Dreams are powerful tools that can help guide anyone to success and happiness. They represent some cherished aspiration, an ultimate ideal of achievement.

The word sylvan refers most directly to a setting associated with the woods. Reflecting on the vigorous life that abounds in sylvan settings is a very powerful force in my life. For me, this word evokes feelings of transcendence, clarity, and unity.

A Sylvan Dream is a dynamic compilation of my life dream. It is an attempt to seek out and document the truth, beauty, and clarity that exists in this world.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

We pulled our bags from the boat after nosing into the mud and sandbag riverbank at Labrinto this morning, and I decided to step into a corner store to relieve some liquids. I was overcome with a bout of staring as I waited for the bathroom to open up. There were plastic wrappers of food and candy hung all over the walls, and there was a TV in the corner. I was overwhelmed.

Everything went very smoothly getting to Cusco. I have left the steamy thickness of the jungle, and entered the thin chill of the Cusco air. Walking the streets brought a welcomed shortness to my chest. I love living at altitude.

Now it seems time to delve into the gregariously extroverted hostel life style for a few days.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Moving On In One Week

Well, here I am sitting under a near full moon, one night past, looking back almost four months of life in the jungle here. I haven't left an area about the size of three college campuses in over 4 months. I don't think there has ever been a time in my life I have lived for so long without ever leaving about a 7 kilometer radius. Just going to school each day growing up in Pennsylvania meant going nearly this far from my home.

The time here has brought about quite a mound of experiences, and has given me a period of time I am sure I will continue to reflect on for many years. I have found a pace and satisfaction in this lifestyle that I will continue to value in my daily life. I have found limits in my life that I have been trying to reach for some time. In many ways, living in the jungle around a completely new culture, mixed in with completely new people has acted as a sieve. I feel I am leaving my time here with something very valuable - a clearer picture of what this life is all about.

In one week, I will be getting on a boat with my two backpacks and guitar, taking a 3 hour ride downriver in a motorized wooden canoe, then taking a one hour drive over a huge, dusty, and rocky road to the airport, and flying to Cusco. I will rest and relax in Cusco, adapting to the elevation for about seven days before heading off into the mountains in a bus to another ACCA field station, named Wayqecha, which I believe is the Quechua for Friend, or Brother. The station there is situated on the mountainsides, at about 9000 feet asl, within a cloud forest. I do not know what it looks like yet obviously, but from what I have been told, it should fit my passions accurately, and in a totally different way than the jungle has.

I will be at this field station until early December. Over the next two months, I will surely have much time to reflect on my thoughts and notes about my lifestlye in the jungle, all the while experiencing very new ways of life in the high cloud forests of the Andes - a completely new landscape, climate, accent, assemblage of birds and wildlife all together, all draped in moss, bromeliads, and orchids, or so I am told.

Please Keep in Touch!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Long-Awaited Rain


The rain took its time, but it got here. It was a hard and sustained thunderstorm, beautiful with sweet tasting rain that soaked my hair and beard as I ran around with Meredith in the soccer field. In just ten minutes, the field was two or three inches deep in some places. The rain brought a fresh and reviving coolness back to my skin that it hadn’t felt since early June.
As I stood there licking rain from my moustache, I watched Meredith dance around in the rain like a ballerina. It made me think back to a time when I was perhaps thirteen or fourteen, on one of the last days of school, when a small group of friends came over to my house, and an early summer thunderstorm came too.
We were standing outside plucking sweet honeysuckle blossoms from the large bush growing next to our burning barrel in the back yard when the winds blew in over the ridge behind my house. Ten minutes later, puddles and rivulets of rain water ran down my driveway, picking up heat from the asphalt as it went. We kicked and splashed the hot water at each other, which felt oddly disgusting. We followed the water into my yard, running and sliding through the grass in our bare feet as we went down the hill behind my house, across the path leading to other houses, through an unused field, and into the 5 foot wide and 3 foot deep ditch running between some houses and the woods.
What would start out with shy wading and playful splashing would slowly bring out the true countryside boys we were. In five minutes time we would all be thigh deep in the muddy torrent, wrestling and dunking each other. Every boy knew from many learned experiences that any fine wrestling match in the water was never complete without savage and repeated dunking matches, ranging from hair pulling to full-fledged over the head, back suplexes. Once we got one another down into the frothy slurry, it was always important to dunk them two or three times, making sure that each successive dunk was more impressive than the last. In between bouts of all-out dunking wars, we would try to swim in the mini rivers, or we would just sit down in them and see who could get rolled the farthest in the current.
Games like this growing up were always competitions, but it wasn’t really about the competition. I find it surprising how even from a very young age, most of the games we learn as kids are simply precursors to the life we lead as adults. Of course we don’t realize anything of the sort at the time, but who is it from that we learn how to play? Who is it from that we learn to be a boy, who later becomes a man? Games are simply intimations of the hierarchical trappings of society. The best memories of mine are often based on games like this. For us boys, it was one of the only times it was considered normal to be running, giggling, wrestling, and having all out loving fun.
Sooner or later, one of the house owners close to the gutter would peak out the back door and yell at us, “Get outta that gutter!” They probably would have complained about how we were on their property and it was dangerous for kids to play in such gutters. However, deep down I think adults who have forgotten how to be a kid themselves at heart jealous and bitter towards those who still know how to have pure fun themselves.
Meredith continued to dance in the rain, as she was accustomed to doing, and I continued to walk around sucking the sweet rain from my facial hair, looking up into the sky as rain fell heavily upon us, feeling a bit of a heavy heart at not really having a way to show how joyful I was of the rain. Sure, people can say, “If you want to dance, dance. If you want to giggle and run around in the rain, do it,” but that’s not the point. The point is how amazing formative experiences can be in the rest of our lives.
I stood there in the rain, missing my childhood friends, and while I smiled at the wonderful memories I had of playing in the rain, I longed for a close friend to play and wrestle around with in the vibrant rain.

