Friday Waypoints

Friday Waypoints – 05/17/19

Mark Neese is back with another Friday Waypoints blog post. On this weeks Friday Waypoints, Mark discusses how drugs cause parents to abandon their children, why the internet is a dangerous place for teens, and he revisits The Parklands of Floyd Forks. Mark discusses his previous visit to The Parklands of Floyd Forks, a hidden gem in Louisville, KY, in his Friday Waypoints on 5/10.

Drugs and Parents that Abandon Their Kids

I’ve been working with families for about 25 years. My early career was working in the rural counties surrounding Louisville. The families that I worked with were struggling with poverty and at times intellectual disabilities. It was challenging and rewarding. Every now and then I run into one of the family members that I worked with and it is very gratifying to see them doing well these many years later.

Today things are different. I have never witnessed an epidemic as I have today: parents abandoning their children because of drugs. This past weekend was Mother’s Day and two of the teens that I work with wanted to call and talk with their mothers but were unable to contact them because they were both AWOL. Both mothers are semi-homeless and have serious drug problems. To compound the problem, one of the teens witnessed his father being taken away in an ambulance because of a suspected overdose, on the very same day. Not such a “Happy Mother’s Day.”

Meditating in The Parklands of Floyds Fork (Reprise)

I was back at the Parklands yesterday to visit the Moss Gibbs Woodland Gardens. It is the gem of the new park system. It’s beautiful, and quiet, and I anticipate spending many of my mornings there. I’m practicing Mindfulness and using guided meditations by Donald Seigel. For those interested in learning more you can visit his website for free meditation downloads: http://www.mindfulness-solution.com.

The meditation that I used yesterday while sitting in the midst of the garden was one that focused on self-compassion. During this meditation you focus on the phrases: “May I be happy, may I be healthy, may I live at ease,” or “May I be safe, may I be at peace, may I be free from suffering.” You can do this while driving, walking or sitting in a quiet place in your home. The Woodland Garden offers a place to sit quietly and listen to the Towhees, wrens and Cardinals. It offers a place to be part of a forest.

The Internet is a Dangerous Place for Teens

I am working with a Teen that was nearly swallowed up by Internet. Her mother saved her. It started with the website, “Wattpad.” This is a social storytelling platform. It ended with her sending pictures of herself to perfect strangers through a group on Instagram: #ddlg. She was being groomed for something dangerous and evil.

These are adult sites and 13-year olds should not be on them! She had no clue what she was getting into.

Parents, monitor your teenagers on the internet. There are predators that will take advantage of their innocence and take it from them!

Quote I’m Pondering

“Your smile and your laughter lit my whole world.”

Ranata Suzuki

What the Organizational Experts Get Wrong

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” “It’s All Too Much,” and “Outer Order, Inner Calm” have been a frequent topic in many circles as of late, especially with the demands for a season two of the Netflix version of Marie Kondo’s empire. All of these books have value, but each takes a slightly different approach to de-cluttering and organization. And all miss some things that may run deeper than just “stuff.”

We all live with a little clutter—it seems to accumulate around us without us even knowing, despite Peter Walsh’s assertion that people don’t “accidentally” accumulate things. As anyone who has moved after living someplace for a significant period of time knows, stuff has a way of accumulating.

In “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” Marie Kondo takes the approach of thanking our items for their service before relinquishing them, whether they are sent to a resale shop where they can have a new life with a new owner, or sent to recycling, where they can become a new thing, or (least preferably) to the trash, where they can complete their life cycle and return to the earth. However, Peter Walsh writes, “Start with the stuff (as most people are inclined to do when they try to conquer their clutter) and you are pretty much guaranteed failure. Start with the vision you have for the life you want and you have taken the first real step to long-term and remarkable change.”

But what happens when you find yourself completely overwhelmed by the task before you? Hoarding disorder, as defined by the American Psychiatric Association, is closely related to anxiety disorders. People who engage in hoarding feel tremendous distress at the idea of getting rid of their things, and may react with anger, sadness, or shutting down when a family member (even a well-meaning one!) attempts to “help” by ridding them of their possessions. (One of my favorite television shows, “Call the Midwife,” had a recent episode in which an elderly woman refused to leave her stuff, even though she was in need of medical care. Her backstory was that she had endured tremendous deprivation during the first World War, then subsequently as a Suffragist in Holloway prison.)

