Living life as a spiritual exercise; day 18 of Ramadan

Every man dies. Not every man really lives.” – William Wallace (Braveheart)
How terribly sad it was that people are made in such a way that they get used to something as extraordinary as living.” – Jostein Gaarder

Yesterday was my 31st birthday, the start of my 31st year of life, and so I decided that I would go to Lake Geneva Wisconsin. Lake Geneva Wisconsin is a place I have been going to nearly my entire life, and even on my mother’s side of the family they’ve been going there for a long time.From where I live to where Lake Geneva is is about 70 miles. So I loaded up some stuff (no food mind you!) and I headed there for a day of swimming, relaxing, having fun, and being at Lake Geneva…


I knew I wouldn’t be the only there; gorgeous weather paired with Independence Day falling on the weekend, yeah it was quite crowded. But still I was able to find a spot for my stuff, and once I we as settled I jumped into the water.
Now the thing about bodies of water and I is this- I will not tiptoe, go slow, gradually get in…but I will run full force head on into the water. And so, I did! It was cold but not unbearably so, and once my body grew acclimated to it I had a fun just floating and swimming around, being tossed about by the little waves.

As I floated in the serenity of it all I found myself offering up thank-you’s to God; thank you for another year of life, thank you for the capacity to work and do what I love, thank you for the opportunity to go swimming, thank you for the ability to swim, thank you for warm summer days, thank you for little glimpses of heaven found in nature, thank you…and so on, and had I not been swimming I could’ve been sleeping as the ebb and flow was calming to me, calming all the way to the center of my being.

After several hours of swimming, I dried off and made my way to town. Not a shopper, but as a reprieve to my feet for the time spent swimming as well as the time spent driving back to my apartment. Another facet to why I like Lake Geneva Wisconsin so much is there’s a good deal of design architectually-speaking as well as manicured gardens. My apartment isn’t anything fancy, so to see good examples of architecture and gardens whets my appetite for when I am to have some resemblance of the “American Dream”.



It, as my coworker is quick to prompt students and staff, was a great day to be alive! I recognize within my being that sometimes I let the world go by me as if I was stuck on autopilot, stuck in cruise control, and if I am not mindful of time passing I will be passed up by time.
I don’t want to live that kind of life, and so I need to fight against the current that tries to drag me back to a place of complacency, a place that says ‘why fight it? Just do nothing and you’ll won’t have so many hardships.’ But it’s not true, to me doing nothing means not living, not living means merely existing, merely existing means I will never enjoy life to the fullest because the time I am allotted to has become a countdown timer until I have shuffled off my mortal coil. I want to live life, not merely exist!

So with all that being said, living life were my keywords on the 18th day of Ramadan. Thanks be to God who the giver and sustainer of all life. May we be mindful of the time given to us because none of us really know how long we’re going to be alive. And may we be alive than simply exist, may we give in to rejoicing than rambling, may we share the life we’ve been given with others.

Salaam alaikum be yours now and always,
Nathanael

My vacation in photos (part 2)

One of the main pulls to going to Tennessee was Memphis Pride, I’ve already written about it here but here’s some photos…enjoy!

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There’s a lot of cool architecture in Memphis, including this church:
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Photos of our group that represented the I’m Sorry Campaign:
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Priding in Memphis off of Beale 🙂
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The parade!
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(That’s another thing about this year’s Memphis Pride, it rained nearly the entire time of the parade…but the same came out and dried things off very quickly)

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Purple El Camino with purple rims? Heck yes!
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During my camping at T.O. Fuller State Park I grew restless. The woman who took care of adding a few days on to my Memphis part of my vacation in Memphis suggested that I give Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park a try, I did and it was fun! 🙂

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The Mississippi River!
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Hobbs watching a barge go by.
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Hobbs and a 4 inch grasshopper!
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This sandbar’s mine! See, it bears my signature and everything 😉
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More to come, soon enough 🙂
~Nathanael~

My vacation in photos (part 1)

I recognize that a lot of my readers are also friends I know on Facebook, for those of you who haven’t been subjected to viewing photos I’ve posted during my vacation here are some with a bit of narration…enjoy!

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Obligatory 0 miles/tabla rasa automotive shot…I rented a car for my trip, just because. The rate was good, and I’m considering renting again for another extended vacation.

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This is Missouri, and on my car is Hobbs the Duck. It’s a lawn ornament/mascot of sorts at my work, he has been on cruises and enjoys traveling with Staff.

