Midwest Surfer
Things I Learned on Saturday Night

1. Do not comment on a girl’s nose ring, she may not understand it was a compliment

2. The couple next to you that you bought the beer for probably is way better off then you but you might be pleasantly surprised at how they return the kindness

3. I now know what a Herkimer Diamond is and who owns the mine for them

4. Girls do not want to be asked tough questions like what do you want out of life, sorry twloha more specifically, Jamie

5. Their fathers do want you to offer them your appetizer when they are hungry

6. Josh and I are nice guys says a psychologist

7. Bartenders still go Kelly Kapowski and say they are washing their hair when you ask them to lunch

8. They probably stopped taking you seriously when you offer them a Herkimer Diamond in exchange for marriage

9. I thought I loved a One Republic song…turns out it was One Direction

10. I am now the personal chauffeur for 4 lucky U of A ladies for the rest of the semester

11. I live under a rock

12. People don’t dance like they do at weddings anymore they just want to grind on each other


I want to know what it looks like. I want someone to hand me a manual and say this is the right way to do it. I do not want to doubt if I am doing something good or bad. These are the things they do not tell you.  The risk you take, the doubts, the hurt, the loneliness, and the wanting to help.

I understand one night does not solve everything but does it not make it better for that night? Can’t we throw one starfish back into the sea without thinking it will just wash onshore again later? I wish I knew if it made a difference. Does $5 change a life or is it enabling someone to walk down the wrong path again and again?

I want to know how you would write love on her arms if you spoke a different language. If the people sending the messages got it all wrong. If they wanted to scold and punish instead of just asking your questions. Why do we want to make people feel bad about who they are?  I wish I could speak the language. Funny I listened to Belle by Jack Johnson tonight. There could not have been a more foreshadowing song.

I wish I knew what it looked like to make a difference. I wish I knew if that impromptu bbq made a difference that Sunday in Chicago. I wish I knew a better way to save someone from themselves. I wish I could do what someone else has done but just on a small scale. It tortures me. I came here to overcome these feelings but I just end up feeling overwhelmed. I want the manual. I want to know I did the right thing. I do not want to doubt it. I know that can’t happen.

I tried. I do not want to say I told you so I just want to know I made a difference. That I was one bright spot in a bad year. One bright spot in a bad week. One bright spot in a bad day. That has to be my goal. Our goal. I hope I helped…

Horses on the range…

Its been a long week. I come here because I don’t want to talk about it with everyone. I do not want people to know the things I saw. I do not think people should like that. In garbage and amongst sewage water and naked and playing in piles of trash. If we have failed in anything in this world it is that. We do not know these people exist and maybe we do not care. Its not enough to just start a center from 6,000 miles away. Money does not solve problems and I will never believe different.

I hope that June 2, 2012 goes down as the day I decided never to go back to a real job. The day I gave up on 60 hour weeks and just realized that I am better used as an hourly worker who volunteers in those extra hours. I know bills will still need to be paid but maybe I can do without a lot of them. Do I need cable and the internet? Do I need a smartphone since I never had one? Do I need a new car once this one is paid off? Can it last me the next 20 years?

Maybe it is my fault for not sharing these things with anyone. Maybe if I shared them I am afraid you would just nod and say thats awful and go back to your life. Maybe I was in a bad mood but there are reasons. The reasons aren’t that I miss you. The reasons are because I am seeing the worst parts of our world without a lens. There is no filter or news channel to sensor out the bad parts. I was standing in that filth, barefoot, wondering why a child would run away and chose to come here. Is this filth with an abusive parent better than a modern building with four walls and 3 full meals? And if so then what am I doing here. And why cannot I not explain that to anyone? One person seemed to understand that but they were here with me and seeing it. Maybe that is what I loved and why I feel disconnected now. 

I felt a longing to go home today. Not home as in the States but home as in Ohio. The air had a feel of a fall breeze, least compared to how hot it has been. I missed home. I missed the fall. I missed family and friends who knew me better than anyone else. I wondered why I was out west. I wondered if I really want to surf on the west coast or if it just always sounded like the different thing to do. No one growing up in Ohio wants to surf the west coast. I should not say no one. Hardly ever is a better choice. 

I wish you understood what I see here. I wish you understood that is what makes me move around and search for something. And how funny if that search only led me back to the place I have always called home. You think I was being rude. I was saving you from hearing these stories. Maybe that is unfair. Maybe I should let you judge what you want to hear. Maybe….

19 out of 33 isn’t too bad…

19 out of 33 isn’t too bad…


I memorized all 32 items…I will turn them in a collage…I will paint them…I will photograph it..it is my gift…

Learning how to die

I guess this is a letter you will never read. I think it is better that way. Two of the most amazing moments crashing with two of the worst. I wonder if I am selfish. I wonder how I can think I am selfish when I am living in Cambodia as a volunteer. I wonder if I came here to be selfish. I am learning to let go of things. To stop holding them to my chest and sink with them to the bottom of the lake. Its a lake. Its not an ocean. 

