I put a cherry bomb in my mouth…

The mild morning air and fresh sun on the garden plants, had a calm but purposeful energy. I stood in the relative quiet. The dry hay mulch crackled just slightly underfoot. I wanted to move slow, stay tired and just relax. Overall, this time outside, noticing the browning of leaves, the many little bugs, and the curled up, shriveled bumpy cucumbers feels like an ending of things. Late Summer in the garden, a peaceful death.

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My body had aches from a short night’s sleep. and general lack of fitness. My mind was still junked up, with a tough ending to the Friday night shift. I had to let go, part of team. Hard to do, wish it could’ve been different. A very full day ahead, felt daunting. I was just in my shorts and a comfy tee, almost pajamas, walking among the plants…

I just felt sort of blah, and I hadn’t even brushed my teeth yet, to start the day. I noticed a small fruit. It was orang-ey yellow. Really round, and small. A bite sized tomato.

2014-08-16 08.11.48Without thinking much, I grabbed it, rubbed it around in my hand, and popped it into my mouth.

WHOA!!! POP!! GUSH! Brightness and Acidity, a little sweet, VERY TART! Boom! Flavor! That’ll wake ya’ up! Wow, I know how vibrant a fresh garden tomato can taste. I’m no stranger to it, after the last few years of growing these things. I shouldn’t be the surprised in the least! But I was. Happily Surprised…

My dull and brown morning, was so opposite of the flash of blaze from this baby flavor grenade. It almost jerked me out of the foggy mindstate I was in. I appreciated the message, that even among this dying jungle of leaves, there is still a lot of potency left. Nothing has gone bland or tasteless yet. In fact, there is still lots of ripening left to do, before the winter comes.

My days and weeks sometimes feel like this melancholy morning moment. I can get bogged down, staring at the holes eaten by parasites to my life. I can show you the browning edges and half-broken roots, from the harshness of a Kansas summer. When thinking about my jobs or my relationships or my material ‘things’ I see that the harvest is looking slim. The varieties I’ve chosen, are low producers. They are slow producers, and I could’ve cared for them better.  I left them to fend for themselves, I didn’t nurture enough this year…

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I can show you a garden full of failure, and life full of it too, if I want to. I can show you that the spring is long gone. The midsummer was very dry. The fall is approaching fast. I wish for those more optimistic May days. Back then, the whole of possibility lie ahead. The black crumbly canvas seemed more blank and fresh. Now, it’s light brown and cracked. Bugs crawl openly, they hang underleaf. Little deep green poops are evidence of their destructive chewings…

Back in May, there was not much to eat in the garden. Maybe a snow pea pod, but nothing more, not in mine. Now there are tomatoes, a couple peppers maybe, ugly cucumbers that are probably bitter as heck. But fruit has arrived. The plants have produced. The process is further along, I could enjoy this, if I wanted to.

Rarely does my mind, want to be, where it is. It usually wants to remember back to days golden and passed. Maybe it wants to shoot ahead, to some imaginary moment, where everything is perfect, and there is no more yearning, no more hoping for difference. I want everything I have, I have everything I want. Not the material, not just the material, but everything. The spiritual, the physical, the mental and shiny toys too, with travel to anywhere and everywhere simultaneously…

I remember Wayne Dyer talking about the morning, afternoon and evening of life. How we experience the whole of our trip upon the earth in stages. I see them in the garden too. I see the early spring. The youngness, the fragility and freshness of youth. I see the weeds come in and want to infest our garden. I see the plants develop, mature, begin to flower. Now these days there is fruit on the vine. It ripens, but not just as I would like it to. I know there is a timeframe, the end is out there. These are not immortal tomatoes.

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The brightness of the flavor hit me like a blast. I woke up to the power of that tiny red ball. A cherry bomb, exploding. Do we produce like that too? Do we develop and ripen creatively in a way that explodes with our own unique flavor? I hope we do. I think of Jesus saying 
“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.” (Matthew 12:33) And I wonder about mine.

I guess the tomato I ate this morning, didn’t grow, to dine on itself. It probably will never know how good, or how bad or dull or vibrant, it’s own flavor is, to the one who eats it. It just grows and becomes. It doesn’t try or not try. It just tomato’s. I was the one who decided it was good. I wonder if God will decide I am?

A big question, comes from this little moment this morning. Am I producing good fruit? I hope so. Although I’d better not sit around and wonder about it too long. The seasons are progressing, time does move forward. I’d better get on with my Aaron-ing :)

I pray that you keep moving on with yours :)

Live beautifully my friends :)

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

 

 

A beat up bum and rubber legs

When every stroke of the pedals created another raw burning abrasion to my bum, I was sure wishing for a softer place to perch my patoot! Mile after hot sweaty mile, I got closer and closer to home, but I couldn’t get there fast enough! Muscles were aching and I felt beat, what had I gotten myself into!

I decided to take a bike ride on Tuesday. I had a rare day off mid-week, and I wanted to do something fun outdoors. Recently Lindsay and I had ridden our bikes to Ottawa and back, and after a flat tire ruined the end of that fun, I was wanting to get back on the steel (pedal) horse again soon.

Several years ago, in my later twenties I took up cycling as a way to get more fit. Back then I rode a lot. I bought some sweet gear and spun many miles on my bikes. Now, I rarely ride, but when I do, I have nice equipment to play with.

Tuesday I wanted to ride the Flint Hills Trail, East from Ottawa to Rantoul. So I set out northbound from Princeton around 10:45 in the morning. I made it Ottawa with a steady pace, and proceeded down 7th street to embark on a new, but very local adventure. I was thinking to myself about my early days of riding bikes. I was noticing the clean shifting and smooth ride of my Jamis Nova, Cyclocross bike. It is just perfect for these chip-gravel trails. I was commenting to myself about learning to appreciate these human-powered machines.

2014-07-29 10.50.42I have never ridden a very high-end expensive bike. I have an older Schwinn road bike, that is classic and cool. I have a scratched-up, but trusty Trek mountain bike too. I remembered how I had started out on a Wal-Mart-Special mountain bike. It was heavy, it had psuedo-sloppy-suspension and I wore out the crank assembly after only 500 miles… It was a gift to help me get in better shape, and it did :) It also was a great way to start my adult bicycling hobby.

These bikes I have now, are a step up. The components are higher quality, they perform much better, they will last a long time. For as much as I ride now, they may last forever :)

I remember getting that first bike, and something I wanted was a ‘nicer’ cushion-y seat. I probably bought one and installed it. Along with any other gadgets I could find on those back shelves in the corner of the Wal-Mart store. It seems that being a beginner biker, a lot of people want to have a more comfortable seat on the bike.

