encouraged by his mother to learn as much as he could from nature. He went to Harvard, but he didn’t like it very much — he refused a diploma since it cost five dollars. He worked for a while in his father’s pencil factory, and as a public school teacher, and he became close friends with Ralph Waldo Emerson.

“In 1841, the Emersons invited Thoreau to live with them and work as a handyman and gardener, and he helped take care of their children, taking them on nature walks and telling them stories. Thoreau stayed with the Emersons for two years, and during that time he worked on his writing, and through Emerson, became friends with many of the Transcendentalists. In 1842, Nathaniel Hawthorne and his wife rented some property from Emerson and moved to the area. When he first met Thoreau in 1842, Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote in his journal: “Mr. Thoreau dined with us yesterday. He is a singular character — a young man with much of wild original nature still remaining in him; and so far as he is sophisticated, it is in a way and method of his own. He is as ugly as sin, long-nosed, queer-mouthed, and with uncouth and rustic, though courteous manners, corresponding very well with such an exterior.” The two became good friends, and Thoreau planted a garden for the Hawthornes and did maintenance work for Ellery Channing and his wife.

“In 1844, Emerson bought land on the shore of Walden Pond. Walden Pond was a pristine, 61-acre pond, surrounded by woods, and Emerson agreed to let his friend live on the land and build a cabin there.”

The Writer’s Almanac – July 12th, 2009

To us there could be no greater icon of the wilderness and self-reliance we felt ourselves ambassadors for six weeks every summer, and his words were capable of propelling us out into our diverse corners of the camp to instruct daily lessons in canoeing, outdoor survival, orienteering, cooking, and on and on, despite an awareness of the flaws in the conventional Thoreau Story. Keillor continues:

“People often assume that Thoreau went out into the wilderness to write his famous treatise on nature, but in fact, he was living less than two miles from the village of Concord. He had regular dinners with friends, continued to do odd jobs for the Emersons, and had frequent visitors.”

The Writer’s Almanac – July 12th, 2009

We were not the only ones. Thoreau’s influence among authors, thinkers and political leaders is as ranging as any of his period or area of writings:

Mahatma Gandhi, President John F. Kennedy, civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr., Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, and Russian author Leo Tolstoy all spoke of being strongly affected by Thoreau’s work, particularly Civil Disobedience.

Wikipedia

Gandhi even went so far as to remark:

“[Thoreau’s] ideas influenced me greatly. I adopted some of them and recommended the study of Thoreau to all of my friends who were helping me in the cause of Indian Independence. Why I actually took the name of my movement from Thoreau’s essay ‘On the Duty of Civil Disobedience,’ written about 80 years ago.”

Webb Miller

Though Thoreau did (technically) put his money where his mouth was, and refused to pay taxes he believed would be used to support a war he opposed, landing him in jail, he was bailed out by friends after only a night (albeit against his will) there is the same asterisk which accompanies the author’s paeans to nature: is having imagined and arranged such moving words as to call others to action more worthy an act than living out such creeds? As history bends to those who record it, one would nearly suspect that writing such ideas is much more powerful an act than singly living them. Disconnected from the imperfections and realities of the real authors of our quotations, we can strive to achieve the heights of their words’ promise.

According to Howard Zinn, Ralph Waldo Emerson visited Thoreau during his night in prison. Emerson opposed the war as well, but did little to protest it, and asked his friend, “What are you doing in there?” The legend says that Thoreau replied, “What are you doing out there?”

This anecdote need not be entirely truthful, I doubt. As it was not crippling to the theory’s validity that America’s founding fathers owned slaves while they wrote “All men are created equal,” Thoreau need not be living example of his words, as it takes some time for history, for reality, and truth lived to catch up to truths expressed. If not for those who first express them, would we ever realize such dreams possibilities?

Marquezologue

As part of my summer course work finishing up PDP at SFU, I took an eight-credit Designs for Learning Language Arts course with Dr. Carolyn Mamchur – to this date one of the most intelligent, warm and inspirational people I have yet encountered – during which each student was to study their favourite author. Since declaring English as my major some five years earlier, I had “belonged” to several authors: Wordsworth, Hesse, Hemingway, Whitman, Coupland, and even John Krakaur. But by the time of my course with Carolyn, I was enthralled by both Bob Dylan and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Each’s obsession with magic and the ethereal nature of their art absorbed me that summer to the extent that I wrote a short novel during those months with characters who lived at the corner of streets named Zimmerman and Gabo in homage.

