Friday, May 13, 2011

In Memoriam.

Hi everyone,

I found it both necessary and appropriate to inform those of you who read this of the passing of my Uncle. He passed away this tuesday from severe complications regarding cancer.

Normally I would keep such things low key, and thus far I have, but my uncle was an amazing man and I feel it's appropriate to share his story, or at least part of it:

It's hard to describe his personality in words, you'd have to have met him, but passion is a word to jumps to the tip of my tongue at first thought. If there was anything he had, it was passion. For fishing, for family, for life, the intensity with which he met the world was incredible; it was also more than likely the reason for the course of his life. He struggled with addiction for a good portion of his life.

Such a portion of someone's life is usually swept under the rug in a piece like this, but had he not fallen down so far, his rise back up would not have been so astounding. I saw him at both ends of the spectrum, addict to clean and sober, within two years time. The transformation was beyond description; the air around him changed, he moved with grace and composure I had never seen in him as far back as I can remember. He had lost everything, his high-paying job, his house, his car, but he hadn't lost himself. He was a man at peace with the world, and the world was at peace with him. I could see the struggle leave him, he was open, allowing life to come and greet him, taking whatever came with open arms and an open heart.

I can't tell you the impact its had on me. For someone to change so much, to make such a drastic and beautiful change is indescribable. His joy and humility were tangible; no longer was life a competition to get ahead, to beat everyone back, it was simply a masterpiece as it was. He was a shining example of what I aspire to be everyday, open and in love with the world.

I wish I could say that I'm glad he was at peace when he passed, but I wish that he could have been here longer in order to be a living example of what is possible when you have not only the wisdom to look within for peace, but when you have such a strong support behind you every step of the way. For my uncle, yoga was the gateway, but life became his practice.

He is missed, and will continue to be missed. A light left the world, but the memory stays.

Be well, really.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Awake, Alive, Abroad!

Hi Everyone,

So, in less than two weeks I will be in Africa! Madagascar, specifically, and to be even more specific, on the eastern coast, in a rainforest, for a month. Freaking out, in the best way possible.

While I'm there, my academic endeavors will be two-fold: First, each of us has chosen a lemur that free ranges around the reserve where we will be staying. So, to keep things short, I believe I'll be following a lemur through the jungle for four weeks. This is my lemur:

Precious, right? The species is the black and white ruffed lemur, one of the largest in Madagascar. Luckily, they're awake during the day and are easy to hear from a distance. I believe I'll name them all Francis, as figuring out individuals will be difficult. But anyways...

The second section will focus on alternative farming techniques that preserve what remains of Madagascar's forest. The forest is cut and burned to make may for agriculture. People have to eat, so what can you do? The goal is to both feed the people and save the forest, something that, if planned correctly, can be done.

The environmental degradation in Madagascar is extreme, so I don't doubt this trip will be rough. But, it's once-in-a-lifetime (unless you plan to hang out in jungles your whole life, oh wait! That's me!).

I won't have internet, or electricity or running water, so you won't hear from me until I get back. A solid comp book will serve as a journal so there will be plenty of updates upon my return. I'm headed down to the Duke Lemur Center tomorrow, so there may be one more post detailing that trip before my departure.

Be Well.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Buddhas and Beer, College and Karma VI: An End.

Hi everyone,

Its been a month since my last post, and everyone knows the reason: finals. That slow build up to the most wonderful time of the year. It's rush, rush, rush, to get past that final hurdle; the studying increases, the sleep decreases, the tensions rise, and the connections suddenly fall through as everything gives way to the worship of the almighty textbook.

And then it's over.

Just like that, after all the weeks, the year is over. I realize this isn't groundbreaking, yes I've known that the year would be over eventually, but now? Really? College is half over? I'm halfway done? Real life what?

Well it was bound to happen. I wish I could say I was ecstatic to be done with this decidedly rough year, but I'm not really. For all my complaining, and yes I still maintain that it was deserved, this year was special. Friendships grew stronger, my life seems to have found a path to follow. I'm more aware of myself, and for that I'm glad. But I'm sad to see it go, I'll miss everyone. Being Buddhist doesn't mean happy-fun-time all the time. Sadness comes, we sit with it, live with it, eat with it, and then we let it go. And if it comes back again, we do it again.

That being said, I'm leaving for Africa in just over two weeks to spend a month in Madagascar. I'll be working with several other students from JMU and App State to better understand conservation and alternative agricultural techniques in Madagascar. I could go on about it, but I suggest you look up information about the country yourself.

That's another step, it's another moment. My director for the trip said that we become more ourselves when we aren't connected to technology. I will have electricity for about an hour a day, so guess what? No internet, no phone, no nothing. And for that I'm glad. While I'll miss talking to everyone, sometimes it's good to just let it go.

But anyways, I'll leave now. Sad? Yes. Nervous? Yes. Excited? Yes. Ready for life to meet me? You betcha.

Be Well.