Why Record Experiences?

Why Record Experiences?

Page Type Page Type: Article

...or so it seems to me

I was writing to a friend, Slim, from the Continental Divide Trail. We walked, often together, from the Mexican border to Silver City. I'd shared my tedious tome of the walk through the San Juans, and he paid me the compliment of saying that he relived his own memories by reading mine.

Thank Goodness! Way better that his mind is filled with his own mountains than mine.

You might read something almost entirely new to you. But if it entirely alien, it won't be grasped by tendrils of your being. And it did you then no good.

If those tendrils, however, reach and touch it, this new thing...then what a gift: you are on the verge of incorporating a new aspect of your being. For the written word must be mirror as well as object. Only then is there communication. Only then is there relationship.

And it is only by relationship that we learn.

I am a stupid man. I do not learn from books, though I've often said I did. And I am always reading.

But in reality, I cower from the world. I read long enough to feel shame. And then I finally go into the world.

I absorb a tiny bit of it. Then I dart, like a squirrel, back into a private place. Only then can I begin to worry the morsel held in my cheeks.

Then, my reading is not such an error. For because I have added to my being, there are more tendrils within it to reach and touch those alien concepts I previously skipped across, ungrippable in my essence. I now have more "handles," and am usefully waylaid.

I'm not yet saying anything new. However, I see something else. If you write your own experiences, then these themselves are represented outside of you. And in so becoming, they are potentially alien (recognition may be swift, "oh, I wrote that, I remember that," but nonetheless, there is a quick sniff first to see if it is alien), and thereby useful.

To grow we must be pierced. And we can aid in our own puncturing with the creation of artifacts that are both deeply known (because ours) but potentially alien (because now "outside," now "objective").

And here was my new thought (never new, only newly discovered): time itself becomes capacious in this (holy?) work of recording and then re-membering. Because walking your own paths now objectified, now "alienized," your being is stirred in the times of the walk itself.

And such stirring, at depth, escapes time...for What Was becomes What Is. And your being now turns his head to the right on the path, where before he turned it left at the shadow of a wing across the sun.

And he shall see what he missed.

And now time is only our friend. Only perceived as the gift which it is when given us yesterday and tomorrow by our Father. We may emerge above it as the delighted child before the Death Star Playset, through which he has already wandered long in dream.

I was looking through pictures from the San Juans and happened to notice, deep in the image of a vast mountainside preceeded by tilting plain, two tiny pixels of color.

On the Continental Divide Trail, looking down into Mineral Creek
On the Continental Divide Trail, looking down into Mineral Creek

They were my friends! And that moment brought the time of that morning again to life. I found them again only by zooming in, and seeing them for (what it felt to be) the first time. Thereby was our depressing story of time-as-arrow nullified for me. And the death in me was diminished. And the life in me rejoiced.

If it is so with only a photo, then how much more so in the careful build-up of image through the written word? For the plodding of eyes across rows of letters blooms real wildflowers in a real meadow singing even now in the loving gift of your imagination.

Recording your walk is the beginning of your journey of discovery. It is the harvesting. The movements, the sweat and joys do stand on their own, yes. But why leave the field unharvested? We here...we at least do the planting, unlike those who only smile placidly at the peaks from the valleys.

We must grip the scythe, and like men of old, finish our work in the golden autumn of our day.

I write this with the deepest thanks to this community, which, in the years of planting, always had a friendly word for me...admonished me to be safe, resisted my excesses (remember how I wanted a "wiki"?), celebrated my little successes far beyond what I deserved. Y'all here carry out the trinity of reading, writing, and that first most important step: doing. Thank you for the good example.

On a vast, high shoulder
On a vast, high shoulder


Post a Comment
Viewing: 1-4 of 4

yatsek - Oct 22, 2022 3:53 am - Voted 10/10

Thanks for a superb read

I'd say YOU must write here more often.
PS I do remember how you wanted another wiki :)


mvs - Oct 22, 2022 6:25 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Thanks for a superb read

Haha! Thanks for checking it out Yatsek...yeah...I was convinced that with a wiki style then more folks would drop by and add neat little details to pages. I was hiking/climbing a lot, and kept accumulating neat little details like, "Oh, crampons were first used in this valley!"

Now I see the wisdom of ownership over the long term. SP has it's own way, and why should it become some thing that it is not?

I hope the summer was awesome...I'm in Meran right now and looking forward to a sunny day tomorrow. :)


MikeLJ - Jan 12, 2023 3:41 am - Voted 10/10


Thanks for posting this, I have been thinking about it for a while.
Recently, I have been re-reading Frank Herbert’s book “Dune”. Within it there is a line which reads: “every experience carries its lesson.”
I would like to believe that this is true and that we are all enriched by the sum of the many experiences we have had.
By recording our experiences, can we pass these lessons on vicariously to the readers? I’m not sure that is always possible but I know that one of the attractions of SP for me was reading about the experiences of many of the contributors.
Maybe the best we can hope for is to inspire others to visit a place we have been to, so they can learn their own lessons?


mvs - Feb 25, 2023 10:01 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Experiences

Very interesting, Mike.

I agree with your suspicion that the recording of an experience is a paltry thing when compared with the blood, sweat and tears of actual striving. Perhaps the wise can learn from the experience of others, but I personally am nowhere near wisdom. I know I have to put myself out there to grow.

But on the upside...why did I ever go out in the first place? Well, by reading the experiences of others and getting inspired! So these scribbled traces have their purpose: to incite action. Action that the author will never fathom, leading into new country.

Viewing: 1-4 of 4