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The Mickelson Trail (109 Miles): A Test of Pain

 

I have stepped into the land of grasslands and rocky peaks, encountered animals of all kinds, and became a close personal friend with Pain. Now I am returned, and the true test has begun, remembering the moments of clarity that existed in the wild now that I am back in the tar pit of society. Below is a brief recount of my journey; A full travelogue, which is part of this challenge, will later be posted as a battle log.

 

Day 0:

Almost never made it. After getting very little sleep all weekend the +10 hour drive was long, but not as bad as I thought it would be. I had a great list of podcasts to listen to and keep my mind active. That said, at 0100 in the morning, as I reached the Black Hills, I was pretty tired. I was whipping around the dark corners on the side of a mountain when suddenly two giant Moose loomed in front of me! Luckily one was on the shoulder and one was in the other lane, otherwise I likely would have been severely injured or killed. I took it slower, and was much more awake after that.

 

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Day 1:

Did my first 12 miles in 3 hours. Continued on for a total of 32.2 miles that day, which was a mistake. I was operating on about 3 hours of sleep and pushed myself too hard, which would leave my ankle hurt for the rest of the hike. I also chose to skip a water refill station in order to push on to my destination... and almost immediately ran out of water in my water carrier. I then had to walk for 10 miles with no water. To make things worse, this South section of the trail is across the grasslands of "Buffalo Gap" and thus had almost zero shade. After I made it into a town and got water from a local VFW I couldn't bring myself to walk farther and slept at the trail head. Luckily no-one reported me

 

Wildlife: Hundreds of rabbits, lots of prairie dogs, lots of deer, and some sort of rat snake halfway down a hole after its prey.

 

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Day 2: 

Slowed down a lot today, but my legs were not as sore as I thought they would be but my ankle gave me a lot of pain. This section started to get more into the pine covered heart of the Black Hills. Lunch brought me to the oldest settlement in the area, Custer. Got to mile marker 55, where there was a small shelter, as it began to rain. Took shelter for the night.

 

Wildlife: Deer, yellow bellied marmot

 

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(I made a friend)

 

Day 3:

Woke up to find my ankle almost immobile. I limped into Hill City and took a rest as I waited for my ankle to loosen up. Was walking at a 1 1/2 mph pace for a while... it was torture. This section is the true heart of the Black Hills, has three of the four tunnels on the trail and goes through a number of 'ghost towns' such as Mystic. Mystic has a special place in my heart as my father took me there and explained the history of the town once when I was a kid because one of his published books takes place in part at the town. Around lunch it started to rain again, so I took shelter under a large tree and waited. This was probably for the best because when I started out again my ankle was much better and I made good time. Made it to mile marker 76 before it started to storm again and I set up my shelter for the night.

 

Wildlife: small coyote, deer, turtles, yellow bellied marmot, and a hawk that tried to pick up one of the marmots! It happened not 30 feet from me, quite a sight to see. The circle of life and all that.

 

The even crazier part was when I sat in my shelter after the storm and heard a "Huff... stomp, stomp". I froze and thought... cow on the other side of the fence maybe? Please God let it not be a buffalo or I am screwed. From across the long grass I hear again, "Huff... stomp, stomp". So slowly and with great trepidation I rose from the ground to look over the grass - coming face to face with a long male deer not twelve feet away. We stared at each other for a minute as he went "Huff... stomp, stomp." I stood up a little straighter and started to whistle. 

 

My theory was that he was the rear guard as the rest of his family ran away from what ever made noise in the grass (me). So I whistled so that he would know I wasn't hiding... he didn't get it. So I got back on the ground and waited as I continued to here, "Huff... stomp, stomp." Turns out being really still and waiting doesn't work either... I have heard people talk about what to do if face to face with a bear, a buffalo, an elf, a lion, and countless other things, but never a deer!

 

So finally I just slowly put on my shoes (no socks) and limped away from my shelter. As I walked I heard the "Huff..." moving away in the other direction. 

 

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(My shelter after the storm)

 

Day 4:

As I took down my shelter and started to walk away I heard, "Huff... stomp, stomp." and I was just like, "Seriously, you have the entire world to run around in," but he never bothered me. Then, as I walked through the misty valleys of the Northern Black Hills coyote howls sounded from all around me. The likelihood they would bother something my size was nil, but still creepy as they seemed to circle around me. 

 

Most days I stopped walking around 1700 (5pm) but this day I kept walking as I was so close to the finish. It was this day that I made a lot of progress with using meditation to ignore the screaming pain in my ankle, quite a useful skill if I can continue to develop it. As I finished the trail I found a cheap hotel for the night just as a severe thunderstorm hit the area - I was glad to be inside! 