Monday, September 8, 2008


The sound of rain on the thatch roof was the second thing I noticed after slowly becoming aware it was time to take a step outside to relieve all the refresco I had drank at dinner the night before. I reached between the mosquito net and the bed, and felt numbly around for my alarm clock on the floor - 438am, two minutes before my alarm. I walked through the wet grass over to the edge of the forest, and turned off my head lamp to look up into the skies. Despite the light rain falling, it was still possible to see some stars shining through the breaks.

I turned to walk back towards the dormitory, and as I turned my headlamp back on, two bright yellows lights caught my eye on the edge of the forest. Only once I looked up at them did I realize they were actually eyes and not lights shining back at me from less than 20 feet away. They looked huge, and they were several inches separated. They were perhaps 6 inches off the ground, so for a second I figured it was some large rodent making its way to the fish carcass someone else had left laying out in front of the dormitory. A second later a shot of adrenaline pushed my heart into my throat as the eyes lifted to about three feet off the ground, then a second later dropped back to a few inches from the ground. My jaw dropped, and I froze. I could envision the animal moving perfectly behind those eyes. I was still several steps away from the stairs leading back to the dormitory door, and as I slowly took the steps, my light illuminated the animal's face, the lines running along its nose, and the spots along its cheek bones. It was a jaguar.

The local name for the Jaguar is, Otorongo. This apparently means, kills in one silent leap.

The fear I had always imagined feeling at seeing a big cat in the wild became reality. A sickness welled up within my stomach, and all I could concentrate on was getting inside. I slowly made it to the top of the steps, gazed at the jaguar's unerring stare for one more eery second, then turned and walked as quickly as I could to the door.

I laid back down in bed a minute later, and waited for the adrenaline to get out of my system. I stared at the cieling until twilight began to show through the plastic covering the apex of the roof, then I got up and went to eat some breakfast.

I have wanted to see a big cat for so long, because I always thought it would be one thing I knew could frighten me to the bone. The way those eyes stared into me was captivating and terrifying. From the time I looked at them, to the time I got back to the door I never took my eyes off them, yet all my mind was screaming, "GET AWAY!!!"

That was a fear I have never felt before. It was a fear of self preservation. It was not cool, it was not exciting, it was exactly what I expected. Although it was maybe thirty seconds long, not once did anything cross my mind other than concentrating doing whatever I had to do to remain in the same state I was in at that moment - alive.

That being said, I want to see another one, but you can bet your ass I am a little more scared to walk to my cabin at night.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Notable Thoughts and Moments

I am trying to post more, but I have been busy trying to keep up with my real journal on a daily basis. So, here are some short thoughts, events, or quotes from the past week.


“If I can’t walk outside and piss in my own damned yard, then I ain’t livin’der.”

This is just something that made me laugh out loud in response to a thought I was having one day as I was walking outside to pee. When I think about the places that I have lived and I loved the most, I have always just been able to walk outside and pee in the yard, and it turns out the places I haven’t liked so much, I couldn’t walk outside and pee without risk of cops showing up. Accordingly of course, I had to throw some good ole Pa accent in it.

“The surrender to Nature’s irrational, strangely confused formations produces in us a feeling of inner harmony with the force responsible for these phenomena.” ~ Demian, Hermann Hesse

This is a quote that struck me perfectly as I was reading Demian for the third time this week. It may not be as striking out of context, but I hope it will compel some people to look up the book. It has been very influential in opening my eyes inwardly.

I doubt there will be few times in my life when I can say something as abnormal as,
“Yeah, I didn’t get too much sleep last night, the night monkeys were raising hell in the trees outside my cabin all night.”

One night, there were monkey making so much noise outside my cabin maybe 15 feet from my head. Since the cabins are screened in, it was rather noisy. They were fighting, cooing at each other, and yelping as they jumped through the trees, and it seemed as soon as they disappeared for awhile, then they were right back. How often am I going to be awakened by rare nocturnal monkeys...

And finally... I saw a jaguar yesterday morning, staring at me from less than 20 feet away. Hopefully, I will find some time to write about this later today, or soon.