I am not sure why I have to apologize for what I want. I am not sure why I have to apologize for fixing your guilt. I do not care about material things. I love Quiksilver but I have lived this long without a purchase. I am giving away instead of receiving and that feels nice. But you do not understand that. Someone else does understand that. I am not sure why these two things are separate.

I believe I am here for the right reasons. I do not believe I am selfish but I have selfish moments. And in these selfish moments even, I think I am helping someone else. Sometimes I am and they do not see it that way. I wonder if I can live that way forever. I wonder if it wont matter in 6 months.

I am going off of the raw emotions I am feeling here. I am focused on my time here. It is a bubble in some ways. All of them burst eventually. But I like feeling alive again. I like discussing the things that bother me down to my core and feeling that they are ok. I like sharing these ideas. I like that you understand. I like that you have the same ideas but you have a clearer picture of them.

I do not want to return to material things. I do not want to have the same fights I had 5 years ago. I left those fights behind. I do not fight with myself but I struggle with my ideas. The idea that we can be part of a community and it can work. That we can be happy there. That someone else understands these things and wants to share these ideas. Im not confused though. I understand that I am not only talking with someone else but I am talking to myself. I am listening to myself answer my own questions. Recognizing that there is a counter point for the things I feel. That doesn’t need to stick around forever. I just needed to know it existed. It exists.

The two ideas arent meeting. Two things crashing into one another with completely opposite meanings. I wish I was right. Maybe I am. I am sorry anyway. I wish I had said something different. Im not yet on solid ground. I am still struggling to swim to the shore. I am glad I came here. I was faking it before. I didn’t tell anyone that. I needed this adventure to find myself. I did not want to lie anymore that I had it figured out. I wanted to struggle amongst others struggling. I wanted to find answers. You brought me here and I trust in that. You talked to me. I listened. I am not sorry. I am thankful. I didn’t bring you here with me. I hope to leave together. I hope I learned. We are always learning.

My Racing Thoughts

I wonder why we do this. I wonder why we get pulled in directions and we go. Why we leave loved ones behind in search on an adventure. I wonder if we need that adventure to survive or we just think we do. I wonder why we rely on technology to communicate. I wonder when a internet conversation is good enough and when it is just a poor substitute to feel less alone.

I go to the pool to be alone and yet be a part of something. It has always been that way. I enjoy the water. I miss it when it isn’t there. Not the water we drink because I do not drink water. Well I did not before I came here, I do now. I miss the water that surrounds you when you are swimming. The water that invites you in and swallows you up at the same time. The water that is the life from which we all exist. It seems to be the only thing I truly ever miss. I feel at home there.

I want to remove myself from the race. I want to forget that we are supposed to do certain things in life because I do not want to do them. 40 hours seems too much. 40 hours isn’t enough. I replay everything and wonder how it ended up here. I am not sad that I am here, I am mad that I didn’t appreciate there. So I appreciate the now.

Talk yourself out of the moments when you lose yourself. Do not forget that what you are doing is important. That no one else is doing it so you have to. You are a servant and you must have the heart to serve. You need to take care of others and you need to smile. It is a journey. It is a short journey or it is a long journey but it is a journey. You like journey’s.  74 days…

Money and fame goes away, but how you’re remembered as a person is what lasts and what matters.
Jason Segal
Long live all the magic we made…

Sometimes when you are by yourself in a strange country and everyone you know and love is in another one it gets lonely. I think you start to miss things you never would otherwise and you become desperate for companionship. You would talk to anyone who even knew you before you took this journey. Maybe you feel like you are slipping into the unknown or that no one will remember you and forget that you were gone.

And that is a lie that you tell yourself in those moments. The truth is you are making new friends in new parts of the world and using the new experiences to shape your life for the better. You have weak moments and moments of doubt but those are the moments you have to fight through. 

I know it is silly to like Taylor Swift when you are 31. But I think this song Long Live is about as accurate as any song I have ever heard. No wonder she dated John Mayer. But I cant help but relate to reflecting on great moments in life that have long since gone but are still burned into your memory. The idea that it was you and someone else battling the world and it felt like you were on top. Those moments come often and then they are gone. I think it is important to remember that they will come again.

Its been a month. Its been two since I did what I have always done. It is hard at times to keep yourself on the road. I admire Izzy for what he did for all those days by himself. I think you have to keep moving to stop from thinking. I think days get tough and it is hard to remember why you took this journey. These days pass and later you will be reflecting with friends on how you were on top of the world….

Will you take a moment, promise me this
That you’ll stand by me forever
But if God forbid fate should step in
And force us into a goodbye
If you have children some day
When they point to the pictures
Please tell them my name
Tell them how the crowds went wild
Tell them how I hope they shine

I read somewhere… how important it is in life not necessarily to be strong, but to feel strong… to measure yourself at least once.
Into the Wild