September 4, 2014

Decisions, Blame and Joy

So much to do, so many decisions to make and questions about it all. What to do next, what direction to take, which road is the one I want to be on and is it what it appears to be?

This is my current place in life, I expected it, I think I actually wanted it and now I have it, woo-hoo!

Do not get me wrong, I am not complaining about it, much, but one thing I realized on my trip was the answer for a question that I have been asking for many years and I often hear from friends, family and clients, "What am I supposed to be doing, what direction should I be going in?" Personally, I tend to throw in the "G" card as if it makes it a more valued question and not just the bigger excuse it really is.

On rare occasions, I find that the Universe has a specific plan set up for an individual, usually it is about following a general path of character and the one thing so many of us, myself included, seem to hate; making a decision.

Some of us like to get the opinions of others and then internally shift any responsibility or blame onto those who we listened to, God gets this one a lot I am sure...  LOL

Simply put it is all our choice and our decision to make, everything, every day.

What we forget is that, as Joseph Campbell used to say, "Follow your Bliss!" Your bliss is your Spirit passing along what is the correct answer, and only becomes problematic when we ignore it.

One thing to be aware of, bliss is not always what brings the easiest or happiest path in the short-term, in fact I find that from the short view it is often the harder and more painful of the options, at least at first. Most often it is the fear we have placed into our decision making process that causes our next step to seem so difficult.

I am in one of those places right now, I want to pursue my writing; both the Spiritgeek in general, like this blog, and the work with people in one-on-one settings, but I also need to come up with that lovely stuff called cash which seems to push toward getting a more traditional job, at least in the short-term.

So while I stall in making my final decision, not really final as I can always change it, I am working on both paths to see where they both may lead in the next week or so. I am actually open to either as one appears to be more direct, but the other may just be a way of taking care of other things that I may need before the other is quite ready.

So what am I going to do? I will know soon enough, I have been getting my personal little signs, I call them my déjà vu moments so I am reasonably comfortable with where I am and what I am doing. I find my inspiration to be a great help and am SLOWLY learning to trust it.

I know that joy is mine and that all things are perfect for their time and place and as much as I like to think otherwise; that includes me. If it includes me, it includes you as well!

ॐ शान्तिशान्ति
Robert Allen

August 11, 2014

Should Religion be Abolished?

A friend of mine posted an article on his Facebook page earlier about how the self-proclaimed caliphate Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, is beheading Christian children.

Sadly the article's source was from a "Don't Tread On Me" website, so I am not sure just how accurate the "Christian" part is as these groups often marginalize the facts to make it more offensive to their audience. Groups like ISIS are usually nondiscriminatory in which infidels, anyone who doesn't believe the same way they do, they assault and kill.

Another friend who has become quite anti-religious due to behaviors like these and others in the name of the local "god" has often asked if maybe we should abolish religion in general as it seems to be the cause of so many of these atrocities in the world today.

I say no, not because I support any of the hateful and despicable things that man is capable of doing to his fellow man, but for two basic reasons:
  1. The Truth of religious text and practices is still there, even when people manipulate and destroy the original intent for their own selfish and manipulative reasons.

  2. The problem is not Religion, it is just the tool that is being used to justify and validate the evil in the hearts of these people. Take religion away and they will just find some other way to make such atrocities "OK" in their minds.

Survival of the original "Truth"/Message

Śhruti (श्रुति), the Sanskrit name for Scripture or Holy Texts, seems to hold on to its core Truths even when people and organizations attempt to change it for their own purposes; we find it in many traditions. 

I have spoken with several Imams that are sickened and disgusted with how the Quran and the Sunnah/Hadith are manipulated by many of their brothers to become this current cesspool of hatred and violence we have seen through much of the Middle East in recent years. Yes, the documents allow for fighting and such, but have you looked at the Old Testament and some of the things that it calls for and justifies? But these are things that I find have more to do with the cultural contexts of the places and times for which they were written and never actually intended to be the laws for eternity.

The Jewish Torah has laws and rules that are designed to explain a moral life from the perspective of the tail end of the Bronze Age, about 3500 years ago, from an Egyptian/Nomadic point of view. The Christian New Testament does the same thing from the time and culture of the Roman Empire and the Quran, and particularly the Sunnah and hadith, are the Arabian culture of the Seventh century.

On a personal observation, I have always found the Abrahamic traditions to be interesting in that they all find it necessary to deify some aspect of their founder or the founder's principles and the following prophet/teacher tends to decry the deification.

