No one can lose either the past or the future

Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park, Montana

Were you to live three thousand years, or even countless multitudes of that, keep in mind that no one ever loses a life other than the one they are living, and no one ever lives a life other than the one they are losing. The longest and the shortest life, then, amount to the same, for the present moment lasts the same for all and is all anyone possesses. No one can lose either the past or the future, for how can one be deprived of what’s not theirs?

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 2.14
Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park, Montana

5 Podcasts I Listen To, and You Should Too

Spotted Bear Wilderness, Montana
  1. Making Sense with Sam Harris–Sam Harris, neuroscientist, atheism apologist, philosopher, meditation promoter and thought provoker has done more to change my life than almost anyone else in the world right now.  The guest in this show is always challenging and interesting,  Harriss’ book on Lying has been a huge influence on me as well.  A word of caution,  Harris has an extremely slow voice.  I have to speed up the playback to stay sane.  The app Overcast is what I listen to podcasts on and playback speed one of the many easy to use adjustments this app allows.
North Fork of the Flathead River, Montana

2. Brian Lamb, the founder of CSPAN is a hero of mine for reasons I’m not going to bore you with. But his podcast, Q&A-CSPAN with Brian Lamb has been my favorite podcast since I first started listening to a decade ago. Authors, policymakers, lots of names you know, some you don’t, always interesting. If you want to learn the art of a good interview takes notes on Lamb’s style. He never overshadows his guest, asks the questions most ego-driven media types wouldn’t and allows the subject to answer fully and completely.

“Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be One.” – Marcus Aurelius

World Professional Cycling Championships, Richmond, Virginia

3. The Daily Stoic Short and always hitting that sweet spot. Need to center yourself right before you start your workday? Stoicism is all the rage right now, but no wonder, it is a game changer. Hosted by Ryan Holiday, the man who brought stoicism to Silicon Valley and hipster America dispels a daily dose of wisdom to get your thinking and acting.

Rodeo, Lewistown, Montana

4. The Art of Manliness–Damn, do I loathe the name of this podcast. Hate. The content, however, is great. Interesting authors, ideas and skills are discussed with a good host with good questions. If you can get past the works name for a podcast ever. Try it.

Cabin Life, Spotted Bear Wilderness, Montana

5. The Cult of Pedagogy podcast–if you teach then this is a great podcast to gain new insight into trends, ideas, strategies, and other useful teaching tools. I’ve tried to listen to one of these a week which has resulted in lots of cool experiments in my classroom…with some very mixed results.

Lots more Podcasts to talk about, but give one of these a listen.

And it is as if a hand has come out and taken yours

A difficult two days of teaching. Doubts swirl, rumination abounds and memories linger. I always read the play or watch the movie, “The History Boys” to attempt to regain some grounding. Lots of themes in the movie but central is the conflict between Hector, the aged master teacher, and Irwin, the young imposter, fresh out of university and flush with the latest pop history. A long drive up the North Fork road brought some solace. I brought my camera and attempted to frame what I was feeling.

I am your teacher. Whatever I do in this room is a token of my trust. I am in your hands. It is a pact. Bread eaten in secret. ‘I have put before your life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live’

Hector-The History Boys
The North Fork of the Flathead River, Montana

The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – which you had thought special and particular to you. Now here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out and taken yours.”

Hector–The History Boys
Livingston Range, Glacier National Park, Montana

“Shall I tell you what is wrong with Hector as a teacher? It isn’t that he doesn’t produce results. He does. But they are unpredictable and unquantifiable and in the current educational climate that is no use.”

the Headmaster, The History Boys
The North Fork of the Flathead, Montana
Fog, The North Fork

Mountains, men, and the claim

The North Fork of the Flathead River Valley could care less about five middle-aged men shooting shotguns and clay pigeons for three hours on the first gray and white day of 2019. Those mountains remain tonight, silent and cold, clouds keeping their ridges hidden.  They have survived hellish winters, sweltering summers, wind, snow, and fire have scarred the long memory of this place. We are a second long flutter of a bird’s wing in the history of those ancient mountains and rivers.

We must claim our days. Even if all we build in our lifetimes will be forgotten in one generation. We must claim our days with meaning and connection.

The world we live in is a divided, broken and shallow land. It is now undeniable that depression and loneliness are on the rise, in all age groups. According to data from the General Social Survey (GSS), the number of Americans who say they have no close friends has roughly tripled in recent decades. “Zero” is also the most common response when people are asked how many confidants they have, the GSS data show. And adult men seem to be especially bad at keeping and cultivating friendships.

As Ryan Holiday explains in The Obstacle is the Way, there are eight things we can control; emotion, judgment, creativity, desire, decision, attitude, perception, and determination. And so in 2019, let us desire to be making the connections we need to. Let us make the decisions to reach out and not hide behind screens. We can be determined to claim our days with the perceptions that keep us open to new people and determined to maintain those old friendships. Let us be cautious about opinions and judgments that close ourselves off to others.

No monuments will be built to us. The North Fork Valley of the Flathead will little remember today from the other millions of years that have shaped it. We must claim the days we have before they are gone.

