Saturday, February 28, 2009

Stunts during "The Making of...Gr8est Job Application"


THE GR8EST STUNTMEN IN THE WORLD!

Quick video post here...wanted to give a special shout out and thank "Da Kalihi Boyz" for helping out with the filming of the Greatest Job In The World Application. These kids were having so much fun with us and got such a thrill seeing themselves on camera...and were awesome Stuntmen!!

I promised that I would post it on YouTube for them to see, I hope that they find it and contact me so that I can keep in touch with them....it's kinda hard to exchange email addresses when you are jumping of a 12-foot wall into the Pacific Ocean....!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Travelog Redux - backpacking New Zealand

STA TRAVEL CENTERS MEAN BACKPACKING TO ME!

Thought I'd post an entry from the Travelog I kept in 2003 while backpacking New Zealand. I booked my flight into Aukland, and nothing else, deciding to figure everything out once I got there..."spontaneous travel", I called it. One of the best trips I have ever done [so far] in my life! No pics, only some images from my sketchbook at the time....enjoy:

9pm, Janus Hall Backpacker's Lodge, Wet All Day

....Waitomo Caves Gloworm Adventure Tour was well worth it, what an adventure!!

30-meter abseil into a hole in the ground starts things off...the hole looks like, well, a hole about 1/2 meter wide an 2 meters down, then you squeeze into the opening and find yourself hanging in a limestone chimney 30m off the cave floor....

...then down a narrow path to a short flying fox run (in the dark), quick break for tea & a biscuit a.k.a. cave cookie a.k.a. NZ Granola Bar...we dangle our feet over the edge of a 10-foot drop and peer into the still, pitch-black water below...can't tell how dep it is (or isn't)....we jump off the cliff into the freezng water below and paddle our way upstream where our guide shows us a chamber full of gloworms & tells us of their lifecycles:

"They are acually maggots of a certain kind of fly, the only maggots known to catch their food by using a light on their arse...only maggots known to trap their food with snot-like fishing lines they dangle to entangle their prey...after living as larvae for many weeks, they pupate into flies which live for three days & shag until they die of exhaustion....they have very short life cycles, but very large penises...what a trade-off, aye?? "

Then, after paddling uptream for about half an hour, we sit on our inner tubes and form a human chain, shut the lights off on our helmets...and float down the stream in the darkness, with only the pale glow of the maggots to light our way.

It is a surreal feeling, drifting downstream in an underground river in total darkness, with 7 other people crazy enough to want to do it with you, and your guide....you lose all sense of space & it feels like you are drifting in the cold vacuum of space; the glow worms look like the stars of distant galaxies....then *SPLASH* our other guide scares the s*%t out of us by making a god-awful noise which breaks the spell and heralds our arrival back to our entry point, where we came in on the flying fox & jumped into the water.

We ditch the inner tubes, turn our lights back on, and follow our guide downstream into the icy black water towards the roar of what sounds like a huge waterfall...we twist & urn & stumble thru a series of rapids, not knowing what lies beneath or where your foot is stepping, just trusting to your numb feet that tey will find the way.

"Watch out for the big eels" they say, and we cannot tell if they are joking or not...although I wonder when they tell us to keep our fingers out of the water lest they be mistaken for earthworms or grubs. Down a slide, we turn a corner & continue downstream, sometimes ankle-deep in water, sometimes chest-deep, sometimes paddling to keep your head afloat as the river bed drops away beneath you.

We pause and our guide points out a few stallegmite formatioins that remind them of different things: T-Rex claw over here, fairy castle over there...then the crown jewell, a formation that looks like a sheep farmer having a little too much fun with his sheep, doggy-style if ya know what I mean...

We press on despite the fact that I can no longer feel my toes, and the cave gets smaller and smaller, pressing in around us. We are crawling our way thru some spaces now, our guides have given us directions and we are now leading the way, the blind leading the blind...

We duck under another low ceiling into another cold pool, and Ritchie, our Maori guide, runs forrward to a nook in the wall and exclaims, "Check this out, it's Cecil!!" "Cecil" turns out to be a 1.5 foot-long eel who resembles a catfish with no eyes, and who is, apparently, asleep.