 

Wildlife: deer, baby fox (extremely cute), hawks

 

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(the mist covered valley in morning)

 

Stay Tuned for a full philosophical and historical exploration of the hike in the form of a travelogue!

 

Current Challenge: Dreaming in the Daylight

 

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For those reading and taking place in The Remaining: Iowa, I promise to resolve the story line soon. That said, for this challenge I am going to experiment with a possible series of challenges which focus on the exploration of historical figures and how we can learn from them in our journeys. This challenge will be following T.E. Lawrence. I will share what I know about him so far, then as I research more about him I will do a final analysis partway through the challenge.

 

What I know: Archeologist who worked for British Intelligence in WW I and later helped organize the resistance of Arab Tribes against the Ottoman Empire. 

 

Lawrence of Arabia was a Polyglot:

The Scholar: Work on a second language

 

Some say he was a masochist:

The Soldier: Work on my tolerance to pain (this is born out of my recent ankle trouble as well)

 

His prose truly conveyed his journeys (even if he exaggerated):

The Sage: Write of my spiritual journey in a travelogue. 

 

More to be added as I learn more of this legendary figure. I look forward to our journey through history together! 

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  • Like 10

Level 8 Expert in Obscure Details

 

Challenges: 1 : 234 : 5 : 6The Martian

 

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That hike sounds truly epic. I like how you used what you've learned from meditation to manage the pain in your ankle - that's nice application of learning.

Cool theme for this month, too. Do you ever read the Art of Manliness blog? They do occasional profiles on historical figures that you might find interesting.

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Geek On Fire | Level 4 Half Elf Ranger

STR: 9 | DEX: 4 | STA: 9 | CON: 14 | WIS: 15 | CHA: 4


Challenges: 12, 3, 4, 5Battle log

 

"No man is more unhappy than he who never faces adversity. For he is not permitted to prove himself"  - Seneca

"The only easy day was yesterday" - US Navy SEAL motto

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Your last challenge was excellent.  I'm really looking forward to another... but let's limit the very real peril, hey?  :P

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[Level ??] Rurik, the Thunderer

Class: Stormborn War-Shaman (Path of Giants Barbarian/Conquest Paladin/Elemental Domain Cleric)

BRUTALITY 11 | FINESSE 10 | VIGOR 11 | INSIGHT 14 | WILL 13

Equipment:  Studded leather armor, war club, plus adventurer's pack containing rations, rope, and nature-based potions. 

 

"Rangers have to at least give up on pants. It's a special rule we enacted after Rurik became a Guild Leader.” – DarK_RaideR

"Did I just get my ass kicked by a member of Metallica meets History Channel's Vikings?" - Wild Wolf

"By the Well-Oiled-and-Meticulously-Groomed Beard of Rurik!" - Tanktimus the Encourager

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Love it brother! This is gonna be a great challenge!

Cool write up with the trails, very neat man! And Lawrence of Arabia, eh? Natural Born Heroes did a number on you, huh? :)

Wolf

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Wild Wolf

Class: Peerless Scarred/ Height: 6'2 / Weight: 188#

Instagram: @ryanwolfbell / Facebook: Ryan Wolf Bell / Bible App (YouVersion) Ryan Wolf Bell

Current Challenge: Intro to Wolflean

Spoiler

Last Challenge(s): 1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9/10/11/12/13/14/15/16

Epic Challenges: Welcome to the Fireteam & Wolfpool 

Gotham Project: 1

 

Know, O prince, that once the sun burns out and the earth's core becomes solid and cold, there will come a man to provide the endless energy needed to sustain life and for the planets to keep moving. He is the source of light and the warmth of hope back into the hearts of humanity...." - Dark_Raider

 

A wolf rises in my heart; against my darkness; against my demons; against my despair. I DECLARE WAR!

 

Romans 8:28 (CSB) We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.

 

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WOW that sounds so unbelievably amazing.  I haven't been on a long camping/through hike in SO LONG - it really can be such a life altering/spiritual experience.  And wow that encounter with the deer sounds intense - glad it wasn't a buffalo :] I had a similar experience with a non-moose in Maine, it ended up being a deer but I wasn't sure when I first heard it from my tend and had it been I moose I would've been a flat Raxie.

 

Following along of course :D

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The last day of vacation has begun before the long trip home! Got all our sightseeing done yesterday, including being trapped in our car by a heard of buffalo crossing the road... and now plan on relaxing here in our cabin this last day. I am ready to get this challenge started!

