Silly Grins

Monday, May 14, 2012


This is what that was all about. Didn't want any comments. Just needed to get it out. Besides, not too many people have the patience, or desire, to watch the exchange that took place. That cave, a 'power-spot' or groovy place to be, is somewhere on an island, like all those others that are mostly neglected, let adrift. A spontaneous, creative, and playful space. A time and place to remember on later walks.

Thinking... and then feeling.

Why anyone would want to sleep in a tent with no access to a warm bath or proper toilet for more than twenty-four hours was beyond her. Wifey couldn’t understand why gaijin-husband needed to get away, but they’d made a deal. Husband and Son could go for three nights (okay, probably four) to camp out on the uninhabited island with the ‘hippies’.  Sleeping bags and tent were chucked into the fossil fueled caravan and the two boys were on the road before anyone had a chance to change her mind.  Not like it would have made a difference.

"As free as the wind blows..."

Although they were a few days early, they’d managed to hitch a ride on a boat with the understanding that they’d be pitching in to help set up. An extra set of hands, if needed.  

The boatman and his crew of one...ferrying souls across the water.

And the people they'd meet…

(limited to a set of three for sake of this post)


I: Brazil

The ‘campsite’ was still being cleared when they found a spot to set their gear down. They were putting up their tent and a canopy when the father noticed a low profile tent, tucked away in the brush and a small cooking fire-pit that someone had built out of stones.

Later in the day, maybe around lunch time, the neighbor showed up. He was offered a cup of something or maybe some of our snacks, can’t remember which. Anyway, we got to talking and I couldn’t help be comment on how his setup looked pretty tight, like he really knew what he was doing. While having everything a person might need, his gear was minimal.  He’d been on the island for more than a week, part of the volunteer crew.

With his beard, he looked kind of like what might be called a hippie while also leaning a little toward survivalist. And survive he could.

His story, it turns out, was one of travel. Wanderlust had shown him South America. Apparently he’d spent eight months living with a tribe along the Amazon. No electricity, just the basics. More than enough. He’d waved his middle finger at the salaryman rat race, content to find seasonal work, doing construction, maybe cutting cane, or whatever.  He wasn’t afraid of working hard. In fact, he was proud. In good health and in his twenties, the world lay before him.

II. China

We’d forgotten our ‘gas conro’ – a luxury we didn’t really need.  We (okay – I) had also forgotten the lighter, matches, and how to rub sticks together to start a fire. Fortunately, the odd looking couple who’d brought their bicycles onto the island were friendly enough when I asked if I could 'borrow' some flame.

Odd looking. Yes. They were clean cut, had what looked like durable lightweight (expletive-ly expensive) gear, and two very nice bicycles. They also knew how to build an extremely efficient cooking fire, with just enough flame to get the job done. No more, no less.

The couple had met on the road, maybe a year before, and had been cycling ever sense. They were intent on seeing the world. Said they’d just finished going through China, where they picked up their bikes at a reasonable price. Going around the world while not headed anywhere in particular. First two months on the road, the daily grind had taken some getting used to. Now they had their routine down.  Somehow they just happened to hear about the festival, maybe from someone they'd met on the road, and decided the experience was worth their time.

III. Japan

A little later, but still before the festival officially started, a raggedy looking family showed up. Four, maybe five children. Couldn’t really tell how many because none of them were still for more than a moment.  They seemed to run with the ever roaming pack of feral kids who really owned the place.

In the Raggedy Family, all the offspring were of elementary school age or well below. Well below… you see, Ma’ Raggedy had the youngest, a two-moth old, strapped on in one of those Peruvian-looking baby hammocks.

Pa' Raggedy had sort of asked-told us that it was okay to set up next to us? Which they did with well-weathered gear. Not exactly clean, but sturdy. They had their own routine down, which was cutting the kids loose as soon as possible and putting a big pot over the coals in their open fire.

I thought I was smart till I heard Mr. Raggedy share part of his story. No, his eldest son doesn’t quite fit in at school. Stays home a lot. But it’s okay because the few acres they live on, while renting out the old farm house for 5,000 yen per month, has plenty of space and provides them growing room for their brood as well as their vegetables. “5,000 yen is actually kind of pricey for the area, considerin’one of the neighbors pays only a fifth of that.”

“Wow, you do camping well,” I says.

He laughs, “We live this way.”


So, a few days were spent just getting away from it all. People were friendly, mellow, and pretty content. Oh yeah, there was an edge. Always is. But those days on the island were magic enough to get me through another year. Just too bad it seems so far away and takes so long to ‘get there’. 

Thinking too much about how to incorporate the groove into daily life is perhaps part of the problem. 

Just do it and say whutever. 

That's what they were  doing...



  1. I'm alright with nothing. I am not alright around folks who cannot be. I enjoy beating other people at things more than getting any tangible gain. Money is just a result of effort but never the goal.

    I don't know if I'd be the same if I had kids though....I'm glad I don't....I don't wanna know.

    1. An uncle-ish kind of fellow ends up turning just about everything into a competition, which is fun at times...but not always, not when folks just want to chill. But competitors gotta compete. Introduced a friend to the sort-of-uncle and they locked horns almost immediately. Funny watching them go at it. When the Mr. Uncle was loosing, he'd just try to wear everybody down, "Okay, best two out of three." Eventually we'd just give it to him so we could crack open the ice chest and mellow out. Good times.

      With kids, time tends to be most important. They grow up fast. Don't want to miss anything for sake of trying to accumulate more than is necessary. Most people I've talked to recognize the value of taking time out to be with kids while they are kids. Cause once they hit a certain age, they are off doing their own thing.

      For me, being there for my kids is the most important thing. For me, it's giving them more stability than I ever had and maybe trying to pass along a few skills. Plus, they give me a great excuse to go out and do all the stuff I'd rather be doing anyway.

  2. Always good to meet the kinds of people that remind you that things could always be more interesting. Unfortunately, most of us are just satisfied with the possibilities...

    1. Yeah. You got me thinking, maybe it's time for spoons; the malocculusions can wait a little longer.