Adventure, Dominican Republic, The Great Adventure, The Heroic Life, Travel

The Change In Plans

Jessica and Drew

So much has changed in only a week.

The crossing of the Mississippi was successful. After many well-intentioned warnings, it was almost comically easy: I can’t imagine a more pleasant kayak trip. I can say that Jessica was as tough and capable a partner as one could hope for. She has my heart.

And that’s the thing.

As any reader should know, I finished my time in New Orleans and tuned my bike for 700 more miles. Those 700 will take me to Corpus Christi, Texas where I’ll train on sea kayaks until I can paddle the Gulf of Mexico.

Saturday morning the Giant was all loaded up. At the morning send-off party I popped the champagne, put my arm around Jessica, and made the announcement:

“There’s been a change in plans.”

Jessica and I are running away to the Caribbean.

Taking Risks for Love

I will still bike to Texas, paddle Mexico, walk to South America. But Jessica and I haven’t had enough of each other. So we’re both taking a risk.

For me it means delaying the next stage of my Adventure; for her it means cancelling a summer in New York. We’ll spend the next two months together in the Dominican Republic, in a small village on the beach.

Is this crazy? That’s certainly the word we both use. We’re nervous. I don’t really know if this is the beginning or the end. But together we’ll explore deserted beaches, scramble up waterfalls, motorbike through mountain towns. I’ll learn to cut coconuts with a machete, and maybe we will be happy.

It is right to take risks for love.

This is temporary. In August we’ll fly back to New Orleans—hopefully with a clearer picture of what we want for our future—and I’ll resume my trip from exactly where I left off. The Adventure will go on.

Perspective

At many points, when the going was hard or temptation reared her head, my friends have said it’s okay if I don’t complete the Adventure. I’m sure that many of you share that sentiment, too—it’s meant in the kindest way, and I appreciate that.

But I care.

I care whether I complete the Adventure. It’s not optional to me. It’s woven in my nature, it’s assigned by my highest self.

There will be a day when I limp, drift, raft, stumble, bike, run, or race the last 18 steps and my heart will be complete. I will know I lived a story and I will know who I am and what I must do. Until that day, I take a step forward, a cautious step forward.

And here’s what so few people know: I care about completing the Adventure, but I don’t care how long it takes.

Running away for love is not, to me, a delay in the Adventure. It is the Adventure.

We had joked about this idea for weeks, always a joke. But then reading, researching, looking at what it would take. I told Jessica we had to make a decision. She said no, I can’t do it, I can’t just run away for love. So I packed my bike.

The next day she held me and breathed: let’s do it. “We have to do it.”

And so we do. Set my bow at the storm, let us sail this ocean again. Let us sail the ocean of fear and trembling, because what else is there? Only islands, islands in the storm.

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Adventure, Religion, The Great Adventure, The Heroic Life, Travel

I’ll keep dancing

“Red Boat” by Odilon Redon

I’m going to keep on dancing.

I have been dancing for a long time. A lot of people watch. Some smile. They like the way I dance.

Others think I look stupid.

Sometimes people get very upset. There is no dancing here! I am going to keep on dancing, sir.

I’m on display, but that is not why I dance.

Because this isn’t exhibition: this is practice. I am testing the idea that travel is itself a spiritual exercise, one as profound as meditation, as meaningful as prayer, as worthy as the study of myth—perhaps more direct than any of these.

The premise of my journey is that we can meet the gods, therefore let’s go out and find them. This is a practice open to anyone, an alchemy of the soul wrought with sun, wind and rain.

I will keep dancing, I will dance forever. I will dance alone while others stare from afar. But as I dance I smile. I enjoy the dance. The dance is fun; it is good. Perhaps others wish to feel the same joy that I feel. Then run out beside me, dance too—dance your own way, differently from me. I am here, and I will keep dancing.

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New Orleans

My Bohemian Thanksgiving

Photo by Stephen McLeod Blythe

The people around you are avatars.

My tribe is scruffy and bruised. We will visit upon each other the blessings of our kind. These blessings are meager, heartfelt and stung with joy. The joy is momentary: the richest kind.

That morning brings an hour-long bike ride. I’ll pick up wine, a worthy expense. I know good wines. It will bankrupt me, someday.

The First Thanksgiving is with a fellow priest. He feeds his African gods every day. He’s from Honduras. His talent is that he can say anything—crude, vulgar, insulting or wrong—and you will laugh with him, never offended.

This is more useful than knowing wine.

We’ll go to his brother’s house. I believe they serve sandwiches instead of turkey. The goal is to stay the shortest possible time and escape. I can’t be counted on to support this goal. I like sandwiches.

The Second Thanksgiving is in a sanctuary. It’s a private home. Every shelf, every inch is an altar to a goddess (which goddess? the goddess!). Each possession chosen to reflect faith; each belonging, designed to provoke calm and ease.

Our de facto priestess, estranged from her family, adopts us instead.  We are the children who eat her Gramm’s recipes, we are the cousins who argue over wine. Every argument ends in laughter. True disagreement is exorcised in that place. Anger falls from the air like geese under fire.

We all have fears. But we are safe for ten hours. A one day reprieve from Fortune.

We could fall asleep, but that would end the show.

After dark I mount the bike. One hour back. In a cottage on St. Anthony live two college students. One has a girlfriend. She adores cooking. They’ll come home from the horse races, late, and she will make two versions of every dish. There’s no reason for this except, of course, she enjoys it.

