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Amongst the heavy fog that gives me impressions of being amidst clouds, I am cleansed.  My body feels a greater form of piece, and my mind, despite the fog surrounding me, seems to think clearly. I do not know for how long I sat, contemplated my actions, in past, present and futures past, but I can open my eyes now, to a whole new cutout in my coloring book, which I’m making my way through quickly.  Unfortunately there are three volumes, each with countless chapters that I’ve heard in the end, only leave the drawer more confused than initially—but after the child has completely finished the 6 additional indexes can one, now able to reflect upon the drawings in its entirety, finally and forever close the book…

In one of the recent drawings, there is a man sitting on top of the greatest and tallest pine tree in the village.  The climb had been exhausting so at the moment he rests his body.  From this perspective, he looks downwards and outwards onto the tops of the entire forest like small individually placed crayons and colored pencils, their ends rooted in the dirt and tips pointing toward the sky. According to the drawing, the man after feeding the waxwings, and creating a bird-like nest from the dead branches and pine needles surrounding him, carefully sits within it, cross-legged, and closes the blinds behind his eyes to hide the light from outside.

The man attempts to find peace in his new life atop the great pine, but just as soon as all the blinds had been pulled so tight that no sight could ever enter the inside, the man behind them, begins his escape. He flies to Argentina where he relishes in the photos his good friend, Pablo had taken of them years prior.  They laughed at how their beards have changed.  The next day he visits Brazil, where in the midst of a heavy rainstorm, he manages to find two fellow travelers who even after a night of drinking wine and smoking hash, managed to teach him about rock climbing and playing ‘football’—now his favorite sport.

Two days later the man rents a motorcycle and hits the road to America—a country that had eluded him for many years in his life except to be occasionally flown in and hired by “the country men”, who pay for his visit and stay in exchange for working tirelessly in their ‘gardens’—ripping countless roots from the earth to make way for sidewalks and taller buildings. This time however, with his pockets loaded with savings, the man crosses the boarder, passes through 17 states, and never once retraces a step until 18 days later, arriving full circle in Texas. 

In those 18 days, he had been seen in Vegas—not gambling but rather watching Cirque du Soleil and sipping three-foot ice cream sundaes by the pool.  In California he stopped to admire the great vast gardens that appeared randomly throughout the streets and was astonished at how many people could simply drive past in the isolation of their cars, never once seeming to get out and walk around the beauty.  Unfortunately after he himself said this, the man’s motorbike was stolen by bandits, who had taken advantage of his obliviousness in human nature, for he was admiring a bird of paradise.

Luckily, in passing he met a fellow biker who had just installed a small sidecar for additional passengers.  Even though the sidecar was already occupied by a greasy haired kid, who was documenting their journey with rolls of super 8 film, the motorist, named Curly, insisted there was enough space for the two of them and the three traveled together up through Oregon and Washington. They made stops in small towns to drink coffee, greet friends and talk literature until early into the morning.  Sometimes, after the bonfire would burn down, and the discussion of Neruda, Post-modernism, Nietzsche or Cortazar subsided, the man could feel the presence of the little boy, inside him, as if through these experiences, a greater aspect, hidden from sight, would reveal itself over the journey by the darkness of blinds. At that moment suddenly the wind picked up, blowing out the last remaining coals in the fire.   



The next morning a large tree was found fallen in the yard.  The neighbors claimed to see a man sawing it in the middle of the night. Others said the tree bent as low as the ground where it finally uprooted the earth around it, but nothing proved either of these claims to be the cause—for the large tree had no sign of clear cutting, or uprooting—it was simply bent 90 degrees at its stump, perfectly parallel to the ground, as if by force a thousand men had pulled and pushed it, swaying it back and forth to move it closer to the ground.  The man was amused when he saw kids playing on the horizontally growing tree, for their imagination pretended them to be climbing, swinging, and jumping from its branches. 

After three days, the man decided to continue on his journey.  It had been his longest stop, but the talks of literature and countless cups of coffee—which at first intrigued him, now only left him more confused and eager to apply it elsewhere, so he packed his belongings and headed east, for he had heard great songs around the fire about Minnesota snow—something he found impulsive to see. As he said goodbye to his lasting friends and thanked the greasy haired kid who gave him a framed photograph of the three posing in front of a gigantic redwood tree, he left. As he passed, the man swore he could make out the talk of the neighbors who were still very excited by the prior nights past.

