Archive for July, 2005

Part of our Outlaw charm

I recently wrote an article for an industry magazine about the need for front-line employees to look beyond their petty ego needs for the sake of what they’re on the job to accomplish. The industry in question has historically been known for its friendly people, yet I see so many of those people whining and griping and sniping at one another. It’s not only unfortunate – it’s poisonous.

I’ve been seeing the same kind of poison cropping up on certain freedom boards on the internet lately, and there’s been discussion (and often, um, more than discussion) about the growth of this kind of behavior by intelligent adults.

C’mon. We’re Outlaws. Not only are we smart and brave, we’re irresistibly charming.

We’re the good guys, the romantic heroes, the irresistible forces that know (or fake it ‘til we make it) how to get over, around, under, or through those damned immovable statist objects.

If we want to welcome more like us into the ranks, we’ve got to make those ranks a place worth coming to. We’ve got to make magic just by being ourselves, living our truth, and taking actions that speak volumes to the free souls of others.

Speak and do unto others…as you would have them speak and do unto you.

I’ve long wondered why it is that most people treat perfect strangers with so much respect and kindness, then go home and abuse and insult and manipulate their own loved ones. It’s sick. It’s messed up.

How many of us grew up in that type of family environment? Putting on the act for the neighbors, putting on our best clothes and behavior for church and for company, and knowing that it was all a sham that our parents perpetrated upon us and others? Did we resent it and vow that we’d never do the same? Did we want to escape it as soon as we could?

Did we then, years later, jump on some internet forum and start belittling anyone who didn’t agree with us on a minor issue – even though they were kindred spirits about the big issues?

Did we expect to be lauded as innovators of thought, yet then demand that everyone arrive at our exact same conclusions – immediately or sooner – or else they were loser-infidels unworthy of freedom?

Did we taunt and razz and jab those who are closest to us in our thinking?

And do we then have the right to wonder why our ranks remain so small, and why so many who stop by for a chat decide that this isn’t a place they want to remain?

The hardest part, perhaps, is stemming that quickly-rising urge to MAKE people agree, to MAKE OUR POINT, SO THEY GET IT, DAMMITALL, AND WE GET THE LAST WORD. In short – to PROVE HOW SMART AND PERFECT WE ARE AND THUS RULE THE PLACE.

And isn’t that the control-freak, statist-wannabe demon rising up within us?

So…since we know that sort of motivation is far beneath us, why can’t we pause right there, reach down deep to the wise, dashing Outlaw within, and let her or him speak instead?

Her words and ideas are compelling like gorgeous music, her factual examples irrefutable – yet non-threatening. His ways draw us nearer in warm, exciting welcome, rather than pushing us away in anger and revulsion.

I think it’s time to ask ourselves if we really deserve – and will proudly, loyally carry, in all our dealings – the title and standard of Freedom Outlaw.

And I think of Goethe’s lines at the end of this quote by W.H. Murray:

Until one is committed,
there is hesitancy,
the chance to draw back,
always ineffectiveness.
Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation)
there is one elementary truth,
the ignorance of which kills countless ideas
and splendid plans:
That the moment one definitely commits oneself,
then Providence moves too.
All sort of things occur to help one
that would never otherwise have occurred.
A whole stream of events issues from the decision,
raising in one’s favor
all manner of unforeseen incidents
and meetings and materal assistance,
which no man could have dreamed
would have come his way.
I have learned a deep respect
for one of Goethe’s couplets:
“Whatever you can do,
or dream you can,
begin it.
Boldness has genius,
power and magic in it.”

Quotation from
The Scottish Himalayan Expedition,
By W. H. Murray,
Pub. J.M. Dent & Sons, Ltd., 1951

In order to deserve it, we’ve got to live up to it ourselves. And when we think that’s too hard, we’ve got to search much deeper, to reach for the dazzling best within us.

Our kind of Outlaw charm, woven gracefully and sprinkled with stylish panache, works with people, and creates those astonishing opportunities we could never plan. Charm is made with equal parts of magic, passion, love, and pure (never “lite” or imitation) joy.

And charm is exactly what the statists don’t have.


July 18, 2005 at 1:03 pm 4 comments

Tag – I’m it!

In my continuing process of catching up on the past three months (!), I now return at last to Claire Wolfe’s book tag challenge from (gack!) late May. With the luxury of time to think, I’m having a ball on this. Thanks, Claire!

Total number of books I’ve owned:

Wow. No idea. I know I’ve got 24 boxes full currently, because I just moved and had to pack them lovingly. But I gave away another 7 boxes worth before that move, and probably have given or sold another dozen boxes in recent years, not including college texts. So I’m thinking I must have owned at least 50 boxes in my lifetime, at 30 to 40 books per box…maybe 1750 total?

