Midwest Trip Wrap-Up

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The next day, I was up early and started exploring the camp. My old camp director was in the kitchen, making coffee. We caught up and she shared the plans for the summer. Some campers showed up for breakfast, so I left, preferring to be left to reveries of my own camp experiences.

While waiting for the other counselors to awaken, I checked out the old horse barn, where I'd spent so much time. The horses were out, peacefully grazing, and I found eight beautiful eagle feathers in the fields. After picking some wildflowers for a pretty girl, I headed back to main camp and ran into my old friends.

The cool thing about camp is that, even when you're not 'supposed to be there' you still belong, and people think nothing of running into you just walking down the trail when they haven't seen you in a year or so. We greeted, and got on with things. Before I left, I'd been part of a canoe trip to salvage bones and teeth from a deer carcass.

Boys with Beards

An old, good friend, one of the few guys in my life I hold as a brother, had called me on the bus ride up and I was happy to discover he was in Duluth. So here was the revealed reason for my trip up north. I hadn't expected to see him at all, but we ended up spending most of Saturday together, exploring Duluth's cafes and chocolate shops, her old factories converted into climbing gyms, and an amazing chronicle of the secret lives of norther Minnesota nightlife: crammed into the space beneath two highway overpasses was a gallery of graffiti. Everything from incoherent rants to political commentary as art shared space in the incidental gallery, making use of the concrete supports, the crossbars, and the walls behind. Walking down the length of it, I was assaulted by the memories and whisperings of the people who had set down their mark on the drab concrete. Truly an amazing experience.

My friend and I drove back down to the cities that night. The conversation in the car was revelatory, in the way that old connections always seem to lead to new directions going forward. We discussed the two topics that is on the mind of every young man: our dreams and the women in our lives. Of course, it is only thanks to the complete lack of judgement and pretension two close friends have that this conversation, which I've had a few times, is saved from degenerating into a simple braggadocio of sexual conquests.

Lesson: We as young men need to keep in better touch. We are all facing similar challenges, and have a lot to teach each other. I see so many of my peers heading off into distant, isolated towns to pursue their unique, unconventional version of masculinity in peace, where it will not be challenged. We are both sensitive and rugged, guitarists, trekkers, campers, boys-with-beards. We see more in our life quests than simply making a lot of money, sleeping with beautiful women, and gaining influence. The manner of that influence is vitally important, but what ought we to do with a world that glorifies that image of masculine-as-consumer and destroyer? Where is the place for the defender, the hunter who nourishes nature as much as he profits from it? The shaman? The farmer? Our society glorifies the shark in a suit. So what can we do but abandon that society to the sharks while we try to grow things in safety?

My only concern is what happens when that society, with its image of the masculine, encroaches upon the few outposts where nature is in rhyme with manliness. We will have to change things from within one day. Better to do it earlier rather than later.


PS: I missed a plane by 5 minutes, was rerouted to another flight that got delayed 5 hours due to mechanical difficulties, and spent all day in airports, getting home 9 hours later than I was supposed to. Lesson: 5-minutes on buses or planes can make all the difference. Don't trivialize travel schedules.