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Funny thing about my current bikes, even though they are more advanced bikes, meant for real riding, and lots of time in the saddle, the seats are not very well cushioned. In fact, they are slender and smallish. The seats on my ‘nice’ bikes, just aren’t really that… well… nice.

Years ago, I began to see that most of the ‘real’ bike riders didn’t have big cushion-y seats on their bikes either. The more ‘serious’ the cyclist,  it seemed, the more slight the seat. Along with a smaller frame, the lighter wheels, the condensed gearing components, and a much bigger price tag too. The more you pay, the less you get, weight wise that is.

Once a person has more experience with riding a bicycle longer distances, you start to learn the more proper ways to mount the thing. You learn about the ‘sit-bones’. You learn that there are these two very tough, very hard bone ends that you use, instead your flabby butt, to sit on. With regular and enthusiastic time in the saddle, you learn that a small seat is actually comfortable, and it doesn’t need a bunch of padding to be so.

So, toward the end of my 36ish mile round-trip ride on Tuesday, I was whining and wishing again for that big padded couch sized pillow, that I had bought long ago. I was wanting the comfort instead of the performance version. I was hurting, and so I took breaks.

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See, as an amateur pedal biker, and as a now, out-of-shape rider, I look to the seat to solve my problems. I look to the options I could go and buy to make my experience more comfortable. I want to think of ways to instantly transform a painful situation into a soothing one. I think the problem is the seat itself. My butt hurts, it is on the seat; must be a bad seat…

Ummmm WRONG!!

Actually the problem isn’t out there, on some object or situation to do with the bike. The problem is in here, it is with me, myself and I. The problem is that my ass, is out of practice. It has gotten tender from lack of use. If I don’t exercise on my bicycle regularly, I lose the stamina, the strength and toughness of tush, it takes to ride comfortably 36ish miles through Franklin County.

As much as I wish I could blame something outside of myself for causing my discomfort, the spikes of pain originate within my being, not within the seat of the bike. My discomfort is coming from within, and the ability to extinguish the pain is within me too. When I decide that I want to improve myself, and I want to master this thing, I will again spend several days a week, astride the bike. I will invest more energy, doing the thing that creates the pain, and through that process will toughen up and enjoy it more again.

I have never been a big fan of exercise, or routine, or being some fitness freak. My personal relationship with my body’s health is one of complacent avoidance until a streakish stretch of focus gets me closer to where I want to be. Then I let it go again.

I have the answers to making this all easier. I have the equipment to do it. Within myself is the only place worth investing my energy pointing fingers of blame. That is a painful notion in and of itself. Calling the seat the problem, is soo much easier. Then I get to rest on my excuses about the cost of the seat, or not having extra money, or why didn’t they install a more comfortable seat in the first place. I could talk all day about the reasons I am experiencing a pain in my butt. I could expend all those words and never speak the truth that the problem is me.

Something else I considered on my dusty Tuesday ride, is about other bikers. (Mistakenly, I do compare myself others too often.) I wondered about those guys out there, who are in wonderful health. Like two studs we met on the Rail Trail last week. They were riding from Garnett to Topeka, wow. Also there are some local guys who pedal every day from Ottawa to Garnett and back. More than I can easily do. To me, they are masters of this cycling thing… I am not.

I wonder about Happiness. I tend to connect Mastery with Happiness. If only I could be in optimal health, then I could be Happy. Or if I could create a super abundant income, that would do it. Or even, if my spiritual connection to God, was crystal clear, surely I would then, finally, be as Happy as possible…

I’m back again to the ‘ol seat analogy… If something I’m connected to would change, then I could be more comfortable…

Nope. I think that between the steel-legged stud cyclist, or the flabby amateur, the one who is Happy, is truly: The one who decides to be…

And I am the only one who can make that decision for me.

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

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Although I found it hard to smile after my Tuesday ride, I do recommend our local Prairie Spirt Trail (north-south) and also the Flint Hills Trail (east-west), we are really lucky to have such quick access to safe and scenic pedaling.

Also, just FYI, I do own some padded shorts, and am aware of the benefits of Monkey Butt creme. There are ways to ease some comfort of bike riding, I chose to leave them out of this analogy, to keep it more concise :)

 

When the rear is cracked, the smells roll in…

By opening up my pseudo-convertible, the sun warmed my head, I could glance all around at the tops of the collegiate peaks, and cool mountain air could flow completely through the vehicle. Beautiful driving, a couple weeks ago, on our Colorado roadtrip, it was. I have already told you some about our exciting rockcrawling adventures…

I didn’t tell you one of my favorite features of my beat-up 1997 mid-sized SUV: It has a sun roof. I’ve never had a sun roof before, in a car of mine. Also there is a button on the console that rolls down the window in the rear. The back of the car can open up on command. By dropping the four windows, sliding back the sun roof, and letting the back glass sink all the way down, you have an ‘almost’ convertible.

Out in the mountains of Colorado, I really appreciated letting the sun the sights and sounds come in from every direction. Something else came in too. The Smells.

At the beginning of our mountain driving, I was so excited and anxious. I was begging my wife to let me open up the car, and cruise. On I-70 the wind was wonderful but loud, at 60mph through the inclines and much, much faster on the way down. The sun too began to bake us. On our first day of mountain driving, we had almost reached Aspen by the time Lindsay mentioned the nasty smells that were spoiling our beautiful views.

With the car completely opened up, you get a new perspective on the road and traffic. Although you can’t see it with your eyes, your nose begins to tell you, that all the pretty Jeeps and Subarus and Mercedes SUV’s cruising along with you, are kinda farting their way down the interstate. Yeah, you really find out that our cars are relieving themselves mile after mile. The heavy, putrid corridor of polluted exhaust gas creates an invisible river of stench, and we just drive along through it.

I have been around enough to remember plenty of times that I noticed a nasty smell, coming from a vehicle up ahead. I usually hope the problematic smoke isn’t my own, and I notice when it clears up as I pass them. Most of the time it does :)

This was something different though. I had been waiting to get alone on the byway, and really enjoy the mountain air, instead of everyone else’s fumes. Then finally, just after cresting the peak of Independence Pass, and we were the only car on the road, the yuck, was still with us. When Lindsay said again, that the gassy odors were bothering her, it occurred to me, that we might be smelling our own exhaust. :(

As we twisted our way down the mountain at 25mph or so, that open back window was creating a draft, and it must’ve been sucking the air right from our tailpipe, into the car. Darn. My convertible and wide-open ride, was actually part of the problem. As soon as we rolled up the rear glass, and the fun swirling air ceased, we didn’t have to breath the nasty smog smells anymore. Problem, pretty muchly solved.

