What’s a Pilgrimage?

The meaning of a pilgrimage through the eyes of a pilgrim:

The journey takes many forms, there can be a religious aspect to it however it is not a requirement. For me, it has more to do with a personal journey and growth. I don’t subscribe to any particular creed. Be happy, be honest, and be kind. That is my mantra. Finding your true soul is a journey that starts inside of you, therefore any one person’s pilgrimage will not match any other. It starts when you allow it to.

Although the Camino De Santiago is largely rooted in a catholic background, the pilgrims on the route of Saint James are of various backgrounds. Any pilgrimage begins when you allow it to, traditionally from your front door. However the traditional route of St. James starts in St. Jean Pied de Port, France and ends in Santiago, Spain. Spending, on average, thirty days walking from France through to the tip of Spain is not an easy feat for anyone. Especially not when you stick to the true path of a pilgrim, relying on the way to support you through your travels. Breaking down both your physical and mental being and building you up again – much like daily life.

You see, a pilgrimage does not have to be some set trail that has been walked for centuries. A pilgrimage can be you getting up from your chair, going out your back door, and walking to another town or through the woods. It may not have much significance to an outsider however on said walk through the woods you may have reached a personal ‘aha!’ moment that alters the way you view your life forever.

I can’t wait to have a pilgrimage of my own, to travel and reach a true transcendental state must be absolute bliss. Although I’m not so sure I can wait until I find my way back to Europe to complete the Camino. That goal will never leave my mind but I think that some preparation is required. Some cultures and religions believe in yearly pilgrimages; so why can’t I take multiple pilgrimages throughout my life? I can and I will!

I want to call myself a citizen of the world and travel across our earth however when looking at my list (I keep a list of places I have been before) I realize that my focus has always been out of the Americas and I never took the time available to explore the land on which I was born. The land that my parents fell in love in and travelled across both together and alone. I need to experience the Appalachian Mountains and the Continental Divide. I need to see what the Rockies look like and the West Coast. I need to know what it is like to breathe in higher altitude, to truly be cold in the winter, and to see Redwood trees that I can’t wrap my arms around. I wish to hike and camp and build fires in as many states as I can. I want to simulate parts of the Oregon Trail and try to understand what the Gold Rush was like. Stand on old battlefields and put myself in the shoes of the people who fought there.

I am a firm advocate that seeing is believing and believing leads to true understanding. Emerson said, “All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.” I feel that he uses the term experiment precisely because they are meant to be learned from. Scientists create a hypothesis and then conduct experiments to prove their hypothesis is correct or debunk it. But no matter what, any good scientist will always try the experiment.

xxx
Sam

All The World’s A Stage So Live While You Can

 **Italic words are links to more information**

If all the world is a stage then why not live in every corner? Stage left, stage right, center stage. Each section of our world has something new to offer. Tomorrow is not guaranteed to anybody, so why waste such a beautiful day? The sun is up (or maybe it isn’t) and the sky is blue (or gray) it’s beautiful and so are you. No matter what the day holds you can control the way you perceive it. So open your eyes with an attitude of gratitude and take advantage of the beauty hidden in plain sight. You have already conquered so much by greeting the day.

This year has been a rebuild thus far. I’ve been in a strange place for the last couple of years that I think everybody probably goes through. You know, when you are questioning everything and the meaning of life. When wrong becomes right and right becomes… a little of both? Nothing makes sense and everything is clear all at once then you flip it on its head and drastically change everything around you.

I’ve learned how to appreciate everything the universe has brought into my life and to let everything else go. Sometimes you have to accept that some anchors are meant to be cut and it doesn’t make you a bad person, life is a not a simple journey. So far I have learned to appreciate mornings, coffee, organic fruits & veggies, gardening,  weekly beach trips, and sunshine. Writing has come more freely and less forced. Ideas are flowing left and right.

I’m having a strong yearning to explore Africa. For a few months now I have been dreaming day and night about the continent and all that is going on that I can physically help with. Relax, I don’t plan on going all Machine Gun Preacher and getting too involved in the gun slinging. Although my heart breaks for the children of Africa, I feel that my calling is with something a little more peaceful.

I want to help create sustainable resources for the people of Africa to have clean drinking water in an obtainable, natural way. I want to get involved with bringing clean, solar energy to villages that have never had these things before. My goal is to find a way to contribute my skills as a writer, filmmaker, and ability to get my hands dirty to unify and connect the one earth family that I believe in.

When you care for others you will be cared for. I want to make a lasting difference not just in people’s lives but in communities. I can not only be an open mind and pair of willing hands, but I can document and tell the world of the struggles our brothers and sisters face. The time is coming to be a part of the rejuvenation of our world.

The last time I was on Fort Myers Beach, we went on a tour of the Mound House and I learned about a plant that is an african native called the Moringa Tree. The seeds of the Moringa Tree can be used to purify water by crushing them down in bowl and adding the powdery substance to a gallon of water. One seed per gallon, let it sit for twenty four hours. Thats it. This tree is native to a land that is in desperate need of clean water, which leads me to believe the answer lies within. We need to educate the people about the tree and find alternative ways to collect water. These seeds are also a possible source of biodiesel which could be a profitable export for Africa. Another beautiful thing about these trees is that you can harvest them without damaging the tree. So we could plant fields of Moringa Trees and seasonally harvest them without having to replant the trees again. They won’t die.

