Friday, May 29, 2009

Raving On

This morning I walked across the street to the dairy to buy some milk, bread, and a morning paper before the family awoke. The headlines of the paper were about the budget put out by the government the day prior, no good news really and to be honest working away from home up in the Taranaki has kept me a bit distant from the news this week. An older gentleman was working behind the counter as the owners were away on a well deserved holiday - running a dairy, or local neighborhood market, is a time consuming and rather thankless prospect so I always chuck some of our weekly business their way. The older gentleman looked at the blaring headline in the paper and said, "not much good news there mate", to which I made some sort of perfunctory reply. I looked him in the eye as I took my change and I saw fear there, I saw the essence of so much of what is happening in our world, and I could see he needed to talk. So we did, and he told me how his business had gone south, how he was stuffed financially working in the dairy to supplement his retirement government pension, and how he felt even more sorry for people my age. Finally, another customer walked into the store and I walked back home. I wanted to give him a hug.

I have been seeing this often in my job, this uncertainty, this fear, this helplessness at certain parts of so many lives. The women I meet, particularly those whom have raised families, worked in the business, seen good times and bad, are much stronger than most men. There seems to be a calm wisdom in women, whereas most men exude anger and frustration. Not so different from what I consider the central theme of John Steinbeck's novel, The Grapes of Wrath, which in the midst of depression and chaos, it is the women whom hold it all together at the most basic family level.

As the old blues tune, What is the Soul of a Man, best version by Bruce Cockburn, states , "a man ain't nothing but his mind", which these days is pretty powerful stuff. So much of what we have been told is Right and Normal has been proved to be pure bull shit. The men with sharp haircuts and suits are liars and crooks, the career corporate ladder has been chopped off many rungs short of "success", so many of us listen to the lowest common denominator talk back radio hosts to vent our frustration in anger and racism, to express our need to Blame somebody, usually somebody of a different colour or religion. I would like to hug these men as well.

It is winter here now in Aotearoa. I drove back from Taranaki yesterday on a day so clear that, at times, I could see in the far distance snow covered peaks on the south island, and when I turned towards home the Ruahine glistened and shown in the sun with her peaks, glistening like white satin covering exposed and inviting flanks . It was beautiful. Soon I will be amongst them, first with Taylor, and not long after with John, both fine companions. It is the place I Connect, where the stuff that I wrote about above has no relevance, no place in my life. The simplicity of living amongst Wild Places is what we all need most right now. Or at least being able to drive down a highway, look over for a brief moment at Living Monuments, and even if never amongst them, simply appreciate they are there. If there is Anything I have tried to get across here at this meandering place it is that.

I was in Taranaki concluding some business with a client, a lovely lady running a small family business, and as she looked over the final contract to sign it, I looked outside her office window and saw the mountain in full glory right in view of her office. "That is just a fantastic scene", I stated, "It makes me want to go up there and climb it". She put down her pen and looked at me, then the mountain and said," You know Robb, I've never been on that mountain and probably never will, but at least once a day I look out my window and take in that view, even if I can't see it, and I just take a moment to appreciate it. So many people stop seeing it".

I wanted to hug her too.

View of Mount Taranaki from Stratford.


kylie said...

hi robb,
because i'm not a hiker and i don't know your country i sometimes feel unable to comment intelligently here but i understand this post totally.

i wish more people would make your choice to support local business.
i wish more people could see others' need to talk
perhaps most of all, i wish that talkback shock jocks and tabloid tv would STOP

some years ago i was beginning to realise i had a real problem with tabloid "journalism" of this kind but couldnt put a finger on why until i read somewhere that it is all feeding off fear and greed.
it was a lightbulb moment i'll never forget and i made a decision then ignore those broadcasts that try to manipulate in that way.
that decision might leave me ill informed at times but i think it's worth it.

your comments about women being the strength of a family/ community also touch a theme i have been pondering for a while. maybe i'll try writing a post on that...........

have a grand weekend

Robin Easton said...

Dear Robb, Once again, you have brought tears to my eyes. "I wanted to hug you." I am hugging you.

