Saturday, August 16, 2008


This is a little creative sidebar my editor has me heading down. He was playing with the idea of what if the stories I am writing were somehow connected to Adam, and the beginning. The beginning of Genesis. This is a little play off that.

God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. - Genesis

The great master looked around all the land that was now alive, and growing, and gathered the bare dirt that laid covered around the great land, with one giant scoop in his hand. The same dirt that supported the trees, and held together like a bowl all the oceans of the seas, and made the world round. He took it and formed man like a potter would his clay making a pot. He made a man. Hollowing out eyes, and smoothing out his legs, and his stomache as an artist would his great piece of art. He had his many choices to use, unlimited resources, and any way to the story tell. He could use science, or great undiscovered metals of the earth, and formed polymer bonds that people had yet to discover. But he wanted to make it simple. It was going to be earth. Dirt. Red clay. His final choice. He named Adam that, “red dirt.”

He knew man would one day try and re-invent himself. He would try and rise above it with great buildings and technological and progressive marvels. He would want to make life very complicated and very busy. He would make his own marvels of himself through bronze statues and stones. He also knew man would want to probe the depths of the human soul in search of deep meaning, and go in search of great seas below, but from dust he was made, and that same level ground of dust he would go. The maker thought the earth, and the dirt of which most of it contained would tell the man when he forgot that this was his origin. And where he needed to rediscover.

It was to be a clue to the man. He wanted him always to go back to that. He wanted him to think of it when had a field to plow and farm. And when he needed the rains to come. Or if he had found himself in a cubicle in a great steal building. He wanted to help him understand that it was the earth he needed to understand, and rediscover to find himself. Even when he forgot, when he stripped away the land, or left the land entirely, he was destroying or losing himself. He knew that the land, much like man, would come around to hurt or help him. He wanted man connected to that.

The maker wanted to see that Adam would need to protect, and guard, and take care of dirt, and land, and the earth or his food and animals would run out. The dirt was where he came from, and where he would eventually decay back into.The earth was the composition of man. Yes, there was the DNA, and the neutrons, and protons, and synapses, but all those come from one place, the place you will lay your head, and look for food, and search for the Maker. There was a great story that said the Maker would come down and walk on the dirt, and teach the sons of Adam stories of a Kingdom. He would use the earth and the things growing and being used in it to explain it. He would tell stories of trees, farmers, and fish. All these things connected to earth, and dirt.

The ground was the starting point of man. The base line. The beginning and the end. The dirt was needed for a man to find out about himself. Where he came from, and where he was going.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


I walked out of the four days of hunting on Jeremy’s farm, just a little different than how I went in. No deer. No war stories. No real deep conversations. But a lot of grilling, football talking, and having Waylon Jennings, and Hank Williams on my mind. There was something in the simplicity in it. Waking up. Putting on our gear. Walking to a deer stand. Coming back for lunch, and stories, and going back out to do it all over again.

I somehow was a bit more country, than when I went in. I left a little different, than how I came. My accent had turned up a few more notches, with a little more “y’alls,” in it as well.

I travelled down the road a bit, fresh off our hunt. I needed a taste of civilization again, so I walked right into the Franklin Starbucks, still smelling like the odor of the woods, and doe. I sat down to write in my journal, and take a few notes of the experience. I sat down in this little tight chair, and at this tiny little table. And looked at all the conversations over the tiny little tables. It all felt different. The decorations, the music, the people in the place. I felt like a stranger.

I started listening to a guy talking to two girls. It was more like I was listening to three girls talk.

I stopped writing, and was staring at this dude. I started getting mad at him. He seemed to be so at home, engaged in this conversation, feeling so free, and chatty. It hit me that something had happened out there, in the woods. Because, I was only mad at him, because I was really that guy. Starbucks used to be my woods.

I starred at this guy, I just wanted to hand him a rifle. Have the girls scream. While I chambered a few rounds in like a crazed terrorist. Slam it down on the little table, spilling the coffee, and ending the conversation. I wanted to take him with me. Have Graham, and Jeremy show him a few things in the woods. Put him in a deer stand somewhere on the land in the dark, by himself, no talking, no girls. Tell him to shoot a deer. And tell him when he did, he could come back to the trailer we were sitting at to give him a hear to Hank Williams Sr.

It hit me, that something was happening in me. I was either going crazy, or well, I was going really crazy.

But as I sat there stewing over this. Then I started thinking about my other friends I had just been with, and all the hunters I had met along the way, and some of the rougher guys in the midst. You didn’t really seem them in this type of place. Sitting over little tables talking or drinking tea. I wasn’t even sure you were allowed to walk in with camo to Starbucks. I imagined their man card getting revoked. But maybe just as badly as this guy sitting at this table needed to grab a rifle, and head out into the woods, those guys needed to give theirs up, and trade it in for a tea set, and a few lessons on manners, and style. Maybe those guys needed to know how to sit down at a really small table, and trade stories, and share their heart. Really talk. Maybe even with a few girls.

There came this great epiphany. Maybe hunting wasn’t the answer. Maybe it was just in part. A place to get some parts I did not as a boy. Maybe it was for me. And maybe it wasn’t different for other guys. It seemed that repentance lead me to swing to this direction. Most of my generation has grown up in the city, or around little tables, and teas, so it made sense that most of us needed to find Charlton Heston and enroll in the NRA. Pick up a gun, and kill a doe. But for some, it might mean heading in the other way, discovering the other side of it.

I wondered if what really needed to happen is for everyone to trade places. The white collar with the blue. The hunters with the metro guys sensitive artsy guys. Maybe each had something the other needed. Maybe one man, and one way wasn’t really the answer to all this finding myself as a man stuff. It is just the direction I needed to swing to get a fuller scope of it.

