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Meeting Ken Ilgunas - Author, Walden On Wheels

I had the great pleasure of meeting a young author, Ken Ilgunas, this evening. Ken's book, Walden on Wheels, has earned him considerable recognition as an adventurer, thinker and counter-culture young adult.

Tonight's intimate gathering in a local Winston-Salem home allowed me to visit with and glimpse into the life of this novel man. He is certainly on a journey and it will be very interesting to see what his unique living and the resultant societal recognition means for him and others - as time progresses.

From his own website:

Once I was a cart-pushing suburbanite from New York. But then I fell in love with Alaska and Thoreau, so now I go on adventures and write about them. 

I originally started this blog to chronicle my "vandwelling" adventure at Duke University in January 2009. When I enrolled in a graduate program at Duke, I was nearly broke because I'd just finished paying off my $32,000 undergraduate student debt. So I bought a van -- a 1994 Ford Econoline -- and I secretly lived in it on campus so I could afford tuition and not have to go back into debt. 

In May 2011, after two and a half years at Duke, I graduated debt-free, with a little over $1,000. A book about my experiences, Walden on Wheels, will be published in May 2013.

His writings will entertain you and quickly reveal an independent and resourceful spirit committed to living life differently. Click over to Ken Ilgunas' website and get to know Ken a bit and consider reading his book.

Currently he is writing his second book which will catalog his experiences of hiking the 1,700 mile route of the Keystone XL pipeline.

You GO Ken!

Some Words...Spoken

I wanted to try posting some audio to accompany the written word. I've reposted a short creative piece I wrote a few weeks back and added an audio message. Please let me know what you think.

Thanks to AudioBoo for the technology.


"Before she quickly brushed it aside, her single tear drop traced a trail - like a silver scalpel slicing so quickly through flesh that the very bone is revealed before blood begins to rush through the wound - such was this tear - a momentary revealing that she cared too much, that her need was too great and that her hope for recognition, salvation actually, would not come. Not tonight..."

Stop. Look. Listen.

Before you cross the street, stop, look and listen. This advice was drilled into my head as a child. Before you cross the busy street - which for me was often traffic crammed Ocean Boulevard in the heat of the Summer tourist season in Myrtle Beach, SC - you should stop, look both ways and listen for traffic coming as well as look. Stop. Look. Listen.

One of our kids, at preschool age, learned this phrase incorrectly and would utter "Stop. Look and Licken," when we would prepare to cross a street. In loving and nurturing parental fashion, we never corrected her and soon we all had a new phrase for practicing safe crossings.

There are all kinds of crossings in life.

The saying stays with me. Stop, look and listen. My life is busy. I plan each day for a busy life. I enjoy it. Living is a lot like showing up at the Sunday buffet and having to chose what you are not going to taste. I'm not particularly good at saying no. I want the entire feast!

Last weekend I spent some time in Asheville, NC. I had two wonderful days with nothing planned. I went for a hike in the mountain woods, visited the Folk Art Center, took a long sit at a Blue Ridge Parkway overlook, and tarried for hours in a local coffee shop writing, reading and relaxing. I stopped, slowed down, looked at the world I was in and savored, listened, to the details and nuances of my living - that one day. It was a beautiful day. I think I'll do it some more.

When is the last time you followed the simple direction: Stop, look and listen?

Miasma Episode I

NOTE: This is a creative writing piece and could be one of a series that creates a fantasy character to allow for observational prose...

My name is Miasma. Actually, Miasma isn't my real name and if I tried to tell you my real name your ears would not hear it nor would your mind grasp it, so for you and the world you see, I am Miasma.

I am a watcher of people and their things for in my watching I find some degree of comfort, some measure of essence that I would otherwise lose and soon I might fade beyond the reach of this world. I cannot touch it or you anymore, so I watch. My presence is veiled to you, no more than the wisp of a cloud or the last mist of a spring morning. I can only watch. I watch the beauty and the ugliness.

