Kai Staats - kayaking in the San Juan Islands

While is not my style to use my blog as a personal diary, my summer has been scattered, no more than seven days in any one place before I pack my things and move on again. While I love to travel, my sense of adventure has been overridden by a growing need for home, one place to come back to for more than just a few days. The following are fragments of my thoughts, beginnings of what could have been full entries for From the Road, but instead, they were interrupted by my own cognition and as such, are presented here in their entirety.

July 5
Today, I drove back to Colorado from Boise, returning to my house and home of fourteen years for the first time in nearly ten months. I walked in and found everything exactly as I had left it. My plants yet alive thanks to the effort of my neighbor Pete and my mother (when she is in town) who have watched over things while I was traveling. It immediately felt like home, and yet, at the same time, unfamiliar, as vacant as it was when last September I ran away from home.

If I was not here to sell my house, I’d wash my clothes, clean my car, change the oil, and hit the road again.

July 10
I moved the first of my things into storage. It felt strange, constricting even, to take much of what represents me from a living, breathing space which I created into a small, poorly lit room. Inside, I fear my inventions, my art, my photographs and books will shrivel and die without the light of day.

But at the same time, my life is wonderfully consolidated, enabling me to expand again without the confine of material things which own me.

July 15
The sale of my house was to have happened tomorrow, but the bank has postponed the closing without a clear, next date. It is a little after 9 pm in Fort Collins, Colorado and warm enough for the children to play in a water fountain and not catch cold, but cool enough to wear long pants or a wind breaker. Perfect. The way Colorado is so much of the year.

I now sit near a piano, on the edge of the water park. Kids are running, jumping, playing with the water fountains as they bubble, spit, and shoot perfect liquid tubes and ribbons over the top of them. The children intentionally, even if with some trepidation place their bodies in the path of the water projectile and then squeal with delight when their clothes are soaked, their parents taking pictures instead of scolding.

July 20
I have returned to Buffalo Peak Ranch, a 270 acre ranch owned by a long-time family friend and one of the most beautiful pieces of land in the West. Last year we installed a large solar PV array which provides more than that consumed by the ranch. The system includes backup battery power and a grid-tied inverter such that the owner now covers his bills, and then some.

The ranch hand Trevor and I just completed a long day working on a three sided barn built of logs, fallen trees killed in the Hayman fire some ten years ago, dragged down the hill behind the ATV. I am at peace, my body aching in that wonderful way it is able only after physical labor, my mind at ease for the sounds of this place are only those of the wind, trees, coyotes, and occasional squeak and slam of the cabin door.

If you sit very still, and listen carefully, you can hear the bark beetles chewing their way through the fallen, dry trees.

August 1
I closed on the sale of my house of fourteen years. It didn’t feel as big a deal as I had anticipated, but after ten months of travel, perhaps it was just the next logical step for I had moved on some time ago.

Everything I own (save my 100 years old piano which now resides in Denver, on loan and well cared for) fits neatly into a 6×8 storage unit and the back of my car. Aside from my carpentry tools, it is nearly 100% emotional in context: books, music, my inventions, and a few antiques, dormant until I again find a place for them to breathe. Feels good to be officially homeless, no longer just denying that I have a place that no longer feels like home.

Ah! Here I go again, settled but for a few days, weeks at a time …

August 5
The thrill of the landing of Curiosity!

Earlier today Ann Druyan said it best, that scientists disagree but never kill each other over their differences. This is what science is about, people working together to improve our present understanding of our world in order to improve our shared future independent of all the little things that otherwise push us apart. Curiosity is not just a machine testing the soil for life, it is an extension of our species arriving just slightly ahead of us, to pave the way.

Kai Staats - Boise, Idaho - street art Kai Staats - Boise, Idaho - street art Kai Staats - Boise, Idaho - street art Kai Staats - Boise, Idaho - street art

August 8
I walked from my Ron & Betsy’s to downtown Boise. The temperature is in the mid to high nineties. I don’t mind, for it feels good to walk, to just be outside and away from the computer.