Since then, as I drive around, I have tested the theory again. If I’m not driving very fast, or the wind is just right, there it is, an almost headache inducing cocktail of exhaust smells, all of my own.

Okay, big deal. Who cares. Your old car smells yuck, probably needs a tune up, and you are pretending to have a convertible, when you don’t. Is this really a blog worthy topic???

Maybe not. True. BUT! The metaphor hit me just yesterday while cruising downtown Ottawa.

In the last few years, I do feel that I have opened up my mind, more than ever before. Whether it is new ideas about debt and money, living in sobriety, relationships and marriage, or even the real biggie, a spiritual walk with the Christ Jesus himself. I have found certain buttons that dropped open some of the windows in my mind. Maybe I didn’t do it at all. Maybe it was the divine hand of almighty God redirecting my life path. Who knows! I don’t.

Anyway, now that I feel more open, more aware, more awake to levels of consciousness that I didn’t know before, I seem to notice more of everything. My mind has more exposure to the beauty and divine artistic creation of our universe, the physical and spiritual. My soul is touched in most warm and heartfelt ways by little things. An a cappella version of Sanctuary, by the kids of Westminster on a Tuesday night at the end of a long day of VBS Day Camp, can melt my heart. Watching several strained steps taken by a fellow church member, heading into the local Wal-Mart yesterday, almost dropped me to my knees. Her spine was crushed in a car wreck last year, and now I saw her taking steps. Wow.

Just like opening the windows of the car, up in the beautiful Rocky Mountains, my life now is more rich with magical scenery than ever before. I am grateful for that. Just like that driving experience though, around others, sometimes I notice the fumes seem to spout continuously, spoiling the air for those nearby. I do hear things differently now. My ears can pick up the excuses, the hopelessness or cyclical self-fulfilling, self-defeating language. It is a yucky sound in my ear. I am bummed out, and let myself be bothered by it now. I never used to before. It just seemed normal, and even endearing, to hear about someone’s problems, gripes and maybe some gossip too.

Not so much anymore. I hear these thing differently now. It is hard not to think that when someone says they have no options, or are stuck, that there are plenty of things they haven’t tried. The victimhood seems so deeply ingrained, that it is woven into the fabric of our beings. And that stinks.

Yet! I am not finished.

Just like the analogy of the car, with it’s windows rolled down, I am experiencing lots of fumes that don’t come from someone else. My enjoyment of this ride of life, is just as polluted, or maybe made more toxic by my own byproducts than those around me. I see that clearly too. Opening up my mind, experiencing new ideas firsthand, I am quick to notice my own bullshit, and be bothered by it. I hear it in my own voice. I see it in my own actions, the re-actions, the non-actions and the too-little-too-late ones.

I am more aware than ever of my own faults these days. I ‘know’ that I can grab my own bootstraps at any time and get to work, and yet I don’t do it. I ‘feel’ that if I get on my knees give myself fully to the Lord God Almighty, that good will come of this pea-sized life of mine. Every day that I put that off, leaves me smelling the stink of my fear, my weakness and pride. I see more now than ever, my own smallness, my lack and yes my excuses too.

So, what is the solution? So many times I wish I could find the button again. I want to roll the windows back up. I want to see the world again through a greasy glass lens, that separates and distorts me from the truth. I want to hide behind the faux protection of this thin clear sheet. If only I could get back to that place where the problems all belonged to everyone else, and not to me. I could go back to living in the moment, feeding my flesh each of its desires. I could laugh again and talk trash, and tear down others, in order to prop myself up higher. I want it again like that, so many times, I embarrass myself.

But, I don’t think it works that way. These windows seem to have one-way motors. I still have more opening to do, to fully realize the expanse of the world seen and unseen that we’ve been give to occupy. I probably have them only barely cracked. I am grateful for these little clues I get, through everyday moments, like driving this budget 4×4 truck. I am bothered most, by my own smelly crap. If you see me, or talk with me, or have ever thought I may be depressed that day, it is probably because I am wallowing and sucking in too many of my own fumes.

I do thank you, for taking the time today to read the words on this page. This place is an outlet for some of my exhaust. I release little black characters of BS line by line, and most of it is worth just what you paid for it. Nothin’.

:)

I hope you have a blessed day :)

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

The last twist of the deodorant stick, Plop! Onto the floor

There is a guy who has designed the plastic parts that make up the container and dispenser that holds and applies my sport stick deodorant. WHY didn’t he design some sort of catch or lock, so that the last little bit could be used, instead of just falling out onto the floor every time it is almost all used up? Sure, I have tried to pick it back up, reinsert it into the ovalish tube and swipe again, but it usually doesn’t work.

I have even tried just using the ejected end piece on it’s own. And that is less effective yet! I guess I am frugal, and want to apply every ounce of deodorant that I bought, instead of throwing it away. In these moments, I usually think of some guy like me, who uses 3-D CAD or something to design the packaging materials, and who maybe had an idea for a locking system, but was told by the higher ups, to skip it, let people trash that last 1/16th ounce, and just buy another overpriced deodorant stick…

Do you spend a lot of time ‘thinking’ about the origins and decisions behind these little insignificant pieces of our lives? Remember a few months ago, I wrote a blog about how the spout on my coffee pot was designed so small, that you had to barely tip the thing, to not spill coffee everywhere? This is typical for me, to notice a slight error or problem in the design of something, and wonder how it wasn’t already addressed before I noticed it.

I do this alot. It happens at home, with household products. It happens at work too. I notice flaws in design, and especially in the systems which we use to operate and interact with our physical world. At one point, I thought this blog project may become a string of stories about the little things I notice, and how maybe there is a bigger meaning behind it all. I really like when I pick out some life lesson, from the patience it takes to pour a cup of coffee from my tiny-spout pot…

Today though, the motivation is different. Yes, I notice that I am aggravated by the poorly constructed deodorant container, and probably a bunch of other things too. BUT, I wonder if this little pattern and habit of noticing is helping me or not. In the workplace, many times my insight to a better system, or noticing a speed bump in production is highly valuable. We can increase efficiency, and maybe cut costs, by smoothing out the workflow. Yet, sometimes well enough, is better left alone, and we can just focus on the work itself, instead of changing the way we do it.

Sometimes I can turn off the ‘problem solver’ part of my brain, sometimes I struggle to. See what I’m saying is that using this skill may in fact be creating the problem, so that then I have a solution to work on. My mind may be powerful enough to invent a problem, where none exists, just so that it has a ‘job’ to do, and an answer to craft.

Hmm….

Reminds me of an email I got this week from the wise Mr. Steve Chandler. I wouldn’t say that I ‘worry’ about the deodorant stick, or even the tiny lip of the coffee pot. But let’s do replace ‘worry’ with scrutinize or over-examine.