Today I watch her, this child with brilliant blue eyes, dancing with light. If you would see her you would most likely be so struck by the particular shade of azure blue brimming from her eyes that you might miss the truly brilliant light that is her eagerness of being as it radiates into the world around her. Yes, I see this radiance. Some might discount her shine as youthful and untainted enthusiasm, but I know better. I have seen this before and today as I watch her trace her fingers along the cracked mortar between the smooth wall stones, I know that this youngling is a rare and delicate version among your kind. She hums a simple tune, one that rises from her inner being and as her wordless song touches the air and all around her I feel the urge to bow, I and every form of life around her would sway upon her song if she only wished it so. She doesn't, for she doesn't know how, yet...

A Call to Robust Living - Reposted

“My prayer is not the whimpering of a beggar nor a confession of love. Nor is it the trivial reckoning of a small tradesman: Give me and I shall give you.

My prayer is the report of a soldier to his general: This is what I did today, this is how I fought to save the entire battle in my own sector, these are the obstacles I found, this is how I plan to fight tomorrow… ‘Leader!’ I cry. He turns his face towards me, and I shudder to confront his anguish.

Our love for each other is rough and ready, we sit at the same table, we drink the same wine in this low tavern of life.”

--“The Saviors of God: Spiritual Exercises” by Nikos Kazantzakis

I am truly a fan of Tolkien's ‘The Lord of The Rings” trilogy. I remember spending hours upon hours tucked quietly in my college dorm room, devouring words upon words, page after page as the fantastic saga unfolded and I journeyed with the heroes of Middle Earth in their quests for victory. In the films of the past few years, we have seen the cinematic adaptation of this tale, and I find myself equally enthralled again with Tolkien's message.

Be it the battles of Elves and Orcs, the magical sparring of light wielding Wizards, or the inner struggle of the spirits of Hobbits and a solitary Gollum, the quest and it’s urgency is the same: Avoid the malformed power of the ring until it can be destroyed, at all costs. The heroes know the importance of that last phrase, ‘at all costs.’ Each is willing to, and some in turn do, give their very life for this cause. It is a wonderful drama of the high cost of noble victory.

It is this urgency that I hear in the words of Nikos Kazantzakis written above. If indeed, as I believe is the case, we humans are in need of help beyond ourselves in order to fulfill the beauty of this human drama, and if we are destined to suffer and fail along the way without this help, then there is an equal sense of urgency about our quest as is that of the soldier and the heroes of Tolkien's tale. All the more, If the quest for this assistance is a path that is known by some and open to others, and yet, is never made clear, how can the battle be won?

How tempting it is to tuck into the safety of Bilbo Baggins’ shire (for adventures make one late for dinner) or to hide in the security of the establishment office, for there we feel safe. Might we be missing the more important call for action?

I do not claim to know THE way that anyone should live, but what I do know is that I am committed to the journey toward The Divine, that power that aids and guides me. Do I travel in too scarce a number today? Should I not pause by the road, and share a bit of the tale that has brought me thus far? Can I not beckon others onward to their journey as well? I am made to ask of myself today, “What report can I give to God, today?”

About Something

It's high time I blogged about something. There. Glad that's done.

5+ Words that Make Your Mind Work

A few years back, I developed the habit of inserting carefully chosen words into my speech in order to demand those within ear shot attend to the task of actually listening. I especially enjoy using commonly known but uncommonly used words when answering the harmless question, “How are you?” Faced with an unexpected response and a smile, people will almost always break from their non-thinking routine into a real human exchange. I like offering that to the people in my world and find that they seem to like it, too.

Here are 5 of my favorites.

1. Stellar
2. Splendid
3. Grand
4. Buoyant
5. Delightful

The added bonus – when I tell people I am stellar, I often discover I am!