I am immediately reminded of the "shrieking eels" in [the movie] "The Princess Bride", an also reminded of the earlier warning at our entry point into the caves...yech...10 feet long, they said, 6 inchess in diameter...my skin crawls at the thought of such a creature wrapping itself around my leg, and with a shudder, we move on. Bloody uncanny those creatures, seems like they could live anywhere....their grey skin is unnatural, reminding me of Gollum.

We turn another corner and are given a choice....the easy way out, or do we want our money's worth...nobody objects, so we take the right fork and crawl under a tiny gap in the wall...to emerge under a 10M waterfall. We climb up one at a time, and squeeze through a narrow passageway to come to another waterfall, and...daylight.

It is with mixed feelings that we greet the daylight; sad that our adventure is coming to an end, glad that we are out of the cold...and on our way to hot showers & soup & bagels...what an amazing experience!

Two hours underground with complete strangers, and we emerge with the strange bond a shared experience creates. We know each other pretty well now: there are the 3 Italian guys who don't speak much English but laugh at everything you say...the Smiling Swiss, Felix, who beamed at you every time you looked his way...the Aussie couple, Danielle and her hubbie The Plumber, true-blue Aussies with that "no worries" attitude that meant they were up for anything thrown their way...Sharon, the British girl who teaches English in japan and was petrified the whole way, but who made it thru, foggy glasses and all...and, of course, Bigi [my Austrian travelling companion at the time], who is just...well, Bigi, making friends with everybody, and loving every minute of it.

What a great day!
12/21/2003

WARM AGAIN:
THE VERANDAH GRILL BACK AT THE BACKPACKER'S LODGE

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Story Behind TheGreenBackpack...

video
EVENTS LEADING UP TO BIRTH OF "THEGREENBACKPACK"

The GreenBackpack was born out of a desire to create an underlying purpose to the world travel that I am planning.

This trip could simply be a romp throughout the world, drunken night after drunken night at hostel after hostel meeting new people, exploring new places, and creating new adventures....or, I can encompass these elements of travel [in sober moderation, of course], and direct my wanderlust so that my travels can be used as a vehicle to increase my own knowledge and value in an area that I have long been interested: sustainability.

Sustainability has become a buzz word in recent times, and it can be easy to think of "sustainability" simply as "environmentalism", or "eco-friendly". However, to me, sustainability encompasses so much more than "going green".....

Put the word "sustainable" in front of any of the following words, and you cast a renewed focus onto another aspect of the sustainability movement: capitalism, charitable work, entrepreneurship, environment, education, economy, philosophy, philanthropy, social responsibility, social ventures, even....wait for it....spirituality.

So, while this journey is about me diving into these things that interest me, and inviting you to come along and learn with me......it is also an outward expression of the journey I am taking within to explore myself:


What passions do I want to follow? What do I want to
experience? Will I retreat into the wild? Will I come back? Who will I be when I come back?

Therefore the blog is a travelog, a spiritual diary, a research paper, and hopefully a forum where those of us who find ourselves asking these same questions can discuss and debate and collaborate and connect and explore together.

Here's the rough plan for 2009 thus far....of course, this is subject to change each day as the road is constantly changing and has already started to unfold and reveal its treasures and challenges before me:
  1. Depart Honolulu April 20th, 2009 to Melbourne, Australia to celebrate my brother's 30th birthday and spend about a month with Mum, Dad and Sis. Road trips and re-connecting with family / friends.
  2. June / July - road trip up to Sydney. Hope to spend a month training chi-kung and some kung-fu with my teachers who live there.
  3. July / August - road trip up to QLD to visit family and friends. Explore the surrounding countryside, specifically want to learn more about aquaponics while in Australia. , camp on beaches that stretch to the horizon both ways, and do some WWOOFing.
  4. August / September - travel through the Red Center to visit Ayers Rock. Sleep under the southern sky in the Australian outback. I wonder if I could work on a cattle ranch and learn to drove cattle on horseback?
  5. September / October - meet my uncle in the Phillipines to explore my Filipino ancestry. Visit a friend's Eco-Resort that is under construction.
  6. Oct / Nov - am looking into ways I can teach English in rural Japan for short stint, no longer than 2 months. I want to live on a small Japanese farm and experience the lifestyle.
  7. Dec - spend Christmas season with family friends in Bali.
The rough plan for 2010? Travel through SE Asia to rural Thailand to teach English for a month, visit Bangledesh and learn more about Grameen Bank's microfinance projects, study meditation and yoga in India, then make my way to Europe which I have been longing to explore for quite some time.