One of the projects I was to undertake as a final assessment for the Mamchur course was an address as Garcia Marquez, a daunting task given the ability of his writing to somehow encapsulate all of man’s experience on earth: sadness and joy, nostalgia and exaltation, death and birth. Below is the text of my speech, which I delivered along with slips of paper sporadically given out to the members of my class. To date it is the last university assignment I have completed, and one of my favourite pieces of creative writing, even though many of the best phrases are stolen (with credit given – though something has happened to some of the footnotes…) from the master.

Marquezologueþ

We all must end up here, where the light of the day dissipates and congeals, and we are separated from our memories, taken from this life. Many people survive on the thought that they will avoid this moment somehow, that through certain actions or words life might spare them a death filled with abject horror. I count myself among those who have wished that this were not the truth of living, who have asked to what end I have been sequestered here in an absurd fear, and in many ways I have generated my life as if perpetually facing this final scene. I have sought to see the world from a place outside of time, for it is our brief lives which are responsible for our obscured view of the truth. From a simple desk, with its wide surface and view of the sea through the brass-fit framed window, I have tried to touch this death where memory is stolen from us, committing myself to paper and ink as a means of final survival.

For years now many people have assumed that I have given more to my vocation than a commitment to the long patience of creation. My name is seldom mentioned without the epithet of magical, or fantastic, and to those outside my immediate circle of family and close friends I am no doubt seen as something more than a man who spends his time alone with his books. People do not want to believe that I have made my work the act of sitting behind my desk for the longest of hours, smoking cigarettes end to end – addicted as I am to the sensation of inhaling the same smoke, over and over again, until I die – scribbling with pens and variously typeset keys. They have always supposed that there has been something unreal behind the work spaces – collectively known to my family as the Caves of the Mafia – I have etched into each of my homes. It is a very human unwillingness to see the words of a page and assume them supported by nothing more than a man at his desk, filling pages with combinations of the letters. As if the lack of magic in a piece of artwork or moment in life would not be the utmost fantastic!

I should confess though that as a young man I had dreamed the life of a writer to be so many other things. By the age of twenty-five I had followed Hemingway to Europe, along with the romantic idea that I had somehow already achieved a literary immortality (in the brief run of daily newspaper columns that amounted, really, to nothing). I had just dropped out of the faculty of law after six semesters devoted entirely to reading everything I could get my hands on and reciting from memory the unrepeatable poetry of the Spanish Golden Age. I had already read, in translation, and in borrowed editions, all the books I would have needed to learn the novelist’s craft, and had published some stories in newspaper supplements that had won the enthusiasm of my friends and the attention of a few critics. The month before I was to turn twenty three, I had passed the age of military service and was a veteran of two bouts of gonorrhea. Every day I smoked, with no foreboding, sixty cigarettes made from the most barbaric tobacco, sleeping with the best company wherever I found myself at night. What more could I have wanted?

For reasons of poverty rather than taste, I had anticipated what would be the style in twenty years time: untrimmed moustache, tousled hair, jeans, flowered shirts and a pilgrim’s sandals. In a darkened movie theatre, not knowing I was nearby, a girl I knew told someone: ‘Poor Gabito is a lost cause.’

But I already did not belong to that same world as was attempting to grade my successes. My wardrobe and carousing of those days spoke to the fondness I had begun to hold for George Bernard Shaw’s declaration that, From a very early age, I have had to interrupt my education to go to school. As the acquaintances of my youth and law school began to pull away into the shadows of financial and romantic security, I only continued to withdraw, along with several inseparable friends, living on essentially less than nothing, preparing to publish a radical new magazine. The desperation of each action in those days gave my life a sensation of vitality, and if you will excuse the expression, integrity. To the immense disappointment of my parents, I could have no more returned to my studies than I would have been willing to sacrifice my very soul.

My mother and I journeyed during this time in my early twenties to sell the house of my grandparents, where I had grown up until the age of eight. When she met me in the company of my friends, she mistook me for a beggar, and spent the balance of the trip urging me back into law school at the behest of my father, whom I had not seen in several months. On the returning train, she realized I was not asleep, and asked me: ‘What are you thinking about?’

‘I’m writing,’ I answered. And I rushed to be more amiable: ‘I mean, I’m thinking about what I’m going to write when I get to the office.’

‘Aren’t you afraid your papa will die of grief?’

I eluded the charge with a long pass of the cape.

‘He’s had so many reasons to die, this one must be the least fatal.,’ I said, though it was not the most propitious time for me to attempt a second novel, after having been mired in the first one and attempting other forms of fiction, with luck or without it, but that night I imposed it on myself like a vow made in war: I would write it or die. Or as Rilke had said: ‘If you think you are capable of living without writing, do not write.’

‘So what shall I tell your papa?’

Tell him I love him very much and that thanks to him I’m going to be a writer.’ Without compassion I anticipated any other alternatives: ‘Nothing but a writer.’

It had begun six years earlier, when I had read Kafka and been struck as if by lightning. As Gregor awoke from unsettling dreams one morning, he found himself transformed in his bed into a monstrous vermin. He lay on his hard, armorlike back and when he raised his head a little he saw his vaulted brown belly divided into sections by stiff arches from whose height the coverlet had already slipped and was about to slide off completely. His many legs, which were pathetically thin compared to the rest of his bulk, flickered helplessly before his eyes.

I had set out just like that, after reading The Metamorphosis, at eight o’clock the next morning, to find out what the hell had been done in the novel from the bible on up to what was being written at the time. For the next six years, I dropped out of studying. I dropped out of everything. Kafka had written a novel that opened the door to the possibility of a singular literary voice, the idea that with a long enough patience, new literature could still be contributed. Years later, when I would be months into the initial drafts of One Hundred Years Of Solitude, I was buoyed by the naïve confidence that in my dreams I was inventing literature.

At twenty three though, what can one know about motivations? I couldn’t conceive of a direction for my ambitions – I merely suspected that I was the master of my own destiny, and if I would declare that I was fearless loudly, it was to ward off the prospect of encountering my greatest of fears in truth and reality. On the trip with my mother, to sell my deceased grandparents’ home, I would encounter my own mortality in the vision of a crumbling house and decaying town, a realization so decisive that the longest and most diligent of lives would not be enough for me to finish recounting it. Now, with the sum total of my hundred years behind me, I know it was the most important of all the decisions I had to make in my career as a writer. That is to say: in my entire life.

‘I’ve come to ask you to please go with me to sell the house.’

My mother did not have to tell me which one, or where, because for us only one existed in the world: my grandparents’ old house in Aracataca, where I’d had the good fortune to be born, and where I had not lived again after the age of eight. More than a home, the house was a town, hosting several sittings of each meal throughout the days that would end with a cocoon of hammocks struck up and upon one another in the courtyard.

But in those memories of my pre-adolescence, I was much more interested in the future than the past, and so my recollections of the town were not yet idealized by nostalgia. I remembered it as it was: a good place to live where everybody knew everybody else, located on the banks of a river of transparent water that ran along a bed of polished stones, which were white and enormous, like prehistoric eggs. The world was so recent that many things lacked names, and in order to indicate them it was necessary to point. Every year during the month of March a family of ragged gypsies would set up their tents near the village, and with a great uproar of pipes and kettle drums they would display new inventions. First they brought the magnet. A heavy gypsy with an untamed beard and sparrow hands, who introduced himself as Melquiades, put on a bold public demonstration of what he himself called the eighth wonder of the alchemists of Macedonia. He went from house to house dragging two metal ingots and everybody was amazed to see pots, pans, tongs and braziers tumble down from their places and beams creak from the desperation of nails and screws trying to emerge, and even objects that had been lost for a long time appeared from where they had been searched for most and went dragging along in turbulent confusion behind Melquiades magical irons. ‘Things have a life of their own,’ the gypsy proclaimed with a harsh accent. ‘It’s simply a matter of waking up their souls.’ Œ

I never thought it legitimate that life should make use of so many coincidences forbidden literature, and this thread of my appreciation for the mysteries of the world is often what is attached to my writing as surreal, or – that wicked title again – magical. I owe this sense of wonder to the tutelage of my grandmother, solely, who was seized by the feeling that there was a man bigger than all of us walking through the plantations while nothing moved, and everything seemed perplexed at the passing of that man£. She was a credulous and impressionable woman, in whom the mysteries of daily life struck much terror. She saw that the rocking chairs rocked alone, that the scent of jasmines from the garden was like an invisible ghost, that a cord dropped by accident on the floor had the shape of numbers that might have been the grand prize in the lottery, and her influence peopled my reality with the silent stirrings of another world.

I left Aracataca at the age of eight and did not return for fifteen years. Though my parents had experienced the brief encounter with history that the town enjoyed – the result of a banana plantation which lasted until just before my birth – I grew up in a village from which the wider world was already in retreat. Ignorant of the erosion the place would see in my displaced years, my childhood home began to crystallize into gems of nostalgia I would take to be the truths of my life until many years later. The sensation of having survived on rations of so many false memories became the thriving current of my life, and I have become indebted to afternoons such as when my grandfather paid the thirty reales and we were led into the center of a tent, where there was a giant with a hairy torso and a shaved head, with a copper ring in his nose and a heavy iron chain on his ankle, watching over a pirate’s chest. When it was opened by the giant, the chest gave off a glacial exhalation. Inside there was only an enormous, transparent block with infinite internal needles in which the light of the sunset was broken up into colored stars. Disconcerted, knowing that children were waiting for an immediate explanation, my grandfather ventured a murmur: ‘It’s the largest diamond in the world.’

‘No,’ the giant countered. ‘It’s ice.’Œ Œ

During the two days I would spend in Aracataca with my mother, I reencountered the streets of my lost youth, gripped in the endless haze and heat of its eternal siesta since the banana company’s departure some twenty five years earlier. The exodus had left the town in the fearful whirlwind of dust and rubble being spun about by the wrath of a biblical hurricaneŒ. It was as if there had been a fearful dry storm of volcanic thunder and lightning and the awesome polar wind which had turned the bowels of the sea upside down and carried off an animal circus set up on the square of the former slave port where for weeks afterwards men caught elephants in casting nets, drowned clowns and giraffes hanging on trapezes from the fury of the tempestæ.

In the heat of that first dusty afternoon it was as if we were also seeing that the sea had also been stolen, including not only the physical waters visible from our window to the horizon, but everything that was understood by sea in the broadest sense. The flora and fauna belonging to the water, its system of winds, the inconstancy of its millibars, everything. I could never have imagined that they would have been capable of doing what they did to carry off the numbered locks of our old checkerboard sea with gigantic suction dredges, and in its torn crater we could see appear the instantaneous sparkle of the submerged remains of the very ancient city of Santa Maria de Dareien, laid low by the whirlwind. We could see the flagship of the first admiral of the ocean sea, just as I had once seen it from my window, identical, trapped by a clump of goose barnacles that the teeth of the dredges had pulled out by the roots before we had time to order an homage worthy of the historic importance of that wreck. They carried off everything that had been the reasons for our wars and the motivations for our power and left behind only the deserted plain of harsh lunar dustæ that was my first encounter with the immediate weight of death. Until then, I had conceived of death as a misfortune that befell others, other people’s fathers and mothers, other people’s brothers and sisters and husbands and wives, but not my own. I was at the time a person whose life was slow, who did not see myself growing old, or falling sick, or dying, but now was someone who would disappear little by little in my own time, turning into memories, mists from other days until I would be absorbed into oblivion. Œ

Each thing, just by looking at it, aroused in me an irresistible longing to write so I would not die. I had suffered this on other occasions, but only on that afternoon did I recognize it as a crisis of inspiration – that word, abominable but so real, that demolishes everything in its path in order to reach its ashes in time. Standing in the room in which I had been born, scorching in the stillness of the afternoon heat, I examined the room with the clairvoyance of my last days and for the first time saw the truth: the final bed, the pitiful dressing table whose clouded, patient mirror would not reflect my image again, the chipped porcelain washbasin with the water and towel and soap meant for other hands, the heartless speed of the clock racing toward the unelectable appointment on my final afternoon. I crossed my arms over my chest and began to hear the radiant voices of the slaves singing the six o’clock salve in the mills, and through the window I could see the diamond of Venus in the sky that was dying forever, the eternal snows, the new vine whose yellow bellflowers I would not see bloom on the following Saturday, in the house closed in mourning, the final brilliance of life that would never, through all eternity, be repeated again.

