Saturday, January 17, 2009


And so begins the age of the Pilot....

I must admit that having a car accident, while at the time really REALLY sucking, has turned into a somewhat enlightening experience.

I've talked with several people about this.

Apparently near death experiences are well known as purveyors of perspective.

Who knew?

And although a metaphorical wake up call would probably have been easier to handle, I think, in the end, a little perspective is something that I have been sorely in need of.

(It's not surprising, however, that living amongst the tallest trees in the world would skew my perspective a little.)

Long story short (too late!) and without too many details (to spare all of you that have heard them), I am falling back on what got me here in the first place to haul my sorry butt out of the emotional doldrums - my job.

When I first got here, one of the first people I met described me as "driven".

"Driven" has never been a word I have used to describe myself. I have, in fact, often considered myself "inherently lazy", which I think might actually be the technical opposite of "driven".

"Driven" to me implies an almost maniacal compulsion to do something or get somewhere. It is a negative word. To be driven is to sacrifice to achieve a goal.

I am not big on sacrifice.

Regular readers of this blog may remember my heretofore reluctance to be pinned down to what I want - whether in men or the grocery aisles.

Being driven implies that you know what you want.

I think, in most cases, it is still true that I don't know what I want. In most cases, that is, except for my job.

The last month has given me a little clarity. It's showed me that there is deeper meaning in what I'm doing...that there is value in the lifestyle that I am living despite it's social deficiencies.....and that I can be really good at what I do if I just quit revelling in being inherently lazy and instead embrace that fact that being DRIVEN is not a bad thing.

I hope it works.

I hope being driven will get me to where I want to be.....not that I really, decisively know where that is.

But at least now I know the general direction.

Maybe I'll take the Pilot.

The Only Constant Thing...

This piece was written for the Olympic National Park Newspaper - The Bugler. I don't know if the park will like it. But I do.

I try to go to the beach every day.

As a coastal park ranger here in Olympic National Park, going to the beach is my job. But I'd go anyway, even if it wasn't.

There's just something about watching the waves. Something about the constant coming and going, the powerful crashing, the fine mist the floats up and away from the cresting water. Something about the sand that's never in the same place twice and the way you can feel the salt and moisture hanging in the air.

There's something about knowing this place is always changing and yet, somehow, always the same. It draws me to this wild coastline as it draws so many others.

The contradiction of wanting things to change while wanting them to remain the same, while a little confusing, is not really surprising. Most of us are not comfortable in an environment that is always changing. We have a routine with expectations. We like knowing that we have control over our lives - where we live, what we eat, what we do at work. We know what we like and what we don't like. Change means inconvenience, discomfort, or effort. Change is hard.

And yet change is what gives meaning to our lives. Babies are born. Loved ones die. We fall in love. Our hearts get broken. We learn. We forget. We are constantly bombarded by the world around us and all it has to offer, and it makes us feel alive.

And so our love of the coast makes sense. It is a place of extremes - where one world meets another. Violence meets tranquility. The known meets the unknown.

It is a place where change is expected and welcomed.

It is a place where change is easy.

As a park ranger, I can't help but wonder if this place would hold the same mystique if it weren't protected. Would the intrusion of human-caused change destroy this magical balance?

The same instinct that spurs me to pluck discarded water bottles and candy wrappers from the sand tells me that a car on the beach, a house on the hill, a film of oil on the water would destroy the very essence of what this wonderland offers us.

The same instinct tells me that if we as a society do not fight to protect this place by doing whatever little thing we can do - supporting the protection of wild places from development, knowing where our watersheds drain, or even just picking up trash as we walk the beach - this balanced world of embraceable change may disappear only to be replaced by yet another thing that has changed for the worse.

Mahatma Gandhi once said, "We must be the change we wish to see in the world."

And so I try to go to the beach every day.

I go to remind myself that change can be good. I go to remind myself of what I'm protecting. And, as I join the others staring out at the miles upon miles of waves breaking on the Olympic coast, I go to remind myself that I'm not doing it alone.