It will be very interesting to see how European society is adapting to the changing world, and how a cap-and-trade economy has affected small business, especially since the Obama administration has listed implementing carbon cap-and-trade initiatives into the US Economy as a priority.

The final leg of my journey back to Hawaii will be through North and South America, on motorcycle, WWOOFing and Couchsurfing my way across the continent.

Along the way, I will seek out and explore people and projects that are making a positive difference in the world...which is the simple truth driving the entire sustainability movement:
"How do we love all the children of all species for all time?"
-William McDonough, author of "Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the way we Make Things

Come along for the ride!


Sincerely,

Matthew K Lynch
thegreenbackpack.com

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Job Application

video

I had so much fun shooting this over the last week....er, OK well mostly today...thought the deadline was next week and SUPERMOM came to the rescue again, texting me with the news that the application vid was actually due in TODAY.

So in true procrastination-drives-creative-genius form, I spent the day filming like a maniac with my Couchsurfing Buddy [and new best friend] Lucie Voelcker [THANK YOU Lucie!!]

We spent the day asking unsuspecting tourists and locals to say, "HE WAS BORN FOR THIS JOB!!" into a stranger's video camera....and everyone happily obliged!! I'll follow up with the blooper reel on another post; this was so much fun!!

Of course, Mom thinks that I am a shoe-in for the job [love you Mom]; I thought "Well why not?!" In any case, now that it is out there we'll see what happens, aye??

Special thanks to: Mom & Dad, Lucie Voelcker, Laurens Laudowicz, Miles Burkhart, James Lynch, Jens Trumpa and his beautiful children, Pete Richards, Jim Schmit, Tom who we sail with every Friday [what the heck is ur last name??], Antoinella, Atlantis, Da Kalihi Boyz, that lovely couple from the west coast who we met on Diamond Head, and Morning Brew Cafe in Kailua.

The GR8EST Job In The World - Application Complete!



I had so much fun shooting this over the last week....er, OK well mostly today...thought the deadline was next week and SUPERMOM came to the rescue again, texting me with the news that the application vid was actually due in TODAY.

So in true procrastination-drives-creative-genius form, I spent the day filming like a maniac with my Couchsurfing Buddy [and new best friend] Lucie Voelcker [THANK YOU Lucie!!]

We spent the day asking unsuspecting tourists and locals to say, "HE WAS BORN FOR THIS JOB!!" into a stranger's video camera....and everyone happily obliged!! I'll follow up with the blooper reel on another post; this was so much fun!!

Special thanks to: Mom & Dad, Lucie Voelcker, Laurens Laudowicz, Miles Burkhart, James Lynch, Jens Trumpa and his beautiful children, Pete Richards, Jim Schmit, Tom who we sail with every Friday [what the heck is ur last name??], Antoinella, Atlantis, Da Kalihi Boyz, that lovely couple from the west coast who we met on Diamond Head, and Morning Brew Cafe in Kailua.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

illusion vs. reality

what is life?

why are we asking ourself this question?

will we look at our reality differently then we do know once we come to a deeper understanding?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I am no longer here

CONTEMPLATION NOW BEGINNING,
KEEP THE RYTHYM FLOWING...


I am no longer here. People see me and hug me and
and converse with me, but it is clear to me that I am no longer here.

I am already on the road. The wind is in my face, my clothes are dusty, and I am in need of a bath and a place to sleep. I am happy.

My reading list grows: Anais Nin, Anthony DeMello, more Kerouac, Thoreau, Carlos Castaneda, the Gnostics....."Into the Wild", holy cow what a powerful movie.....and of course my dear old friend Coelho....the books, it seems, are finding me.

