One Thousand Miles Per Lifetime

We spin our lives away at one thousand mile per hour. Here is what the last three hundred miles of my day looked like.


The Long Night Journey

A journey is in the making (or perhaps more properly phrased “has been in the making for quite a long while”).

Today, yes just today I realized that this society puts a huge amount of strain on its people to fulfill spoken and unspoken expectations. Through a sociology class I'm taking and my own deductions I am beginning to realize that this so called “free” society I live within isn’t really free at all. Sure I’m free to decide upon this or that, but the consequences for going against what is expected of you in this society are so great that most people never take that first step to begin exploring the world outside of what they have been handed.

It has been brought to my attention that I live my life under the weight of obligation more than I would like to admit. For years I have believed myself to be a “unique and beautiful snowflake” to quote the words of Tyler Durden. Truth be told, I am not nearly as unique as I have thought myself to be.

And so that brings me to the journey. I will be setting out, mentally and physically, on a voyage. To borrow a metaphor from the bible (and Thomas Moore), I will be setting out on a long night journey in the belly of a whale.

It's ok if none of this makes sense to you, it's not supposed to.


In the last week...

Snow fell all over a Seattle and as a result the no. 5 had a slight wreck at the corner where I normally catch it. I walked down three blocks from the wreck to the corner of Phinney and 43rd avenue where i saw a small group of people waiting for the bus to come and pick them up, Americans are a hardy bunch of folks that have their priorities all screwed up, work first, safety second. I alerted the faithful travelers that their bus would not be picking them up on account of the accident just over the hill and out of their view.

I crossed the snow-covered street, took a few pictures and then proceeded to make my way into my favorite coffee shop. I sat at the bar top and had a conversation with a barista named Leah. As she stamped to go cups with the company logo she told me about working at the coffee shop and how she was from Alaska and had a hard time living in Seattle because she is used to wide open spaces. I told her I liked Seattle because I felt it gave me the much-needed space I was looking for.


Today William told me of how disgusted he was with the way people reacted (or their collective lack there-of) to a mans cry for help. Last night while at work he said a man jumped from the I-5 Bridge and into the Lake Union waterway some couple hundred feet below. The mans body was pulled from the water and laid upon the boat dock that Ivars (the restaurant William and I work at) owns. And while the police and paramedics attempted to give this man another chance at life, the patrons who sat not but 20 feet away and only separated by a thin sheet of glass continued to order drinks and food as if nothing was happening. It was after all their day off and a Saturday night to boot and God forbid anything should stop them from enjoying their lives, right? And besides, he committed suicide so he did it to himself, right? He should have been able to pull himself up by his bootstraps and carry on with life like the rest of us! I mean we all have bad days; we just can’t let those days get to us. It’s as simple as that, right?

To hell with you, you insensitive, calloused people. Instead of taking a few minutes of your precious time to stop and reflect on what may have driven this man to jumping from a bridge you act like nothing is happening! You order drinks and food while a desperate mans plea for help, his final and most dramatic plea, goes unheeded. That mans jump from a bridge ended his life. And in the process it gave a glimpse into the lives of those surrounding him. When things that should break your heart no longer do than you know you have stopped living.

Has America become a country filled with people whose hearts cannot be broken because they no longer have hearts to break?



This is one of my neighbors, Arthur. He's 72 and tells stories about how his younger days were passed by life on the farm. He asked if he could use a razor to shave his face. I told him he could if he would first let me take some portraits of him. He agreed and sold me his soul in exchange for a clean-shaven face. So this is Arthur, soul slowly diminishing.


What Lies Before Us

His gaze shot out past the buoys that marked the space between safe passage and immanent destruction. Wind found its way over the Pacific and onto the little stretch of beach, ruffling his graying yet still thick hair. He never knew what to do with his hair. For a few years he had let it grow long, falling in great curled tendrils around his ears. Then as time wore on and he let society dictate how he should look he cut his hair short and combed it straight back.

Today, standing with his face to the wind driven waves that broke beneath his feet he cared not what his hair looked like because not only had society and its stringent codes of conduct failed him, he had failed himself. The work of his hands was the only work he found joy in and once that was taken from him he saw that what was once solid became fluid. A river of regret was born out of that small stream and he followed that river to the ocean that now lay before him. And like men always did, he saw no other choice but to face what he had created.