“Very well Georgia, but at least it wasn’t that tree”.

***

Atop the great pine, amidst the heavy fog now of ones memory, the man finally opened his eyes.  The journey was conceived as clearly as a child’s drawing of his own family, and became a sign to the man that he was missing out. “There are far too many choices, too many worldly wonders to live” he thought as he shifted position in his nest to feed the waxwings, who after a night of heavy breathing and rest, surely were hungry.  As the beautiful creatures came swarming from their nights duty abroad, landing around the man’s head and perching upon his shoulders, he suddenly felt an overwhelming rush of knowledge—every one dream—large scaled, small scaled, colored scaled, grey or dragon scaled—each with different shading, crosshatching and tracing to fill the page.

The man became scared and wanted to disembark his nesting, for the waxwings were not only exponentially growing in numbers, they were weighing down his back and blocking his sight. It was then—a moment of war between him and the thoughts brought on by the birds that he felt scared, vulnerable, and threatened perched atop his pine.  He tried to return inside, shutting the windows, closing the blinds in hope that he would recall his journey to New York, where he climbed the Statue of Liberty, but as he saw himself climbing to the top, he also saw himself disappearing from those below.  In fact, seconds later the entire Statue started to disintegrate and in a quick flash, dissolved completely. A few moments later, the entire journey became forgotten to him, lost his inability travel with his thoughts entirely for eternity, and the man questioned his choice to abandon his prior life, where he was a successful radish farmer, husband, and father to fourteen children—all of whom had not yet realized his disappearance.

In a scurry of blindness and de-nesting, the man disembarked from his perch and descended the erected growth of root, wood, and pine. He jumped from each branch, passing each hundred of years of progress with another leap and fall, himself short-living the past journey upwards. 



While he could still see the light of morning dawn, he looked above himself to what he had become, observing the waxwings waning calls, circular flight, and his own disappearing from sight, for the closer he got to the bottom, the pine leaves acted not as nests but like shields to the sky. As he reached the forest floor and de-barked from the great pine, he breathed a sole breath from his chest, outward, inward, and with a bend at the knees, collapsed upon the ground, dirt in his hair, up his spine and in between his feet. For three days he lay there, awaiting help of some kind, when finally one of his own children, hunting for dry firewood came upon him.  The child was scrawny, underfed and seemed to lack all knowledge of his father’s existence—for he had been gone now almost fifty-two days.  The child could neither speak nor understand the man so they both stared at each other until the child eventually left.  To the man’s surprised, the child returned, not with any other help or people, but with a small coloring book.  He showed the man his drawings. They were pictures of radishes, farms, his mother, his sisters, his brothers, his family, their car, the food they ate, the magical creatures they overcame, and lastly a half-drawn face; to which the child sat down before and with two remaining crayons filled in, seeing the reality of life head-on, but clearly re-shaping it to his own.

When the child finished, he pulled a single seed from his pocket, wrapped it in the drawing, and buried it in the dirt amongst the pine trees, so that someday when he grew old, he could perch himself amongst the leaves and waxwings; cherishing the climb up and down the great pine as not others but rather one’s life worth living, despite. 


 
 
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I cannot express how lucky I am to be in Guatemala.  Even though our days consist of work, hunger, and no sleep, I'm coming to enjoy the thoughts of stillness.  It is a change from the daily routine I've become accustomed to--fine cheeses, fine wine, sushi and steak--but the prior is being replaced by fine beans and fine rice so everything is: fine. 

My skinny build is building.  Yoga is led in the mornings by Chris though I'm having trouble with 'downward dog'. We have left over rice and beans for lunch, and sometimes if we're lucky rice and beans for breakfast. After these fulfilling meals, Zach leads us in aerobic exercising sometimes climaxing in a 20 mile hike up and down the mountain--but in all realities either this routine will create a
fine gardening machine or you can simply purchase these at home depot back home, though I have no idea where to find the necessary isle or strength.  

Zach, Chris and Ryan have been wonderful company, that without, I could have never remained as calm; having no concept of the language, culture or soccer skills.  I miss not speaking/conversing with my new surroundings though. There is an unseen barrier between the locals and me--one that only by harnessing the great powers of Zach and Chris allows me to communicate through. 