Financial reports that used to be my daily reading fill my InBox and are deleted with nary a second thought. Instead, I devour tales from the road of spiritual journeys and adventure. Paulo Coelho writes as though he is speaking directly to my soul; I am lost in his tales of magic and discovery...

Responsibilities and commitments that I have made are in danger of falling to the wayside, and it gets more difficult with each passing day to focus on those tasks. Let me wander in nature instead!

I fall into a conversation with a visiting fellow soul-searcher who is interested in learning about investing in real estate. That part of my brain launches into automatic dialogue with him about how I got started and succeeded, mistakes I've made that he doesn't have to, current market conditions, etc etc etc ....and
I observe myself with a curious detachment and voyeuristic fascination at how a topic that was once so exciting to me has become so dull....in spite of the knowledge and familiarity that I have accumulated in that area.

Money no longer interests me. Life interests me. What is right in front of me, at any given moment, has become fascinating.

A butterfly fluttered its way into the shop I was watching yesterday, and I watched in simple amazement as he browsed all the antique furniture and buddha statues that fill the showroom.

I find myself looking forward to the next time I am riding my motorcycle, or sailing on the ocean with the salty breeze in my face, or breathing the cool mountain air on a hike somewhere, or diving into the azure waters below Diamond Head...

And cooking dinner! I forgot how much I enjoy creating something delicious, experimenting in my skillet to blend flavors and textures and cultures....

And sharing coffee and conversations with loved ones...loving and accepting them for who they are vs who you would like them to be...meeting new people who are on similar journeys of discovery, and sharing the awe in their eyes as the simple beauty of life unfolds around us...

My life looks so much different today than it did two years ago. Looking back at my writings, I realize that I began to explore creation vs consumption, contribution vs accumulation years ago, as I was building towards my first million...and now that I have let go and have nothing, I get to immerse myself in that exploration.

What would it be like to live without money? The question is not so much could I do it....more so, how can I do it? Since I've torn down my life to its bare foundations, I get to rebuild however I want to:

What passions do I want to follow? What do I want to
experience? Will I retreat into the wild? Will I come back? Who will I be when I come back? I get to come up with answers to these every day!
"The less I have, the happier I am."
-"Ingrid", my 80-year old muse and monthly lunchdate
Indeed.

HONOLULU INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT,
ONE OF MY FAVORITE PLACES ON EARTH...


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

North Shore Rock Climbing

WHY DO WE FEEL THE NEED TO CLIMB MOUNTAINS?

An hour's drive from downtown Honolulu and the North Shore opens up before us as we crest the hill past Schofield Army Barracks and wind our way down to Wailua. My buddy Miles and I are on our way
to the rock-climbing wall at the end of the road, past Mokuleia and just before Ka'ena Point.

The old sugar mill still stands proudly just outside of the town, and we pass a couple of bikers who have pulled over to the side of the road to get a closer look.

The day is blustery and the swell is building; rain clouds threaten on the horizon but we are determined. It has been over five years since I've been up here, and i am looking forward to meeting my fear of heights again.

We approach Dillingham Airfield and find that a small village of movie-star trailers has cropped up next to the highway; they are filming the hit show "Lost" along this stretch of coastline. This explains the small traffic jam
of rental cars up ahead as tourists park by the roadside and clamber to catch a glimpse of their favorite star.

We don't understand what all the fuss is about...I've not owned a TV for 7 years now and have not seen a single episode, while Miles sat next to Matthew Fox at the airport last month wondering why everyone was asking Mr Too-Handsome for his autograph; until his Mom figured out who it was when he told her the story later on...

Movie stars aside: today, we climb.

The security guard asks us if we're going to see any wild pigs back there as we hike past the movie set...we tell him that we'll be sure to bring him back one if any should cross our path. The trail is lush with overgrowth from the recent rains, and I would have walked right past the entrance had Miles not turned abruptly off the road and charged into the underbrush. It feels like we are walking thru the haunted fields of Children of the Corn and I almost eat mud a couple times but luckily keep my footing.

