Sunday, April 30, 2017


"In schools we keep teaching that history is divided into American history and Chinese history and Russian history and Australian history....we're teaching kids that they are divided into tribes. We're failing to teach them that we also, as human beings, share problems that we need to work on together."   David Christian
No man is an island…
"But without a tribe, that’s exactly what you are: a loner, a rebel. Not a pioneer, a vagrant. As poetic as it may seem to go it alone, you need people to help you accomplish your vision (whatever it may be)."  Seth Godin

So which is it? Tribe or no tribe? I've been thinking about that lately. Maybe because the word seems to be popping up more often. Not in relation to Native American tribes in this country, or African tribes, or primitive tribes in the Amazon, but tribes as defined by the writer Jeff Goins -
"...existing groups of people formed around very specific interests and passions."
As examples he listed Vegans, J.K. Rowling readers and the Southern Baptist Convention. You get the idea. I've even used the word myself, in the context of talking about like minded people I have as friends or that I get to hang out with once in a while and that I wish were my friends. I am also wondering if you can be part of and have allegiance to more than one tribe.
I like being around people like this -

 And also these guys -


Can I be part of both? Can being in a tribe (or tribes) cut me off from others? Or cause me to give up on people who are not part of my tribe? 
I guess it probably comes down to whether or not you only associate with others in your same tribe. That would not be a good thing. You would be too sheltered, and possibly lured into a false sense of security, never being confronted with a reality check. If everyone around you thinks and acts and even looks like you, there are no challenges to be met. We all need to be challenged occasionally. 
The other side is that without a tribe to call your own, will you feel like an outcast and alone to make your own way without regard for the welfare of others? I've known people like that, too. The ones who say, "Leave me alone. I don't need anybody. I'm fine on my own." That's as sad as someone taking refuge within a tribe, under their protection, and never venturing beyond those boundaries. I don't know the answer, or even if there actually is an answer. And, if there is an answer to these questions, it is most likely different for each individual asking. 

It's kind of funny (frustrating? ironic?) that even after all this talk about tribes, I'm still not sure how to measure their value. I'm not even sure I'm actually a part of one. Maybe I'm that one mentioned above...the loner, the rebel. Yeah, that's me. The bad boy rebel loner. Right. Well, I do have a leather jacket and a motorcycle. And I do value my alone time. However, I wouldn't last very long without what I consider my tribe. It's small, but it's awesome. New members are always welcome. No application required and there's no initiation fee. Feel free to join up. Anywhere. Any time. 

Roger O'Dea     4/30/2017    

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Mixed Feelings (and finding a fort)

There was a post on social media the other day about construction of a new observation deck at Little Spearfish Falls. I did not know about that plan, which is surprising because I try to keep up on the news about development in Spearfish Canyon. It's the area managed by the State Department of Game, Fish and Parks so they have every legal right to make "improvements." This, however, does not strike me as much of an improvement. There was already a fence to safely allow viewers to look over the top of the Falls. This will extend the viewing area somewhat, but at the expense of those viewing the Falls from below. Upon completion the folks at the bottom will now be looking up at the top of the falls where the water begins its cascade down to the creek below...while also looking at all the spectators on the new platform at the top. Seems like it will kind of ruin the view from both perspectives.

It's actually a mess up there right now. Lots of signs.

The other disturbing sight I saw on my recent hike in that area was the considerable cutting of tree limbs. I'm not a forester, but I can't imagine how cutting so many branches can actually have that much of a positive effect. I'm sure the trees don't like it. I saw so many trees attempting to heal themselves. There was some evidence of success, but most remain terribly scarred.

Fresh cut - the healing begins

Rare example of a mostly successful healing

I'm conflicted by the current development and the proposed state park plan (supposedly shelved...for now) because, while I understand the need for easier access for those who are less mobile due to illness, injury or age, I prefer the more primitive areas. I'm afraid those will disappear. There should be a way to find a balance, but often when development starts - it doesn't stop. All the trails are groomed, all the roads are paved, parking is limited to spaces between the lines, and access is denied. Even when I'm too old to hike the backwoods and rocky trails at higher elevations, I wouldn't want those things to no longer be available to persons who can still enjoy them just to accommodate me.

Perhaps most of all I worry about people not being able to build secret forts.  Like this one -

It's a place I've been hiking to for many years. I can't tell you the exact location. That would not be cool. It would "out" my fellow travelers who have been responsible for so much activity there. I have seen structures of varied sophistication come and go through the years. Some resembling a sweat lodge, others dark and kind of creepy, others open and colorful like the one there now. The builders of the current digs call it their fort. How I know is by reading their note in the small journal they placed in a plastic bag and tied to a rock outcropping. They also asked, "please don't destroy our fort." I've never seen any activity there that could be considered vandalism, so I think the fort is safe. Until someone else comes along and decides to remodel. 
Funny thing, though, I have never met or encountered any others during my many visits. That's probably because if I see other vehicles parked anywhere near the partially concealed starting point of the trail - I don't stop. Others probably make the same decision when they see my vehicle. It's like an unwritten rule. An understanding between denizens of the canyon. I don't bother them and they don't bother me. And if ever our paths do cross words may not be spoken, but a smile and knowing nod will surely be shared as we go about our way.
And you know what? There has never been any need for our merry band of hikers and fort builders to erect a barricade with the words "Keep Out" or to post a sign saying "No Trespassing." Sometimes...most of the time...the honor system works just fine. It's called trust. Let's try that more often. I, for one, promise to never ever destroy your fort. And I will be thankful for the opportunity to visit once in a while.

Roger O'Dea     4/15/2017

Monday, March 6, 2017

A Pretty Good Weekend

It wasn't just the opening of my photography show that made this past weekend so special. The staff at the gallery is great...every one of them. Very professional and very cool. The good vibes and positive energy they maintain at that place are incredible. But the big takeaway for me was the realization that in addition to my family I constantly find myself surrounded by an amazing circle of friends, peers, colleagues and collaborators. Some of those categories overlap, but whatever title or description may apply, I am so lucky to know these people. I was nearly overwhelmed by the number who showed up to see the exhibit Friday night and Saturday. Larry, Ellen, Linda, Bruce, Nancy and Doug, Billy and Karin, Mike and Michelle, D'anna and Dean, Sarah, Bill, Rex and Joanne, Steve and Molly, and the woman who told me a wonderful story about one of my photos on display. I had no idea.

It's worth repeating - I am so lucky to know these people. And it was wonderful to see some of their family members, a few whom I know and one or two I had never met. I've thought about this before, but now is a good time to say it...treasure all of the people in your life, including the ones you don't see often or have much interaction with on a regular or even an occasional basis. Think about them right now. Say their names out loud. The ones who have had a positive impact on your life. The ones who have inspired you. The ones who have helped you grow and learn and live. The ones who have been there for you, including the ones who were there only in spirit...but still they were there nonetheless.
This is not meant to be a lesson or a lecture. It's just a reminder, because sometimes we forget what's important and what we should be thankful for. Sometimes I forgot. Or at least, didn't give it much thought. That changed for me this weekend. It has finally sunk in. I will never take my tribe for granted again. And will try to remember to thank God and the Universe every day for the blessings I have received, not the least of which are the good people I am privileged to know.

Roger O'Dea     2/6/2017