The Third Thanksgiving. I’m stuffed but I’ll help them eat. They’re tired but they’ll open the door. I’ll offer my wine and we’ll drink like old comrades. I have known them three days.

Outside it will be cold. Drunks will sing. Cars will crash.

In that little cottage there will be truth, beauty, and—above all things—friends.

Morning banishes avatars. They fade like legends. We walked the mythic shores, once. We were that ragged band.

The epic ends, but this we keep: we were together, and loved.

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Fame, Personal Development, Philosophy, The Great Adventure, The Heroic Life

Purpose: To Inspire

As June 21 draws near I confront my motivations for the journey ahead. This is Part I of a three part series on why I’m going on the Adventure.

Fame & Inspiration

For a long time I denied that I wanted to pursue fame. Fame is not a goal usually associated with spirituality.  I was very open about it when I was a teenager. I was sure I’d go down in history. In retrospect this is a healthy motivation we should encourage in young people. To crumple that kind of drive is a crime.

But crumple we do.

We want people to be humble. To be spiritual or mature or social or likable, you are supposed to downplay your ambition and self-esteem. Put yourself down with a smile, we like you better that way.

Working to be respected as a priest, to found a temple and to excel at interfaith work, I learned to wear the mask of humility that’s expected of leaders.

Then I forgot it was a mask.

Meditating on an isolated sheep farm I confronted the barb in my heart. Why aren’t you doing what you’re meant to do?

I was afraid my lifelong dream was too selfish, would be too silly to ever voice. People don’t say, “I want to be famous.” Only kids say that. But I do want to be famous.

I can’t tell you, the gods, or anyone why I feel a drive for fame. It’s as natural to me as my love of the outdoors. To die famous is so essentially me it feels like Fate, except I don’t believe in fate. So let’s just say it’s who I am.

I choose to accept that. And more: I love it.

The Value

We are told to regard fame as: un-spiritual, egoistic, unrealistic, childish. It must be a selfish goal. Here’s an alternative perspective on fame. Fame can be an inspiration. As inspiration, fame has the power to improve the world. It becomes selfless.

There was a time when it was considered virtuous to seek immortality through fame, and fame through accomplishment. This is much better for society than meekness. When we challenge ourselves to attain the utmost, we create a culture of inspiring others to move forward.

The difference lies in the motivation. If you seek fame only for your own glory it’s selfish. I used to think this way when I was 14 or 15. Now I’m much more interested in seeing how I can use my life to help the people around me experience happiness.

Many people start a good path with selfish goals. If they’re sincere they will purify.

The Form

So how do I pursue fame and inspiration?

It would be fun to go down as the greatest magician of the 21st century. Or to become a famous writer—that’s a dream anyone can understand.

Those are parts of who I am, but there’s one thread that runs unwavering through it all.

Philosophy.

Philosophy is my love affair. It’s my formal training, a personal strength, and the one skill I’ve used in all my other pursuits as author, adventurer, priest, and artist. It is the project of how best to live a life.

My approach is tactile. I use my own daily life as a living drawing board for my ideas. It gives me advantages and hurdles compared to an academic, but it certainly delivers results.

And that’s the power of the Great Adventure. It’s the ultimate practice of experimental philosophy. A trip isn’t worthy of fame—walking really far is impressive but it’s just my personal project. But if that experience can be distilled into something to share with others, then the huge risk is worth it.

So the first purpose of the Great Adventure could be written as:

To inspire courage through the power of adventure.

To become a famous philosopher.

To raise spirits.

As I admit and embrace this purpose, what advice can you offer me? What should I learn and bear in mind as I pursue it?

If you enjoy reading Rogue Priest, believe in my journey, or just love seeing a spirited adventurer on the road, please consider making a donation to the cause. Your gift will help fund professional-quality equipment for the Great Adventure. It’ll keep me safe and help every step of the way.

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The Great Adventure, The Heroic Life

Unvaliant Struggle

It smelled like summer for the first time. March had smelled like autumn or winter, some of April even smelled like spring. But that day smelled like grass and bugs and the oil of life. Before the rain hit I went for a walk.

While walking I chanced by a moth. Wounded. He was in the street near the edge, and crawling for his life to the gravel shoulder. I crouched, squinted at him, then went on.

Along my return I spotted the fellow again. He had made it to the shoulder! And no ants had eaten him, yet. Seeing his little victory I was full of glee and I laughed. I walked on.

Then I knew: when you are in the Amazon, you will be the moth, Rogue Priest. All the world will be indifferent to you. And if you fall in a valiant struggle, you too will be laughed at.

And the indifferent creatures will continue their own unvaliant struggle,

And the indifferent will continue their struggle.

If you enjoy reading Rogue Priest, believe in my journey, or just love seeing a spirited adventurer on the road, please consider making a donation to the cause. Your gift will help fund professional-quality equipment for the Great Adventure. It’ll keep me safe and help every step of the way.

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Andre Sólo

New Pages Up – Reviews Wanted

Recently I made long-overdue changes to Rogue Priest.

First off I changed the Heroic Life page. The new version gives a better overview, puts the philosophy in the context of my personal effort to live by it, and contains a selection of links to the best posts about it. Check it out here:

The Heroic Life

What do you think? Are there other favorite posts you wish were on the list there?

Secondly I did a complete rewrite of the Great Adventure page. I took off outdated info, tightened up the language and the focus, and aimed to make it clear what the reason behind the Adventure is. Scopify:

The Great Adventure

Does this page tell the story of the Great Adventure well? Does it leave you scratching your head anywhere? Are there questions it leaves you asking?

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