 ” A foolproof piece of advice for the chronic worrier: and I promise you this will work.  For the next two weeks, take immediate notice of every time you worry.   

      When you catch yourself worrying — take an action.  Any action, but make sure you take one. Do something. Anything. And remember, you must do something every time you worry.  This is a great way to train yourself not to worry. Especially if you hate being in action. 
 

     The truth is not that I worry because I care.  The truth is, I worry because I am in the habit of worrying. If I really cared that much, I would stop worrying and take some action.

      I worry in order to do nothing.  Doing nothing about a problem soon becomes the problem.  I’m not taking any shots at this thing, and, like Wayne Gretsky said, you miss one hundred per cent of the shots you don’t take.”

- Steve Chandler

Wow, Steve has some real gems in there. Short and to the point. I don’t scrutinize my world because I care, and that I want to improve it always. I do that because I’m in the habit of doing in. Sometimes I take action, sometimes it is positive and helpful, sometimes not. Sometimes I just notice the problems and do nothing. That then, becomes the problem, like Steve says. Then the problem grows, the issue becomes embedded. I could scrutinize and over-examine and then worry that the fix will never come. I could become entranced with the idea that I am stuck forever with no solution. I could lose hope. Eventually I may take action, bold action, the ‘wrong’ action, based on an over-inflated mental image of a distorted reality….

Oh, that could maybe happen….

Oh yeah, that HAS Happened!

Just something to notice to myself today. Just an idea I want to bank and refer to from time to time. I may be ‘worrying’ in order to do nothing, and planting myself a fertile garden plot full of future problems, to be dealt with at harvest time.

One of my favorite things that our Pastor Tim Soule says usually at the closing prayer for Bible Study, has to do with thoughts. He usually says something like ‘Lord, take these ideas we’ve discussed, that are of You, and let them take hold and grow within us. And, Lord, for those ideas not of You, let them blow away and be gone.’

Just because a thought crosses the window pane of my mind, doesn’t mean that I must believe it. It is a projection that is apart, adjacent, and although hard to let go of sometimes, will always be replaced with another in some amount of time.

Helpful thoughts Lord, I ask today that I will notice. And I also ask that all others be blown away in the summer breeze. Thank You, Amen.

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

The way is rocky, the risk is death, all in good fun

On the edge, cold crosswind blasting and we’re barely moving at all. Bouncing up and dropping down, one set of tracks against the steep slope, the other set on the edge of a thousand-foot drop. Last week I got to spend lots and lots of time, doing something I love. Yes, I love to be perched up on some high altitude 4×4 trail, exploring and enjoying the “summit’ing”  experience.

I love that stuff so much, that the transition back to the ‘real world’ this week has been quite tough.

I did learn a lot last week, while on vacation in the Rocky Mountains. I finally got to spend a good amount of time driving the upper pass roads and rocky trails. I again thank my wife for letting me have my fun :)

I keep talking about how much fun it is to be up there. I have told lots of people how I enjoy the thrill of piloting my beater ‘Yota up and over the mountain. I also hear feedback that not everyone thinks this would be a ‘fun’ activity.

Some say it would be scary, or crazy, or risky. Some ask, what would happen if you broke down up there? Others, remind me that you can still see perfectly beautiful views from the bottom, with no need to drive to the top :)

Well those things are true. It is risky. I could break down up there. I also see the beauty in the streamside winding paved roads at the bottom. Much smoother to drive too, than those no-maintenance rock trails above.

We all have different tastes don’t we :)

I do need to notice and share a couple insights though, about my drive on Mosquito Pass, or Richmond Hill Road, or especially Express Creek. These roads are ROUGH, my friends. These aren’t roads in the sense that the ground itself is a smoothed out cleared stretch of land that is covered in pavement, or even little gravely-sized pebbles. Nope.

These roads we played on, are well worn, but all the soil, in between the rocks that ever was there, is now gone. The rocks range in sizes. Sometimes they are gravel yes, but many times bigger too. Baseball Size, grapefruit size, sometimes a basketball or two. Usually you are driving around the bigger stuff, like chest-freezer size or car-size. Anyway, this kind of driving is much different than our normal cruise.

Even though it’s not muddy, I use 4 wheel drive. The steepness is easier to climb with two wheels pulling and two wheels pushing. I use low range in the transfer case. This reduces the output speed of the driveshafts and lets the motor torque it’s way up the mountain. It helps going down too. Using the lower gears reduces the wear on everything. The truck is happier, and so is the driver. I try not to use my brakes, so I shift a lot too. Even though it is an automatic transmission, many times I want to use only the lowest gear. Also, I could want to prevent too high a gear from kicking in, so I shift constantly back and forth throuh L, 2 and D.

Advice I got way back in 2012, out in Ouray, on my first ever 4×4 mountain drive, was simple. Go Slow. Slow is the key. Slow feels better on you, and the machine. Slow is the only way, to take a stock suv, up these trails and return in one piece.

I’m not talking about the slow in the driveway on Sunday stuff here. I am talking, barely moving. Sometimes, you want the vehicle to just simply inch forward, and you don’t care how long it takes. You just care that you stay slow, steady, in control. Gravity can be pulling you severely, either forward or backward, or sideways too. You just sometimes want to stay upright, and let the movement happen at the slowest (and safest) possible rate.

Yes, I really enjoy those moments too. Sometimes after climbing a spooky little incline, or skating some off-camber dipty-doo, or dropping ever so slowly down a cliff’s face, I would cackle and rejoice and laugh out loud, a hyena crying into the mountain air. I would amaze myself at the obstacle we just conquered and joy was coursing through my veins!

Funny huh! Funny how back in the ‘real world’ I don’t treat my life in the same way as these mountain roads. Funny how, I detest and scour every time I hit a little bump. Funny how I hate the razors edge, climbing toward an obstacle or dropping down into a valley. I seem to despise every and any pebble in my way.

Nope, in my ‘real life’ I want things to be smooth. I want them paved with glass. I don’t want turns or hills or have to stop. I seem to want a perfectly-paced highway all to myself, wide and clear. I don’t want to stop to refuel, I don’t want to maintenance my ride, and I don’t want anyone or anything in my way…

Ha.

Yeah, we know different don’t we. Traffic is busy, others are all around. In my ‘real life’ I rarely feel that I am on some thrilling adventure. Instead I’m bored with the mundane-ness, yet rarely steer away from my normal route. Road-rage happens all the time in my ‘normal-life’. I loose my temper, in fact, right now I’m boiling-over, and seething.

I see the irony here. On one hand, I want the challenge and thrill of a difficult road to travel. On the other hand, I want it easy, without stress, I don’t enjoy this version of it, I say to myself, I would rather be on some other road.

