Sunday, February 3, 2013

Go Forth: Be as Content as a Kid in a Tent

We are a collection of destinations planned and unplanned, sometimes envisioned but never fully grasped, sometimes grasped but conceived in vagueness.  No matter where you are now, you have arrived from a place in the past through the piecing together the jaggedness of life.  It is all the little searches, in varying degrees of consciousness, both in little nibbles and in the full force of our youth, that comprise a life.  You fabricated it, from the random pieces, as you saw fit.  Be content in it. 

There have been so many directions, things causing sway, perhaps as young saplings face a stiff wind.  We resist.  We yield.  We are a combination of the times we’ve resisted and yielded, times when spirit, fortitude and perseverance have convened.  No matter how much we resist it, we are now in a spot where we once were not.  It is with certainty that our travels take us where we know not.  We will arrive along lines far from straight.  Along lines that have at times been blurred. 

By night, the "Kid in the Tent," L.R.C., pushes himself a
bit differently than your average ten year old.
He's spent thirty-some days in a tent braving sub-freezing
temperatures.  By day, he's your typical school student.
Check out his blog with daily updates and superb writing. 
We are where the headwinds, tail winds, and cross winds have left us.  There have been winds that left us sagging and winds that have filled our sails contently.  And all the while, along each of those markedly different turns, we’ve responded with varying degrees of intent, our ambition wrapped amid episodes of happenstance.     

Very few of us push beyond noticeable extremes, rather preferring to remain within “normalcy,” within some form of content behavior.  Even our showers are luke warm.  “Pushing” ourselves might manifest itself as taking a walk on a blustery day.  Still others choose different paths, for the most intrinsic of reasons.   Whether it be for fame or for the adrenaline rush, all journeys begin as simple extensions of thought.  

The first three Rabenold men to America arrived in 1737.  These gravestones were erected in 1952 near the
now unknown graves of these founding men at Jordan Lutheran Church at Walberts,  My brothers and sisters
and me are nine generations removed from Wilhelm.  Frederick is our great times five grandfather. 

Take ‘free diving,’ the pushing of the limits of oxygen versus deep water, as one example.  Nic Wallenda’s tightrope walk across Niagara Falls as another.  Magellan, Peary, Lindberg, Earhart, and Armstrong all made choices that led them to places of pleasure and peril.  Col. Percy Fawcett’s life journey took him to the Amazon.  It is within the Amazon where he and his son fatefully remain.  Jean Beliveau of Vancouver walked around the world, taking eleven years and using fifty-two pairs of shoes on his 46,000 mile hike.  They all extended themselves.  Understanding it in black versus white, success versus failure does not do justice here.  It is the journey, the culmination of choices, leading us to places that differ from our start.
The signature of Wilhelm Rabenalt on his oath to the
Pennsylvania colony in 1737. 

A transcript of Wilhelm Rabenold's 1698 birth
certificate from Germany even recorded that
he was born premature, on December
15th between 1:00 and 2:00 AM and
his uncle Wilhelm, his mother's brother
 and a theological student, helped deliver him. 
Wilhelm Kraft Rabenold journeyed from the Palatine with his wife and two young children in 1737. The trip down the Rhine was difficult enough, paying tolls all along the way in addition the perils of sea travel, he was heading toward a destination of uncertainty.  After arriving in Philadelphia, they later treked sixty miles north to Lehigh County, still wild with native people still stewing over the Walking Purchase.  He did all this, to establish a life, as so many German immigrants of the time, for the exacting and incessant work of farming the land.

My Great, Great Uncle Albert Nothstein (left, with Fred, Mary married
a Semmel, and Guswin): Moving west made sense to him.
(Uncle Albert was my Uncle Bobby Haas's Great Uncle.
Bobby bore a strong resemblance.)

All Rabenolds today, owe their existence here in America, to Wilhelm and his sons Peter and “Frederick.”  (My line comes from Johannes Frederick.)  It is because of their fortitude and willingness to “go forth” as Whitman instructed, that we that are here now, are able to exercise our own will to go forth to whatever degree we choose.   Family histories are full of these stories.

I am often in awe of these journeys from the past.  Like the one my great Uncle Albert Nothstein took shortly after his mother’s death in 1898 when he picked up his stakes and moved west.  He went forth, from his Mahoning Valley family farm to work a paper mill job into a farm of his own in Chelewah, Washington.  And from all accounts, Uncle Albert lived a long and happy life.

We can look behind us to see the results of the decisions we’ve made within us.  We can follow our own reason.  We can certainly enjoy the reward of the journey.  Where it all ends is uncertain.   And that uncertainty, coupled with the journey of making something whole out of the jagged scraps and pieces that make up this life, is certainly the reward.  Go forth.

So to my young friend L.R.C., the “Kid in the Tent” with thirty-four days in, I wish you well.  Be content as you go forth on your journey.  I am confident in your success no matter what the outcome.  We should all be so content (and in a tent! cool!). 

"The Kid" also makes a mandatory hike each morning at 5:45 AM.

Maisy the dog watches over the Kid in the Tent.

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