Often, hoarding begins as a symptom of trauma. It is not unusual for therapists who specialize in hoarding disorder to see clients with tremendous trauma who begin accumulating “stuff” as a way to, quite literally, wall themselves off from the scary, outside world. Unfortunately, this accumulated trauma and accumulated stuff have a way of getting between people and disrupting relationships. “Stuff” can cause people to not invite friends or family into their home, can be a contributing factor to separation and divorce, to say nothing of the stress it causes for individuals engaging in it.

If you have a loved one struggling with mental illness, your first thought may not be to seek out therapy for yourself. But a qualified mental health professional may be able to help you deal with the challenges of a loved one’s illness—reach out!

Friday Waypoints- 1/11/19

Job Satisfaction

Every now and then something happens that makes you question yourself and what you’re doing. This week I had a brief encounter with a young man that is struggling with life. He’s living with his mother, unemployed, and bearing a mental health burden that no one deserves. My heart goes out to him and his mother. Unfortunately, he is unable to handle the gentle pressure that therapy sometimes places on you and our session ended prematurely due to his very agitated response. And unfortunately for me, his response triggered memories of similar incidents over the past 25 years. That’s the nature of the work we do. Sometimes people come to us and change us. I shared this incident with a colleague and she shared a similar incident that almost caused her to quit being a therapist. She was assaulted by a client during a session. We are people. We love helping people.

So, what do we do? We see the next client, weather the negative reviews on google, share our burdens with family and friends, get out and hike. We listen to the latest Bon Iver album. At times, we see a therapist. And we stoke the flames that that burn deeply within us, that brought us to the very first therapy session, that for some of us was 25 years ago.

I love what I do. Later in the week, I sat across from Harper, a 14-year old that needs my help. She was abandoned by her father and struggling to make sense of it and of life. She’s growing and it warms my heart. Like I said, sometimes people come to us and change us.

Stoic Quote

A friend gave me “The Daily Stoic,” by Ryan Holiday. The quote for this past Wednesday was from Epictetus: “Some things are in our control, while others are not. We control our opinion, choice, desire, aversion, and in a word, everything of our own doing. We don’t control our body, property, reputation, position, and in a word, everything not of our own doing.” Those of you that know me, know that I live my life based, in part, by slogans. It helps me stay focused on the important stuff. One slogan that relates to this quote from Epictetus is “Adjust to the things that won’t adjust to you.” This slogan reminds me that there are things that are not going to change no matter how much effort I apply to them. In a way, that’s why I love the Jefferson Forest, and the Red River Gorge, and the Grand Canyon, and all the other places that I explore. They are not going to adjust to me no matter what I do. We need immutable things in our lives. And we need to adjust to them. That includes places AND people.

Student Intern

Our new Student Intern started this past week. Her name is Sharonda Tunstull. She is a graduate student at Campbellsville University, working on her Master’s in Social Work. We are so fortunate to have her with our agency. She is going to be developing an Adolescent Group and seeing individuals and families for therapy. She is also going to co-lead a group for individuals with development and intellectual disabilities called, “Positive Relationships.” Welcome aboard, Sharonda!!!!

Circadian Dis-Rhythms (Or, Why Can’t I Sleep?)

I started having problems with sleep a few years ago. Before that, I slept like a baby. I’ve learned a few things about sleep recently and I want to them share with you. I’ve learned about the importance of good sleep. And I’ve learned about sleep hygiene.

Routinely sleeping less than six or seven hours demolishes your immune system,” writes Matthew Walker PhD. “It more than doubles your risk of cancer. Insufficient sleep is a key lifestyle factor determining whether or not you will develop Alzheimer’s disease.” He goes on to write that, “Inadequate sleep disrupts blood sugar levels so profoundly that it would be classified as pre-diabetic.” It increases the likelihood of your coronary arteries becoming blocked and brittle.

I’ve learned that sleep, or lack of sleep, affects our memory, our ability to learn, and our ability to make logical decisions.

I’ve learned that insufficient sleep can increase aggression, bullying, and behavior problems with children.

I’ve learned as Joseph Cossman wrote: “The best bridge between despair and hope is a good night’s sleep.”

