Tuesday, July 31, 2012


When the hail comes down, it comes down with a vengeance - all the cutting force of a Nebraskan summer behind it. But a brother is someone who takes the brunt of the storm. Thin lean muscles, pull me up beside them. Close. And your back must hurt like hell. 

These Miles

These miles burn inside my thighs for days. When you see me, you might be deceived into thinking that I am so small - yourself a giant in comparison. But I have a secret – I am the sky open wide, wind rushing by with millions of miles on my skin.

To Kira

Toothpaste is foaming in your little mouth,
and the laughter sticks like toothpaste to the edge of our lips, just on the verge of dribbling.
It's a tooth-brushing party.

You'll be sleeping soon, little child,
but I don't want you ever to wash that laughter off your face.

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Maintenance Man

The Maintenance man taught me the power of questions.

My very wise brothers have always told me "The mark of an interesting person is that they can find something interesting in any situation."

People are always interesting. And I guarantee you that every man, woman or child that you encounter has some fascinating story tucked away in their front pocket -  stories behind their ears and swallowed down inside of them. And sometimes people have a whole load of stories that fill up their boots so heavy that they can barely manage to take a single step forward.

The Maintenance man's story was hidden in the space between his fingertips and a piano, or a saxophone or really any instrument you can imagine (except the harp and didgeridoo).

We had asked "So why is your nick name keys?"

And he had replied "Oh, I just like messing around on the piano. But I get bored after the first two pages of a song, so I can only play introductions...."

And it wasn't until two miles later down the trail we were pruning that we came across the question "So how did you start working here? Where are you going to college?"

Turns out this 'Maintenance Man' is an incredible musician. He auditioned and was accepted into Julliard school of Music. Tuition was too high there though. Consequentially he's been working overtime at the camp weeding, pruning, and repainting to earn tuition. He's re-auditioning next year.

The next day he let us volunteers listen to the orchestra piece he had composed and conducted. It got third in a national composition competition. It was a song of a canoe trip, mimicking the sounds he had gathered from the river on a small tape box recorder. It was astounding. And I spent those ten minutes just listening to music with my whole self and attention. I can't describe how good it feels to do that.

It was beautiful and I was blown away by the mastery it must have taken to write each part for each instrument in an entire orchestra. It's such a work of art.

But the point of this long and convoluted tale is really a wake up call to myself not to take people at face-value. Because each of us has such a wealth of experience and history that we can learn from. We can learn from each other, the stories of life, love and pain that we share. We learn the most from others stories when we sit down and really listen to. Listen to them with our whole selves and  whole attention.

I can't describe how good it feels to do that.