Friday, January 28, 2011

hold before man the idea of god

a good friend of mine, a christian man, once raised an idea to me. he spoke of god and how every culture has this different idea of who or what 'god' is and how open to interpretation we are. if you hold before man the idea of god in an agricultural society the people are probably going to claim the sun to be their god. it makes sense. without the sun there would be no crop so a fit sacrifice would be to offer some grain to the sun god. this would make sure that the sun will rise again in the morning and again the cycle of agriculture can continue. if you hold before man the idea of god in a militant society perhaps the people would choose a fierce animal to be their god, not unlike a lion or a dragon. the idea of god is simply open to interpretation and we use god to fill in the blanks for things which we cannot mutually understand and especially cannot understand in our differences.

this made me wonder about other things that really are only ideas to us, like love or kinship. surely the idea of love varies from culture to culture and our interpretations of what love is seems to mix like oil and water in some situations. to some, love is an act of jealousy or fear while to others, love is a concept of trust and mutual understanding. it operates under principals of chance and uncertainty much like life does. it is a profound connection between two people whether sexual, familial or perhaps also the love of a god, a religious love.

hold before man the idea of god and see if the concept of love enters their mind or even fear. to some believers, god is love and love is god, the two are the same. i admire these people in their successes for discovering a true and unconditional love whereas people like me tend to dwell in the belief that love is simply something endless, compared only to our universe or furthermore in the profoundness of how truly small we humans are... and although we are small and made of nothingness, we love another for that every bit of nothingness that they are

all the love that i found (part 2)

the winter has this way of confining us to our beds and swearing off daytime. we see no point to it. we are teased by the cameo appearances of the sun for brief moments of vitamin intake but other than that we dont have much to show for ourselves. this thought is starting to scare me a bit. i dont like wasting energy. i'm using this time to save money and map out future swims to far away lands but my feet are cold and itchy. its no wonder i find myself looking at pictures of the world's most curious corners and stretches of the imagination.

i'll have to do something about this. i think relocation is in order for the end of this year to somewhere warmer. i miss the days when i couldn't tell february from july without measuring the rainfall. i'm focused on a path now to take to the underwater world and its something that excites me greatly. i've always believed that the pursuit of excitement, without causing harm to yourself or others, will repay astronomically.

lets see what i can do.. i'm happy but cold.. thats like oil and water :)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

long live NRB!

in early april, 2009, 4 new friends set out from southern nicaragua to travel to the northeastern most region of honduras completely in secret. this was the first time they had ever met and would (likely) be the last time their paths ever crossed, at least in this walk of life. they knew not of each other's pasts nor did they care for the future however for the next couple of weeks they were the only friends they had in the world, and the world cared not of this.

to travel is to trust yourself and to learn which strangers you can trust. everyone is looking out for themselves and in the blink of an eye you can make a lifetime friend or a dangerous enemy; god knows i've made both. but one must learn to rely on instinct and one must also come the realization that you cannot survive alone. we eventually come to the point where we are capable of tossing ourselves into the unknown with the faith that we will meet others to guide us along, such are the principles of doubt and uncertainty.. yet doubt and uncertainty have never served me so well as they did almost two years ago when i walked the beaches with nrb.

if youre reading this, cheers guys...

Friday, January 21, 2011

now i can smile at the cut out moon

now i can spell it out in passion...

when i was 19 i took an overnight roadtrip from detroit to new york with some friends. that night i worked at my restaurant and got off around midnight to be greeted by sam, kelly and lesley holding a set of keys to a grey ford focus with no plans for the weekend. impulse and spontinaity were two skills i learned in my mid to late teenage years and i'm glad they happened when they did; they got me into some great things in the years to come and continue to amaze me to this day.

we drove into the night and although i forget how many hours it took i do know that it was well into daylight when we arrived. i was delerious from exhaustion for most of the weekend however i do remember something beautiful that came over me when it was my turn to drive. i was the last shift in the farthest northeastern stretches of pennsylvania, deep in the shallow mountains and trees. i remember the moon slightly to my left. she was the only one awake with me that night and in the lonliness and beauty of that night i had a deep and personal conversation with her that has made me smile every time she visually visits this beautiful planet ever since. i asked her to keep an eye on me and to be the last one there for me should my faith in all others fall. even at my darkest moments i wanted her to rely on and to be that gentle reminder that there is something so beautiful and untouchable in this existence silently showing us that we are fools to think we can conquer all.

she humbles me. and it was in a connection to that night that she would humble me again many years later. few people can understand this story like my mysterious visitor from Tonga back in the days when i lived in the south pacific. in fact i maintain that this story is to be kept only between the two of us with an exception only for our lunar friend in the sky. the ocean almost claimed us that day and against all odds we made it back to land in time to see the moon wink (or smile) at us. a circle was completed that day and i thought back to the moment i firsted asked her to watch over me.

when one engages in any activity associated with the waters of earth it is impossible not to become involved with the movements of the moon. as a surfer, sailor or now, diver one must understand the changes of the tides. she lights up the night sky and turns the bodies of skinny-dippers to silver. she waits silently and only watches like the eyes of an owl and she blinks slowly, sometimes waiting with her eyes closed.. only for us to hear her breath as water crashes against the rocks.

have you ever seen the moon from underwater?