A word about "Word Smith"

word (wûrd)
1. A sound or a combination of sounds, or its representation in writing or printing, that symbolizes and communicates a meaning and may consist of a single morpheme or of a combination of morphemes.

smith (sm th)
1. A metalworker, especially one who works metal when it is hot and malleable. Often used in combination: a silversmith; a goldsmith.
2. A blacksmith.
3. One who makes or works at something specified. Often used in combination: a locksmith; a wordsmith.

word•smith (wûrd sm th )
1. A fluent and prolific writer, especially one who writes professionally.
2. An expert on words.

And finally- Turning, Spraining and Breaking Phrases

I love a well turned phrase or saying. Be it of colloquial origin or something crafted in context, clever phrases interest me.

My mother punctuates many of her statements with, “Don’t Ya Know?” It isn’t intended so much as a question as a way of emphasizing a fact as she has stated it.

My grandmother is known for coining the phrase, in a moment of Southern Bell disgust, second to none, “That just makes my ass want a cup of coffee.” I’m not sure how it means what it means, but there is no doubt what it means.

One of my former colleagues often would say he was, “Frosted Flakes Great!” That one needs little explanation.

And, although I’m not sure of the origin in my own family mythology, somewhere I picked up the proclamation that one can be “Finer than frog hair.”

Do you have any such turned, twisted or mangled phrases you can share? Feel free. Why it would be “gooder than snuff and not half as dusty,” I’m sure!

The BOOK! The BOOK! Wishful Preaching

It's official. You can buy my book, "Wishful Preaching: Things I Wish I'd Said From The Pulpit" on Amazon. The e-book sells for $2.99 with all profits going to charity.

And, if you don't have a Kindle, you can use any number of these FREE Kindle Reading Apps for your PC, Phone, iPad or iPod Touch. Why kill a tree when it's free!?

What is the book?

"A little bit preaching, a tad irreverent and a dash of hilarious - Wishful Preaching is a collection of 12 sermons that SHOULD be preached from the pulpit. After 15 years of ministry and a less than pretty exit, I've become aware that there are a few things I wish I'd said from the pulpit. 

Preaching isn't really all about what the preacher does. It is about what we do, what we hear and how that impacts our lives. Preaching is as much about hearing as it is about talking. This book is about the talking, the proclaiming of preaching. I have written in a form very similar to how I've preached with a mix of scripture, story and humor. 

This book is about hearing, too. You will be challenged to hear some things in different ways, in ways that might really challenge you, even make you steaming, righteous mad. Sound fun?"

So, buy it now and do some good!

Buy the Book, Feed a Charity

All profits from the sales of Wishful Preaching will be donated to charity. The charity recipient for 2012-2013 is Prodigals Community.  

Authoring the Book "Wishful Preaching" - Almost Done.

After about a year... Edits are done. The cover art is done. Just hours away from hitting 'send' to the publisher.

Available SOON via Amazon.

Can I get a Hell Yeah?!

Sipping Moonshine

She is Moonshine...

Harvest moon, radiant blast across the horizon
diminishing anything near the sound of her light
taunting us with the threat of reverting to a simple, normal
part of our world if we look too late or move too close.

She is Moonshine

Full moon, raising werewolves and iconic myths
making day of the darkness and drawing
florescent strokes across every able bodied pond
waving boldly coming too in due cycle

She is Moonshine...

Shiva moon, a promise and goodbye
deadly waxing and waning of war and peace
the confidently ignored reminder of our mortality
veiled carelessly by translucent clouds

She is Moonshine...

Day time moon, pale and out of place
whimsically demanding to be seen
unafraid of the brightest sun or the bluest mood
a broad daylight

She is Moonshine...

To drink, clear, forbidden and dangerous
Intoxicating, even in small portions
Promising to burn you from throat to belly
And warm your bowels through the coldest doubts

She is Moonshine...

and she needs light, bright hot
consuming fire to pour forth upon her
flares of character and promise to reach
out to her for her light is
in all its shapes and sessions
reflected from another one.