This was such a beautiful insight into you and your awareness of the world around you, the world that you move through. It is so good to see your heart open like this. So many have forgotten and do not see. So you change the world with all your soul hugs. I believe the souls of all these people you mention felt that you were hugging them. You like me are moving through the world wanting to hug everyone. I usually do. Lol!!! My husband laughs at me. I hug people everywhere I go. I can't help myself. I feel them and it is so easy to love and ease a bit of the fear and lonliness of others. I bet you are a good hugger too. I bet you are like my husband he is a good hugger.

Always dare to be YOU Robb as fully as you can because what is inside you, what is YOU is so amazing and the world needs it SO badly. You are in love with Life. Although, like me, your soul is drawn most to the wild place, because you are like the wild things, in touch with your own wild soul and must feel that freedom and connectioin with all things. Which of course is so rich in nature.

But from this post I have seem another part of you that is so rich and will help many people who are lost, suffering, frightened. You know, Robb, you are really coming into your power and it is beautiful to see. Trust it. Live it. Be brave. Be bold. Be true! Because of who you already are, you can't go wrong. It will only get better. You are a powerhouse of beautiful wisdom and love that the world is starved for. Kia Kaha my Wild Brother. Aroha, Robin

Marja said...

Lots of hugs here and I give you a big one too. The best treasure you can give people is by listening to them giving them your attention. You've got a big heart.
I don't know if woman are stronger than men. They all have their strength My husband and me both had no problems when we lived here for years far below of what we were used too. We thought we were rich. Like you we realised we had the mountains, sea and everything on our doorstep.
As long as we can feed our families and have a place to live life isn't bad. In Cuba people suddenly had to live without luxery and cars etc and actually they feel closer to each other than ever. I think with every down time comes something good. But indeed the fear of most people is real and you gave them the right support

There is a lot of snow up there We are getting it here tomorrow Hope it stays a bit so I can make nice pictures. Mount Taranaki is beautiful. Yesterday I read a beautiful maori legend about it.
Will post it one day Hope to see it myself within a few years.

Wish you all the best and hope you can get to visit your family one day as well.

Aroha Marja

Barbara Martin said...

Hello Robb,

The good energy from you transcends wires to my side of the planet straight from this post of your heart. It is in your words of compassion to others, that you take the time to talk to people who desperately need to, and your heartfelt desire to hug people.

Your posts of your hiking trips refresh me as well as other readers. It is a wonderful experience to share the beauty of your trips into New Zealand's wilderness with its mountains and rivers. The passageways to the soul of the earth.

All we can do is share our light with those whose own beacons are dimming from the corporate greed that covers the globe.

You are a good man, Robb, and I'm proud to call you friend.

Warm regards,

Donald said...


Great post. All oh-so-true!

I find it certainly helps us handle the anxiety that abounds by getting out there in nature and wilderness - all the more reason to work at ensuring it does not dwindle!

A good friend once noted that when we see many of the world's trouble spots and war zones that there never seem to be many trees about!

Though in some countries jungle abounds, so I take from this balance is one of the essences of happiness...

I'm sure if we can keep our egos in check by staying centered we can lead happier lives. We seem to care so much about "I" in ways that exclude self love.

When I get fearful I ask myself if whatever the fear, if it'll manifest in two hours time. Usually the answer will be no. Then I ask if it'll be a problem tomorrow, and usually the answer is no. Then in two days ... at this point I simply tell myself there is no point worrying as I could be dead by then! Simplistic I know, but for me it works, and all the more so if I keep my ego out of it.

Detach, detach... and there are many ways to do this in our lives: meditation, wilderness, art etc.

Anyway thanks for the wonderful insights, writing and photos :)



Ruahines said...

Kia ora Kylie,
Your presence is always welcome here and your feed back always insightful and appreciated. You read between the lines.
I have been observing and thinking about the thoughts I put into this post for awhile now. It is unknown out there right now, and sort of like the old guy in the store saying "it wasn't supposed to be like this", maybe we do need to start recognizing that fear, that we are never really alone in so many ways, and that is actually okay to acknowledege that. For me it is proving to be a measure of exactly how rich I really am, and moreso, to REALLY appreciate it. We are living in times of Great Changes, like it or not.
I will look forward to your musings on the strength of women in family/community. I find a reassuring quality in these times. I think you will have many relevant and beautiful thoughts to share with your readers on that subject. Rave on Kylie!