So, here are some Sleep Hacks

Tips I’ve learn for getting a good night’s sleep:

  1. Stick to a schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time.
  2. Exercise is great but try to exercise no later than 2-3 hours before bedtime.
  3. Avoid caffeine 8 hours prior to bedtime.
  4. Avoid alcoholic drinks before bed.
  5. Avoid large meals and beverages late at night.
  6. If possible, avoid medicines that delay or disrupt sleep.
  7. Don’t take naps after 3 pm.
  8. Relax before bed.
  9. Take a hot bath or shower before bed.
  10. Dark bedroom. Cool Bedroom. Gadget-free bedroom.
  11. Have the right sunlight exposure. Get outside at least 30 minutes a day of direct sunlight.
  12. Don’t lie in bed awake. If you haven’t fallen asleep in 20 minutes, get up and do something relaxing.

I am sleeping better now. I’ve started practicing good sleep hygiene. I’ve started taking Melatonin (recommended by most sleep researchers). I have more to learn about good sleep, and I’ll share more information as I get it. Sweet dreams.

Musings of a True Norther – How I Found My True North

You may or may not a fan of Jane Fonda, but she did a Ted Talk a few years ago that challenged people in there 60s to contemplate their lives. I am in my 60s and I took her challenge seriously. She divides out a person’s life into 3 acts.

  • The first act is from birth to 30. That is the period of becoming an adult.
  • The second act is from 30 to 60 and during this period we raise our children and work.
  • The last act is from 60 to death. One of the life goals during this act is to contemplate: How did I get here? Or, how did I get to be the person I am? What were the influences that made me the person that I am?

Or, how did I find my True North?

If you have any interest in being the person that you wish to be, or the person who has found their True North, consider some of the things that influenced me and helped me find my True North:

  • I followed my heart. I have always loved helping people and teaching them. I experimented with various things, but I dreamed about being a Family Therapist because I loved solving family problems. I have also loved working with young adults, that is to say, teenagers. I loved being a teenager and I believe that this should be the prerequisite for working with teenagers. Following my heart has led me to my True North.
  • I followed the voices of others. I remember as a teenager hearing a mentor of mine exclaim that you should never do the thing that you are passionate about as a profession. It took me a decade to unlearn that advice. I have come to believe that the truth is that you should follow your passions and pursue them as a vocation. So, not everything that you hear is helpful in finding your True North. Then there are those people that say things that inspire you to follow your heart. One such person was John Gilespie. It was in 1995 and I was in my last semester of my Master’s in Social Work degree. John was a friend and fellow student. As I talked to him about what I had been dreaming, he said, “Mark, I can hear the passion and excitement in your voice when you talk about being a Family Therapist.” I have never forgotten those words.
  • I nurtured and fed my curiosity.I have always been a curious person. Every time I get presented with a new problem or a new intervention, and I seek to know as much as I can about them. I cannot tell you the number of books that I have read. Reading is a way of sorting through the dreams of others. It helped me to find my way, to find my True North. Seeking knowledge and reading books is like holding a lamp over a map. It gives you the lay of the land that others have traveled. Reading gives you a direction to live, or helps you find your True North.
  • I acted on my dreams. You cannot find your True North if you do not act on your dreams. It means taking risks, working hard, and planning and organizing. It means surrounding yourself with people that can help you find True North. People do not find their True North by themselves. I did not find mine by myself. I have been successful at finding my True North because I have been successful at finding people that I care about, that also share my dreams. Acting on my dreams means sharing my dream with others and inviting them to be part of those dreams.

There is no “one way” to finding your True North. In fact, there are many ways. I’ve shared mine. I hope that this has inspired you to reflect on your journey in pursuit of your True North.

Friday Waypoints- 12/28/18

Book I’m Reading:

I picked up James Hamblin’s book, “If Our Bodies Could Talk,” to read on the plane during a recent trip. It’s great read. Think of it as an FAQ about the body. He covers topics that are interesting like, “What are dimples?” and “Why are blue eyes blue?” I particularly found his discussion about vitamins very helpful. If you’re convinced that taking vitamins is helpful, you might want to get his book and read this section. There’s a lot of money being spent to convince you that you need vitamin supplements. I decided, after a year of research, that my body does a pretty good job of extracting the vitamins that I need from the food I eat, so I do not take them. What I liked about this book, was the ability to fast-forward through the sections that were less interesting to me.

