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The Adventures of Be Heij

A curious wanderer

Letting go

       As I sit on the train, I’m looking out of the window at the passing pastures beside me. Smells of aged cheese, sweet tomatoes and I believe white wine (secretly poured into a bottle of Perrier) fill the air from the passenger snacking next to me. With the distant hum of the locamotive ringing softly in my ears and the passing of a few hawks, flying in search of a meal, I find myself in a state of letting go. Like taking off a heavy turtle shell and leaving it behind. I find myself being filled with a new energy that before the flow was blocked by the comforts of the known.  All those feelings and fears of not having enough, of unclear direction and emotional dramas that fill our lives briskly whisp away like the rising and falling hum of the trains warning: “Here, I come.”

       We might have heard that life is a practice of letting go. But how often do we exercise this practice? Better question: How tightly do we hold on to the comforts and certainty of our lives? All letting go first begins with a loosening of this tight grip. So, how might we achieve this? Those of us who experience adversity in some kind of way, don’t have the luxory of the comforts we experience in the developed world. Thus, they don’t have much to hold onto besides the core of our human spirit: hope, love, perseverance, cooperation etc.

In a society where survival is rarely at the front of our minds, we’ve forgotten what adversity feels like. We get to experience adversity as a luxory as oppposed to a way of life forced upon us. But how many of us choose to venture out into the unknown?While I wouldn’t wish an adverse life upon anyone, in what ways is the human spirit being tested when it doesn’t need to face adversity? How does one truly feel alive when ones life is seemingly never at stake?

       It is for these reasons I venture west, in my favorite train, leaving behind the heavy shell of comfort to replace with the essential items I will need, not just to live, but to feel truly alive. 

So I leave my thoughts here with one left to ponder: In what other ways might we let go of our comforts and pick up a little adversity, to alight upon our spirit a life that it yearns for?

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“A Mystery in the Night”

This is a story example for my story making class. This will hopefully help my students think about how to structure a story with a beginning, middle and end, how to include descriptions and comparisons, to include some kind of climax and to end with something that the character learns and for the reader to learn.

myth

My first/favorite memory: 

It was a dark and quiet clear night. We just got done eating dinner in our usual way. It was Tuesday, so we had meatloaf and asparagus, my favorite meal. The meatloaf was hot and moist and was dripping with ketchup. I like to mix my meatloaf with my mashed potatoes so the flavors come together in a Milky Way kind of way. The steaming asparagus was soaked in butter and cooked to delicate perfection. The outside was a little soft and as I bit into it, there was a pleasant crunchy sound that hummed my ears. Somehow, my mom knows just how much time the asparagus needs to be cooked without using a timer. She’s a great cook and I hope one day I can chef as well as she can.

          After dinner, my belly was so full I thought it might burst and all that tasty food would come flying into the dining room and snuff out the candle lights. My dad, then told us to get ready for bed. “But daaaaaaad! I’m not even tired yet”, I complain. “I’m too heavy to move one bit!”, exclaims my brother Mark. My mom encourages us and says, “Brush your teeth and put on your pajamas. Then, we can go out onto the roof and we’ll tell you stories of the night sky.”

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After we brushed our teeth and put our night-clothes on, we eagerly grabbed our sleeping bags and pillows and ran up to the window where we could crawl through to the flat roof. We found my mother and father waiting for us with a plate of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and two glasses of milk shaped like Star Wars characters. Ever since I can remember, my dad took us out to the rooftop and told us stories under the starry night sky. He would sometimes tell us stories of his past, but more regularly would make up stories where he invented characters and created entire worlds for us to explore in our imaginations while we listened to the creation. Sometimes, my mom would even join and they created these strange worlds together that my brother and I took with us into our dreams and let the characters take a new form within our imaginations.

          On this particular night, the four of us gathered on the rooftop for another exciting night of storytelling. It was a cool night with a light breeze that smelled like someone was having a campfire a few houses away. The sky was completely clear of clouds and there must have been a million stars all twinkling their sparkly eyes down on us. My parents were telling us the story about the constellation Orion and the Pleiades cluster.

