Friday, April 8, 2011


Mt. Shasta
San Luis Obispo, CA
(Photo courtesy of Ryan)

(Dedicated to my mother, Marion, 
on the occasion of her 78th birthday--
April 9, 2011.  

As a young child, did you ever have an opportunity to ride in the back of a pickup truck and watch something huge--like a mountain in the backdrop--as your vehicle proceeded along the highway away from that object?

I don't have the scientific term for it, but I trust my senses and intuitively knew--even as a little boy--that there was some kind of optical illusion going on.  

By this, I mean I could easily see the things on the side of the highway getting smaller as the truck rambled on.  But the huge mountain in the distance seemed to incredulously grow larger the further away we traveled.  This phenomenon may have something to do with one's visual perception being simultaneously assigned multiple tasks--for example, tracking the large mountain on one level while noticing the objects passing by and looking smaller on another level.  And then, of course, there's also the neutral sky above that one notices but ironically neglects.  

For some reason, it came to mind just now that I never did talk about this phenomenon as a young child.  I waited 58 years to discuss it now in this blog.

Perhaps there's a reason for this.

But, first, let's reverse the direction of our vehicle.

Imagine that you're in the front seat now and that the huge mountain is in front of you--miles and miles away.  This visual works best when you're traveling in a desert or flatland because then the mountain really stands out.  Case in point--the above photo.

Here, then, is the opposite visual effect.  Things in the near and intermediate distance come rushing at you and appear larger.  But the huge mountain in the distance seems to get smaller or at least remains the same size even though your brain is cognizant that you're headed straight towards it.

As a youngster, I always neglected to track where both phenomena mentioned above lost that optical illusion.  

But as a middle-aged writer, I am taking the liberty of remembering and making an observation or two as I wax poetic or otherwise.

The title of this blog--HAWAIIAN ODYSSEUS--suggests a journey homeward.  

For me, the journey is three-tiered.

HOME OF ORIGIN:  First, there is the journey back to my youth.  Only in discovering unlocked treasure chests and understanding the historical and genealogical lessons gleaned but perhaps not resolved at the time can one move forward with increased awareness, wisdom, compassion, and grace.  

This, then, is the phenomenon of riding in the back of the pickup truck.  Our past becomes increasingly important, or larger, the faster we move through the present and into the future.

NUCLEAR HOME:  For me, social and economic circumstances made it necessary for me to be away from my home and family in one part of the state and be relocated in another.  The very writing of this blog was a vehicle (no pun intended) for me to cope with tremendous angst, loneliness, and sadness about the severe psychological, emotional, physical, and spiritual struggles I faced in my situational exile from home.  Only by sitting in the back of the truck and making sense of the significance of my past was I able to find the strength and courage to persevere in the present.  

Every adventure, crisis, and obstacle were surmountable only because I kept my eye on the mountain in front of me...the one that seemingly became smaller the closer I got to it.  I could easily have become discouraged, but the good Lord filled me abundantly when I was at my weakest, and I am eternally thankful.  The mountain ahead of me is the reunion with my wife and the readjustment to the nuclear home.  My children are adults and, thankfully, off to a very successful start as they travel on their respective highways through life.  

I made the huge decision this past week to return home about two months from now.  It is a decision that both excites and scares me.  Once again, I find myself in the front seat of that proverbial pickup truck and wondering why that mountain seems to get smaller the closer I get to it.

This is no time to let anything or anyone discourage me.  I AM GOING HOME!

My daughter graduates from high school in the early part of June.  Soon after, she will be traveling to Spain to attend summer classes.

My son graduates with a dual degree in mechanical engineering and business management from graduate school in central California.  I will be traveling there with my wife and daughter, and the prospect of precious time with family and celebration during those four days makes me very happy.

Just days later, I will join some of my siblings, extended family, and relatives in Oregon for a family reunion.  

I have not seen my father, who presently lives in Maryland with his wife, for 33 years.  This wonderful and long-anticipated event would be a culmination of both phenomena cited above--at once, the mountain behind gets bigger the further I travel from it, and the mountain ahead gets smaller the closer I get to it.

HEAVENLY HOME:  Recent events in both our collective and individual lives, dear reader, only serve to provide further evidence that this world is getting older and fraught with more and more ailments.  Prior to this generation, we humans have not been the best stewards of this world.  And so we are confronted with severe consequences.

Increasing lawlessness matches the rapid increase of mankind's knowledge.  We may all do well to heed the lesson of the Tower of Babel.  Politics and judicial decisions at the highest level suggest that man has grown too big for his britches.  The spiritual reverence our country once had for the Creator has fallen by the wayside, and--alas!--we will pay dearly for it.

It is both the mountain that grows larger the more we travel away from it and smaller the more we struggle to get back to it.  

In my humble opinion, it is God growing bigger in His desire to redeem us when we grow apart from Him.  As we stumble back to our feet and turn away from our foolish choices; as we hunger to make it back home...He appears to grow smaller, but it is only His way of saying, "Okay, you've made the choice to return home.  Show Me with all your might how much you desire to get back to My front porch.  Show Me just how hungry and desperate you are...I will be waiting with a hot bath and some delicious lentil soup for you."

I plan to be on that front porch with my ukulele and singing Tropical Rainbow*.

Will you join me?



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