Meaningful Moment:

The Government Shutdown and Zion National Park- Thankfully It’s impossible to shut down a park. I did some Desert Therapy this past week in Nevada while attending a family get together. This included a drive through the barren landscape of SW Nevada and a couple of day hikes in Zion National Park. (A BIG Thank You to all the Rangers and Federal Employees that are keeping the National Parks open during the Shutdown!) We did a hike to the Emerald Pools and then along the Virgin River to the beginning of the Narrows. Despite it being winter, there were lots of people there. But for some reason, none of that bothered me. The day before, we had done a short day trip to Hoover Dam where there were lots of people as well.

This day was different. The walls of the valley reminded me of my hikes in the Grand Canyon, particularly the hike from Phantom Ranch to Ribbon Falls. It was as if the desert, the Virgin River, Angels Landing, and the Emerald Pools had transported me to another wonderful place. We slowed down and savored our time there. We let nature infect us.

Lessons From My Clients:

Never Go to Bed Angry! Sometimes the lessons I learn are simple. I was speaking to an older client this week about her relationships with family members. She recounted hearing her mother telling a friend that was having marital problems, to “Never go to bed angry!” It’s interesting that this was wisdom that Elsie (not her real name) overheard from her mother back in the Fifties. I think it’s fascinating that her mother didn’t actually tell her that, or at least it’s her recollection that she learned it indirectly by overhearing it. Think about the things that your children overhear you say to your friends and extended family members. We could expound about the wisdom of “Not letting the sun go down upon your wrath,” but I think it’s also important to ponder the ways that we transmit these tidbits of wisdom to our children and even our grandchildren. They hear everything. Hopefully, the things they remember help them for the rest of their lives.

My Advice for the New Year: Get Rid of Baggage!

I had some time to kill at the airport this past week and I used it to clear away some of the distractions and junk on my phone. More specifically, I unsubscribed to all of those unwanted emails that I accumulated over this past year. There were lots and lots. And then I got rid of all the apps that cluttered up my phone. And then I…..don’t look away….I unfollowed or unfriended people on my social media that, frankly, were either not a friend or just honestly annoying. I guess I have a low tolerance for people’s opinions about politics and other personal topics and I was getting tired of being dragged down into the gutters every time I opened Facebook. You are what you eat. You know what I mean? We can’t keep letting junk into our minds because eventually it changes us and usually not for the better. Getting rid of this year’s baggage might help you have a better year regardless of whether or not you make any resolutions. It’s kind of a reboot.

Happy New Year!!!!

The Unpopular Notion of Self-Denial

We live in a land of plenty: food, drink, and comfort. There are some in our country that lack these things. I am touched by those locked in homelessness and those without food and shelter, but that does not describe most of us. We live in a country marked by opulence and decadence, a culture that indulges in pleasure.

As we continue our study of “The Guide to the Good Life,” by William Irvine, we consider the Third Stoic Technique of Self-Denial. This may not be a popular practice, but it is one that has the potential to lead us to peace and tranquility.

The Stoics believed that accumulating fame and fortune rarely if ever contributed to the Good Life. They believed that happiness did not come from getting the things that we desire, but rather, from learning to desire the things that we already possess. We learn to desire the things that we possess by periodically denying ourselves of them.

“We accomplish this,” writes Irvine, “by allowing ourselves to become hungry or thirsty, even though water and food are at hand, and we might sleep on a hard bed even though a soft one is available.” When we do this, Irvin asserts that we receive three benefits: 1) It will harden us against any misfortune that might befall us, 2) We will grow confident that we can handle any discomfort that might befall us, and 3) It will help us appreciate what we already have.

In other words, Self-Denial helps us grow!! It is when we periodically deny ourselves of the things that we desire and possess, that we learn the value of our things and the value of life.

What are some ways that I practice this technique? I fast by temporarily depriving myself of food. I skip breakfast most days and on others, I skip breakfast and lunch. It is not often, but I restrict the sugar that I eat. Practicing these restrictions helps me appreciate the sweets and the meals that I missed.

I often strap on a 40 to 60 lb. pack and hike into a forest and sleep on a 1 ½ inch pad in the cold of Fall and Winter. I endure the cold, the weight of the pack, and the burning quads as I climb in and out of the canyons and valleys. My heart is pounding in my chest and my breaths are deep. It is punishing.

I have ridden my bicycle across the state of Indiana in one day. It was my 55th birthday and I remember my father’s response: “That doesn’t sound like fun to me.” It was punishing as well. And I only say that it was punishing because of the temporary pain and suffering that I experienced during the ride. Afterwards, nothing can compare to the joy and satisfaction of showering and laying my head down on my pillow.