That is another thing about the real mountains. Up high you can see so far. Up on Mosquito Pass, outside of Leadville, Colorado, I could see many other roads to travel. We spied them from afar and then made our way down and over and up to them. From far away those tracks looked so smooth. The pitch looked gradual and shallow. The rocky obstacles just blended into the trail from far away. A simple and fun dust covered byway to the sky. That is what we see from a distance…

Not true, once you finally made your way there. Just as many bumps, just as steep up, just as slanted down. The roads were pretty much the same all over those mountains. They are ROUGH. That is the advice we always got, when asking about a new trail. “It is ROUGH”, they would say. “Go Slow! You’ll enjoy it if you take is easy. The views are spectacular.”

They weren’t just talking about Hagerman Pass, or trail to our lunch spot above Leadville to the East. Life is rough. My normal everyday travels are rough. There are many obstacles big and small. There are lots of ups, and lots of downs. This moment includes all same characteristics as those bumpy tracks…

Except. Except, I don’t usually slow down, in my real life. I don’t usually drop to the lowest possible gear. I don’t usually inch my way through anything. I go too fast. I am bouncing and crashing and smacking into the debris. I am tense and stressed and worried about never making it to the top. I am looking all around at the other roads, other people’s roads, and thinking they are all so smooth and attractive. Not like mine. Not rutted and rocky, like mine.

I am abusing myself, abusing the vehicle that got me this far. I bang it up and bruise it. Dents are all over, from the reckless ways I drive myself in my ‘normal life.’ I am mashing the gas, and stomping the brakes, all at the same time. I want to get to the end, and I’m terrified of moving foward too. It’s a discombobulation. The transmission grinds, the tires squeal and the motor races. Meanwhile, the mountain abides.

The mountain and it’s road is rocky, yes. But it is not going anywhere. It is stable. It is solid. It provides a foundation to view spectacular grandeur. The weather can be harsh up there. It will turn on a dime. I must be prepared for it, but If I go slow, and don’t panic, it will all be okay. I forget that too often.

Steve Chandler is a world-class life coach and author. I have talked with him many times. Not recently though, it’s been over a year. His words were fresh in my mind, up on those granite ridges last week. ‘Slow Down,’ he would say. If things are not going well, you are going too fast. ‘Slow Down’. I get it now, more than ever.

At the slowest pace, these bumps are little thrills. In the right gear, with the right speed, any of these roads are doable, in even the most modest of 4-wheel drive cars. A jacked-up Jeep is not necessary. The view are stupendous, from 13,000 ft above sea level. Of course, you can only see them, if you are going slow enough, to look up from the road. Otherwise, you just stare at the rocks ahead in fear.

Speed is one of my biggest problems. I want it all now. I don’t want to go slow. I am ‘over’ the bumps of life…

Except, they will keep coming. They will always be there. Even in the flat lands of Kansas, our inner worlds, can be continental ranges of peaks and valleys. Right now, in this very moment, I need to ask myself if I can slow down. I need to define the way I want to travel the road I’m on, or if I want to detour, and find another. I wonder, If I will take the advice that I got from the camphost at the Ouray KOA, or from Steve Chandler, or from the guys at the Aspen forestry office. I wonder if I will even take my own advice, and Slow Down??

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

 

 

Overdrive Off… At least this week!

Wham! Skidddd…. The heavy metal picnic table went grinding backwards. Moments ago as my wife was gone, I decided to move our truck real close to the table so the unloading-reloading process would easier. I got it there, and a new dent too. Oh well, just below the taillight, and the truck is already beat up. Could have been worse.

This camping, hiking, 4×4 trip to Colorado (that we are on right now) has been full of little moments just like this. My best intentions and pre-planning have produced baby disappointment while the happy accidents and favorable blessings are really what is making all the difference.

Even in the midst of this vacation I want to take the time out here to record some of my experiences and share with you.

As you read last week, I recently bought a beat up old truck to drive out on this trip. Before we left, I had only taken it for a twenty minute test drive. Needless to say, I was a little nervous that it wouldn’t make it across western Kansas. Luckily it did.

Then I was hoping it could handle the mountains okay. Luckily it did. And even yesterday we banged across, tumbled straight down, and crawled straight up, some seriously gnarly backcountry trails. All good right???

Well almost all good, almost all bad…

See, as we slowed down and entered our campground on the first day of this trip, I heard a reoccurring squeak. I jumped out and went to the driver’s side rear wheel. Sure enough, all the lug nuts were finger loose. Did I mention that this campground sits near the bottom side of the high altitude switchbacks of Independence Pass, that we had just drove over? This was after our trip through Leadville, and the I-70 mountain runs before that.

These are deadly places to lose a wheel.

Not by my power or prowess did we escape serious trouble. Some Angel held that thing on.

After I checked things out and we headed out for more fun, I just kept thinking about how lucky we got. Amazing.

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Yesterday’s adventures included driving to the top of Aspen mountain, we took a guided hike tour with other folks, all of whom rode the gondola up there. We were told at the forestry station that Richmond Hill Road was impassable due to large snow drifts in the shady spots. We wanted a nice mountain top lunch spot so we figured we would drive till we couldn’t anymore, then stop and eat and turn around.

We did find a great spot for lunch with 360 degree panoramic views. Then we found mud holes where the snow drifts used to be. We found thousands upon thousands of baby boulders to bounce across. We even found some super steep loose rock washes that we had to climb.

One particular spot was a short steep switchback with almost no room to pass next to a big pile of icy snow, it was melting and the ground was slippery wet rocks and mud. On my second straightened-up-start the wheels spun then finally grabbed. I could hardly watch as I was driving the razors edge of a slimy cliff, with a several hundred feet drop off to the side. I really didn’t even think of praying to make it up. Just as we motored beside the snow pile and crested this little obstacle amongst many, I said out loud, “Stay calm, take it easy, don’t panic, don’t do anything stupid right now.”

And that is one of my big takeaways so far on this trip. It could help me in lots of moments of my life, to just remind myself of that…

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Earlier I mentioned an angel. Well, during every one of these exhilaratingly terrifying moments, an angel has been sitting right beside me. My wife has been the number one best part of this trip. Better than the durable Toyota, better than the mountain top views, better than watching the sunrise from my hammock, better than the campfire burger at the end of the day. None of these things would have any of the rich value to me, without her.

It amazes me, that she is willing to let me take her to the top of the Rockies and back. Her trust is all my strength, period. As I am puckered up and wonderin’ if we will get out of these mountain roads in one piece, she is there too. When I ask if she is scared, she says she just closes her eyes. Even these times are important, she lets me work, she is hopeful, she stays calm, so I can too. She is the best partner I could ever have hoped for. She shows me, beyond love.