 

14 hours ago, Tanktimus the Encourager said:

This looks like a great challenge. I love your write up of the trails.

 

Thanks Tank. Hopefully I get a chance to do a full write up this week.

 

12 hours ago, Geek On Fire said:

Do you ever read the Art of Manliness blog?

 

I sure do. They do a great job with their 'manivationals'. 

 

11 hours ago, Rurik Harrgath said:

but let's limit the very real peril, hey? 

 

Haha, you know who you are talking to right? I need some real adventure in my life from time to time.

 

10 hours ago, Wild Wolf said:

Natural Born Heroes did a number on you, huh?

 

Guilty! Honestly, so far I have read some... less than stellar stuff about him but I am trying to reserve judgement to the end of my study. My first subject was originally going to be Theodore Roosevelt, my all-time top hero, but I saved him for latter :) 

 

19 minutes ago, Raxie said:

and had it been I moose I would've been a flat Raxie

 

Wild life... we sometimes forget how wild it can be! 

 

19 minutes ago, Raxie said:

I haven't been on a long camping/through hike in SO LONG

 

Nerd Fitness 2020 Appalachian Trail through hike, I am writing it in my google calender now... :P 

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Level 8 Expert in Obscure Details

 

Challenges: 1 : 234 : 5 : 6The Martian

 

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11 minutes ago, WorldSparrow said:

Nerd Fitness 2020 Appalachian Trail through hike, I am writing it in my google calender now... :P 

 

I'm there!

 

11 minutes ago, WorldSparrow said:

Guilty! Honestly, so far I have read some... less than stellar stuff about him but I am trying to reserve judgement to the end of my study. My first subject was originally going to be Theodore Roosevelt, my all-time top hero, but I saved him for latter :) 

 

Oh no...I liked the way they portrayed him in Natural Born Heroes. Teddy!! You talk about a men amongst boys, lol. SWANKY!

teddy_on_a_moose_funny_poster-r6cd8f1c17

Wolf

  • Like 3

Wild Wolf

Class: Peerless Scarred/ Height: 6'2 / Weight: 188#

Instagram: @ryanwolfbell / Facebook: Ryan Wolf Bell / Bible App (YouVersion) Ryan Wolf Bell

Current Challenge: Intro to Wolflean

Spoiler

Last Challenge(s): 1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9/10/11/12/13/14/15/16

Epic Challenges: Welcome to the Fireteam & Wolfpool 

Gotham Project: 1

 

Know, O prince, that once the sun burns out and the earth's core becomes solid and cold, there will come a man to provide the endless energy needed to sustain life and for the planets to keep moving. He is the source of light and the warmth of hope back into the hearts of humanity...." - Dark_Raider

 

A wolf rises in my heart; against my darkness; against my demons; against my despair. I DECLARE WAR!

 

Romans 8:28 (CSB) We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.

 

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Awesome pictures of an outstanding trip.  I liked that I really knew where you were because we took the trip to the Badlands, Black Hills about 6 years ago.  Did a little hiking but nothing compared to you.  Did you get to feed the donkeys in Custer State park?  My kids loved that trip.  If you are driving home the same way I do suggest the https://www.nps.gov/mimi/index.htm which is close to the entrance of Badlands and Wall Drug.  Take the tour down in the bunker.  So cool.

 

cant wait to hear more about your historical figures.  I love reading about them ( you will have me at the library doing research ) and can't wait for more story.

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Level 36 Ranger Sorcerer 

 

Current challenge 

 

 

 

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5 minutes ago, T2sarahconnor said:

which is close to the entrance of Badlands and Wall Drug.  Take the tour down in the bunker.  So cool.

 

Oh man! It is so fitting that you say this. As a kid my dad and I took a yearly trip out to the Black Hills and he would always point to this tiny trailer with a big fence and say, "That use to be a nuclear warhead silo Son. At one point, if South Dakota left the United States, they would have been the third most powerful Nuclear Nation." I did see that they have sense turned it into a museum.

8 minutes ago, T2sarahconnor said:

Did you get to feed the donkeys in Custer State park?

 

We didn't feed them, but did get stuck in the never ending traffic jam that forms around them as they walk along the road! 

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Level 8 Expert in Obscure Details

 

Challenges: 1 : 234 : 5 : 6The Martian

 

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2 hours ago, WorldSparrow said:

Nerd Fitness 2020 Appalachian Trail through hike, I am writing it in my google calender now... :P 

 

I'll start working on my Dunedain-inspired Ranger cloak.  :P

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[Level ??] Rurik, the Thunderer

Class: Stormborn War-Shaman (Path of Giants Barbarian/Conquest Paladin/Elemental Domain Cleric)

BRUTALITY 11 | FINESSE 10 | VIGOR 11 | INSIGHT 14 | WILL 13

Equipment:  Studded leather armor, war club, plus adventurer's pack containing rations, rope, and nature-based potions. 