And so into creation he went and never returned, at least not as the man he was before.


Good Morning

My day starts with a beep. The cheap travel alarm bought at Wal-Mart years before I cared about who made my alarm clock and why it was so inexpensive greets me with a consistent and familiar electronic chime. It’s not even a real chiming, it’s a machine programmed to mimic what a chime might sound like. Either way the sound achieves its only purpose and I wake lying on my side and facing north. My window faces north and I tend to fall asleep and wake on my left side. At this time of the year the sun does not greet me in the morning. If I’m lucky a slight bluish hue casts itself about my room, the sky seems to have a sickness this time of the year. Most mornings its cloudy and I don’t even bother to draw my curtain back. I can hear what kind of day it is before I leave the bed. I listen for car tires passing by on Fremont Avenue. Tires don’t lie. If its dry I will hear only wind resisting against the surface of a passing car, if its wet I will hear tires resisting water as it rushes down the hill. On windy days I listen for the sound of seagulls calling to each other as they ride wind currents that push their way up from the Sound and over the ridge I live on top of. Phinney Ridge.

After I throw on some warm clothing (this old building is not centrally heated) I open the door, head down the wooden staircase and into the kitchen. Water in the kettle, coffee in the French press. Since moving down the street from Lighthouse coffee shop I generally have a bag full of their grounds located conveniently in the cabinet where I keep all of my dry goods. I love coffee. I don’t really know how I woke myself up all of those years I didn’t drink this amazing substance. It’s in this dark and mysterious concoction that I find sustenance to get me through the morning.

I pour the boiling water into the press and while waiting for the grounds to steep I distribute granola into either a bowl of milk or yogurt (plain). Sometimes I make toast with peanut butter on it and some days I eat an orange. I then setup camp in the makeshift living room, clearing off a space on the small wooden table we eat on. The living room is dark so I turn on two lamps (I hate overhead lighting!). Before I sit down I look to make sure everything is gathered; bowl of granola in milk or yogurt, check, French press full of really good coffee, check, handmade Whistler mug, check, toast, check, an engaging article or fascinating book to peruse while consuming food and drink, check.

Most days begin exactly like this for me and I look forward to my mornings more than any other part of the day. I am habitual by nature and have come to enjoy that part of my self that needs structure. I find solace in these small moments of predictability. My friend Sam likes to poke fun at this predictability by calling me “an old man”. I’m ok with allowing myself a certain degree of normalcy in a very abnormal life.

Every morning I wake to find myself a new man in the same old skin, and if I allow it, this old man will have listened to the new man and by the end of the day become old with wisdom again.


Space Needle New Year

Me, shoulder leaning against wall, standing with empty beer glass (not mine, mind you) in one hand and bus tray in the other, bleary eyes peering through the window, over the lake and onto the Space Needle, fireworks issuing forth from its spindly top announcing to all that 2007 had finally arrived to our little piece of America. Where was I the first minute of the new year? The same place I had been the preceding minutes and hours before all eyes turned on the Space Needle, starting the 9th hour of an 11-hour shift at Ivars, the seafood restaurant I work at.

Finally, at a little after 2 a.m., I rode my bike home in the freezing cold. Attempting to heed the advice of one of the servers, I avoided the roads as much as possible for fear of being hit by some drunk driver. The climb up the hill to my residence was exhausting. But despite the exhaustion I rolled up my sleeves and breathed in the cool night air, letting its dew-laden tendrils grip the back of my throat as my lungs gasped for air. The climb up the hill has become the highlight of my journey home. It used to take me nearly 15 minutes to pedal from the base, which is located right in front of the Adobe software headquarters, to the Abbey. I can now do it in 7.

I have many more things I want to write you, many more things to say. But I am far too tired to share everything I have been thinking of over the last few days. I didn’t get much sleep last night and tomorrow morning school starts again, dark and early. I am going to attempt a sit-in in my own room for the rest of the evening. The lack of other voices helps me to recuperate much needed thought processing.

Happy New Year.