I worked from a cafe ’till night. Rounding the corner, I noticed a number of people spray painting the alley side walls of the downtown buildings. Obviously not hiding their art, these truly exceptional paintings were commissioned by the city, and from what I can tell, painted over previous generations, a tradition in downtown Boise.

Half the distance to my favorite cafe, I passed an elderly man walking slowly, his feet barely lifting from the ground, shuffling as older men and women do sometimes. His grey pants were neatly pressed, cotton, button-down shirt tucked into his pants. His hands were interlaced behind his back and I wondered, Will I be so dignified when I am no longer able to run, climb, or bike?

August 9
Ron, Betsy, Sarah, Chris and I went to the Boise River today, to play and swim in the cool, fast flowing water. What a simple, deeply satisfying joy. I ask myself, How do I forget the pleasure in this? Why do I not do this every summer day? Eager to return.

August 13
Today is the first day of this entire summer that I feel present, accounted for, and truly in my own mind and body. It feels good, finally, to return to this place. I am alone, without music or entertainment of any sort. I hear only the buzz of humming birds, the breeze working to rattle the aspen trees, and when inside the cabin at this isolated ranch, the tick of the clock.

I have found that my brain and body are wired for stress, for constant stimuli and interruption. Email and social media have become my undoing, mechanisms that create a sense of connectivity, but at the price of my lost creativity. It is only with a few days in a row in which I am uninterrupted, two weeks without having to pack my bags and travel again that I find my passion for writing and music and film coming to me freely.

And so I have initiated a plan, a rigid schedule which will enable me to find my passion again.

I start the day with reading from a novel, something light and fun while still in bed, the morning light and heat warming the blanket on my bed. I rise, drink a large glass of water, grab a yoga mat or large bath towel and make my way outside. In the sun or shade, depending upon the time and intensity of the sun, I meditate for twenty or thirty minutes and then either practice yoga or go for a cross-country run and swim in the cold pond. I return to spend the day barefoot, in the cabin or outside, working on my Kickstarter campaign, completing client projects, and preparing for living in Palestine.

It’s working. I am finding flow again. Finally, after six months, since the day I left Holden, I am beginning to feel like me again …

August 19
Last night I was taken on a journey into the darkness of a sheltered sea. By paddle we moved silently between the San Juan islands, not knowing what creatures swam beneath us. The moon nearly new, the sun set, and a light layer of clouds gave way to the ideal conditions by which we could not only witness, but interact with the bioluminescence, naturally occurring organisms that in this form, when stimulated through kinetic energy generate their own light.

A single fingertip set lightly in the water left a trace six, ten, even twelve inches long that glowed with a blue-white light. Five fingers created a mesmerizing flurry of glowing sea and an entire paddle, when swished back ‘n forth generated so much light that it would swirl blue and white for as far as I could see, behind me, when I turned within the confines of the kayak and spray skirt.

It is difficult to describe, and the camera I brought was unable to capture that level of light. But in my mind, I yet recall clearly the illuminated wake as it cut back from the bow, the glowing dots on my paddle and palm, and the sense of awe at something so beautiful and yet completely unknown to me until I experienced it first hand.

August 22
I have taken a significant chance at further self-destruction in order to give opportunity to grow. Indeed, the risk was worth taking for we are healing. Thank you.

August 27
A dear friend sent this to me, today, a well timed and well received reminder to give both reason and passion their rightful place and rightful place each day.

“Your soul is oftentimes a battlefield upon which your reason and your judgment wage war against your passion and your appetite. Would that I could be the peacemaker in your soul, that I might turn the discord and the rivalry of your elements into oneness and melody. But how shall I, unless you yourselves be also the peacemakers, nay, the lovers of all your elements? Your reason and your passion are the rudder and the sails of your seafaring soul. If either your sails or your rudder be broken, you can but toss and drift, or else be held at a standstill in mid-seas. For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining; and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction. Therefore let your soul exalt your reason to the height of passion, that it may sing; And let it direct your passion with reason, that your passion may live through its own daily resurrection, and like the phoenix rise above its own ashes.” –Kahlil Gibran