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Hobbs, dusk, Arkansas

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I didn’t know Arkansas was The Natural State, but now I do 🙂

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Another shot of Arkansas at dusk.

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My tent…with the wrong shock cords! I was so pissed off at myself, but I made the best of it…what else could I do?

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Big modified State of Liberty, even bigger church…this is in Memphis and nothing really rivaled its size church-wise.

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The church was off this street…heck, the church was the only building on this street.

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Best Vietnamese buffet I’ve yet to have! The dishes were primarily tofu-based, and they do a heck of a good job with marinating it thoroughly. By the second time I was there I was a familiar face 🙂 Hi again! I love it.

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The site of where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated which is now where the National Civil Rights Museum is. I stated it was heavy in a previous post, and it feels heavy still just looking at these photos again.

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“The idea began with just one person” I like that, and sometimes you have to be that just one person, can I get an amen?

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A panorama from the balcony where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.

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Outside Martin Luther King Jr.’s room from the ground level.

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My only photo of Graceland. It was somewhat of a Presley compound, and cost $30+ to get inside! I’m a fan of Elvis, but not that much 😉 Maybe some year, but for the time being postcards and talking to people about their experiences in the gift shop[s] parking lot was enough for me.

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Beauty in creation shortly before the sun set.

More to come, but at a later time!

~Nathanael~

Camping 201; not necessarily for beginners, but for returners

So while I was camping I…wasn’t completely prepared for it, so I’m going to dispense with some camping knowledge for those who are returners to camping not necessarily beginners.

Have appropriate clothes – Might seem obvious but that’s what sent me home early. I had plenty of warm weather shirts and hoodies,  alas I didn’t have a good blanket and pair of pants that would handle cold weather.

Bring more than one pair of shoes – Bring a pair of comfortable shoes for whenever and a more durable pair for hiking and whatnot. When it came to my camping, I had two pairs that were comfortable, as most of the hiking I did wasn’t strenuous but it’s good to be prepared in this way.

Be hospitable – I like entertaining people, even when I camp. So I packed accordingly to share what I had with others 🙂 Alas I was turned down by those I invited to my campsite for cheesecake and coffee, but I was still prepared in this way.

Accept the kindness of strangers (within reason) – At my last campsite a woman who worked the campground gave me 15 pieces of hardwood for my campfire! She even unloaded it from her pickup truck. There’s something to accepting kindness from others, they hardly fit the “stranger” bill afterwards.

Cheat if needed be (when it comes to campfires) – I love getting a campfire going, but at the second campsite I was at there wasn’t a lot of kindling to get a fire going to fuel my firewood. So I went to the local grocery store, bought charcoal and lighter fluid, voila! Campfire! Given that it was charcoal it was sustainable to get my campfire going for quite a while. It’s okay to use these, no need to be a pissy purist if you’re unable to get a fire going.

Take photos – I like photography already, but having snapshots of where I went and who I met and what I ate…they’re a good way to recall such trips. Plus you can always show the photos you have taken to others once you come back 🙂

Bring what you need, but don’t go overboard – I think I brought more stuff than I needed on my camping trip. Realizing that I know how to streamline next time I go camping, because I didn’t read the books I brought and some other things kind of took up space because I thought I was going to use it, I thought wrong.

Carry some ca$h with you – I didn’t have this problem, but some places you go might not accept your debit/credit card.

Shock cords are not universal – I found this out the hard way 😦 As I grabbed the wrong ones to my tent (I have two tents). It was more of a lean-to than a tent, and one night/morning it collapsed upon me, I survived if anyone wants to know 😉

Bring an axe/hatchet/knife/pointy stick – Yes, for assisting in the camping and defending if necessary. The former came into play quite often, but thankfully never the latter.

Manners please – Manners, ’nuff said.

Bring a cooler – I have one and it served me well in keeping my food cool and all in one place.

Bring a lot of water bottles – Thankfully I had potable at each of my campsites, but realizing that it might not have panned out that way I brought 5 Nalgene bottles just in case.

and lastly…

Have fun! – Kind of self-explanatory, but sometimes it’s more of an endurance than a trip or dare I say vacation. Go to town, go walking, go swimming, do something you’ve never done before, try the local grub and craft brews, write postcards to your peeps (don’t forget the stamp in the upper right hand corner), write, journal, meditate or pray, etc.

Happy camping!

~Nathanael~