TraditionDeified Aspect
JudaismThe Law of Moses
ChristianityThe Founder/Teacher
IslamThe Culture of the Prophet
No matter how much manipulation has been done, the core Truth of the documents is still there and can be gleaned by careful study and contemplation thereof.

Religion is not the problem

If I thought for just a moment that the destruction of all the world's religious documents and the disbanding of the practices would solve the world's problems for even as little as five minutes, I would jump on the bandwagon and lead the burning parties myself. The hard reality is that it would be a waste of time and energy on all fronts.

Religion is not the cause of the problem, it is the scapegoat used to justify and proselytize one man's judgment and hatred for another while attempting to authorize it by calling it the "will of God."

If there were a way to remove religion from the equation completely, you would find no change, other than the validation used. Knowing most of man, I would suspect that gender, orientation, cultural ancestry, financial status or any number of silly ways we humans find to break ourselves up into "Us'" and "Them's".

By using Religion, the manipulators convince us that "God is on OUR side" so it is not only justified, but the right thing to do. The operative word above is "manipulators"; they are not concerned with anything but their own goals and objectives and the means are only the theater by which they project them upon the masses. If you took the "God" out of the equation, do you honestly think those who want power or control would not find another way to acquire it?

August 3, 2014

leaving San Francisco - tomorrow

It has been awhile since I sat down and wrote a blog entry. It takes time and energy to write a blog entry and after you have hiked 12-17 miles with a 45 lb pack on your back, energy is something you just do not have. This trip has been exhausting, but one of the best things I think I have ever done and I am within about 100 miles of completing it.

I have seriously been blown away with some of the experiences and people that I have met while doing the hike up the state of California. I have had complete strangers open their homes to me and gave one man in Santa Barbara County his first hitchhiker he had ever picked up.

There are so many directions that this trip has gone that I am not sure exactly what will be the outcome.  I have had amazing experiences as a perceived homeless person and yet had other seek me out as such to ask about what people do when I approach.

I have had some interesting conversations on religion and philosophy, a few I would say would have made an excellent college course, I will have to see if I can rebuild them in the future.

I am a city kid, I like having a million people around, just not to close, I also like privacy...  One of the biggest surprises for me is just how much I have loved walking trails through the untouched face of California.  I have had trails that were as little as three-inches wide and meandering across fields and along the side of some pretty good hills and I just found that it amazed me that a place that could harbor Los Angeles and Orange County could have such untouched beauty so nearby.

I suspect I will likely always hike after this trip, though I may see about taking trips where I can leave the 45 lb pack at home, does anyone know a good Sherpa service in central California? Hmm...

Some of the best moments have been making it across some difficult section of the trip and finally making it over or through and knowing that you did it, definitely an experience that everyone should have at least once in their life.

No, the trip is not done, the final form of the experiences have not happened as of yet, and I am not exactly sure they ever will, that is what is so great about such an experience; given the opportunity, it touches everything for the rest of your life.

To my friends and new family members that have supported this trip and me through the good days as well as some bad ones, thank you and know that your help has been invaluable and could never be forgotten.

So what is happening after the trip? I do not really know yet. About the only thing I am reasonably sure of is that I will not likely be returning to Los Angeles, there is not really much of anything there for me.  My friends and local family have almost all deserted the city and I just have not felt at home there for a while, so likely there will be new digs in the future.

I have really enjoyed visiting Santa Cruz, Monterrey and my current visiting in San Francisco. I have learned the meaning of the old statement;
The coldest winter I ever spent
was the summer I spent in San Francisco.
It gets chilly here for the last of July and start of August, but it is kind of nice actually. It would be nicer if I were sleeping in a residence, I have spent my time here living on the streets and sleeping on the side of the Mission Dolores Basilica in my sleeping bag, but it's actually kind of fun.

I think one of the biggest things I have gotten out of this is that it is "fun", it being life. I have always said, "life was meant to be an entertainment for Spirit and only in falling into the belief that it is reality do we make ourselves miserable." I have been getting many firsthand lessons in this. Trust me, if life is not about perspective, I can guarantee that this would have often been the most miserable experience of my file. I have gone through the tougher and less pleasant parts, but they are part of the tapestry, not the point of it.

Joy to all of you and think happy thoughts for me as I leave San Francisco tomorrow and head to San Rafael and then on to Sonoma and the final mission and the end of the El Camino Real.