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I am so good whenever she is with me, and when she is not, well… I run into picnic tables!

This beautiful Colorado day lies ahead of us. I can’t wait any longer to get out there and do it again with Her :) oh, and Roxy too :)

From the Nichols family to you, I hope you have a wonderful week, wherever you are.

With Love

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

Disposable (and probably Despicable) Me :)

Midnight in my hammock. On the front porch, the air is thick and still warm from the day. I settle in, for a few minutes of deeprelax time and think of the vacation week ahead. Lots of preparation has gone into our annual summer roadtrip. This year we head to Colorado again. I’ve bought new camping gear. Some reservations have been made. I watch Youtube videos showing 4×4 trails that we could possibly take in the ‘new’ (1997, beat-up, 200,000 mile) Toyota 4Runner, I bought last Sunday.

Details run through my mind, like the tiny chipmunks skittering across those mountain roads. How do I want to setup camp? What will the trees be like? Beetlekilled dead? Or hopefully alive? If I use my tie-down straps to hang this same hammock, at a campground in Colorado, will the pine trees get my straps all sappy?? Should I buy new ones just for that purpose, or use some I already have and know they could be sticky and gross afterward? What is so important about the condition of my tie down straps? Why do I care if they get ruined or not?

Would it be bad to consider them a disposable item? I could use them for the trip, and if they are gross, just toss them when I get home????

This is the minutae that distracts me from real progress. Like actually deciding where my lovely wife and furry kid, Roxy, will stay next Tuesday and Wednesday night. I don’t know yet, we have the whole State of Colorado to choose from, so I put off such big decisions.

Anyway, I realize that I rarely use my tie down straps. Not like when I was younger and went quad riding all the time. I could sacrifice a couple of them to the Colorado Pines. It would be totally worth it. I guess.

I am hesitant to feel wasteful. I am insecure about the ideas of tossing money away. I hold tight to an idea that everything is supposed to be permanent and pretty. All things are to remain in best possible condition, for as long as possible, while in my care. I will try to avoid ruining ‘things’ I’ve bought, and only buy good stuff when I do…

Oops…

Actually, when I think about it, everything I know as tangible physical ‘stuff’ is disposable. At my Mother’s house last week, they had a scare. A smell of smoke was coming from the ductwork and strong in an upstairs bathroom. They called the fire dept. Mom was in shock and scared. Luckily, it turned out to be nothing. A burned up motor that may have caused the smell, and had everyone very worried.

My mother and step-dad Joe, have spent twenty-several years working on this home. They have constantly been improving it, from the fine beginnings that Joe himself constructed. Recently, they’ve installed a new kitchen, updated carpets, light fixtures, paint and appliances… So fragile. A Matchbook. All could be gone in a flash. That is the scare that Mom had last week. I felt for her. So much energy, and effort, money too, in their beautiful and sturdy home…

My recent vehicle purchase: A solidly built 4×4 of reliable mechanical heritage, once was a slick new machine. It probably shined bright on some showroom floor. Leather perfect, gold trim gleaming. Now it is dented. It has scratches. The frame is spotted rusty. It had at least one bad day, where an angry person hit it, over and over again… No, not me, but somebody did. I bought it in a flash, without checking over it properly. I am not as wise without my wife around. I need her to slow down my impulsiveness sometimes. Anyway, it used to be pretty, and now it’s not. Much cheaper though, a deal. Hopefully a Colorado Mountain Machine, dirty enough, and tough too, to tackle the trails.

Disposable, all of it.

From my ten dollar tie downs, to the house I’m hammocking in front of, to the busted laptop I’m typing on… it all will be gone someday. The mountains we see next week, will seem more permanent, forever there. Immovable. Static. The peaks of their beaks spiking toward the sky indefinitely…

But they won’t last forever either.

I heard that the spring floods last year, have altered things at Rocky Mountain Naitional Park. A picnic area at the Alluvial Fan, has been cluttered with boulders… Somebody said, ‘it all got messed up’… funny. The Alluvial Fan is already a clutter of boulders, they fell and tumbled when a high mountain dam broke. Now things look different, more different maybe than man will be able to ‘fix.’

My dented new car, and the gear I pack in it, are all with me for just a brief moment in time. A week together in Colorado, then the tent is back in it’s bag, until someday when it’s trash, then beyond that, at some point, it will return to nothing again…

Me too. My ‘things’ of my life will too. My fingernails, my hair I buzz, maybe my appendix will go. Eventually though, it all will. These hands I type with. The eyes I read with, the feet I walked on all day, will be gone. Nothing of me, will escape the reality of impermanence…

It is unpleasant to think about losing the whole of the only world I really know. It is spooks me to go mentally to places without myself. I relate to the world through the lens of ‘me’ and without that, I struggle to comprehend. Suuuuure, there are other beings and other truths, besides just me. But I am disposable. I am not permament. I am not everything there is…

It’s not all bad, to realize my disposability. I see an opportunity to release. I see a crack in the doorway to a new reality. If permanence isn’t possible, why do I try so hard to attain it? Here in this place, where I stress over the purchase of a beat-up truck, and wonder about ‘ruining’ a pair of cheap tie down straps, I may be missing the big picture all together.

There are things of this world, yes. There is stuff in our lives. We can be stewards, we can be disciplined to caretake and to clean. But since nothing is lasting forever anyway, can I really decide to get out there and just USE the tools at hand. Can I decide to try to find ways to exercise and to operate the stuff of the world around. Can I gather experiences and develop myself, through using life, instead of being careful not to mess it up?

Since my worldly life isn’t permanent anyway, can I begin the adventure of disposing of it, in a more active way? I can’t stuff myself into a savings account. I can’t reserve a bit of me, for the future. I can, let loose on this page, right now. I can express what is here and now, for you, for someone, for the vast of consciousness to absorb in tiny ways or big. I can become the moment wherever I am, and get dirtier, dented’er, and more burned up, as I continue forward on my path.

I can’t save myself. I can’t guarantee jack squat. A nice vacation with my life-partner-wife next week, will be exactly what I let it be. Exultation of the grandiosity of creation, or a worry-fest of messing up… Same goes for my life.

I will probably do some of both. I am rarely as committed in person, as I am on this page. I will ride the middle, be mediocrity incarnate, I will do the same things others have already done, and be proud of my baby accomplishments. I’ll be frugal and prudent and not take things to extremes. I’ll probably begin to re-believe in the permanence of me, and my piddly possessions. I’ll preserve and protect, instead of playing all out. Fear again, may steer my wheels…

Here’s to the disposable life. May we see it for what it is. May we use it, to enhance the experience of others. May we mess up here, falling and bruising ourselves, learning to walk the greater walk.

