They say that life is like sailing. I oughta know. At the age of nine I was tossed about, for six long years, like a cork in a squall. Up until that time I had what most would consider a pretty idyllic life. I had a stable and loving home life, a large extended family and a summer home on a beautiful lake in the mountains of New Hampshire. But when the storm came it came up quick and hard. My father was dying. He had a disease called diabetes. And that, given the current state of medicine, was pretty difficult to live with. Over time he just got more and more angry and did less and less what was needed to keep himself healthy. And as he slowly slid into disrepair my mother who fought tirelessly to save him slid into an even deeper depression as if they were racing to a finish line nobody wanted them to reach.
But as they neared the end it was my mother who crossed the line first by losing her mind and was committed to a mental institution. A year or so later my dad finished his run and left us for his ultimate home port. Us kids also had to go somewhere and so we did. My two older sisters went to Dad's brother's family and my younger brother and I went the my mom's parents.
Now you might say this is a sad story. And you wouldn't be wrong but it's not the whole story. After the loss of family life I had all sorts of people telling me things like how much they loved me and how things would be better as they proceeded to send me off here and send me off there to places I never asked to go to and doing things I didn't particularly want to do to the point that I stopped trusting anything that came out of their mouths. Every time I turned around I was the new kid, in a new environment always trying to figure out how in the hell I got there and what I was supposed to do now that I was there! Under those circumstances you learn pretty quickly how to survive. And somewhere along the way I learned a thing or two about other things besides keeping my masts up and my keel down as they say. I learned how to learn then taught myself how to live.
I had a couple of things coming into this world that helped me out quite a bit. One was my insatiable curiosity. You know, the kind that kills cats and such. Mine would've killed a mountain lion. And the other thing was my non-stop motor that seemed to run at full speed and never run out of gas. That was a pretty volatile combination if left to its own devices but give it some focus and I could drill down into a subject like a diamond drill. And so, for the rest of my life, I proceeded to look into, uncover and analyze every subject I took a fancy to. I didn't stick with any one thing for too long. As soon as something more interesting came across my bow I'd be off chasing that one down.
For some that kind of lifestyle would be too crazy, too inconsistent, too lonely. And for sure I never made a million dollars as a top expert in any one field but I got something even better. I got knowledge. I got experience. I got understanding. I got to feel what it was like to hold a golden eagle on my arm and look into it's majestic eyes. I got to teach an owl to come to my call and land on my fist. I learned how to pick up a porcupine without getting quilled or a snapping turtle without losing a finger. I wasn't there to become a veterinarian or anything like that. It was just a job I enjoyed doing because it was interesting.
I learned how to convert sunlight into useful things like electricity. Or how to make hot water from spinning magnets. I've taught myself how to make computers do terribly mundanes tasks really, really fast! Or make a broken car run like new again. These were engaging and fun projects that taught me much more that just the task itself. There was physics, thermodynamics, electromagnetism and all the math and literature that goes with that. Some of it was pretty high level stuff that admittedly was beyond my ability to fully comprehend but that was okay. I wasn't intending to work for NASA. Wouldn't have wanted to even if I could.
I learned that a sanctuary wasn't just in a fancy building. It was on a mountain top, watching a full moon rise on the winter solstice or on a lake watching the islands across the way light up like a Thomas Kinkade painting with a triple rainbow super imposed against a dark post storm sky. I'm not a painter but I can more than appreciate fine art when composed by nature. It can take a lot of work to climb a mountain. Especially a high one, in the wintertime. But for me that wasn't work at all. The moment I stepped out of the truck and donned my backpack, sometimes weighing upwards of 65 pounds, I became light as a feather. Pure joy has a way of doing that. Kinda like anti-gravity but without all the techno stuff.
I've crawled through mud and under walls through water to stand in the most majestic halls man has never built. To find, measure and map places no man has ever seen before like a astronaut of the underworld. I've flown a glider and a hot air balloon to see the earth like a bird does. I've taken a stand against war, been jailed for trying to stop foolish people from building dangerous contraptions that harm life and taught young men how to honor the sanctity of same. These are not careers. Life is my career.
I have done these and countless other things not because I was paid or because I was compelled to do so by the whim of another but rather because it was there. And I wanted to learn about it. And I did not want to leave this amazing, beautiful and glorious place until I have seen and experienced all that I can.
For that is why I am here.
And for no other reason.