July 5, 2014

leaving Carpinteria

I was so wiped last night when I arrived at Carpinteria State Beach. They told me that they were full on the Hike and Bike and I was just crushed, of course it was the 4th of July and EVERYONE and their brother was out. Fortunately, when we went to double check, there was plenty of space, so I got to tent and sleep for the night. See the 2014/07/04 video for just how bad I looked (not sure what the hell happened to the audio).

Yesterday was definitely California Wildlife Day... I saw enough lizards and some amazing birds, but the large snake sleeping on the path I was on and trying to get around without bothering him, that put me on edge for a bit.

I have been keeping a collection of maps of my routes for later reference, but yesterdays is totally screwed, thanks Google Maps. Some of the bike paths are not listed on Google and when it put me into "Map Editor" I could not make heads or tails out of it, so I did the best I could and made notes for myself.

There was a section of the hiking yesterday that ran on the 101 freeway, fortunately they have a line of K-Rails to separate the traffic from the bike-lanes. Even with them there, a bit unnerving to walk along.

I am trying to do some video a bit each day, I think they are going to get pretty messy, but supposedly that is what people want. Well, if I go to far, forgive me and tell me.

On leaving Buenaventura on the 3rd, I had a Park Ranger totally screw me up.  As tends to happen when I get to a beach that has camping, I end up walking from one end to the other to check in and often go back to the start to setup. Well at Emma Wood State Beach I get to the far side (it is REALLY far) and it is starting to get dark. I stopped at the kiosk and see that they do have "Hike and Bike", so I ask him about signing in. He tells me that you have to go to the group site and that is all the way at the other end, go out of the park, cross the bridge and then get on the path on the ridge and follow it.

I had just come in that way. So unless he was sending me all the way back to Buenaventura, where Main St ends at the paths, he was full of it. First, there is a kiosk there, it was not manned. I am not walking all the way back there, so I followed it back to the bridge and took the ridge route back up along the trailer camping area and found a great spot to sleep, or so I thought...

What is it with me and ants?

After about an hour, I started feeling like my skin was crawling, when I turned on the light on my phone, I was right in the middle of a swarm of ants, again! Fortunately, I have found a little trick; I have this mosquito repellant that is made from lemon eucalyptus and ants don't seem to like it either. So I sprayed a little around the edge of the tarp and they left me alone for the most part.

Next Segment concerns

I am a touch concerned about the upcoming segment from Mission Santa Barbara to Mission Santa Inez. There are a few routes I can take, but they are all going to take around three-days and I do not really have much in between them. The most direct route has San Marcos Pass Rd connecting them via Lake Cachuma but there is not much in the way of road shoulder and people FLY down that street. The other way is a bit longer, but is pretty barren from what I have heard, I will be pretty on my own for most of it.

Once I pass Mission Santa Ines, I am in uncharted territory for me. I have never been north of Solvang in California so it will be a totally new thing. I have been told that this part of the trip will be beautiful.

Oh well, I find that I am stalling, I need to get my ass in gear. The phone is charged, last nights video is uploaded and the battery unit is well along on its way to being charged. I really should get going and be ready to guerrilla camp this evening. So Ta!

Suddenly all I want to do is take a nap, talk about stalling...


July 1, 2014

The West Valley and Santa Susana Pass

OK, lets start with the down side of the last two days...
  1. San Fernando Rd from Burbank to Mission Hills
    What a desolate road to walk along.  If you were to call Central Casting and ask for the most boring piece of road in the history of the planet, I suspect San Fernando Road would definitely get a call back. With the right angles, you could cast this street as any lonely highway through the desert.

  2. Devonshire St across the Valley
  3. Mostly residential and mainly middle to upper-middle class, there is just no life to this street and on a warm Valley day, well it could give Dracula a run on it's ability to suck the life out of living beings (of course it may just be that I don't like the Valley, Fer Shuure).

Mission San Fernando Rey de España

I had been to this mission once before, I cannot remember exactly why or when.  I arrived late Sunday evening and it was too late to get my passport stamped so I was going to have to spend the night.

Now tell me just how crazy this is, I actually called LAPD and told them what I was doing and that I needed to crash, where could I go and not be harassed for it. I had a very nice officer that not only offered to pray for the success of my quest, but basically told me that unless someone called to complain, anywhere was pretty much fine.

I asked about the park, unlike other LA Parks, there was no notice about hours and trespassing, so I thought it was worth checking.  He said that unless they had a complaint about something they would not be checking the park, so not only did I find a decent place to crash, but I found a spot with no sprinklers to worry about.  Sore butt was another issue!

In the morning I wanted to clean up before I went to the mission and there was a bathroom in the park to use. Now I have been asked on several cases about sleeping and bathing, so let me tell you that for the most part you can clean up anywhere if you have a washcloth, I do, soap, supplied or your own, and a sink of any kind. What I had not thought about was how to wash my hair; I did not have a cup and trying to use one of my water bottles was a recipe for frustration, so I decided to see if I could fit my big-assed head into this little sink, with a few bumps, bruises and words I am not going to repeat here, I determined I could and managed to de-skunk myself, sadly the question turned out to be, for what.

I went over to the mission and there were two ladies working the desk, one around 18-20 and an older lady who was definitely in charge. I asked if she would stamp my passport and she told me that there was a $5 charge for the museum and then basically threatened to withhold my stamp until I coughed up the money. I just didn't have it on me.

Though this weekend had been an interesting experience with people who were definitely the priests of the temple of money.

On this trip and with the warming weather, I do not take any chances with my water supply.  I keep two one-liter bottles on my pack and when the opportunity comes up to top them off, I do.  Most of the time I ask if I can get water, from fast-food restaurants, 7-Elevens, the occasional liquor store and/or gas stations, basically any place that has a soda dispenser because they most often do have a plain water dispenser (strange, who knew?).

I had a lady at a 7-Eleven tell me it would cost me 75¢ for about 16-ounces and at a small liquor store the gentleman said that the sink does not work, and yet he was drying a plate as I walked in, large industrial kitchen sink in the back of the joint. A few other places just looked at me as if I were speaking a different language.

None of these were huge impositions, so I really did not concern myself with it, but when I got to the mission and this woman tried to extort me for the five-dollars, I just thought (I think out loud), "How commercial."

Starbucks and Santa Susanna Pass

I was about to start the cross out of the valley via the Santa Susana Pass, but since I was not exactly sure how long this would take and my phone needed a charge, I stopped at the local Starbucks, Lassen and Topanga Canyon.

As luck would have it, one of my back-up batteries was taking its dear sweet time to the point I finally decided to just take what charge I had and get going.  Santa Susana Pass has a bit of a reputation for crazed drivers and some of its most remembered guests were the Manson Family while staying on the old Spahn Ranch in 1968, apparently the energy is still there.

I had been talking with some of the staff and what my plan was when Klarissia informed me that there was a bit more danger than I had anticipated and gave me details on where and how far to go to be safe.  She then asked if I would like a ride to someplace that she was sure I could camp the night as she lived in the area. I said sure (what, you thought I was going to say no?).

Here is one of those places where the Universe likes to mess with me.  As I was setting up the tent and getting ready to crash in short order, a young couple came walking toward me and asked what I was up to. I did not get a threatening vibe, so I explained that a friend had recommended the location for a one-night camp. They told me that I was right out in the open and some of the local homeless might mess with me and that it might be better to go behind the treeline.

My experience in such situations over the years is that people tend to get concerned when you look like you are trying to hide, so I tend to be right out in the open and it puts them at ease since nothing sketchy is possible.  We also talked about my trip a little and they decided that I was ok and they would go intercede on my behalf so that no one would mess with me. Cool!

About 15 minutes later, they came by again to inform me that the police would likely be coming by sometime in the morning as the group that lived further back had been given an eviction and tomorrow was the day they would be there to remove them, great...

Well, either the date was off, or I just happened to leave before the police showed up, but I got my first horizontal sleeping done in about a week and I got to use my tent, I like my tent, weird? I also managed to do some dreaming, my first on this trip, not anything I could make sense of, but dreaming none the less.

Ventura and Mission San Buenaventura

So today I am in Ventura and fellow El Camino Walker has opened his home to me for a short respite. I am finding my feet in much better shape than they have been and I have decided to take tomorrow off and continue on to Mission San Buenaventura on Thursday morning.  It is only about six or seven miles away and supposed to be an absolutely lovely walk. Then I start heading up the coast for Santa Barbara and all points north.

I am entering into an interesting phase of the trip.  I have been to Mission Santa Barbara and Mission Santa Inés, in Solvang, but I have never been further north in California than that, all unexplored country for me, a new beginning and a new place. I officially exit the known for the unknown and I am looking forward to it.

See you soon,