There is a chance at forever. There is an infinite glistening sparkle that we’re invited to inhabit. I don’t know the nature of how it works. I cannot begin to fathom. Jesus is asking us to join Him. These flea-sized worries of life, could be lost in the universe of joy. I wonder if we will wish we’d played a little harder, broken a few more boundaries, and expanded the scope of our plastic suburban worlds, if we could look back from that vantage point.

The mountains are calling me, they want me to join them praising our Creator, from their fragile tippy tippy tops. I can’t wait. The urgency is delicious. Lindsay, my bride. I LOVE You :)

Let’s Go!

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

Tater Chips for Breakfast

Potato Chips are for breakfast today, at 10:00am. They are kettle cooked, and barbeque flavor. Not sure if they make a bacon version, but if they did, I would eat that for breakfast instead.

My wife left town this morning on a week long adventure with a fellow teacher friend and her Dad. They are heading to the east coast, all the way to D.C. I was glad to hug her at 6:00 this morning, but sad she is leaving for so long. I know she will have fun, and it will go by quickly for both of us, but since she’s not here to share a scramble of eggs and squash and sprinkled cheese, I’ll just have chips instead.

Anyway, after being up early and checking on the garden, I decided to come back in the house for little more shut-eye. I was playing with a new military version sleeping bag, that I got from Steve at Take It Outside. Instead of this 3-piece sleeping system being laid in the dust or mud or sand of some war-torn country, I rolled it out on my couch.

Quickly I was deep, deep asleep.

I remember some of the dreaming, but mostly the very end. I could hear something strange in my home. It was coming from the kitchen area, maybe it was a person. I was trying to wake up and get off the couch. I knew I had been sleeping there. My body was completely heavy and loose. I could feel a slight electrical tickle all over, but I couldn’t move my muscles. My arms were limp, my legs were too. My neck was just a connector piece, nothing that could lift my head. Even my eyelids refused to open…

Crap! I think someone is in here. I think someone has done something to me. I can’t move. I can’t do anything. Maybe I’m dead! Ahhh! I tried to tell myself to wake up, It just wasn’t happening. I was ‘seeing’ only the twinkling blackness where you know there is light out there, but it’s blocked. I could feel the whooshing of the ceiling fan. I knew it was a morning sun in the room. I just couldn’t move.

One more time, AAAAHHHH! Extra effort, everything I had, is all it took, to pop open my eyes, and look around the room. It was almost an exhausting experience just to wake myself up from this super super deep sleep. Wow. Looking around, reorienting myself, there was no one in the room. Everything is fine. I am okay. I was just dreaming. I’d better get up and start my blog, and grab something to eat… hmm… those BBQ chips look good :)

Several times in the last few weeks. I have had awake experiences that mirror this dream. I have found myself over and over lately, stuck in a moment, feeling as if someone has done something to me. Feeling as if I cannot move, I am limp and lifeless, the seconds are eternities and my anxiety level pumps all the way to the top. In a flash I have gone from normal to freak-out-angry-crazy mode. Seriously y’all… it ain’t pretty!

Just like in the dream, I panic. I feel that everything I am trying is failing. I feel somehow that I am dying into the stillness and stuckness of the instant. I feel the light fading away and darkness rolling in. It is a spastic explosion, when trying to break free from it. This has happened at work, (both works) and at home. I lose my ever-lovin’ mind sometimes…

Yet, it is a dream. Yet, the freedom of waking up shows me the truth. Yet, the scary-ness of the crunched-down vise-grip moment, wasn’t caused by someone on the outside, doing something to me. It was caused by the thought that they did. The thought, that I believed, super strongly, that they did something to me. I was deep, deep asleep at that moment, even as I walked and talked in the consciousness of the real world, not dreamin’.

See, I am asleep, when I am stuck, believing those kinda thoughts. I am asleep and not seeing reality, when I am feeling that someone did this to me. I am lost and un’conscious’ blaming someone else for the position I am in. I am lucky to wake up, after these blowups. I am lucky to snap back, and notice that overall, everything is okay. I am just fine, the other person is just fine, but that panic moment was ugly all around. It was exhausting and crippling and damaging too. It was all a mistake, and afterward I can see that.

Afterward, I can see that no one did anything to me. I did it to myself. I chose to believe a untrue thought. I chose to focus on one angle of the story. I chose to only see one brief and scary snapshot throughout the movie of life. Like pausing a scene on tv. The actor’s face is weird and contorted, they look mad, or violent, and when you un-pause, it is all laughter.

Because Lindsay left this morning for a week, and I have no one to share a good breakfast with, I am eating barbecue potato chips… boo, hoo, pooooor me… WRONG!

I am eating barbecue kettle cooked chips this morning, because I want to. Because I chose to. That is all. They are delicious :) And yes, I do, already, choose to miss my wife :)

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

Boxes of spiders and love and trash too

Sometimes, I just don’t know what I want to say… Actually that is a lie.

When I use the ‘don’t know,’ excuse, I am really just choosing not to decide. I may be straddling and momentarily caught between ideas or commitments, but mostly, I am unwilling to go ahead and make a choice.

Yesterday I had lots of little moments caught in-between decisions. I had a couple options in front of me, and I somehow found the strength to just pick one way or the other.

I was doing the mundane task of cleaning out my garage. It is an ordinary thing that a lot of people do, I get that. I know there are some storage places, that we all have, that we let accumulate and pile up with stuff. Mine is no exception.

I used to use my garage for partying and playing and hosting and good times. A lot of the ‘stuff’ in there remains just as we used it, years ago, in the partying dayz. Yesterday, I had a lot of little moments, looking at a dust covered object, and making a choice to trash it, save it, or sell it. I made progress and some trash, and lots to save and a little to sell.

Steve Chandler is a guy, who I remember saying, “How you do some things, is how you do everything.” Well if that is true, then my garage can tell me a lot about how I am living my life as a whole. I have a detached space, where old memories are held on to. I have left many of them alone in a corner for years and years. I have held onto things that are of no use to me anymore. I have saved items that did one day come in handy. I have tools, that are rarely pulled out. I have spiders, and spiders, and spiders among it all.

I used to use my garage, and my life for inviting people and having fun, I didn’t have much, but I wanted to share it all. I wanted people to join me at any given moment. I wanted to always keep the party going. I really never wanted that to end.

Now it is different. The party-garage has only hosted one party in the several years, a three person bible study, one night a couple winters ago. I don’t do much in there anymore, but store some junk, and we park a car inside. In a way, so many parts of me are just existing there, where they always have, but getting dustier and older by the day.