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Robin,
Soul Hugs!!! I love it Wild Sister! I think that is a topic you should write about. Imagine if we all just gave each other soul hugs as we walk through our busy days, or at least to those we FEEL needs one.
I am a VERY GOOD HUGGER, to be a bit self indulgent. At times I get a bit exuberant, but I think Tara, Taylor, Charlie, my sisters, my mom, Gustav, Nigel, and John would all attest to the fact I give a real hug. Especially with men. I don't do the typical quick shoulder grab and double pat on the back. I take it in, and in ways I never thought about Wild Sister till your use of the term Soul Hug, is exactly What I Am Trying to Do! To Connect, and say This Moment, your Presence here right now is Important to me. We men need that more than ever.
I am sending a Soul Hug your way right now Wild Sister. Please pass it around. Kia kaha!

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Marja,
You have always been Rich, Marja. At least Rich in the ways I would, am learning to, consider Rich.
I sense in you the very Essence of that Quiet Strength I often sense in women.
I send a very Big Soul Huge your way,

Ruahines said...

Sorry Marja, I meant Soul Hug. So while I am on the job, I will send another one. Aroha!

Anonymous said...

The post speaks to my soul. It's been much like a winter here, even in Spring, what with my broken arm and such...the world of busy-ness, be damned...I wish I could climb that legs aren't broke!

It's good to know your out there, fighting the fight!

ghreeblestaff said...

This morning, Ryan and I stepped out to the Firehole and a steaming fumarole at our door stoop.
The sky last night was pink, orange and punctuated by blue and grey mamalus clouds overhead as geysers erupted.
We paid no attention to the news for three days. We only phoned home and checked for only the most important garbage in the in boxes a couple of times.
We drove around way too much, but the rewards were strong and non-monetary.
We saw children play and elderly people gaze at beauty. We saw an older veteran and he counseled us to take advantage of the good while we still can.
We tried to solve our soul's deeper problems, and only got so far with that, but the mountains are there; they'll be there in response to the earth's gravity far after any judgment passes on our generations.
I wonder how many would like a hug. I don't know how many of us understand how much free hugs would heal the wounds we inflict upon ourselves and the earth in the name of security and boundaries.
I'm so glad you see and respond to the people around you. More glad than I can express.

lph said...


Quite the post you started here. From the sounds of things all of us could use a few good hugs: deep, heartfelt, and platonic hugs...the ones being described here as "soulful hugs."

More so I love how your post moved from buying locally, to busting the chops of the big wigs, to taking the time to hear one another, to care about one another. Too many of us are so caught up in moving fast that we forget to live. It looks to me like you have got it figured out.

Speaking specifically to the beginning of your post I only wish that over here on the west side of Madison we had a small quaint market to frequent. Around here we've lost all the local joints: the neighborhood pharmacy became Walgreens; the neighborhood hardware store became another Home Depot; the local bank sold out to a large Midwestern conglomerate; the neighborhood veterinary clinic merged with a huge complex a few miles away; the local library and the neighborhood meat market completely left the neighborhood.

A bit depressing actually.

At least we still have our salsa garden in the back yard.

And at least micro-brews have returned to grab their own niche in the market.

Take care my friend.


Ruahines said...

Kia ora Barbara,
Thank you so much for your lovely words, and your wonderful place. It is a pleasure to call you Friend as well.
I wrote some time ago, and perhaps a theme that runs through here, about Disconnection from Nature, and that becomes even more apparent when we see that savage fear in peoples eyes, that we have been lied to by the people, the structures, the institutions we were taught to believe in. We need each other more than ever, we need Wild Places more than ever, and we need to find a better way.
"Passage ways to the soul of the Earth", it is like that Barbara! Kia kaha.

Unknown said...

Kia ora Robb.

Our wealth and privilege has been built on the backs of others. We dine on the unfortunate billions.

Mate there is going to be sacrifice, pain and suffering as the system adjusts, but it must.

We need to make sure that the suffering is shared equally and transformed into community, love and hugs and connection with the environment. Responsibilities not rights. The free things you speak of with such honesty.