 

"Rangers have to at least give up on pants. It's a special rule we enacted after Rurik became a Guild Leader.” – DarK_RaideR

"Did I just get my ass kicked by a member of Metallica meets History Channel's Vikings?" - Wild Wolf

"By the Well-Oiled-and-Meticulously-Groomed Beard of Rurik!" - Tanktimus the Encourager

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11 minutes ago, WorldSparrow said:

I truly don't understand why cloaks ever left fashion. They are so useful! It's like the original Snuggy, part coat - part blanket... 

 

My old army poncho liner still goes everywhere I go.  I'm sitting on it even as I type this reply.  :P

 

Someday I would to invest in one of Kifaru's woobie blankets though!

 

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MULTICAM ALL THE THINGS!

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[Level ??] Rurik, the Thunderer

Class: Stormborn War-Shaman (Path of Giants Barbarian/Conquest Paladin/Elemental Domain Cleric)

BRUTALITY 11 | FINESSE 10 | VIGOR 11 | INSIGHT 14 | WILL 13

Equipment:  Studded leather armor, war club, plus adventurer's pack containing rations, rope, and nature-based potions. 

 

"Rangers have to at least give up on pants. It's a special rule we enacted after Rurik became a Guild Leader.” – DarK_RaideR

"Did I just get my ass kicked by a member of Metallica meets History Channel's Vikings?" - Wild Wolf

"By the Well-Oiled-and-Meticulously-Groomed Beard of Rurik!" - Tanktimus the Encourager

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We sure do, and if memory serves they're the old American Ranger blanket too - woodland camo, drawstrings on the outlying edges?

 

They replaced the good old Ranger blanket with new digital pattern sleeping bags around the time I was getting out.  Not a fan of the zipper!

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[Level ??] Rurik, the Thunderer

Class: Stormborn War-Shaman (Path of Giants Barbarian/Conquest Paladin/Elemental Domain Cleric)

BRUTALITY 11 | FINESSE 10 | VIGOR 11 | INSIGHT 14 | WILL 13

Equipment:  Studded leather armor, war club, plus adventurer's pack containing rations, rope, and nature-based potions. 

 

"Rangers have to at least give up on pants. It's a special rule we enacted after Rurik became a Guild Leader.” – DarK_RaideR

"Did I just get my ass kicked by a member of Metallica meets History Channel's Vikings?" - Wild Wolf

"By the Well-Oiled-and-Meticulously-Groomed Beard of Rurik!" - Tanktimus the Encourager

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8 minutes ago, Rurik Harrgath said:

We sure do, and if memory serves they're the old American Ranger blanket too - woodland camo, drawstrings on the outlying edges?

 

They replaced the good old Ranger blanket with new digital pattern sleeping bags around the time I was getting out.  Not a fan of the zipper!

 

Yep, that would be the one. They still issue them to us, but we get sleeping bags as well. I also have a multicam one I bought for personal use. 

 

?u=https%3A%2F%2Fi.ytimg.com%2Fvi%2FbIFE

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Level 8 Expert in Obscure Details

 

Challenges: 1 : 234 : 5 : 6The Martian

 

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I LOVE MAT BEST.

 

 

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[Level ??] Rurik, the Thunderer

Class: Stormborn War-Shaman (Path of Giants Barbarian/Conquest Paladin/Elemental Domain Cleric)

BRUTALITY 11 | FINESSE 10 | VIGOR 11 | INSIGHT 14 | WILL 13

Equipment:  Studded leather armor, war club, plus adventurer's pack containing rations, rope, and nature-based potions. 

 

"Rangers have to at least give up on pants. It's a special rule we enacted after Rurik became a Guild Leader.” – DarK_RaideR

"Did I just get my ass kicked by a member of Metallica meets History Channel's Vikings?" - Wild Wolf

"By the Well-Oiled-and-Meticulously-Groomed Beard of Rurik!" - Tanktimus the Encourager

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Man, you guys get all the good kit. As a sapper you're just happy to have all your fingers.

  • Like 2

Geek On Fire | Level 4 Half Elf Ranger

STR: 9 | DEX: 4 | STA: 9 | CON: 14 | WIS: 15 | CHA: 4


Challenges: 12, 3, 4, 5Battle log

 

"No man is more unhappy than he who never faces adversity. For he is not permitted to prove himself"  - Seneca

"The only easy day was yesterday" - US Navy SEAL motto

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SITREP:

Still on vacation, but return to work tomorrow. Doing the long drive today. Had a great day yesterday, having spent most of the day relaxing at our cabin and watching a few storms roll though! 