Also you might like to know, that despite my enormous failure in Boy Scouts, I have successfully made a fire to cook beans and rice.

Our dreams have been vivid.  They seem to speak a different tale each morning, something I've come to enjoy hearing.  It seems there are 4 additional 'waxwings*' that hover slightly above our heads, each examining the days events, deconstructing them into a powdery mist that when sprinkled lightly upon the forehead of its recipient, procures a silhouette of its present presence.  Each night the waxwing returns and my shadow sharpens in focus--another reminder that I exist, a light, and a wall between. In the morning, we reconstruct the prior nights events with detail, ensuring another visit from the waxwing.  I hope to share more updates about our findings on this mythical creature soon, but for now they're welcomed with gracious company. 

We continue to farm.  The seed for radishes will soon be planted.  

Please pass these words to Kyle, for I realize his Junior-year summer is upon him and the sun is an escape for those in the Northwest.  Also be prepared for when I return to sleep for two months strait.  When I awake, you will find me passed out in the kitchen, having eaten 15 eggs, 2 pounds of sausages, and 3 and a half loafs of bread.  The mayonnaise, avocado, and tomato I was planning to eat along side may be the only things remaining uneaten...but this is all hypothetical reasoning that I will not dwell upon now. 

 I miss you all, for everything you've done has led me to this, from Guatemala; 

Love,
Sean.


*http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waxwing
 
 
It was a relief arriving and finding out Zach and Chris speak excellent spanish and could successfully get us out of Guatemala City without accidentally spending the budgets worth on bartered items.  An offering of snacks and cookies were dropped in my lap and handed to me by salesmen trying to sell to the passengers on board.  After his sweep from the back of the bus to the front, he picked up the cookies, seeing that we weren´t hungry and willing to pay and exited at the next rolling stop. Moments later, another patron entered, and the bus continued on.

Along the trip, there is an overwhelming sensation of coloring. I have a small  idea to what this country
is, the textbooks I´ve read, the news reports seen breifly is all, but  having never actually lived and re-acted to these surroundings before now, leaves me perplexed.  It´s as if this country never existed, except for the small outlines of shapes drawn in my head by some pre-concieved idea them. I seem to carry a coloring book, that I, myself, must color to remember the unforgettable details Guatemala offers, in texture, design, and shade. More importantly, just as a child must first color the picture before he or she truly finds meaning in it, so do I look forward to filling in the space inside; with my images and experience of Guatemala; today, yesterday, and for the next 8 weeks. 

The greatest fear thus far is the unknown, for there is no plan when I leave this computer. There is no local barista that serves the coffee
I´ve grown to enjoy each morning, no pre-drawn work schedule or classes that I´m required to attend: there is no routine, and each day begins a new page to draw upon. But I can´t help think about the salesmen trying to sell me cookies, hopping from bus to bus, seemingly a routine that I color in as detail and he forgets for another day.
 
 
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A couple hours before departure and nothing quite says 'goodbye' like a quality 90% American beef patty--actually 3 patties, but that's beside the point*.  As I opened what would be my 7th and last remaining packet of ketchup, I remembered the many times before, sometimes with my family, sometimes alone, eating here, looking out-onto the runway at each embarking/arriving/debarking/deriving traveler(s).  Through the window next to us, Ryan and I looked out at the world operating outside--machinery, fueling, catering, and the newly installed 'direct tv and wireless internet' onboard the aircrafts.  Each takeoff and landing was each person's heading to or returning to--of some destination, seemingly 'home' to them.  Ryan and I stared out a while before leaving the 'main terminal'.  


Now at our gate, we can see the people we'll be traveling with--at least to Houston,TX--where we have the luxury of more quality American beef patties--I for one am excited, Ryan maybe not so much. The flight is delayed due to a lack of crew. Over the airport speakers they assured the passengers that it was a scheduling issue, and half the crew is just passing through security. To pass the time, Ryan has been reading from his new book, 'I, Rigoberta Menchu'*** prescribed by one of our WWU proffesors--I'm excited to hear all about it.  


Boarding begins. We fly out tonight, a waxwing above, witnessing the world below, trying to strain our-eyes through clouds and sky.  

*please take notice to the long line for 'Wendy's' behind the foreground of the picture. 
**also note that this photo has been reversed due to copyright laws. 

***http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rigoberta_Mench%C3%BA
 

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