Take care man and give it heaps


Ruahines said...

Kia ora Don,
Your theory of being detached from fear or worry through those three simple measurements of time is fantastic, something I will use myself thank you very much. I suppose it comes in line with the old saying most of the things we worry about never come to pass, but having points to measure on Life's Graph probably would put things into much better perspective for most of us, if the not the complete futility of fearing so much out of our own control.
Interesting in that my beautiful wife and I had some important issues to sort out, and it was so cool to discover that I finally HAD set my ego aside and was able to discover my thoughts were of us and not "I". It has taken 16 years but I am learning and growing!
I certainly agree we will have to keep our eye on the ball with protecting Wild Places. Corporate greed and selfishness got us here, but we are mistaken to think it has run out of ammo yet. My thoughts are with the Nevis and the Clutha, and all the places we need for our own Nourishment. Kia kaha Donald!

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Lost Coyote,
Your Soul helps me to "Speak" brother.
We had a meeting at work about the tough times and management gave us the thinly veiled corporate threats they do in these times. All protecting their own tenuous places on the ladder. I could smell the fear around me.
I thought of the walk in the Ruahines I took with Charlie yesterday looking for snow.
A broken arm LC? Do tell! The good thing about mountains is even though constantly undergoing change their patience is infinite. I shall climb one here in Aotearoa for you brother - or should I write with you! Kia kaha.

betty-NZ said...

*Ahem* I was just going to agree with the Taranaki lady that many people take lots of things for granted just because they are 'always there'. I moved to Taranaki three years ago and my hubby, who has been here 20, sees things a bit differently now through my new eyes. I see the mountain every day and it still takes my breath away. May it always.

Glad I found your blog!

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Adam,
Cheers my good sir! The Journeys you undertake with the Coyote are important to us all. What you see, feel, and share and express teaches us true compassion and empathy. Something the world seems to be sorely in need of these days. Seeing the old fellah made me realize this also in our own backyards in so many ways and we can actually impact this one person at a time. You splendid gentlemen have helped Teach me that.
The mountains are indeed sentinels of our own impermenance. We can climb them, get to know them intimately, maybe even understand them, but we will never own them or outlast them. Thank goodness for that. Rave on brother!
Kia kaha!

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Larry,
Cheers mate. I often find the most interesting part of all this to be the thoughts of others in regards to what we put out there. That is where I learn the most.
I recall well the Madison of our days, the Miflin St. Co-op, now gone as I understand it, or the Willy St. Co-op, both offering high quality, ample and cheap veges, fruits and grains which it made cheap and affordable to live as a poor student. I learned to cook in Madison using fresh ingredients bought there as it was cheaper and provided better eating, and I still love to cook. Not to mention allowed me to buy those 2 dollar cups at keg parties, always was good to have Walt Malone along at a kegger eh!
It is sad to read of these local places and markets run out of town by conglomerates pedalling cheap nasty processed food or pesticide ridden mass produced fruits and veges. We have quite a few local farmers markets here, but our local butcher just went out of business after it just got too hard. Dairy owners here work extremely hard for little return really, and buying my milk, bread, papers, and the odd ice cream is the least I can do. Glad to read the micro beers have lasted, Wisconsin always had some real fine ones. I look forward to hoisting a few with you one day.
Rangimarie my friend,

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Jamie,
You write the Truth brother, and I know you live it as well. We live in interesting times and from where I sit the opportunity to bring about a new way is out there. When we in the west start to suffer and hurt suddenly it is a problem. We have been lied to too much. Keep running Jamie, hope to catch up at some stage.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora bettyl,
Haere mai! Indeed that mountain is beautiful and when I am up there I am always aware of her presence, even on the frequent cloudy days. It is excellent you have "reopened" the eyes of your husband. So many of us need that. I shall pop around and pay you a cyber visit.

Unknown said...

Robb, what a fantastic post. This is the second time I have read it and I am still thinking about it. I got stuck in traffic today and listened to NPR. It's all doom and gloom. I then change channels and all the commercials were about getting out of debt the fast and easy way. Then I turned off the radio all together. I guess I'm not ashamed to admit that I have blocked most of the doom and gloom out and am very happy with my life and career...but I know there are so many out there that aren't. Hopefully we can spread a bit of happiness and contentment.