Last book I bought:

RebelFire: Out of the Gray Zone by Claire Wolfe

Last book I read:

I’m about to start reading RebelFire! 😀 Currently I’m working through Jack M. Bickham’s Writing and Selling Your Novel, a gift from my fellow newbie novelist Bobaloo. Also reading Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman by Kate Clifford Larson as part of my novel research.

Five books that mean a lot to me:
I interpret this to mean books that have helped to wake me up to what my soul wants and loves in life. Books that I’ve kept close by me since first reading them. Books I wouldn’t be without if I had to cut my possessions down to the very minimum.

One: Everything by Agatha Christie. (Okay, this is cheating, because I can’t choose just one of her books. Deal with it.) I’m a nut for her mysteries. She combines exquisite characters, psychologically true, with deliciously twisted, intelligent, clever plots and a beautifully lighthearted sense of life. Some of her mysteries aren’t even murder stories but playful chases by boy of girl or vice versa. I never get tired of rereading them…just wish I didn’t already own them all, so I could look forward to more. And you know what? They offer tons of good ideas for Outlaws too. In fact, I’m planning a whole blogopotamus on that theme one of these days. 😉

A few of my favorites from Christie: Death on the Nile (the first one I ever read, at age 14), Cards on the Table, Murder on the Orient Express, Destination Unknown, and 4:50 from Paddington.

Two: Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. You knew it would show up here. It shows up in most of my blog entries. I can’t say enough about it – devoured it early in college after having been assigned The Fountainhead in high school. Rand had her eccentricities and flaws, yes. But the woman GOT it – got the whole miserable process of statist overgrowth – down to the last detail. She gave us the gulching solution. And she came from Russia and learned to write English with that much precision and power. This book absolutely belongs in the firmament.

Three: Writing Down the Bones and Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life by Natalie Goldberg. They knock me out of my daily, conventional mind, and rev up the ineffable depths.

Four: The Contrary Farmer by Gene Logsdon. Oh, my. I first read this in 1995 and knew I’d found my direction. Now I reread it twice a year or more – it’s perfect for a snowed-in day. Logsdon is a delightfully creative, commonsensical farmer and writer who goes his own way, stands against the tide of agribusiness, and reveres nature’s simple processes and cycles without being at all a dippy liberal. This is a fantastic how-to book about working one’s place at nature’s pace.

Five: I Am Not a Number! by Claire Wolfe. I debated about which of her books to list here. 101 Things to Do ‘Til the Revolution was such a daringly delicious delight to read, and remains so after eight years – and The Freedom Outlaw’s Handbook is the very inspiration for this blog. But Number goes a step farther, into the wondrously difficult and rewarding realm of how to build a life with others who also intend to live as free human beings.

I’m taking the liberty of adding a few (okay, it turned out to be a lot – help, I can’t seem to stop!) more titles that remain very present refuges, and well-worn, much-loved signposts:

All the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Yes, I still reread them once every other year or so…and they’ll be in my gulch bookshelf one day.

Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White. I think this book is why I enjoy the company of animals more than that of many people. I still reread it now and then too.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. An independent spirit wins through after all, and (yum!) Timothy Dalton played Mr. Rochester in the miniseries on A&E…

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. An absolute classic. So darn well-written and such a vast yet coherent plot.

If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland. Lush and open, dreamy but action-oriented, a joy to savor.

The House by the Sea and Recovering: A Journal by May Sarton. I found these during my own depression, and loved the New England scenes and the writer’s struggles about which Sarton wrote so well.

Patriots: The Men Who Started the American Revolution by A.J. Langguth. History that makes sense, is a great narrative read, and inspires too. Gives you a sense of how it all unfolded, how it was interconnected, and what the participants were really thinking. Yummy.

The Discovery of Freedom by Rose Wilder Lane. I never knew till I read this quirky book that there was a lot of history being hidden through the centuries. Can’t agree with her entire position, but it’s a wonderful read.

Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel. The heroine is just too perfect, but this book and its several sequels are amazing in scope and detail. They’re the story of a woman who learns to go it alone.

Building the Hewn Log House by Charles McRaven. Wow! You mean people build their OWN homes???

The Complete Book of Cordwood Masonry Housebuilding by Rob Roy. Ditto – and here’s how to do it with small, lightweight components and even a hot tub!

Finding your Own North Star by Martha Beck. Humorous, yet so insightful – a self-help book that’s all about the real self.

Walden by Henry David Thoreau. He lived it – lived the minimalistic, individualistic life – built the cabin, hoed the beans, and nurtured his freewheeling soul. He too was a Freedom Outlaw.