 

For all you people with diet goals (which I have said is my kryptonite) I enjoyed an buffalo/elk cheese burger with bacon and a side of endless french fries last night... :D it was to die for. Then came back to the cabin and enjoyed a bottle of local wine with Mamma Sparrow after Baby Sparrow went to sleep in the nest. 

 

Also walked through a number of local artwork stores. Picked up a walking stick that will work as a nice Jo if I ever follow @Geek On Fire's example and get learning some katas. Skipped the purse made out of a buffalo scrotum though... did almost buy a few inert Fragmentation Grenades to scare my friends with though! 

 

Anyways, I am looking forward to the +10 hour drive to get some good meditation practice.

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SITREP:  (AKA Battle Cry)

 

My dear friends. Today we stand at the precipice of a challenge like none faced in many a fortnight. Many have expressed their never ending dread of that most fateful of days - the final day of vacation. Too often it is shrouded by sorrow and fear of the day of work which looms on the horizon. Never the less, I stand before you tall with my head clear and my arms peeling the skin of past days. A last remnant of these final days of freedom. I stand before you proud to say:

 

Not on this day.

 

I go forth to a job which I past found stifling and degrading and choose to see it instead as the perfect proving ground to those revelations I shared with no one but Mother Earth as I made my long journey. To show those whom would bring me down with their negativity and poisonous thoughts that I am no longer so easily cowed. I will demonstrate my understanding that we all have roles to play in our story and each others, and that it is not a competition or a war but instead a common point in a long story which will have ups and downs. A story which I will not judge by it's individual moments, nor even by it's finish line, but instead by the number of steps I take along it.

 

Nothing is good, nothing is bad. It simply is another aspect of that which cannot be defined.  

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Level 8 Expert in Obscure Details

 

Challenges: 1 : 234 : 5 : 6The Martian

 

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2 hours ago, WorldSparrow said:

SITREP:  (AKA Battle Cry)

 

My dear friends. Today we stand at the precipice of a challenge like none faced in many a fortnight. Many have expressed their never ending dread of that most fateful of days - the final day of vacation. Too often it is shrouded by sorrow and fear of the day of work which looms on the horizon. Never the less, I stand before you tall with my head clear and my arms peeling the skin of past days. A last remnant of these final days of freedom. I stand before you proud to say:

 

Not on this day.

 

I go forth to a job which I past found stifling and degrading and choose to see it instead as the perfect proving ground to those revelations I shared with no one but Mother Earth as I made my long journey. To show those whom would bring me down with their negativity and poisonous thoughts that I am no longer so easily cowed. I will demonstrate my understanding that we all have roles to play in our story and each others, and that it is not a competition or a war but instead a common point in a long story which will have ups and downs. A story which I will not judge by it's individual moments, nor even by it's finish line, but instead by the number of steps I take along it.

 

Nothing is good, nothing is bad. It simply is another aspect of that which cannot be defined.  

Love this ^^^

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Wisdom 22.5   Dexterity 13   Charisma 15   Strength 21  Constitution-13

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind' Luke 10; 27

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13 hours ago, WorldSparrow said:

I go forth to a job which I past found stifling and degrading and choose to see it instead as the perfect proving ground to those revelations I shared with no one but Mother Earth as I made my long journey. To show those whom would bring me down with their negativity and poisonous thoughts that I am no longer so easily cowed. I will demonstrate my understanding that we all have roles to play in our story and each others, and that it is not a competition or a war but instead a common point in a long story which will have ups and downs. A story which I will not judge by it's individual moments, nor even by it's finish line, but instead by the number of steps I take along it.

 

Nothing is good, nothing is bad. It simply is another aspect of that which cannot be defined.  

 

This is beyond amazing.  Such a lovely outlook to have, and inspiring to read as I sit here at my desk counting my days down towards vacation.

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22 hours ago, WorldSparrow said:

Nothing is good, nothing is bad. It simply is another aspect of that which cannot be defined.  

<3 this!

 

Glad to have you aboard shipmate, can't wait to read more adventures! :D 

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RES...and I want to live days worth dying for

Current: RES: SET but not always ready

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Growth happens when you care more about the well being of your future self than the comfort of your present self!

"Pass on what you have learned. Strength, mastery. But weakness, folly, failure also. Yes, failure most of all. The greatest teacher, failure is." -Yoda

 

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