In the light of that August afternoon began a period where I wrote down everything I thought, everything I knew, writing on pieces of cardboard that I would tack behind the toilet, writing down the few things I remembered to make sure that I would never forget them. I wrote down signs which would seize me on the yellow ledger margins that I would roll like cigarettes and hide in the most unlikely chinks in the house where only I would be able to find them in order to remember who I was when I would no longer remember anythingæ. Which is where I find myself at this moment, in the spilling purgatory of death, where so begin to erode my monuments of words, written over the past fifty years with only the most selfish of intentions: to steel myself against the natural ravages of time, and to enjoy during the brief course of my life a dialogue with those pieces of myself many people would ignore or otherwise take for granted. In the course of my many years I have learned that Life is indeed not what one has lived, but what one remembers, and how one remembers it in order to recount it. My youth, dreams and grim nostalgia which compose my soul and which will now dissipate in the swells of time have taught me that there might be no other village, nation, or universe except the one I could create in my own image and likeness, where space was changed and time corrected by the designs of my absolute willæ. I have only ever sought to achieve this experience in the effort of establishing a solidarity with the people of my home.

I have written so that upon my departure, the people of Macondo will hold their breath for the fraction of centuries my body will take to fall into the abyss, so that they will not need to look at one another to realize that they will no longer be all present, that they never will be. But they will also know, in this, my most personal of fantasies, that things will be different from then on, that their houses will have wider doors, higher ceilings, and stronger floors so that the memory of Colonel Aureliano Buendia might go everywhere without bumping into beams, and so that no one in the future would dare make disparaging remarks against either Florentino Ariza or Fermina Daza, because they will paint their house fronts gay colours to make the memory or Ursula Inguaren eternal, and they will break their backs digging for springs among the stones, and plant flowers on the cliffs so that in future years at dawn, the passengers on great liners will awaken, suffocated by the smell of gardens on the high seas, and the captain will have to come down from the bridge in his dress uniform, with his astrolabe, his pole star, and his row of war metals, and, pointing to the promontory of roses on the horizon, he will say in fourteen languages, Look, there, where the wind is so peaceful now that it’s gone to sleep beneath the beds, over there, where the sun is so bright the sunflowers don’t know which way to turn, yes, over there, that’s Gabito’s village£.

 July 30th 2006


þ All works cited are those of Gabriel Garcia Marquez unless otherwise noted.

Living to Tell the Tale

Kafka, Franz. The Metamorphosis

Living to Tell the Tale

ΠOne Hundred Years of Solitude

£ Leaf Storm and Other Stories

Living to Tell the Tale

ΠOne Hundred Years of Solitude

æ The Autumn of the Patriarch

Love in the Time of Cholera

The General in His Labyrinth

æ Autumn of the Patriarch

£ Leaf Storm and other Stories: “The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World”

 

This We Believe: A Google Docs Collaborative Writing Experiment

A few months ago I caught wind of Google Docs and was struck with the flexibility offered beyond the clunky Wiki capabilities of my class SharePoint site. My gifted class (undertaking grade nine, ten & eleven English) had been working through draft phases of This I Believe essays, using the class’ Wiki to create blogs for daily writes and an online discussion board for peer editing, and I thought we might employ Google Docs to approach the original intention of Edward R. Murrow‘s CBS Radio essays of the same name: To point to the common meeting grounds of belief, which is the essence of brotherhood and the floor of our civilization.

We began with this prompt, arranged in groups of four:

Purpose & Procedure

  • We will be using this Google.doc to prepare a document that will serve as a declaration of our shared values.

  • Beginning in class Wednesday, we will divide up the responsibilities in the preparation of this document. Following a discussion at the quad level of each individual’s belief statement, the following responsibilities will be allotted to each grade:

    • Grade Nines ~> development of small passages which represent the common ground of belief between members of each quad.

    • Grade Tens ~> drafting of a unified whole, which blends and edits together a class set of beliefs based upon the passages supplied by each quad.

    • Grade Elevens ~> publishing a cohesive statement of the class’ beliefs, dignified in tone and written in a style which is deserving of such an expression.