Anne-Marie said...

You know what they say about that mountain ... "If you can't see it, it's raining; if you can see it, it's going to rain very soon!"

Taranaki is a very special mountain, though. Here in Whanganui we get the occasional glimpse of her [we see Ruapehu more often] and for me it's always a thrill. Like yesterday afternoon when I was sent to the beach on a job - and there was Taranaki, silhouetted against the sunset. Just perfect. Like the woman you spoke of in your post, I will never climb Taranaki - and I don't really want to - but I can still appreciate her beauty.

Lovely tribute to a beautiful maunga, Robb.

PS. Loved your last post too.

Allan Stellar said...

I loved this post. Steinbeck and don't get much better than that. I loved your observations about women during crises times. And the calming influence of mountains and nature on our petty little lives. Thanks!

ps..I don't need a hug though. :)

wild bri said...

Great post. I have to agree that more and more it seems like the wild places are the only places to find any sanity anymore.

Bob McKerrow - Wayfarer said...

Robb, you should have given the old man a hug. Keys isn't hugging him, but robbing them.

I share your pain mate, and will be back in July August to do my bit.

keep up the inspirational writing.



Ophelia Rising said...

SO many people need hugs, nowadays. I know that one CAN'T go around hugging everyone one wants to, but wouldn't it be great?

All the shirts and corporate goons should be obligated to take a trek up into those mountains at least once a year. Shed the suits and pull on boots and a parka, and breathe in the air with a lot of men and women from all different places and attitudes. Get away from the corporate world, from meetings and Blackberries and computer screens, and feel true nature. Live it, and know a true priority. Then go back, fresh and renewed. The world would be a better place, for sure.

I firmly believe that racism and fear can be put to rest, simply by spending time with a diverse group in nature. Hiking together, talking, not-talking (which can be profoundly more powerful), and just being, alive and in the moment.

I know many women with calm wisdom, and some men, as well. You, my friend, hold a great wisdom, calm and alive, vibrant and real. Rave on!
xoxo - (YES - great big soul hugs!) :)

Ruahines said...

Kia ora D'Arcy,
I am definitely getting hyper sensitive to what "news" I choose to digest. Interesting that a lot of what brings a smile to my face or awareness to my soul are the places I visit in this format, such as yours. Enjoy Paris my friend. Nothing to be gloomy about that prospect! Look forward to following your journey. Travel safely.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Anne-Marie,
Didn't see much of her this week either, but looked up that way many times anyway. Just knowing what is above brings a smile to my face. Thanks for letting me use your words and poem in that last post, it is a great poem!

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Allan,
Well, I might have tried to work Abbey in there someplace, but I am glad you enjoyed it anyway! I shall send a soul hug your way anyway mate.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora wild bri,
Cheers. It is a strange world and times we are living in and it does seem a little calmer, a little clearer in my soul when out amongst Nature. Even if it is a volatile environment, at least it is our choice to be there.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Bob,
Today Nick Smith announced he wants to fine local councils who do not fast track RMA proposals. It is not hard to read between the lines with the recent budget, Rodney Hide, and Smith. DOC's budget has been slashed substantially. The old conservative quasi religous theory of our domain over wild places as mans right to pillage and squander.
Be great to catch up with you if your NZ time brings you up this way my friend.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Ophelia,
We all need hugs my beautiful friend, indeed we do. I am trying to give more "soul hugs" simply by smiling at people or looking them in the eye when I have innocous contact throughout my day. Not sure if it is working, but I feel a bit better.
The world would indeed be a better place if the corporates understood more about nature, at least I think it would. Forcing those who will not see to see will not lead anyplace good in the end either. A long sighhhh! But being in Nature with diverse peoples we choose to be with and who want to be there can be magical.
Kia kaha Ophelia, Rave on.

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

Wild Wave, Robb. How are you?

Hope the weather isn't too cold. We are having great pool weather and I wish summer would last a couple of months longer.

The book is doing well and I am sending in photos for book number two. :D

Hoping Jeff and I can return to the UP soon.

Hugs, JJ