My Life as a Hummingbird

flying, flitting, hovering
buzzing up, around
sometimes upside down
drunk with ambrosia
the sweet nectar of tropical hibiscus
the wildflower buffet of an alpine meadow
a fickle lover
of bright colored beauty

every day a road trip
a life of joyous adventure

When I’m reincarnated
I’m coming back as a hummingbird

assuming I have a say in the matter

tio stib

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River of Time

once upon 
a nursery rhyme 
I was born
on the river of time

bouncing
splashing
over waves
with fantasies
and blue sky days

then came the sound of fear
as adulthood thundered near
some hopes were dashed 
some survived
some dreams drown
while others died

river of time
river of time
we all come together 
on the river of time

and so my life has floated on
through rapids wild
past silent songs
a new adventure every day
even as my hair turned grey

river of time
river of time
carry me home
oh river of time

tio stib

2016, 2019

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Sorely Missing Wilderness

I woke with an aching soul
a yearning to be free
away, apart, alone again
just wildness and me

humanness had left me dumb
senses dulled, spirit numb
and then I heard the ancient call
smiled
walked out
and left it all

rambling down an empty road
I crossed the last frontier
and stood once more in wilderness
and heard my heart beat

here

here

here

tio stib

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My Dementia Diary 45 – A Different River

In younger years, I was drawn to reckless adventuring. Climbing mountains, sailing oceans, rafting wild rivers, anything that took me to the edge and, often, beyond. One such trip was a float down the Snake River through the Hell’s canyon wilderness. this was a journey into the unknown long before outfitters offered guided versions complete with 5 star dinners.

There were a dozen of us, friends and acquaintances, guys lured by the appeal of an adrenalin packed escapade. None of us had done anything like this before, so we scouted the local bars for advice. One drunk curmudgeon said we’d all be killed, another offered we could do the trip on inner tubes. One thing was certain, Hell’s Canyon was more than a mile deep and isolated. We’d spend days without encountering other human beings. If something went sideways, getting help and getting out of there would not be easy.

Our research didn’t scare anyone off. Equipped by a local surplus store and comforted by some cautionary guide notes scribbled in a small notebook, the expedition was launched below Hell’s Canyon dam.

There’s a magical wonder in drifting down a wild river, pulled into an unknown world, with surprises around every corner. There are times of sublime peace and awe as you are carried silently past towering canyon walls, under forever blue skies  with high circling, screeching hawks, past frozen deer staring at you wide eyed. Then, you hear the whisper of something different ahead. the whisper increases to throbbing echoes and then a pulsating roar.

Rapids. the biggest, ass stomping, wildest water any of us had ever seen. Not bothering to check the small notebook for advice, our little flotilla of rafts plunged straight into the middle of the maelstrom.

We got trashed. Spun around, sandwiched, catapulted, flipped, and finally spat out at the bottom in a quiet pool. Our quickly nailed together rowing frames had been broken like toothpicks. Our two week supply of breakfast granola was now mush. Still, all had survived, but we had a new reverence for the river. 

Often, as I lay in bed waiting for sleep to carry me away, I recall the many moments of reckless abandon as I’ve floated the river of life, turning a corner and charging into another rapid of surprises without consulting the guidebook. I’m awed and grateful that having tempted fate so many times, good fortune has always smiled on me. But, there was a cost for all those thrills. I often used the allure of adventuring as an excuse to run away from commitment, avoiding the intimacy of truly loving relationships. I used adventuring as an excuse to run from my fear of love.

I’m on a different river now, floating down the canyon of deteriorating dementia with my wife. In the quiet water, things often seem normal, little changed, and it’s easy to deny that dementia is even here. But, then there are whispers, my wife will say something that makes no sense, and my mind is suddenly drowned by the rush of reality flooding my consciousness. Dementia is here and it’s not going away.

It happened today.

“Will you walk with me?” she asked.

“Sure,” I replied, “where are we going?”

“To visit my mom.”

In the process of putting on my coat, I stopped. My wife’s mom lives in Zacatecas, Mexico, 2000 miles away.

“Your mom doesn’t live here,” I shared.

“Yes, she does, right there,” my wife answered, pointing outside.

I smiled, trying to hide my disappointment that her mind had slipped again.

“Sure,” I said, helping her with her coat, “let’s walk.”

As I hold my wife close in the night’s darkness, I feel the peace and warmth that can only be found in the adventure of love.

tio stib

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Breaking Trail

in winter stillness
ancient aspens watch
a chickadee flitting past
feathered music
bouncing
over infinite blue

alone
atop the buried meadow
a man paused
turned
looked back at the trampled snow
the trail of footsteps
each print a shadowed testament
to sweat falling from his brow

all he could see was white
reflected memories in a sea of snow
light’s harsh truth
stinging weary eyes

a deep sigh
a gasp of icy air
a hesitation in the heartbeat of being

a smile

he chooses life

again

tio stib

2016, 2018

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Selling Out to Google Maps

I may be blind but I can still feel the sun’s warmth on my face and if it’s noon, I know I’m pointed south. On a recent family trip, I felt the sun’s noon warmth and knew we were driving south. but, Napa was north. We were headed in the wrong direction. What had happened?

The driver had entered the desired destination into Google Maps on his smart phone. However, deep into conversation with his front seat companion, he’d missed a turn. We were now not only headed in the wrong direction, we were about to cross a toll bridge.

Yes, the female Google Maps voice did eventually sort things out. We turned around, paid the toll to recross the bridge, and got headed north. but how had the driver made such an obvious mistake in direction? I pondered this question as we drove on in search of amiable wineries and fine wines. I noted several other google Map miscues, the computer guide was far from perfect. We were doing our third circle of the same block before the driver realized he’d missed another turn.

What happens when we sell our souls to Google Maps?

In this case, the driver had surrendered all connection with the reality outside his vehicle. He had no idea which way was south and that south was the wrong direction. He had no vision of the larger world he was operating in, trusting that a voice from a computer would take care of his directional needs.

True, google Maps did eventually get him to the wineries he was seeking. but at what cost? What did he miss along the way? what sights, what experiences, what happenings were left unnoticed because he was content to live within the isolated bubble of his automobile reality?

I wonder what kind of world it will be when the majority of people around me are content to live in such bubbles. It seems obvious that such lives would be self-centered, caring little for most of what lies outside their isolated existence, things like, weather, sunsets, Nature in all its wonders.

Ouch! Not my kind of world. Not my kind of life. I’ve been blessed with a lifetime of adventures with road maps, topographical maps, nautical charts, maps on napkins, all kinds of real, touchable maps. How boring life would have been without all those maps guiding me to lost places, crazy characters, and unexplored  frontiers.

“No, sonny, Denio Hot Springs ain’t on the map. Buy me a beer and I’ll show you where it is.”

“Damn, I’m thirsty! Do you think the name ‘Sometimes Creek’ means it’s not here in the summertime?”

“I think that vacant gas station we just passed was the town of Desolation. So much for our cold beer break.”

“The vulture sitting on the sign seems to say that things are not so great in Paradise, population 2.”

“Yeah, that big X on Wally’s map meant big rapids. Next time, tell us before we get sucked into a monster like that.”

“I know we’re out of gas, but that spot you thought was a town is a piece of chocolate.”

I dare you to break your bubble, turn off your smart phone, grab a real map, and chase your own adventures.

You might even get lost.

Tio Stib

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