I’m sure I’m not the first person to think like this, but I don’t want to just be a dreamer; I want to take action as well.  When I was in London, I went to a Michael Franti & Spearhead concert at KOKO. I was so inspired by their song, Hello Bonjour:

I dont need a passport to walk on this earth

Anywhere I go ’cause I was made of this earth

I’m born of this earth, I breathe of this earth 

And even with the pain I believe in this earth

If you watch footage from satellites orbiting the earth, you will be able to see the difference between land and sea – you will even see lights clustered around cities. You won’t see any borders though. We weren’t meant to live so divided. If we are all born of this earth then we are all meant to take care of the earth and other creatures in it. We shouldn’t need a passport to walk through the earth. Why do we need to classify people into little boxes? I understand protection, but protection at the cost of unity and education? that seems preposterous to me.

Until next time.

xxx Sam

 **Italic words are links to more information**

Flashback: Library Visits in Bergen op Zoom

Whilst living in the Netherlands working as an Au Pair, I spent a lot of time at the library. I would spend hours reading books and sitting in the aisles basking in the smell of knowledge. Used books have a very particular aroma.

It was during this time of my life that my passion for F. Scott Fitzgerald really solidified. I had read some of his works in high school and enjoyed them enough but returning to his works as an adult really opened my eyes. In the last weeks of my stay, I stumbled across The Love of The Last Tycoon and was flabbergasted.

Since returning stateside I have searched every bookstore I find for this book. Nobody carries it. “We can order it for you though.” Call me old fashioned, but I wanted to pick it up with my own two hands and consciously remember buying this book – not have it arrive in the mail.

Since 2011 I have been determined that when I was good and ready to read Fitzgerald’s final book it would appear in my life. Yesterday was that day. I decided to go mosey about after getting my car washed and stumbled into Mojo Books & Records.

The smell of used books knocked my socks off as I opened the door. To the right was a café serving locally roasted coffee and organic teas. Off to my left and beyond ahead was a maze of shelves filled with an eclectic collection of books in all genres.

As I always do, I started in the classics and went hunting for F. It was mostly copies of The Great Gatsby and some chunky compilation books. I was feeling defeated and just about to give up when I noticed a book hidden between two Gatsby novels. I couldn’t read it in the darkness of the shelf but when I pulled it out my heart stopped.

Fitzgerald was at the end of his life when he wrote The Love of The Last Tycoon. He originally named it STAHR / A Romance but he wanted it to sound like a movie title to disguise the true content of the book. He had thought of changing the name weeks before his death in 1940; according to Sheilah Graham, whom sent his work in progress to his editor.

Fitzgerald’s last months, who knows how long, was spent thinking and working on this story of the last frontier – the film industry. How wonderful to be able to combine two of my greatest passions – film and good writing.

Fitzgerald has always been high on my list of inspiring men. It was nice to see that someone of that caliber saw that twinkle the film industry holds. There is so much possibility, and so much deceit. Nothing is as it seems. But we have come a long way since the days he speaks of here. With Independent Film on the rise and cameras so affordable, everybody thinks they are a Spielberg.

From Holland to Florida, three years later but I found my book and it was as glorious as I imagined. I’m sure I’ll be finished with it before I know it. I also bought a book on three African empires called A Glorious Age In Africa and one of those chunky Fitzgerald compilations.

By the time I ever settle down anywhere I will have a room stacked with books for my children to expand their minds. Also on my radar – Graduate school in South Africa? Further my education in a few years and be on the ground floor to help sustain a continent. But more to come on that as my research furthers. For now still working towards Twenty Four Weeks, Twenty Countries, Three Continents. Attached are some pictures from a visit to the library with the children and a dear friend.

xxx Sam

Notice the view of the Library Behind

Notice the view of the Library Behind

Reading to Zena

Reading to Zena

Owen

Owen

Lexa

Lexa

Annelies & Lexa

Annelies & Lexa

Owen

I really enjoyed the floors of the library, you couldn’t help but feel creative!

Reading to the munchkins was my favorite.

My Inspiration

This morning my mom left for an eight day missions trip to Guatemala. I am so proud of her for going out of her comfort zone and exploring the world. She has never traveled past caribbean cruises and has decided to jump in head first. After her trip to Guatemala she is going on another trip! This time she will head to Maine to take a photography class ON a sailboat. They will have time on and off the boat exploring different areas off the coast of Maine. Not only will she have classes and one on one sessions with a professional photographer, but she will also be given the opportunity to learn how to sail the ship. I can’t wait to see pictures of her sailing and her pictures of the exploration.

My mom is such an inspiration to me; while she is in Guatemala she will be helping out on a coffee farm, teaching some children, and building a house with her missions group. On her own she has been collecting loose, cotton skirts to hand out to women she meets along the way. She has such a kind heart and is really stepping out of her comfort zone for this trip.

This morning I called her to give her my best advice. I told her to let go of any expectations she may have because the beautiful thing about travel is that it never turns out exactly how you plan, but the experience is always better for it. It was quite an interesting experience giving advice to the person I always look to for mine. My mom and I have a very special bond that I wouldn’t trade in for the world. She has worked so hard and come so far. Taking these trips are already giving her a new sense of confidence and control in her own life. I can’t wait to hear all about her adventures on land and sea, and the lessons she learns. It is so important to remember that we never stop learning at any time in our lives.