          The story is about Orion who is madly in love with seven maidens and goes a little like this. “One day…” my dad begins, “Orion sees seven maidens bathing in a catch-pool near a waterfall and suddenly begins to turn crazy. The seven maidens get scared and start to run.” “Orion chases after them for a very long time but can never catch them” continues my mother excitedly. “Soon the gods felt sorry for the maidens so they turned them into stars.” “Whoa, look!” my dad proclaims with a scoff, as he points to the sky. Just as my parents got to this part of the story, a brilliant shooting star darts across the sky! The curious part was that it came from Orion’s belt and went towards the Seven Maidens! “What a strange coincidence this was” I thought to myself. My mom finishes the story by saying, “Orion was also turned into a group of stars and now continues his chase of the Seven Maidens across the night sky every winter season, unaware that in several million years, the Pleiades cluster will disperse and die before he ever gets a chance to reach them.”

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          I will always remember my nights with Mark and parents on the flat roof in Chicago, Illinois. These are some of my best memories. My parents taught me the joys of storytelling and opened up a world of wonder in my imagination. From the very first time we went onto our roof, I fell in love with the stars. I continue to feel amazed when I look up at the night-sky just as I did when I was littler. To this day, the mysteries of the stars encourage me to always ask questions and always to wonder.

On Life… A poem

For thousands of years, there have been as many questions about life as there are stars in the observable universe.

The who, is obvious.

The what can be carefully tested and observed.

The where, is obvious… as far as we know.

The when, again, obvious.

The most popular question on life, the one that so many have squandered entire lifetimes trying to figure out, comes next.

Which question do we always forget?

 

Lingering Quotes

Here’s to the quotes that will be unforgotten. They linger in tiny crevices, in unsuspecting nooks. They await a traveler, running in haste, to bump into them and take them aback, if only to ponder their existence  for awhile. Something to marinate over their adventurous minds, and give meaning to the new worlds they will soon discover…

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“Breathing in, I’m alive right here,
Breathing out, my mind is clear
Breathing in, my body is at ease,
Breathing out, I am at peace….”

“Each beginning is the end of a waiting.
We are each given exactly one chance to be.
Each of us is both impossible and inevitable.
Every replete tree was first a seed that waited.”

“Since those days our world has changed
Our love remains the same,
and I’m proud of all the blessings.
Love is what makes me smile when I’m tired.
In the end, I think it’s safe to say that
we brought some joy to one another’s lives.
If the sun were to rise in the west,
my love would be unchanged forever.”

“I got quite a taste for life out at sea,
When looking for you after you had left me.
So lets pack our bags and get back on your boat,
And we can get married once we are afloat.

Here’s the beginning of love at the end of our travail.
So farewell, kind friends, as in to the sunset we sail.”

 

Dancing — Amelia Rose Judd Illustration

© [Amelia Judd] 2016

via Dancing — Amelia Rose Judd Illustration

Theories of a Taiwanian Troglodyte

Why don’t we just sit in caves?
A warm fire casting our shadows on the wall.
Do our shadows also sit?
No, they dance!

Why don’t we just sit in caves?
Safe from the wild winds that coo and crash.
Does our imagination share our company ’round the fire?
No, it runs wild with the wind!

Why don’t we just sit in caves?
Counting the spoils that we don’t deserve.
Does our wealth feed the fire when it’s low?
No, our wealth does not sit in caves!

Why don’t we just sit in caves?                        Admiring the useful things we have made.  Does our creativity cuddle close, as to be blinded by the light?                                          No, it seeks to be let go of and shared!
Why don’t we just sit in caves?                        Allowing our brethren to conquer the lands around us.                                                 Is our jealousy content with just enough?      No, it follows our greed in haste!

Why don’t we just sit in caves?                        Away from all the threats and dangers of life.                                                                         Does our curiosity cradle an unchanging environment?                                                      No, it is boundless energy! Waiting to be tickled awake.

Why didn’t we just sit in caves?                       We are Homo sapien!!


 

When one decides to embark on a journey, any journey, they’re inadvertently deciding to leave a piece of themselves behind. The piece that says, “Do something you’ve done before. Do something that is safe and familiar. You know the outcome, it’s fun, and there’s nothing to lose.” The little hermit thought the same thing, but slowly learned that, those who just stay in caves are simply dying. When the cave finally gave birth to the hermit, visions of an entire multiverse fell over the eyes and absorbed her. It was the first moment the sun welcomed with a warm embrace, the human spirit. 