Salsa

Salsa is the first bird dog that I trained. Huka was started by others before he came to me. One September, a decade ago, Salsa drove home in my lap from Idaho where she tumbled out of a kennel to say, “choose me”. She has always been quiet and thoughtful, prone to sudden outbursts of pure joy, especially in tall grass. She loves going after moving pheasants in cattails or irrigation ditches. She can be stubborn but more often than not is all too eager to please.

Salsa, Judith River Country, Fergus County, Montana

I’m training my next bird dog now. Many times when I’m hiking the younger dog, I will be bringing him in, honing him to hunt close. On “here” Salsa will immediately return to my side as the younger dog pushes his boundaries. She looks up at me as if to say, “I remember, I know this, I have not forgotten”. The love between a man and his hunting dog sit somewhere near the top of the greatest loves of all.

And this, too, shall pass away

Montana, like me, is prone to extremes. Endless sun-baked days in August yield to the endless gray and the early dark of December. Late fall, early winter I stumble a bit, and the wolf of depression makes a visit. We must remember to stay pragmatic, do what you know helps, don’t listen to your thoughts, for they are, thoughts.  We too should revisit what Lincoln said nearly 160 years ago.  

It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: “And this, too, shall pass away.” How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! — how consoling in the depths of affliction! “And this, too, shall pass away”


Abraham Lincoln, Wisconsin State Agricultural Society
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
September 30, 1859
North Fork of the Flathead River, Montana

In the gloom of the storm comes beauty.

Sight

I sometimes ask students if they had to give up one of their five senses, which one would they give up.  Sight is not a common answer.  I happen to think we underestimate how powerful hearing is and that we often tune out so much of what is beautiful.  But if you walked out of Glacier High School tonight and saw the mountains you would have seen the alpenglow on the mountains and it would have taken your breath away.  

Maui, Hawaii

The stoics said that we should constantly remind ourselves that everything can be taken from us without warning.  Life, health, friends. reputation, career, everything is temporary.  Here’s to taking every moment as they come, to living each day as if it truly is a gift.  Every conversation engaged, every friendship sacred.  Every alpenglow sunset special.  

Goodbye Old Friend

Sophomore year of college I saved up and bought a big Mountainsmith backpack.  It has all the new fancy bells and whistles and from what I could tell, fit like a glove.  Hundreds of miles through the Virginia and North Carolina sections of the Appalachian Trail that pack carried my gear.  When I moved west it saw trips in Yellowstone and Glacier, the Elkhorns, the Snowies, the Absaorkas, up the Lima Peaks and down into the Missouri Breaks.  

Trusted Mountainsmith Pack, Mill Creek Pass, Absaorka Range

Last year that old trusted pack broke on a multiday trip into Glacier with C3.  I tried to rig it back together but on a short trip into the Bob Marshall this past summer I sighed the sigh of resignation, knowing my beloved pack was not going to be on my next trip.

Glacier National Park

The other day a box showed up from REI.  Smithers scored a sweet deal on a fancy-pants Osprey back.  This past weekend I dropped my old Mountainsmith at the goodwill store.  Goodbye old friend, many miles you caught my sweat, kept me warm and were with me as we discovered the most beautiful places on earth.  Thank you.  

January 1, 2018

It was the first day of 2018, January 1. A big snow had fallen two days before and we struggled to get up the North Fork Road to find a place to shoot skeet.  It was already getting dark when we made our way south, back to Columbia Falls.  As usually I was driving way too fast and just happened to see something on the east bank of the North Fork.  As the ABS engaged we slid to a stop and quickly reversed.  Turns out I didn’t need to rush, they were two Moose who had just crossed the river.  In fact, at first we thought there was just one but then the other stepped out from behind the first.  They were still for many minutes.  I imagine they waited for the chill of the freezing water to fade away from their numb legs.  Then, slowly they moved into Glacier National Park.  

Moose, North Fork of the Flathead River, Montana

It started to snow this weekend though the backcountry has been covered for a few weeks.  I can only imagine the slow hardship that winter is on animals.  It’s a silent death, or a narrow survival.  

In memory of the Zong Massacre

Surfers, Maui, Hawaii

It was on this day, the 29th of November, 1781 that the white crew of the slave ship Zong began murdering slaves by throwing them overboard.  The crew hoped to claim the murdered slaves as part of an insurance policy that allowed slavers to make claims for cargo that was jettisoned in order to save other cargo.  Due to faulty navigation, the Zong had sailed past their intended port in Jamaica and had run out of drinking water after the mistake had been identified.  The plan for murder was made after the slavers feared the starved slaves would die a natural death.  

On 29 November, the crew assembled to consider the proposal that some of the slaves should be thrown overboard. James Kelsall later claimed that he had disagreed with the plan at first but it was soon unanimously agreed. On 29 November, 54 women and children were thrown through cabin windows into the sea. On 1 December, 42 male slaves were thrown overboard, and 36 more followed in the next few days. Another ten, in a display of defiance at the inhumanity of the slavers, jumped into the sea. Having heard the shrieks of the victims as they were thrown into the water, one slave requested that the remaining Africans be denied all food and drink rather than be thrown into the sea. The crew ignored this request. In total, 142 Africans were killed by the time the ship reached Jamaica. The account of the King’s Bench trial reports that one slave managed to climb back onto the ship.[

Wikipedia

The horror of the Atlantic slave trade inflicted on humanity should never be forgotten.  Let us resolve to know this history.  To honor this history and to ensure that it will not happen again.