This past Spring, I hiked in and out of the Grand Canyon twice: 26 miles and over 22,000 feet of elevation. It was exhausting. It was challenging. And yes, it hurt. The first hike out was through a blizzard with snow and 40-50 mile an hour winds. But the exhilaration that followed taught me to appreciate the warmth and the comfort of shelter.  

These are just a few of the things that I do to deprive myself of the creature comforts that I’ve become accustomed.

What are some of the things that you do?

I have many friends that practice Lent by fasting or restricting other material possessions or activities in their lives. This is usually for a period of 40 days once a year. I’m certain that they experience joy when they re-introduce the food or activity into their lives. They have a newfound appreciation for these things. Imagine if the practice of Lent was more often.

Self-Denial doesn’t sound like a remedy for an exotic illness or an intervention that will sell a lot of books, but I believe that it is this very practice that will bring peace and tranquility to your life. Self-Denial softens us, and hardens us. It awakens us, and quiets us; sharpens our senses and then soothes them. It costs us nothing, but when practiced regularly, helps us find satisfaction.

The Hurried Child –Are We Creating a Generation of Anxious Children?

I first read David Elkind’s book, “The Hurried Child,” while in graduate school almost 25 years ago. It provided a course of treatment for me to use with families and their children. I encouraged families to relax and limit the stress that they imposed upon their kids. This stress usually took the form of over-involvement in extra-curricular activities and pressure to excel academically. Elkind asserted then and continues to in the 25th Anniversary edition of his book, that we are rushing our kids through childhood and contributing serious problems with anxiety and depression.

“The concept of childhood, so vital for a child’s healthy development,” he writes, “is threatened with extinction in the society we have created. Today’s child has become the unwilling, unintended victim of overwhelming stress –the stress borne of rapid, bewildering social change and constantly rising expectations.”

People need stress. It’s very important for our body to function and can help create creativity and motivation for being productive in society.

But chronic stress is very harmful and can lead to health issues such as, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and anxiety, just to name a few.

“For some children, Elkind summarizes, “chronic stress is translated into what Freud called “free-floating anxiety,” in the sense that it is not attached to a specific fear of apprehension.”

Childhood Anxiety is becoming an epidemic in our country.

I think Elkind is careful to spread the blame to several institutions for this rise in stress and anxiety with kids and not just parents. These include: the family system, schools, the media, and the internet. I recently reviewed the book, “IGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids are growing up less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy, and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood,” by Jean Twenge, PH.D. “Whereas teens used to hear about social events through whispers,” she writes, “they can now see up-to-the-minutes pictures of exactly what they are missing.” Children and teens are being robbed of the peace and safety of living in the “here and now.”

I remember many things about my childhood: playing with my brother Tim, building forts, and watching Saturday cartoons. I grew up during the Vietnam war and remember seeing soldiers on the evening news. Also, the threat of nuclear holocaust was a constant fear in the 60’s. But we used most of our days living like kids: playing in the here and now.

Unbeknownst to us, we we’re practicing a form of Mindfulness! Playing in the here and now!

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Behavior Therapy-For Children

At True North Counseling, we want to help children and teens cope with stress and anxiety. We want to help children and teens get better connected with themselves and with the “here and now.” We do this through Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Behavior Therapy-For Children (MBCBT-C). This is done in a group setting and uses evidence-based strategies to help them cope with stress. We utilize graduate-school students and provide this group treatment at no charge to the children and teens that we see for Individual and Family Therapy. If you would like to utilize this service, call 502-777-7525 to set up an assessment for your child or teen.

If you’re worried that you might be contributing to the increased stress and anxiety of your child, read Elkind’s book.  

 

A Guide to the Good Life

“A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy,” by William B. Irvine.

I’m in Colorado visiting my two granddaughters as I write this. I started reading “A Guide to the Good Life” on the plane. It was one of the few times I wanted the flight to last longer. “Just let me finish one more chapter,” I whispered to the pilot.

This is a book about Stoicism and developing a philosophy of life. Classical Stoicism has little to do with the modern definition of a Stoic: One who is seemingly indifferent to or unaffected by joy, grief, pleasure, or pain.

“I discovered,” writes Irvine, “that the goal of the Stoics was not to banish emotion from life, but rather, to banish negative emotions.” He explains that a “philosophy of life” is the guiding principle for living, or a way of living that hopefully leads to The Good Life.