Sunday, January 16, 2011


remember always, that all of us, and you and i especially, are descended from immigrants.

-Franklin D. Roosevelt

lately i've been posing a tricky question to my friends and co-workers among the ESL community. i'm wondering (to them, to me) are you an immigrant? and if not, would you define the word 'immigrant'? some people curl their lip and think for a minute then have that realization that perhaps they are immigrants to turkey. we live here, we work here, some of us have fallen in love here and by all means we concern ourself with local affairs even to the degree sometimes (like myself) where we know more about current political situations in turkey than we do with our birth nation. it makes me think to the immigration boom to the USA in the early part of the twentieth century when people swarmed by the ship-load to start a new life and become a new nationality. i used to be furious with my mother and father in concerns with the way they've chosen to pronounce our family name. its been americanized and furthermore mid-westernized to sound like Ar-Dag-Na and it used to make me so angry that they would not pronounce Ardagna with the obvious italian ponunciation that rhymes something like 'lasagna'. 'GN' when followed by a vowel is clearly a 'nya' sound something like the 'Ñ' in spanish. however (and amongst many many other things of disagreement) i have chosen to accept my family's decision after my father told me of his father who took pride in the americanization of his name. in fact, he and his wife went from something like Giuseppi and Gievanna Ardagna to the very american Joseph and Jenny Ar-Dag-Na, and they were proud of it. they were more proud of the United State of America than i've ever been and considering they are two of my favorite humans to walk this earth i'd have to respect the family decision as long as they respect my decision to call myself how i feel appropriate. and i can relate; i once went by the name 'kilisi' in samoa and 'cristobal' in nicaragua :) and i was quite proud of it.

so about immigrants, or whatever we are, i think this question poses a great interest to people like my friends and i. we leave one country in search of work and prosperity in another. we've built quite a name for ourselves in these countries and in shocking realization of the unique situation we are in i think we should learn to be a bit more respectful. its a shame that some people dont make any effort to learn the language here, or wherever they travel to. its also a shame that we go out and get so drunk at night and piss off our neighbors. but just like in any other diaspora we cling to what is famliliar and we start our own culture from within another. we dress differently. we paint ourselves differently and socially we are from a different planet. ever date a turkish girl? ever compare an apple to an orange?

last night the table gets turned back towards myself, who had until then been neutral on the issue. what about you mook? do you consider yourself to be an immigrant? nah man.. i'm more like a nomad.. a very slow moving nomad..

soldier and traveler

last night i had the opportunity to sit and share tales with a member of the U.S. special forces. he currently resides in the capital of Turkey, Ankara, however he has also been all over the middle east. he describes a time when iraq was like the wild west to U.S. soldiers and how U.S. occupation has solidified itself completely in that country. i asked and wondered what it was like for him and was curious to learn how he finds the culture from the perspective of a man who must wear a uniform and is forbidden to maintain friendships with the people of the country he was living in. when it comes to these extremely sensetive situations, taboos will play an important role in daily life. for instance, its almost a taboo for a member of these cultures to actively hate americans whereas people in the states might be lead to believe that there is an overwhelming hatred for the occupants. communication comes in nods and kind gestures. they dont want you there and you dont want to be there but forces beyond both of your control have made things this way.

a traveler talking to a traveler is usually something that draws similar experiences and advice for the road however a traveler talking to an international soldier is completely a different instance. in fact, it is in this difference that i was humbled to this man's presence. life and death are within eyesight every moment of the day. i'm reminded of a fellow i once traveled with in Georgia who once served in Afghanistan. the first few months were terrifying for him, as one might imagine, however after a few months he recalls times of recreation where the sounds of bombs and gunfire would not even disturb a game of ping pong.. you simply get used to it. i could never imagine...

i've been thinking a lot about people back in the states and what their opinion of this part of the world might be. its easy to criticize americans and make claims about their ignorance of the rest of the world but i find this is the same in every country. every nation wears blinders and only concerns themselves with themselves. they all point fingers at each other just as americans do and they are equally terrible at geography. it was however my father who told me something a long time ago that meant the world to me. he told me that its in my stories that i bring back that people learn from, not from what they see on television. we all know that the media is biased and that somewhere along the way we are being lied to but its people who actually travel to different parts of the world that relay to us any information with sustainance. such as the man i was honored to share a conversation last night. its people like him who carry the true stores and people like him who paint pictures very clearly before us so that we might experience the world through their eyes.

