Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Lobster

Ok...that's me getting ready to eat my first 2lb lobster in a long time and maybe ever...yep...don't get me wrong I've eaten lobster, but it's been a while since I encountered a 2 pounder. She was magnificent as you can see below.
but i this life there are moments that we try and not forget and as I think of many I wish I had a better way to record them in my memory, but that is just the magic of life I suppose. In many ways life is what your memory makes of it and maybe in the end those memories are all we have. Where am I going with this?  Money. I am working towards understanding the meaning of life of course, as I hope you are too, since if one of us comes up with it first, we must share it, but one of my reasonings is money is not the meaning of life, in case you didn't know, duh. I think memories are the meaning of life and the only way to have a memory is for something to happen, granted some memories are worse than others and for some those memories are literally what kill them, but I don't want to go down that road since this is a happy place. No. Memories of the kind that are good and meaningful are the meaning of life. Me at 40 with a bib on eating a very large bottom dwelling crustacean with my cousins is a good memory, not to mention the immense amounts of butter that were consumed. What is great about memories is one leads to another. Let's take butter for example. When I think of butter I remember all the times that my incredible mom would cook in the kitchen and the smell and sound of it and how much I learned through osmosis and how much I love to cook, and that brings me to the house I grew up in, which in turn, brings me to memories of teaching my sister how to ride a bike. You see how this goes. My point is this....when walking in the light of life try to not focus on what it is that you are or going to be but focus on the moment of self awareness and let go a little. This will ensure that a memory of some amazing proportion will show up based on the open and willing love of experience if even for one moment. At least that is what I am working towards each day. I think that is why I love to take pictures since each one is a thousand nano seconds of memory and can spark all the amazing moments surrounding that one picture.  Cliche I know, but isn't it all?

Love and Understanding.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Yesterday I woke up and the first thing I thought motorcycle is dirty...I should wash it.  So I grabbed a bucket and some warm water etc and went out back to do so.  I guess it's sort of in my nature from a young age but honestly there is something really soothing and meditative about caring for something personally like that.  Before I continue, I'd like to notice my extremely hip fashion in this photo while I helped wash my dad's car.  The haircut, the kicks, the sweater with the collar out?  But I digress. Lately I have been struggling with what to do next in life and the decision to do so seems bigger than usual even though I know it's not.  As I complete the next few days of set mediation that I have set forth for myself, I plan to continue to let it arrive in the way it will arrive, but that is hard to do. Something happened at the bar last night that helped put it into perspective though. I met an elderly woman named Anette from Algiers who has lived in Santa Monica for 75 years...almost all her life, but since she is 92 now, she reminded me that not all her life has been here.  She was born in Algiers, North Africa and recounted a story of hunting with her brother during WWII in Morocco with an American General who was pretty "cool". (Her words)  It struck me that if I am lucky enough to live that long, I have another 52 years ahead of me which means that I have plenty of time to make decisions and change them and life is long.  I think Anette was an angel of sorts last night and I wish I could have been on the other side of the bar to just listen to her stories and life.  She is a professor at Cal Tech in International History so I bet she is a great story teller.  This week I am going to work on remembering Anette and her wonderful energy and will help me wash cars and make decisions....

Love and Understanding.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Art of Life

Funny how things occur and come along seemingly at all of the wrong...errr, right times in life.  The moments that we have to sit back and make decisions based on a path or door that has materialized right at the moment when you thought everything was so clear.  I spent the day helping my oldest and best friend (and by oldest I don't mean in age) paint the mural above at the Hilton in Disneyland.  It was a glorious day of color and paint and simple task that was grounding and sweet.  It reminded me of being young and coloring in my favorite coloring book at the time, which my mom recently found and brought to me on my 40th birthday.  That coloring book was the thing that took me away into other worlds and times and just like the mural, I wasn't worrying about life and what would happen, I was just doing something that I loved...coloring...painting.  I suppose its akin to the way we can wake up and live our daily lives, as if we are just coloring and moving through in a process that is as organic and free as possible.  Today is one of those days that I am determined to do so and let the decisions that need to be made happen with coloring in mind.  The art of life is the color we give it each moment and letting those moments come together will produce the final picture that we didn't realize was there until after it was finished....whoa...that is kind of deep.  Its like Steve Jobs said in his commencement speech at Stanford, "You cannot connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking back."  That has always stuck with me as a profound way of living and thinking.  If we are constantly trying to look forward and make sense of the pattern there really is no way to know, but if we settle into the practice of trusting that the next dot will show up exactly how it is supposed to, then when we look at it from above it will begin to make sense and the journey will be full of amazing color and life.  All of this is much easier said than done, and I am in no way an expert at this a matter of fact, I am constantly getting in the way of my dots and arguing with them and trying to move them...but I do know that the love I have for life will give me a glorious and wonderful book to remember in the with color that I never could have imagined.  Today I will promise to not try and chase the dot.

Love and Understanding...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Shaken not Stirred

If you are catching up on this blog these days you'll find that I have been up to many of them for work has been bartending.  I have been working at a bar in Santa Monica called The Misfit for the last year or so and being in my (ahem) 40's now, it is for sure a different ball game when working for a few being the simple fact that its hard labor and late nights and I just don't bounce back like I used to, but its fun and I can think of harder labor (digging ditches for 8 hours).  The other fact is just being older than  everyone back there makes me the undesired "old man" on the crew, which I actually kind of enjoy since life experience for sure plays a role.  Its not a role that I deem as a self acclaimed leader or anything, no.  Its the role of self acclaimed realizer.  That's not a medical term, I just made it up, but in case it goes big, you saw it first here.  The SAR (Self Acclaimed Realizer) in me has chance each night to realize that with age things for sure change the perspective one has.  I see it in the way I listen, work, speak, get frustrated, and prepare for the night.  For a time I was down on myself saying things like, "How can I be 40 and working behind a bar?"  More often than not though, I realize that it's a great practice to interact with strangers and regulars who are imbibing and generally pretty open to talking or sharing their things about their lives.  Sometimes for the worse, but 9 out of 10 are just human beings sharing, even though it takes them a few drinks or so to get there, but they share.  They share with a trusted figure in society...the  I get great joy (most of the time) in spending a few minutes with a complete stranger and making them feel welcome and listened too.  Now don't get me wrong, there are plenty of times when I'd like to spray them all in the face with a dark beer and then dance on the bar with a bottle of Absinthe and a song, but really, again, most of the time, I take a moment to imagine who they are, where they came from and what moment I can add to their day.  Of course not everyone is willing to or able to accept it, nor do they want to out of fear or insecurity or misplaced arrogant tom foolery, but I try to not take that personally.  Being a bartender really is an awesome experience once you get past the constant cleaning late at night, the drunk idiots who surface once and a while, and the really slippery floors that almost take your life once a night.  Really, for real, its a great gig.  It had been almost 10 years since I made a drink and it took me a little bit to get my groove back, but now its just like riding a bike...Oh, and I am not a Mixologist by the way...that is one of those lame ass "sensitive job" titles that are given out these days to make people feel more important that they really are...I am a Bartender. I make you a drink. You drink it.  You like it, I make another one.  I don't wave sissy ass herbs and infused bitters over a special glass and blow some fairy dust on time you visit...just call out..."hey, Bartender..."  or whatever else you want relative to my person at that moment and depending on my mood, I might just buy you one.

Love and Understanding.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day


I am fairly certain that this picture of my dad was taken in the Sequoia National Park at age 25 during a trip we all took together which would have been my first trip into the Sequoias to see the trees.  That would be 35 years ago.  What is amazing is my dad and I have been back to the Sequoias together many times over the years and I just returned from a trip on Thursday, where I was able to share it with a new group of souls (the 5th Grade Class my wife teaches).  The Sequoias are one of my dad's most favorite things to see and to be around since the massive giant trees represent a world of majestic beauty and stillness unsurpassed. My dad and I have hiked amongst the Sequoia trees many times and the amazing thing is every time we go back to the park, the same feeling of awe and disbelief that trees could be that giant and old returns.

This year on Father's Day, there are many things going on...My niece's father is celebrating his first Father's Day, my cousin Sebastian is visiting and celebrating with his three children and family and of course, my dad, the Pater Famila is celebrating his Father's Day.  While hiking in the woods with 17 young kids the other day I was struck by the amazing gift my dad has given me by always sharing his love of the trees with me and it was the first time I was able to give that back to some young kids who were having that experience for the first time.  It made me feel proud to have a father who has shared so many experiences and given me so much in this life.  

The Sequoias are not just any forest....when you return you remember each tree that you visit since they are so distinct and every time I saw a familiar tree it made me think of my times in Sequoia with my dad.  Our last visit was on the motorcycles in 2010 and it was the first stop of an adventure to see more trees in California.  Our plan was to ride to the Sequoias, the Bristle Cone Pines, and the was a tree trip...the weather, however, did not quite cooperate and after seeing the Sequoias the route was changed due to a huge storm in the we rode north and stumbled onto some incredible roads and scenery that we had never been through before until we arrived at another favorite spot...The Redwood Forest in Humbold County.  Yet again, my dad and I have passed through this incredible forest many times before and it was another opportunity to spend time with the majestic trees that seem to understand that life is not a race, but a slow journey into the wind.  

Those times in the forests with my dad are some of the ultimate times together as father and son.  It is a simplicity of life that illustrates how small we are and how important it is to spend time together and to experience the richness of life. I count myself as lucky since I am well aware that there are those of us in this life that did not have a father or had too little time with them.  I am 40 now and having always wondered if I would make a good father is no longer a question in my mind as it is obvious to me that the only prerequisite to being a great father is making sure that your child knows that no matter what, they are loved and supported and as long as there are Sequoias to hike in, there are paths that you can share with them that will last a lifetime.

I love you dad.  Happy Father's Day.

Love and Understanding.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Faryn the Fairy.

This is my niece Faryn.  Remember that idea that I wasn't going to spend a bunch of time telling you a bunch of history over the last year or so?  Well, last night I realized that I couldn't possibly get away with that.  Faryn Irene Klapsis was born on January 4th, 2012 which makes me an official uncle on my side of the family. I am also an uncle to two other amazing young ones, Kai and Ruby on Nita's side, but there is is for sure something a bit different when its your own sister's child.  Faryn is a fairy for sure and as such I have been more aware of the fairies all around.  I think about her all the time even when I can't see her due to her napping schedule or my sister's strict regimen of errands, which I love, but when i do get to see her I am always amazed at how much she has grown and changed within an instant of time.  She is already almost 6 months old???  I know many of you reading this have had experience but I have not and it is an incredible thing to behold. Not only the life that has just entered the world, but the immediate effect on all of those around her....her Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles and strangers who constantly come up to her when you are on a walk to stare in amazement. Babies bring the world together if only for a brief moment in time and the fact that we come into this world in complete and utter helplessness is an amazing feat of nature. We all start this way, in wonderment and trust and simplicity of sleep, eating, listening, observing, crying, and sleeping.  How could it be that we all start there?  What a joy it is to see this and be reminded of how fragile we are and how much we need in order to survive. Its a good thing to remember since, as most of you know, I usually challenge this idea of adults losing all things child like and with this in mind, it would be interesting to reflect on the idea of asking for help and trusting others to provide help because they want to.  I am not saying we have to cry and poop and act like a baby (although sometimes that is for sure necessary), but we can benefit from the idea that the tribe is there for us whenever we need them, and sometimes we have no choice. We are all going through our challenges in this life and it is easy to forget that we are not alone in those moments, and no matter the challenge or how steep the hill, or how scary the ride, we can find comfort in the fact that we were all fairies to begin with. Knowing this will help us remember that life is a precious and magical thing and we can always trust the love we have all around...I wonder what Faryn is doing right now.

Love and Understanding.

Friday, June 15, 2012

A New Ride

Well its been far too long since I updated my blog...let's just say I have been on a writer's hiatus for a while. I have finally gotten my act together and created a new website for my photography, which links to this blog and since that is the case I need to update and write and share my exploits.  I have decided to leave the title the same since I still feel the need to escape from Los Angeles if not physically, then mentally for sure.  I am not going to spend a bunch of time telling you what I have been up to the past year since that would require a book, but let's just say I have concentrated on centering my intentions towards photography and creating a lifestyle that is full and rich and layered with the actions that I want to create.  My recent return to motorcycling has brought me back to a place that I absolutely love which is the adventure of camping, and riding and exploring the world from a simpler perspective.  I just returned from a trip into King's Canyon National Park where I was part of a trip that my wife had for her 5th grade end of year camping experience.  I rode the motorcycle out....and in doing so found a peace and happiness that has been absent for a bit.

During this ride, I was alone going both ways for about 9 hours which gives one lot's of time to reflect and think about things. It also slows down the process of processing life as you ride through endless breathtaking moments around each new turn.  I have ridden many miles on two wheels and it never ceases to amaze me at how life changing each experience can be.   The exploration is not unlike riding a horse in the west during the gold rush.  Tack on the ultimate experience of spending 3 nights and 3 days with wide eyed and energetic young souls in the 5th grade and life comes into perspective a bit.  It hit me when we were all gathered around the campfire on the last night with smores sticks in hands and the fire crackling that I was finally at an age to understand the arc of life to some extent.  What I mean is the 5th graders won't fully grasp the memory of the night and the experience for some time, but as I sat there I realized that time is a fleeting element and the moment of smores and 5th grade is gone in an instant and only later will these young ones look back and understand what a special time it was.  The adults that were with me were having a similar (I can only assume) experience of remembering childhood moments whilst observing the sheer innocent joy and experience that the young ones were having...I marveled at the young beings and their laughter, care free and ernest importance of each passing moment throughout the trip and realized that life is always this way...what I mean is we all have our moments and no matter what age, those moments always feel huge and emotional and dramatic....but the main difference between a 5th grader and an "adult" is that the 5th graders very much live in the present and maintaining this mindset as and adult can be a challenge. This idea is also why I love to ride a motorcycle because you have no choice but to live in the present. One cannot focus on the last turn or the next turn, it is the turn you are in.  Each dynamic variable of the riding experience represents a chance to practice life as it should be. Small journeys and triumphs, exhaustion, perseverance, patience, control, freedom, glee, laughter, doubt, fear, terror, satisfaction, trust and simplicity.  The fragile existence we call life....I cannot say I am a master at any of this, but I am trying to be a better student and with each passing day in this journey we call life, I will strive to remember the 5th grade campfire and the moment the stars came out with flames dancing, and the laughter, and the singing, and the fear of the dark, and the giddy excitement of getting into the tent and sleeping in the wilderness with the thoughts of what will I do when a bear comes?  

What will I do?
Love and Understanding.