 

Wild places

Korea Neglected. Building Korea. Wild Places.

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I stumble into a place I’ve passed a few times. Something about the day or the mood I was in was calling me inside. Momentary memories of ShutterBug waking before the rest of us to snap shots of an abandoned school flash before my eyes. Suddenly, I find myself turning around and walking back towards the opening where I hear a different type of cry… this time coming from inside.

It’s surrounded by a wavy metal fence that tells you to keep out in a curiously silent way.  The air is dancing dry while the sun beat down with its increasing intensity as spring changes its shape to form summer and Earth rolls itself over to feel the warm embrace on its chilled underbelly.

As I crawl under the unwelcoming bottom edge of the metal beast, the air makes a stark transformation. Soon, my nose hairs are relived with the pleasant dampness of a morning dew.  Everything that surrounds me drips with desperate isolation. After passing through the gate on the brink of the known, I walk towards the sound of curiosity that rings so deep inside me.

I teeter along the edge of civilization and the lonely beast, between what’s comfortable and what’s creepy. I bend underneath the green mesh that protects the beast from harmful invaders and am immediately struck with the awe of its inner beauty. So lost and desolate, it’s delighted of the arrival of a once familiar creature that crawled about it’s halls and ladders. The echoes on the walls long forgotten bounce into oblivion and disappear among the darkness. The vibrations wake the beast from its soundless slumber and it greets me in a friendly manner.

The place is wild, growing with discrete desertion. Somewhere in between creation and destruction, it’s like a human lost between the sexes. Evidence of when humans disappear strike with surreal splendor so sad and sublime.

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After a series of “coos!” and “whoos!” that undoubtedly broke through the beasts’ green protective mesh, seeping into the buzzing movements of the present, I walk backwards through time to continue on my way. I could feel the gasps of despair, expelled by the bellowing beast through its halls in anticipation of losing the only friend it ever knew, once again.

I’m left in a state I can’t explain. Part of me wanted to stay and listen to the stories the beast has kept silent all these years. I pass by car dealerships and sandlots in a romantic tango. A city of steel and cement rises at all angles. Like a mangling root, the cement suffocates the soft tissues underneath. Wild places get snuffed out and morph into great green giants that are also soon forgotten.

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A bird catches my eye not high in a tree. Sounds of its charming chirp delight the drums inside my ear. I stare into the tree looking for it. I watch it leap and fly from branch to branch in its curious way, looking for a nut or maybe a mate. A woman passes by, looking in curiosity at what I’m fixed on. She quickly dismisses its beauty. Adults have important meetings and are always running late.

Soon, I arrive at a wild worm that flows from the mountains and washes my doorsteps. The river is still flooded from the rainfall two days ago. There’s just enough room left on the rocks to traverse them. I decide to lose time and myself in the moment. As I dip a toe and then a foot into the belly of the worm, I am overcome by an indescribably wonderful feeling.

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I was standing somewhere I had been before, only I felt like I discovered a whole new place. A place visited by our ancestors very often and whom still linger there in distant memories. What led me to that place in my mind? Maybe it was the beautiful conversation I had with a new acquaintance I met in a kick-about before facing the green beast. Perhaps it was my curious wondering into the deserted building, left unfinished, to rot in its structural dismay. Somehow, I found myself in this place, where as far as I could tell, I could see no one else there. Yet, there were people walking about, all around.

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Korean Landscape — Amelia Rose Judd Illustration

© [Amelia Judd] 2016

via Korean Landscape — Amelia Rose Judd Illustration

Mysterious moments

So, I had a bit of a crazy night last night… And it’s nothing like you might expect. I imbibed a little too much of the fancy sauce (not the kind from Step Brothers) and found myself stumbling, unabated, down a mysterious path. At the end of the path, there was this old iconic man that inquired if I would like to go on a trip. Being of the curious type, I gladly accepted his offer. Little did I know, he was taking me on a trip through time. A trip back to the most drug experimented time of all time. Where lying down for a nap was enjoyed by many… Woodstock!

 

photos-of-life-at-woodstock-1969-59

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