wonderleaping in the woods

Wonderlust In Life

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Find the light in your soul and burn as brightly as you can. Find artists that speak to your heart. Lift others. Enflame yourself in whatever captures your imagination. It is through your fire that you can ignite the rest of us. Flame on.

Wonderleaping In the Woods

I have always been a creature of impulse and inspiration. If there are friends nearby I try and take them along with me. As a 15-year-old in prep school up in Maine, I was walking with my girlfriend and several others into the woods after dinner on a Saturday night. The woods around the school went for miles without fences. A person could get lost. We were all sharing a joint. It was a cold spring night, the snows had melted, leaving wet trails sparkling off into the deeper forest.

“Okay okay okay,” I said, raising my voice into madman territory. “I’ve got it!”

Our group of six paused to hear me out as the pot was beginning to take effect on all of us.

“We are fish in an aquarium. The trees are plants. The moon is the sun. And we’re swimming around, breathing like this.” I put my hands on either side of my head and simulated fish gills. “Blub, blub.”

Everyone joined in. Floating around. “Blub blub,” at each other. We became a small school of fish for a short moment.

Everyone in that moment was touched. “Do you remember the fish moment?” I would ask on Facebook. “Absolutely!” my friend, and previous girlfriend, answered. She still lives in Maine. After my divorce, during a low period, I fantasized about moving up there and starting again. She was open to the idea but still married. “Not a very connected relationship,” she said.

Finding the Words

Writing became a journey like that for me. Finding a combination of words and ideas to bring a reader along for a ride. In similar ways, the great writers that speak to me, have a similar ignition. Their writing lights minds on fire.

My first experience of brilliant rapid-fire stream-of-consciousness narrative was in James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist. It’s as if, midway through the book, he discovers “riffing.” Kerouac wrote On the Road on a continuous scroll of paper over the course of a few days. Sure, he was fueled by amphetamine, but he taps a vein. If you are prepared to listen to the excess of energy and loss of syntax, you’re in for a treat. If you are not ready, or open, these writers will not connect for you.

Kerouac’s jazz bloomed into Hunter S. Thompson’s Gonzo, if you know you know. If you don’t know, you’re more confused than electrified by these writers. But, once you’ve tasted the cool-aid it is hard to slow down again with other writers. It’s a pretty sweet line of progression: Joyce >> Kerouac >> Henry Miller >> Hunter S. Thompson. Miller gets lost a bit because of his raw sexual context. But once you catch the “tropic” virus you’ll be on your way.

Tending Your Own Fire

Finding your voice in any medium is part of our human journey. Getting good at entertaining yourself is an essential life skill. As humans, we are easily bored, and constantly seeking entertainment. If we can transform this unrest into productivity we can use our human experience as a song or story we want to share with others. Rather than seeking entertainment outside ourselves, we turn inward to our spiritual brain, to the message behind the memories, to the “song of ourselves” that emerges. Finding your voice is an essential step.

Imagine the time spent avoiding boredom (TikTok, reality tv, Facebook, news binging, streaming series) becoming a resource you can tap towards “enlightenment.” Your own personal enlightenment. I’m not a guru. But, I am quite content. Even in this unsettled moment I have a calm inside. I am attempting to live life in high fidelity. I record moments in fantastic cinematic narratives that scroll along in my mind, like a polygraph readout. Bumps and jolts of energy. My attention to detail, color, tone, words, sounds, moments, has become a mindfulness practice of sorts. “How do I live this moment fully?” Later, if the inspiration arises, I can attempt to recover the jagged lines of life into something, a poem, a prayer, a song, a story.

How are you capturing your story? How do you share it? A lot of us are shooting the movie of our lives even as we are living it. Is that enlightenment? Or perhaps, just contentment. Am I content? Yes. Am I still striving toward expression? Yes.

Your song is welcome alongside mine. I’d love to hear your voice, your passion, your dreams, crushes, and aspirations. May you have the energy and fire to architect and fill creative structures with the stories of your life, love, and loss. Sing to me in your song. Let me smell the smoke of your campfire memories. I am here. Listening. Anticipating your arrival and the sound of your voice. Your wonderful voice.


John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
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You can find my books on Amazon. Including this one:

the little red book of mindfulness - john oakley mcelhenney

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