Sunday, January 09, 2011


i came to this city on september 2nd, 2009 to teach english at a private language school. my intention was to stay for six months and then to continue my wayward rambling into the endlessness of the world as i have done so freely up until this point of my life. 2009 was a spectacular year from me. the shoes i wore had touched land upon five continents and my eyes had seen more in that year (both extremely good and bad) than most will in a life time. so when i came to istanbul i was naturally a little hesitant to unpack my bags. however in retrospect i remember the feeling i had before coming when i knew that i was looking for a new home, perhaps that is why i chose this beautiful place nestled between two vast continents.

if you visit this place you cannot help but fall in love with the city. its charming and dynamic and of all else the location is incredible. since i've lived here i have visited six other countries that otherwise i might have never gotten the opportunity to travel to. the six months i came here for quickly turned into a ten month contract with my company and at this point i've been here (and around here) for about sixteen total.

i went back to detroit to visit both in april for a week and this past christmas. much to my unsurprise i realized that i no longer belong in detroit. detroit is a city i hold dear to me in my heart but i feel as if it has pushed me away. this is a natural process that happens to one after being away for so long but its in this sadness that i find the light of a new city that i now call home. istanbul has been very good to me.

my turkish is coming along at least to a level where i can have fun with it. i'm a lot more low-key than i've ever been in my turbulant past. i like to make noise on the weekends but now i'm on a quest for focus. i'm studying to become a scuba diver and in time i'll be an instructor. when this time comes i gather that i'll probably move south to Bodrum or Antalya to once again live in the sun but my homebase will, from this point on, of course be istanbul.

the scuba diving thing is only one example of something i absolutely love about this city. i have learned that any walk of life you wish to explore you can find it in istanbul. you can also come here to make some decent money and travel onward to literally any cardinal direction and end up somewhere amazing. someone once mentioned that if you take a protractor with the needle touching istanbul you can find virtually the entire ancient world within a matter of a few hundered kilometers in every direction. you almost cant avoid becoming engulfed in history.

this city makes me really happy and there is something to be said about a man who unroots himself and replants into a new life. i've done this a few times but here i have found a new home that i can relate to. however i am a little troubled about the future of this city. for reasons which would take a different language to explain i feel that the future of istanbul is uncertain. it seems as if istanbul, or turkey at that, is sitting on a series of devistating devices that at any second could erupt and crush the fragile yet beautiful system that has been so painstakingly created not long ago. the country is a new country and the trial by fire of which all great nations have emerged from has really only just begun and frankly i fear a bit for the future. one thing is for sure that i will follow this place and support it always and if things turn bad i will take it personally.

i'm going back to egypt in a few month to stay for the summer. specifically i'm going to Dahab, Sinai to stay on the red sea/explore the most important desert in history. when you see me again i'll be different as i have become different after central asia this last summer. it was a good friend of mine (sid) who hit the nail on the head. he told me i'd have this thousand mile stare and a brief fear of the outside world afterwards. i dont think i could have put this better myself. agoraphobia was a hell of a thing to overcome and its only now that i truly feel like my wings have grown back. so i set my sails to egypt. to learn. and when i come back my eyes will be richer yet and i'll once again unpack my bags here, in my favorite city in the world.

frightfully old chagrin pictures (poor bastards days)

Friday, January 07, 2011

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

со цлосе то зион тхат и цан феел ит ин мы веинс

in a city of ruins where no one sings but zombies and willful slaves living in their tiny private caves.. crooked hand digging up their graves.. yeah i've seen a ship of fools sinking in their dunes as i drag my coffin on the rope. them all look down at me, but i got all the help i need..

focus is a practice. the more you practice focus, the better you are for it and you learn to appreciate the small steps one must take towards reaching your goals. i've learned from the many failures in my life that these mistakes we've created for ourselves are something like a thick forest of our world and we must learn how to be survivors. god.. lately i've been thinking of this world and how i'm going to feel about existence when the moment comes that the director calls "cut". i cant help but wonder how the rules that governed this life will be alike or different in the next and what marvels the next will bring. i've been amused by this planet and i've learned from others the dangers of indulging in the pleasures that this confusing world has to offer. i trust not of man yet i learn from that which ruins him.

realistically, to my aunt pat who requested my ramblings to be made clear, i'm focused on finding a way to live life without being confined to the burdens of a society. when i think of all the time we waste workng and chasing other people's dreams i get really sad. i think about all those who i care about that have chosen to drown themselves rather than set their compasses to a farther horizon and i learn from this. we wanderers simply do things because we want to, and it is because we want to more than others that we can explore the strange corners of the planet to which others call their homes. we learn languages because we try harder and we get out of bed because the waking life is more interesting. have i been asleep? no money could pay for the dreams i've wasted sleepwalking.. they dont look as good on paper, i choose the ones that my eyes have seen for themseles.