Maybe it was a little of both. Somewhere inbetween the two. The places that I grew up with, and how my dad taught me in business, and these men out in the woods.

Maybe one man needed to strap on a pair, and sweat, while another dude needed to learn how to sip on a chai tea latte, and talk about his life. Like there were many flavors of masculinity as a friend Aaron said.

It hit me that maybe repentance looked a little different for every man. He got some things quite natural from his father. Maybe he went on hunting a bunch. But never felt his father’s love. Or maybe he grew up in a business world, but never spent a day on his car, looking under the hood. It seemed the problem was we kept hanging out in our little groups. Emo guys walked around with other emo guys. And burly tough dudes hung out with even more burlier tough dudes. Each dismissed, and laughed at the other. But maybe, deep inside, if they were honest, one guy needed a little table with a tea, and his legs crossed. And another guy needed to head down to Gun warehouse, and pick out a weapon.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Driving through Native American Country.

We were driving through Wyoming on a trip recently when I saw a store off the highway that caught my eye.

Native American Crafts.

I had always been fascinated by the Native Americans. Ever since a boy at Indian Camp in Ohio making head dresses, and since listening to a Native American radio channels while driving through the reservations of the west. My only real understanding of these people was through reading history books of overrunning, and kicking aside their land, and culture, breaking treaty after treaty for progress and the new America and more land. I think I stopped with the curiosity of wanting to know who these people were, and what might they even teach me about my own land, really their land.

I was hoping to learn more. Intrigued by their culture, warrior ways, and deep appreciation of the earth. I asked Barret if we could go inside, and take a look. I was hoping this nudge was coming from the Spirit.

We passed through the giant buffalo steel statue, and walked into the art of intricate beadwork, and jewelry of native Americans local crafts. Moccasins, arrows, drums, and beautiful paintings. The place was filled with handmade items created from stone, stick, feathers, beads, and skins, by local artists.

After some time of walking around, I picked out a few postcards of Sitting Bull, and approached the little lady working at the counter. She was short in height, and wearing American blue jeans. But there was not much more American about her. She wore a bright colored shirt that had zig-zag patterns that neatly tucked in her jeans with a rose beaded buckle. The lines of the shirt, matched the lines on her red-tanned skin, and her piercing eyes stood out, piercing through. She had this certain respect about her, like you were in the presence of a queen, or a woman of great nobility, even before she spoke.

I told her how impressed I was by her store, and before long we were in a conversation about her people and their work. She would tell me later, there was something in my eyes that said she could trust me, and within a minute I was hearing about Charlotte, and her people.

She was of the Eastern Shoshone tribe now living in Wind River Indian Reservation just a few miles down the road. Her father was shot by a white man at one year old. She was raised by her mother, and learned to work at a young age. She soon became a master in the craft of beadwork. She had created vests, and other pieces of intricate detail.
She explained how that was being lost. The white man came in, and took their land, and replaced their way of life, with the white man’s way of life. They took the kids away from their parents, enrolled them in American schools, cut their hair, and would not let them speak their native tongues. Beaten if they heard it. Many of the politicians back east had initiatives to try and eradicate all the buffalo in hopes it would domesticate and tame the native Americans. No longer being able to hunt, and collect food. They soon were dependent on government food rations.
Within a few generations, their way of life was lost. And the plan had worked. Their entire way of life was stripped from them, now dependent on handouts from the government. And relying in government checks.

Charlotte explained how few of the men worked anymore. Often drunk, or gambling away their money, and even their children’s checks. She pointed to a stone sculpture that a man brought in to sell, and explained how there was a good chance he would go use the money she paid for it to get drunk.

She said that when Wal-mart moved in, it really changed their way of life. The dumps on the reservations soon became filled with more and more items. She watched as plastic doll heads, and plastic appliances piled up on their land. And fewer and fewer of her people came in to buy items from her, instead buying everything at Wal-mart, while she struggled for business.

Charlotte explained how different her items were than these plastic things from China. That when she made something, it was going to last. It was built that way from the beginning. It was not made to ever be tossed away. Or put in a dump. It was to be carried, and to be used, over and over. By many generations. It wasn’t something that was fast or quick in production time. One of her works, a beaded vest took a year to complete. And one of her ceremonial beaded horse bridals was started by her grandmother, and finished by her daughter. Four generations to complete one saddle. It was the way her people were.

I had remembered from 3rd grade history that it was the same when they killed a buffalo. They used it all. Some 95% of it. They respected the life of the buffalo, and saw them as a source of life for them, and many generations to come. The fur and hide were made into clothing and shelter, the meat was their main source of food, and even their bones, and hooves were used for glue.

It hit me how much that was not our American way. We had stripped farm land, stripped coal mines, and had the motto destroy and conquer. We would just consume something, and throw it away for another one. It was the same as how we handled the buffalo. We came in and took out the buffalo. During the 18th century, there were nearly 50 million bison roaming the land with the Indians. They say you could travel for days through land never passing the same herd. But we hunted them on trains for sport, trappers came in and killed them in masses to take the hide and sell them back east. One man bragging that he killed 20,000 on his own. There are pictures of men standing on mountaintops of hides. Before a hundred years has passed, the buffalo had been all but extinct. Nearly 50 million destroyed.

As she shared it I realized what I had become. I was born in this consumerism, and continued it. None of my bedroom furniture was more than five years old. My appliances were brand new, and as soon as they are to break, my plan was always to just throw them out, and go buy another one at Wal-Mart. There was nothing original in our house. Nothing antique, or old, or created by a craftsman. Nothing of any real value. It was production art, and production furniture. We just throw them away, and go buy another. In fact I heard they are meant to eventually break, so we will go buy another one. They are disposable. I had seen life much that way. Throwing things away, replacing things, and consuming all the more.