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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lust for Life

Wow, it’s been a busy few weeks!

It doesn’t look like slowing down any soon. Deciding to change my blog from an online portfolio to an active blog took place alongside a much more violent upheaval in Christchurch, and aftershocks continue to rock that city. Political and economic aftershocks for the entire country are just beginning, and it seems from watching the Middle East that the world is in upheaval. In case anyone in power is listening, this isn’t a job for Team America or any other outsider, but be prepared that neither outsiders nor insiders may like the results these rebellions bring.

Increased oil prices from damage to infrastructure, as is taking place in Libya, may lead some of us in the Western world to question our own ruler’s spending priorities (if we don’t already) and their willingness to keep increasing our debt. The Arab world has oil to fund its spending (while holding us hostage) but none of the West’s governing powers seem truly willing to commit to alternative fuel research. In tandem with the amazing medical advances that are part of any war, a push for alternative fuel sources and energy saving may be the good to come out of America’s prolonged wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (with enemies they helped to place in power, yet another reason to keep Team America, or any other nation-builders, out of Libya). See

In my opinion, Americans don’t really “do” irony, especially Alanis, but the superb irony may be that a war begun to “stabilize the oil region” (told me by a White House energy consultant at an after-show party I crashed after a course I didn’t attend at the War College in Carlisle, PA), results in some real pressure for the US to get out of bed with big oil and try to find an alternative. Let’s pray they look for a clean and sustainable one.

So, I spent a busy few days in Christchurch, plus hitched both ways to talk with people about how they were doing and what mattered to them in life. Then returned to my friends’ organic farm, where those are the normal conversations. And here there is always honest work to be done, which connects one to the real world. I’ve also been living much of my life online or on the phone, as I post and manage this blog, respond to friends (and follow Doctrine Man! – what a hero) on Facebook and try to arrange funding for a project I plan to undertake in the US in May. While trying to rake in enough cash for the airfare at least because, for the past four years, I’ve had an annual date with friends and my U.S. whanau (family) at Myrtle Beach Bike Week. I’ve enlisted the aid of one of those whanau, a retired Navy Seal (and the under-achiever in his family – both sisters made Navy Captain and his big brother flew choppers and retired as an Air Force Colonel). He’s putting some figures together for me so I can work out logistics for the project.

It’s a great life balance, in the extreme way in which I do balance (i.e. if I’m on the edge equally on both sides, I must be balanced, right?). I weed the garden, make notes on the project, check e-mails and Facebook, collect cow shit, type and upload a blog post, gather food and start the fire and dinner, and read guidelines for a possible funding source. I’ve also downloaded an academic treatise a friend wrote about Twitter (not on Twitter, you understand, academic treatises don’t fit well into 140-character tweets).

As I wrote, I do an extreme version of balance, as I tend to do an extreme version of life. I understand patience and have practiced it often. I endured six months flat on my back with a fractured spine after a horse-riding accident (I stick to motorcycles now) and, believe me, having to stay immobile while not feeling ill teaches patience. I’ve also crewed small yachts between Thailand and Kenya and being becalmed for days at sea, a full week’s sail from anywhere, is not for impatient souls. Dealing with bureaucracy, in whatever country I happen to be in, requires a special patience of its own (or masochism, perhaps?).

And on my friends’ farm, I’ve learned that to cook the food we must first provide energy to heat the fire, so we plant and nurture trees for firewood and building. And to grow the food we must nurture the soil, so we prepare compost layer upon layer, gathering ingredients as we go.

The contrast to that grounding peace of honest work is the instant gratification of the blogosphere and social media. I’ve read so many writers complain of the shortened attention span they’ve experienced with increased Internet usage and how they find it hard to relax with a book any more. (Not a problem for me, and I’m catching up with many of my unread books while home. Feel free to ask for recommendations.) I’ve also seen first-hand how Korean students, living in the most-wired country in the world, have lost their ability to focus in line with their constant computer game-playing. So I cringe when I have the urge to check my e-mail, Facebook and blog stats constantly (I’m resisting Twitter) and make myself alternate each online foray with some hard labor.

Today’s task is grubbing hore-hound from the Chicken Ranch, and it’s time I got back to it. But first I need to check my e-mail to check plans with friends for the weekend. Coffee dates, a theater production and a trip to a vineyard in Alexandra, Central Otago, are in order, where I’ll write two stories for local publications while doing final interviews by Skype for an international publication. Then back to the Otago Peninsula for a jazz house concert at an amazing home in Pukehiki.

Life is grand!


  1. Always interesting to read your newest adventures. You sum up this lasting posting as "life is grand!" and while many might find your grand life somewhat daunting - I can see the beauty in it.
    Robert Neff

  2. haha, "daunting" - I have a family member who finds my life totally unacceptable: "You don't have a home or a job!" said with a grimace. I prefer to think of the world as my home and my job as living life :)