#108 – The Life That Chose Us

Photo by Tanya Grypachevskaya on Unsplash

It was about midnight and Reza was ready to go to work. His wife Anissa packed him some lunch, a thermos filled with piping hot chai, and a few extra rags for protection. Every evening she gives him a goodbye hug as if it’s the last time, even though she doesn’t want to. 

Reza is a sulfur miner and on his way for the daily climb to Mt. Ijen’s volcano, located on the outskirts of Java, Indonesia. 

During his trek up, he has little by way of protection. Volcanic gas and toxic fumes only increase as he makes his way closer to the belly of the beast. He has a thick rag that has become damp with heat, humidity, sweat, and gas that rivals overcharged battery acid. 

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#107-Dale

Image by Shelburn from Pixabay 

The tall trees, with their giant, branched limbs, held each pine needle intact as if it had nothing else to do. It was early morning when Anand and Alicia jogged down to the group site to get some exercise before the sun would delicately scorch everything that wasn’t shaded. Summer in these parts is dry, with low humidity and skin crackling. 

They saw Dale, one of the camp hosts at Sharp Creek campground. He was going nowhere in a hurry. He stopped to talk to them. In unison, they greeted him. 

“Mornin Dale.”

Alicia with gleeful curiosity, “What’s goin on?”

“Oh, a little of this and a little of that.”

Dale had a way with words. He was quick-witted, artfully humorous, and used a vocabulary that seemed foreign to the young couple, but still easily understood. 

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#106-Walking Through the Dark Tunnel — A Life Lesson In Story

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

My current address is Sharp Creek Campground, site #9. It’s about 11:30 pm. I’m situated in the heart of large pine trees. It’s hard to believe that I’m in the Arizona high desert, but here I am. The campground is empty during the week and may stay that way on the account of campfire restrictions set by the National Forest Service.

I turn off my flashlight and walk through the vacant campground. I crunch and crush pine cones as I make my way to the luxurious pit toilets. The coyotes are howling in full bloom nearby as I glance at a dark dancing cloud passing the half-moon. The only guiding light I can see is the dim flicker of the bathroom a few hundred yards in front. I am temporarily taken back to elementary school.

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First Words

Somewhere in Death Valley, CA

My mom and I would often talk about death.

We had our theories about what happens after we take the final dirt nap, but we would come to the same conclusion.

We don’t know.

The one thing she had, that I didn’t at the time, is hope.

Hope that there is something after, and perhaps the kindred spirits that we meet in this lifetime we’ll meet again. She wanted to be with her parents.

I can picture her as a little girl, walking through an open green field with hillsides sprawling with wildflowers in every direction. My grandparents are both holding each of her hands. They walk in the direction of a beautiful sunset to some uncharted path.

I have started to hope.

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Unknown

Photo by Brad Helmink on Unsplash

Familiarity disposed
Departing from that I love
Uncharted waters

I ask you not to worry
As I write my untold story

I will go far, which I know not
Similar to my first open eyes, and life’s temporary knot

I will camp in the Valley of the Dead
Trek through the Canvases of Red Rock
Climb the ridges of Zion

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Surrender

With the ones dear to me, I hold you as my branches for I am the tree

My heart is deeper than the deepest roots
So deep that even the vast oceans seem shallow

But there is a caveat to my strength, I have not surrendered.

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Nothing

Photo by Amit Lahav on Unsplash

I will be like the apple tree

To give shade, sustenance, and loving nourishment until I flee

For I understand that all of creation is destined for a beautiful doom

Gone will be those that I love too soon

I have no control over death, so now I shall do my due diligence in loving

Similar to the apple seed, when broken, I will contain nothing

I write articles, stories, and poetry on well-being. Subscribe below to get on my free newsletter so my work can be delivered directly to your inbox. Thank you for visiting.

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#105 – Chaos In Cambodia

“Are you sure you want to eat my food?” He suggested we go to some of the other more established and palatable touristy places, before finally agreeing. 

He was our tuk-tuk driver. It’s how tourists get around in South East Asia. We knew Sammy wasn’t his real name. I’m sure constantly explaining his true Khmer name to foreigners could get annoying.  

I can’t tell you how many times I wished my name was Zeus or Heracles. You know, something modest and unassuming. 

In any case, he was hesitant to let us into his world. I get it. With thousands of places to eat, frolic, and culturally appropriate in Cambodia, we were insistent to savor his taste of home.

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# 104 – Make Some Cookies — A Story About Mom

Mom and I. Circle 1988

Before leaving, I told her again to park away from the front of the school.

“Mom, please park away. I don’t want people to see it again,” I said with stern sincerity.

With a smile, “Okay, Beta (term of endearment in Hindi), don’t worry, I’ll remember.”

We had an old beat-up Nissan Sentra that my parents had purchased before I was born. The four-banger, manual transmission, was pushing a buck fifty and wouldn’t relent. From the outside, the car looked like it had its days numbered, but the Japanese are known for building bulletproof engines, and this one was no exception.

It had stains galore, ripped seats, and a smell of Nescafé and burnt toast that seeped its way into every fiber of the cloth upholstery. What was once a radiant red car, now had an off-color pinkish burgundy hue.

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#103 – Who Is That Voice In My Head

Photo by Ansh Minchekar on Unsplash

Are we the voice of thoughts?

A 2020 study, published in the journal Nature Communications was carried out by psychologists at Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada.

They uncovered that humans think an average of 6,200 thoughts a day.

All thoughts are outward and come from an experience. This is the “cause” of the thought, and the “effect” is our reaction to it.

Through my own learnings, I am coming to an interesting idea. 

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