Tag five people and have them do this on their blogs:

Shoot, I don’t know a lot of folks with blogs who haven’t been tagged yet. But here are a few I’d love to hear from:

Debeez – awaiting a link to her feisty blog

Bobaloo – his Serenity Gulch blog may be defunct, but we’d sure enjoy seeing it go live again!



John DeWitt (Joel Simon)

Tim Osman

July 10, 2005 at 11:27 pm 2 comments

“It’s like I’ve been sleepin’ for years”

To all you kind and supportive readers, I just want to say thank you so much for bearing with me! And…I’m ba-a-a-ack!

I apologize for the long absence. The two jobs I’ve been doing for a dozen years now involve a lot of travel and time away from the computer. For the past three months I’ve been itching like crazy to write, and living for the beginning of July, when I could just come home and write my heart out – and now, at last, the magical time has arrived!

It’s taken a great deal of effort – and long-postponed hopes too – to be able to say this: My time is now more or less my own.


I’ve FINALLY paid off most of my old debts, including my car; reduced my living expenses by moving in with my honey, aka Thunder (who’s getting his own writing going over at Wolfesblog); and, but for about a week per month of work/travel for my old company, I can spend my time on my own writing projects (including a paid regular column I recently landed for an industry publication, and the historical novel I’ve mentioned previously), and afford to live well also – while saving up for my gulching plans with Thunder. Perhaps oddly, it’s a humbling feeling.

And, it’s hard to get used to!

Is this what it feels like to want something more than even you yourself know, and to strive for it even when you didn’t think it was possible, and then achieve it? It’s the feeling of being presented a bigger gift than I’m ready to deserve. The feeling that I still need to honor the gift by proving myself worthy of it.

I guess that’s because the gift in question is…freedom.

I kind of shiver when I say that. It’s hard to believe that I’ve really achieved the freedom I’ve wanted for so long.

This doesn’t mean that I get to lollygag around all day – heck, no! And I find that I don’t even want to. On the contrary, the creative tides are beginning to flow strongly, and more projects than I can manage are already clamoring for attention! Research for the novel, home improvement for T’s fixer-upper, new venues for submitting articles – it’s incredible and wonderful.

I’m really excited to read Claire Wolfe’s upcoming book about work-vs.-jobs (tentatively titled Your Work – Your Way) when it comes out. I think she’s made for herself long ago the kind of self-sustaining independence that we wannabe Outlaws yearn after. She’s set up her life so that she can afford to live (hey, I didn’t say it was an extravagant lifestyle…) by writing for whomever and about whatever she wishes. She’s also developed a very loyal following –without selling out her principles – because she’s so darn good at writing AND at choosing the topics she writes about. And that following helps to sustain her.

I’m certain that in the new book, she – none better – is going to articulate that rich experience of self-ownership. It’s what Gulchers and Outlaws pant after, “sweat equity” be damned. To own one’s time, one’s energy, one’s wealth, one’s land. To own them, and to enjoy sovereignty over their use.

Yeah, I know, this sounds like airheaded hooey in the wake of the Kelo decision and “Real ID.” “They” are telling us that we don’t own a damned thing anymore, not even our own biometric or financial data.

But…we DO own our lives, and our thoughts, and the integrity of our work, and our love, and the callings of our innermost hearts, and our time, and our choices, and our energy. No matter what “they” try to legislate, they can NEVER claim these things from us. And what’s more, they know it, and they’re afraid we’ll up and remember it one of these days. Gandhi remembered it. Rosa Parks remembered it. The young student in Tiananmen Square remembered it. But I got caught up in work, and financial worries, and heaven knows what else – and forgot.

I DO own my life. I have the right to live it as I choose, in the name of the best within me. I have the right to pursue my own values and to associate with those I cherish. I have the right to enjoy every sandwich (as Kirsten says) and every moment along the way.

I am free. For the first time ever, I am free and I know it. I never want to forget.

“It’s in every one of us

I just remembered

It’s like I’ve been sleepin’ for years…

I’m not awake as I could be

But my seein’s better

I can see through the tears

I’ve been realizin’ that I bought this ticket

And been watchin’ only half of the show…

But there are scenery and lights

And a cast of thousands

Who all know what I know

And it’s good that it’s so…”

–From “It’s In Everyone of Us” by David Pomerantz

Here’s to you members of the cast who’ve helped to show me the way – to those of you who can laugh with the joy of your knowing, even in the face of the encroaching insanity and its myriad minions.

And Happy Independence Day.

July 2, 2005 at 9:47 pm 2 comments

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