Each group began with its four members’ distinct This I Believe essay theses, with the grade nine members developing  statements which represented each quad’s unified beliefs. Initially the prospect of coming together on 28 unique belief statements was met with some frustration and indignence that such a thing might even be accomplished, but the simplicity of having to listen to one another, to acknowledge the firmly held values and perspectives of their peers was evident within minutes. Keep it simple, I told them. Surely there is something can be said that four people can abide as representative of their beliefs! With awkward first steps, the project began to take root:

We believe that if everybody is passionate enough about a something ie. Books, we can make a difference in society.

We believe that one needs a means of release, such as a hobby or activity, to be happy and enjoy the present.

We believe that the key to enjoying life is to use your common sense and listen to everyone because each person is equal. :) :) :) :)

We believe that when a person accepts and loves themselves for who they are, they have the potential to be happy.  People who are satisfied with their life have better abilities to help others and make a difference.

We believe that one must be strong in oneself to be a contributing member of the community.

We believe that everyone has their own perspective, but it is hard to accept that.

We believe that if we take time to find and follow our hearts and passions, while accepting the change that comes our way, we can do anything.

The task then shifted to the tens and scupting the above into a single paragraph representative of the individual values of their classmates. Responsibility for the writing process became less a conversation than a range of individual contributions according to the shaping of meaning, evolution of style, and a grasping for the profound:

We as a class believe that life is about achieving happiness and fulfilment, and living life to  the best of one’s abilities. We believe that in order to be successful, each individual must       accomplish their own personal goals and live according to their own standards. We believe    that everyone has a belief, and it is important that they live by their belief at all times.

We believe that one’s ideal in life is to be happy.  To live in a life where the only knowledge one needs to be successful is common sense.  Where optimism is a universal language.  A place where the more one accepts themselves, the happier they can potentially be.  It wouldn’t matter if one could not accept their own perspectives because they would be in a place where they are never alone.  No, they would always have their community to fall-back on, because one would do the same for each person there.  In a community so great that one’s passions becomes the community’s passions and, together, they start their pursuit.

Okay so I really like where that’s going and I like the idea of it, I’m just not quite sure what I want to do with it. I’ll highlight to you what I think may need changing, and comment beside it.
We believe that one’s ideal in life is to be happy.  To live in a life where the only knowledge one needs to be successful is common sense.  Where optimism is a universal language.  A place where the more one accepts themselves, the happier they can potentially be.  It wouldn’t matter if one could not accept their own perspectives because they would be in a place where they are never alone. (I think that maybe this would be more effective if we made the idea of community, and the idea of not accepting oneself because I feel like they were forcefully placed together. I think that we need to find two seperate thoughts for it, but I’m not quite sure how, beacuse then it seems like it’s going onto a tangent) No, they would always have their community to fall-back on, because one would do the same for each person there. In a community so great that one’s passions becomes the community’s passions and, together, they start their pursuit. (I feel almost as if it’s a bit awkwardly put together. Those are definitely the points we want to make, but as for flow and putting the idea together better, maybe try stepping in grade 11’s)

Strangely, it takes until this point in the process where the silence is broken (near the end of an hour-long class spent shuffling the duties of the This We Believe Google Doc, and each student’s This I Believe (during the period, there was also an ill-fated attempt to begin a Wikipedia page for our school’s gifted students’ program; apparently such a page – even attached to a public school’s site – was deemed “promotional.”). For homework, the English 11 students were to add revisions contributing to the piece’s overall polish and a “dignified” tone and “style that is deserving of such an expression. The process is now a personal one, and the fine tuning is left to the class’ literary leaders:

We believe that one’s ideal goal and purpose in life is to reach a point of happiness in which we think the life we’ve had thus far has been used to its fullest. We believe in making differences, and that moving and changing things for the better is part of a fulfilling life. We believe that our lives are our own, and that is immensely critical, but that it is also vital to equally share it with others.

We believe in faith; in living by and for your own principles and ideals.

We believe that in everyday life, passion and heart is a necessary drive. We believe in the power of expression, and the importance of accepting and shaping those expressions. Both our own and those of others.We believe that the two worst things you can do in life are to not love yourself at all, and to love only yourself.