Until yesterday. I swept. I loaded up trash cans and big boxes. I climbed the ladder and brought some things down. I climbed again, and put more things back up. I “didn’t know” where to start, but somewhere I just began to move stuff, making a bigger mess than it was, then slowly finding new places. I took the time to re-imagine how I wanted my space to look, I let go of old items, that don’t serve me.

All week long I have been heartbroken and saddened about a tragic event that happened for the family of one of the members of our church. Hailey and John and their family lost two precious children in a car accident on Monday. Wow. I cannot imagine what they are going through. I feel for them. I know God has a plan, but really that would be too hard to see, for me, for them, for anyone looking at their world right now. My heart and my prayers go out to all of you.

In our own family, 31 years ago, we lost someone important. My Dad passed away unexpectedly, tragically. I know that from my point of view, at four years old, there were things I never understood about that event. There were ideas or questions or hurts or angers or longings or tears that became parts and pieces on the shelves of my life. Just like my dusty detached garage, I had spaces where the few memories and all the pain just piled up and collected dust. I probably was a hoarder, remembering every sentence ever uttered about him. Collecting every detail of emotion about moments without him. This place is no party garage at all.

I hope I am the only one like this. I hope not everyone who goes through tragedy in life, and almost everyone does, does it like me. I have not taken the time and energy to decide and choose and clean out my garage, often enough. I don’t ever want to just junk all the memories and the love and appreciation for what was. I know though, that I let it pile up too high. I let the good stuff, get jumbled together with the bad. I had such a mess that it seems to be too big of a chore, to ever get around to working on it.

Somehow, over the years it has gotten better. I have matured and life has expanded beyond just the one tragedy that I used to define myself by. Thank God. There is a whole world outside my little dusty and spider infested garage. There is an expanse of possibility, that I can explore. My garage is a protected space, the stuff there isn’t going anywhere. I can lock it up and go to work. I can shut the door and go about my life. I don’t have to live only inside there. In a healthy way, I can revisit and take a day off, to work on it, from time to time. I need to remember to make it a habit, to work on the upkeep, but it does not define the whole of me.

I found lots of smiles, as I cleaned things up yesterday. I found the evidence of fun times. I remembered how much energy and thought, and enthusiasm I have, when I put myself wholly into an endeavor. Even like throwing a party in a dinky dusty garage. Nobody wanted to make it more fun and more special to everyone, than I did.

I am glad to have a place in my life, to go and smile and remember that too…

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

beer-me

 

 

Tempest Blooms and Dried-Up Nothins

“Did you plant any cantaloupe this year?” asked Roy, who had stopped by to chat while I was in the garden. “Yeah, I did, but they aren’t doing very well. Out of 10 seeds, only one came up.” I responded. He went on to tell me that he had the exact same issue in his backyard garden, and he decided to go buy some plants from the greenhouse instead. “Hate to do it.” He said, “But the seeds just weren’t coming up.”

Coincidence? Bad Luck? Did we both plant our seeds too deep, or too shallow? Did we both buy the same brand, that were too old, or diseased maybe? HeckifIknow! It’s just a simple little thing that gardners deal with from time to time…

Or is it?

Hearing that someone else had the exact same result, on the exact same plant reminded me of some stories I’ve heard about before. In my recollection, there are plants who seem to be on the same timeclock, all around the world, and will bloom all at once, even after a looong period of years. They all seem to know what time it is. I could Google up some examples for you, but you can do that yourself too.

Has anyone else out there had trouble with their cantaloupe seeds this year? Either way, I am reminded of more examples of how things seem to be naturally ‘inter-connected’.

Yesterday afternoon, while at work, I lost my temper and had an angry-ish discussion about a very small issue. Yes, I had complaints, I have held back from saying things before. I am probably too passive aggressive, as an overall habit that needs work. I was fired up, and letting it be known, but why that moment? Why that little issue? Why that day and time? These things happen quite a bit, and I usually don’t react that way, but yesterday I did. I chose to blow my top.

Later in the day, I noticed a post online by a facebook page called Purpose Fairy:

Fact: Mercury will be retrograde from June 7th 2014 – July 1st 2014.

As you know, there are certain cycles where the energy feels
confusing and ungrounded. During those times it’s not uncommon to react emotionally and dramatically affecting both your physical and emotional body.

Since all this frazzled energy is a major cause of disturbances in your mind, body, and soul here are the 5 ways to keep your emotional and physical body balanced during this time. ‪#‎MercuryRetrograde‬}

Now, I could probably find something like this out there every day, if I wanted to. I could read horoscopes, like mine (Aries), and probably read the other ones too, and find something that connects with me and my current life experiences. I could explain away any coincidences as mere chance, and just a bunch of woo-woo, new-age crapola.

BUT, it does seem to be, that there are built-in cycles and rhythms and an orchestral flow throughout all of creation. Weather, plants, animals, land, sea and sky, down to the tiniest form of the atom, all have cyclical and repetitive motion embedded. Last week I talked about a force so powerful, that it creates the tiniest growths nonstop throughout our lives, even like the nail on the end of our fingers.

There just has to be something behind all this motion. The energy is never stagnant, and stale, it just seems to always be in motion. I am amazed at the tiniest miracles. Like putting a seed into the ground, and noticing that it comes alive with growth. It just does. I have the seed, in a paper packet, it does nothing. I put it in the soil, it does everything it needs to do, with just the tiniest help from me. Amazing.

Sure, maybe I saw this post about Mercury Retrograde (which I know nothing about) and I wanted to blame my embarrassing blow-up on that. I could be a victim to the heavenly bodies, and not have to take responsibility for my own actions. I might be doing some of that. I am intrigued however at the possibility, that there is an answer to bigger questions. I am excited sometimes to think the random puzzle pieces of life, will eventually combine to form a picture I could understand, even from afar. I love the idea, that God’s brilliant design, is so rich and gorgeously interwoven.

One of the most exciting things that interests me about the living word of the Bible, is that the sentences seem so fresh and relevant and insightful. Some parts are thousands of years old, yet wet with new ink, as they are being read.

Something bigger is at work, something hidden just beyond the veil. My favorite band has an album called “One foot in the ether,” and I think that is where the magic is. Sometimes we get glimpses of it. Sometimes the fog burns away. Sometimes we notice out of the corner of our eye, that there a masterful simplicity and beauty to the ‘why’s’.

Just another thought, for you this week. A thought, that I want to capture for myself. As I get lost and feel spinning and drifting, bouncing against emotions and banging into the consequences of my actions, I wonder if the washing machine cycle will slow down sometimes. During the onslaught inside my mind, I want to remember this stillness and this knowing, that there is something more and bigger, and better, than my thousands of tiny negative ideas. There is the ever-present, the almighty, the one creator, abiding as always in True Love and Love only, Forever.

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols