Do you believe in magic?  I'm not talking Dumbledore or Gandalf here, or those dudes you see in Vegas with slicked back hair who cut people in half and put 'em back together.  I'm talking that childlike wonder for the world, where things don't always seem to make sense or play by the rules that living and non-living things are supposed to play by in this universe. That certain je ne sais quoi that doesn't quite compute but leaves you with a breathless feeling and a tingle in your belly.  

I, for one, most definitely believe in magic.  

I believe in colors you can't find in a box of crayons.  Translucent blue-grey-purple-black, kinda there, kinda not colors.  

I believe in majestic beasts that're bigger than you ever dream of, that can vanish seemingly into thin air when they so choose.

I believe in the most fragrant, beautiful little morsels with the most intoxicating smell of white chocolate and curiosity and earth.  They come with the first signs of Spring and are gone before your tax return shows up in the mail.  

I believe in night skies saturated with distant diamonds, sparkling with the promise of the undiscovered.

I believe in high country views so clear you'd swear you can reach out and touch distant ridges.

I believe in mysterious rivers born from coastal mountains...  Rivers that change from chocolate milk to the most beautiful jade to tannin-soaked auburn like they're being fed by some bartender mixing chocolate-tinis and Hpnotiq cocktails in some fancy downtown bar.

I believe in an indescribable bond created when you mix campfire, grown men, crisp air, and cheap beer.

It's a crazy world out there right now, but in these trying times it's more important than ever that we all hold onto a little hope and always, always believe in magic.



Funny Feelings

Something just ain't right.  There's a knot in my stomach, a nervous tick in the corner of my brain that won't go away.  A sloppy mix of snow and rain covers the ground outside.  Work trips loom in a few weeks and I realize I'm going to miss the last day of duck season.

February is by far the worst month of the year.  Check that... January is by far the worst month of the year, because it comes right before February and the calendar on the wall makes it very clear that the last days of the best seasons are quickly waning away.  

No matter how resolute I am each summer, life has a habit of getting in the way.  Never enough days in a drift boat, or in a duck blind, or afield with a bow or rifle or shotgun in hand.  Never enough 4am wakeups, or gas station biscuits and gravy, or Banquet Beers at dodgy bars.  

The beauty of Oregon is that as the sun sets on one season, it's inevitably rising on another.  Here's to what 2016 brought and all we have to look forward to in 2017.

2016 Elk Archery opener. 




Living an Authentic Life

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
— The Second Coming; W.B. Yates

There's an interesting phenomenon floating around the internet these days.  While it manifests itself in many discrete forms, it's usually accompanied with a hashtag (obviously) of #liveauthentic.  Most of you know the story by now, but a classic case study goes something like this:

Foster is a millennial in his early twenties.  Likely raised in a relatively affluent suburb of a highly gentrified mid-sized city (Portland, Denver, Seattle, etc.), Foster put in the requisite four years at a highly regarded liberal arts college surrounded by others exactly like himself.  Upon his exit from said college, Foster was forced into the cold, hard "real world".  Of course, Foster's "real world" wasn't actually the real world as his expensive education and some family connections landed him a job with an exciting company, almost certainly in the Bay Area, replete with fancy perks like free lunches/haircuts/hoverboards.  While some would be deeply grateful for such an opportunity, Foster spent the next several years filled with a river of detachment and wanderlust.  Rooted in an unwavering and likely unacknowledged sense of entitlement, Foster believed that not only was there was more to life than working, but that he deserved more.  So, in an act o, Foster sells his belongings, finds the perfect Sprinter Van, and settles on a route that will help him live the life he wants to live.  As Foster drives the Pan-American Highway, he fills his social media with photos of sunsets from the back of the van, morning coffee selfies while wrapped in "authentic" Mexican serapes, photos of vibrant markets, and perhaps a photo or two of a smiling septuagenarian local.  The photos are always accompanied by verbose captions about how this campsite, this sunrise, or this plate of tacos filled a spiritual/existential void or just general ramblings about the importance of living a meaningful and handcrafted life supported by wild places. #liveauthentic

But who is this life being crafted for?  There is nothing wrong with seeking a life of adventure or carving one's own path in life.  Shit, I try to do so myself.  But #liveauthentic is not a movement based in principal so much as it is a marketing strategy.  At its most basal level, it is a strategy for the perpetuation of self promotion for those living the life authentic-- more likes, more followers, more possibilities to score a free hammock to include in the next Instagram photo.  On a larger scale, however, #liveauthentic has been appropriated by clever brands, usually outdoor industry based, as a method of targeting other wanderlust filled twenty-somethings.  Through carefully curated social media accounts, ads that don't feel like ads with sweeping video footage of the aforementioned campsite/sunrise/taco plate, and strategic inclusion of individuals like our buddy Foster, #liveauthentic has become nothing but a caricature of real adventure.  Like Yate's bird of prey spiraling away from the falconer, things fall apart and, in the case of #liveauthentic, hypocrisy ensues.  A life lived for likes and followers is not authentic.  There is nothing genuine or real about a carefully curated shot of your breakfast in a Peruvian cafe, your 35mm camera and a topographic map ever so perfectly placed in frame. 

So what's the point of this aimless rambling I just put out into the world? Probably nothing important, other than to say that how we engage with places and people (not things) is one of the most important ways we define our experience in life.  So whatever it is you chose to do and wherever you choose to go, take a moment to appreciate it for yourself .  Reflecting upon what that place/trail/mountain means to you and how that place or experience affected you personally is the only way to live authentic.  Take the time to do so, then post that selfie. Because after all, if a bear shits in the woods and no one was there it Snapchat it, did it really happen?