Kai Staats - Joshua Tree, setting sun, March 2012

Six months ago, I ran away from home after thirteen years in Loveland, Colorado. This was a reaction more than a decision as I needed to climb up and out of a dark, scary place. An exercise in self-awareness and self-control, I learned to let go.

I landed in Squamish, B.C. where I lived in a tent, climbed, and worked from local cafes. I attended the Supercomputing trade show in Seattle and worked as a volunteer staff member at the isolated Holden Village in the Washington Cascades. Since the beginning of 2012, I have lived every other few weeks in Phoenix, Arizona and Boise, Idaho with family and with friends. I met amazing people and experienced a challenging mix of pleasure and pain through new friendships. I rediscovered total, full mind and body peace at Joshua Tree and wonderful isolation in the Superstition Wilderness yet wrestle with anxiety still.

Kai Staats - Joshua Tree, Campfire, February 2012

The contrasts are intense but the experience rich. Where I once saw my journey as an exercise in recovery, I now see that I learned to flow from place to place, to find “home” no matter where I set my bags. Where I am now is neither behind nor beyond where I started, but on a different path altogether.

What I learned in this process is not only a means to work through challenging times, but how one may live every day, for a lifetime. I found freedom in mobility which I will continue to employ, no matter how stationary I may someday live.


Live in the moment.
Engage the future but only a few days at a time. Intend for things to unfold but with limited attachment to outcome. If you find yourself in that place which is out of reach and full of fear, pull back, let go, and trust that it will come to you when the time is right.

Live for people, not things.
Spend less time in relationship with things and more time in relationship with people. Reduce the clutter of ownership in order to make time for you and for other people in your life. Practice minimalism every day. Become self-reliant not through the acquisition of more, but through the desire for less such that you are comfortable without concern for what you left behind.

Live in a mobile home …
Find “home” within yourself so that no matter where you go, no matter where you end up, no matter what is given to you or taken away, you will be grounded and able to give freely of yourself to others.

… and care for it too.
Kai Staats - Joshua Tree, climbing, February 2012 This is the only body you will have, in this lifetime. Treat is as the finely tuned machine it is. We have changed what we put into our bodies more in the past 40 years than in the past 40,000 (“Fast Food Nation” by Eric Schlosser). If it wasn’t available in markets just four or five decades ago, it’s not real food and should not pass between your lips. Exercise each and every day because your body is designed to walk, run, jump, and climb. As the longest distance running animals on this planet (“Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall), sitting in a chair all day will, slowly, kill you.

Give freely.
The greatest freedom we employ is not the freedom to do what we want (for that is in fact a burden in disguise) but the freedom to give of ourselves without concern for what we gain in return.

Choose your friends wisely.
Who we choose to accompany us on our journey both reflects and amplifies who we are. Welcome those who encourage your best habits, who cause you to laugh, who support you in reaching your goals.

Trust those who ask questions more than they do speak. In return, ask questions and share only when asked for your experience or opinion. If you spend an entire day not speaking, that is a day well spent.

Do it wrong.
If everyone says you are doing it wrong, you may be doing it right. Pay attention to the context, listen carefully, and you’ll hear the difference between someone who shares their opinion out of fear and someone who expresses concern through love. In the end, however, the ones who likely have the “correct answer” are the ones who ask you what you need, and simply return your words to you.

Try … or walk away.
Work hard to achieve what you believe but do not be afraid to stop, step back, and try again from a new angle. Do not be afraid to walk away completely, for often is the case that those things we pursue without reward are the ones that come back to us when we no longer give chase.

When fear drives you to make decisions, stop, back up, slow down —don’t jump! Instead, look at the situation from other points of view until you find a means of moving from a place of trust. Wait, it will unfold. You’ll feel the difference when you get there, you’ll just know.

Make time to just think, every day. Disconnect from the Internet. Turn off the TV. Walk away from the cell phone and just be. Close your eyes and enjoy your brain’s capacity to take you to places your body may never go. Inside the nucleus of an atom or to the distant reaches of a binary star. You may find reason to gasp or smile or simply breathe. Discover the joy which may be reached only through contemplation.

Never stop learning.
All research shows that the very act of learning a new language, a new activity (ie: juggling, climbing, dancing), or reading new subjects changes the wiring of your brain. Open new pathways before the old ones become frozen and resistant to change.

Make love to the setting sun.
Get outside early. Stay outside late. Feel the rays of the sun warm your entire body, not just your bare face, arms, or hands. Share yourself with someone you love as the shadows grow long.