Irvine explains that The Good Life has little to do with prosperity. Many people have experienced The Good Life despite the lack of prosperity and, of course, think of all the people that are very prosperous and yet are unhappy and miserable.

I’ll be sharing several Stoic Techniques and ways of living as I digest them. They “hit a nerve” with me and I hope they will with you as well.

Stoic Technique One: Negative Visualization

At the very root of our nature is the notion that we are insatiable. We are never satisfied with what we have. Irvine describes this as the “Satisfaction Treadmill.” We desire something and acquire it. We lose interest in it. We desire something else, and so on. This is also called “Hedonic Adaptation.”

We have all witnessed this in our lives. The new car. The new computer. Fill in the blank. The result is that we experience a lack of happiness with the things in our lives, the people in our lives, our health, our job, and life itself.

One technique for getting off of this treadmill is Negative Visualization.

“This is,” Irvine writes, “the single most valuable technique in the Stoic psychological tool kit.” This technique involves periodically visualizing the possibility that the enjoyment of the people and things in your life will come to an end.

-Regarding our children, when we kiss them as they leave for school, remember that they are mortal and not something that we own. They have been given to us but possibly gone tomorrow.

-Regarding a job, visualize losing it due to no fault of your own.

-Regarding your health, reflecting on what it would mean to lose it due to an accident or illness.

-Regarding your spouse or partner, think about losing them to death or to divorce.

This is not intended to be morbid or for the purpose of robbing you of the joy that these people, activities or things bring to your life.

Rather it is intended to:

-Help you cherish every kiss from your spouse, your partner, or your child.

-Help you appreciate getting up and going to your job each day.

-Get you out and enjoy the health you do have rather than the health problems you have.

-Embrace the life that you have each day.

-Learn to desire the people and things that you already have.

Irvine concludes, “Negative Visualization, rather than making people glum, will increase the extent to which they enjoy the world around them, in as much at it will prevent them from taking that world for granted.”

There is something sobering about thinking that all things and people in our lives are temporary and impermanent. It is sobering to visualize that the life we have will come to an end and that we will eventually lose everything.

This Stoic technique helps us to take live one day at a time and treat the people in our lives as precious and priceless.

I think this is a worthy Philosophy of Life that will help lead us to The Good Life.

I’ll be sharing additional Stoic Techniques in upcoming Blogs. Stay tuned.

Desert Therapy

7:00 AM, November 13, 2018, EC-1 (Elephant Canyon –Campsite 1), Canyonlands National Park, Utah

There is nothing like the silence of the desert. This very cold morning (20 degrees) is only interrupted by the quiet hiss of the Whisperlite-butane stove heating my morning coffee.

It was cold last night. I had almost all of my cold weather gear on (Expedition this and Expedition that), and bundled up in my 12-degree sleeping bag. I awoke with frozen condensation on the inside of my tent. As I write this, I’m sitting on my 1 lb Helinox chair while the sun is rising.

As I gaze on the canyon walls, the cedars, the dry stream bed, I have a sense that I’m better than most people, but no, rather luckier than most people. Very few eyes, relatively speaking, have witnessed a morning like this, in this place. This place is only for those that are willing to pay the toll. And the toll for this place was a 4-mile hike with 60 lbs. on my back, scrambling in and out of canyons and over slip rock.

As I witnessed this new day in the desert canyon, I remembered that I had carried Edward Abbey’s book “Desert Solitaire,” with me, not the paperback, but the digital copy in my kindle.

And so, I spent the morning soaking up the sun and browsing Abbey’s work.

“Wilderness” he wrote,” is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread. A civilization which destroys what little remains of the wild, the spare, the original, is cutting itself off from its origins and betraying the principle of civilization itself.”

Abbey wrote his autobiography after spending two seasons in the late 1950’s as a park ranger in Arches National Park. He fell in love with the canyons and the desert. It became part of him.

“The love of wilderness is more than a hunger for what is always beyond reach; it is also an expression of loyalty to the earth, the earth which bore us and sustains us, the only home we shall ever know, the only paradise we ever need—if only we had the eyes to see.”

The wilderness changed him and it changes anyone willing to spend time in it.

It can heal you.

I had come here for healing. Not because of the people and things in my life. But because I needed to become a better person for the people and things in my life: to be a better counselor, a better partner, a better parent, and most importantly, a better human. The water was boiling. The sun was warming me now. It felt wonderful!