The hike takes about 45 minutes to scale the
foothills below the cliffs before we emerge to the climbing site. Our fellow rock-climbing enthusiasts maintain the trail and the 20 or so top-rope climbs on a volunteer basis for all to enjoy. Everything is as I remembered from five years ago, ropes nicely tucked away on sticks that bear the name and difficulty rating of each climb.

We pick our way around a ledge to the warm-up climb Miles has in mind for us today, and the wind picks up ominously. The North Shore stretches away below us, the sound of the rolling surf a mile below crashes its way up the ravines and sounds almost as if the waves are breaking at our feet.

Miles runs me through all the basics of climbing again, and it starts to come back to me...in no time at all he is scaling the first wall, quickly hauling his lanky 6'1" frame up the side of the mountain, and I am belaying him back down as the first drops of rain kiss our faces.

There's no way that we came all the way up here for me not to climb, so I tie in quickly and pick my way to the bottom of the wall. The first segment is fairly simple, a crack with lots of hand-holds that I shimmy up easily enough. It feels good to be on the rock again.

The next segment, though, is a little tricker. The spitting rain has made the smooth rock surface slippery, and there are less hand-holds. Miles had made it look so easy! I breathe deeply and the path reveals itself, one hold at a time.

Three-quarters of the way up now and I make the mistake of looking down. I am maybe only 40 feet above Miles, but we have hiked halfway up the mountain to reach the rockface. My fear of heights knocks the breath out of my lungs as I look down to the ocean 500 feet below, and I start to wonder why I am clinging to the side of this mountain with the wind and rain starting to swirl.

I look to my right and spot a massive crack in the side of the rock face, thru which I can see what looks like another world on the other side...Lost World indeed! A few more deep breaths, and my attention is refocused on the 10 feet of rock face remaining between me and the top of my climb. I shift my weight, close my eyes, and let my hands search the rock for the next hold to bring me up....and in this way, I crawl inch by inch up those last ten feet to make it to the top.

How do you describe the feeling of dangling off the side of a cliff 500 feet up from the ocean laughing in the wind at your fear? You don't - you savor it.

As my feet touch terra firma at the base of the wall, my grin says it all. It is good to be back here.


"DR HOOK" - I THINK...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Lion's Blessings

Font sizeLIONS PROWL THE BEACH IN FRONT OF JODO MISSION, LAHAINA

For the last 24 years, Au's Shaolin Arts Society has been making the journey to Maui to bring in Chinese New Year by sharing traditional Chinese Lion Dance performances and Kung-Fu demonstrations across the island, occasionally venturing over to Molokai and Lanai to perform as well.

I've been making the journey with the family since I started my martial arts training seven years ago...it has been two years since
since I ceased training in order to heal some wounds I suffered, and two years since I've joined them full-time. I make the decision to go at the last minute, so it is a surprise to many of my brothers and sisters when I show up in Maui...they barely skip a beat: "Welcome back, brother."

It is difficult to describe the experience to someone who has not come along for the ride: 2 teams of 8-10 people, 50+ performances ranging from 1-6 hours in length over seven days. Playing Lion's head requires strength, stamina, agility, and creativity....imagine carrying and animating a 15-pounds paper-mache mask over your head, flirting with the crowd, becoming the lion...or, playing the tail by following your head player's footwork, keeping your head down, and crab-walking to keep the illusion of a
heavenly four-legged feline, engaging your audience for hours at at time....INTENSE. And that doesn't include the kung-fu demonstrations!

You find out a lot about your physical, mental, and emotional limits. If you survive the experience, you are hooked. For life.

This year we have an apprentice [rookie] on board from a sister school in Long Island, New York. He is athletic, talented, and physically very strong, though nothing could have prepared him for this...our first performance? A 5-hour marathon with a skeleton crew down Fort Street Mall in Chinatown Honolulu.

He survives, with a look that says "What-the-heck-was-that??"....by the end of the week, his grin tells us that he is hooked; he'll be back. Happened to our brother from Kentucky too, the whitest, most red-necked good 'ole country-boy Chinese person you have ever met ;-) ...he has made the pilgrimage for seven years now, his only experience of Maui being from inside the Lion...

I realize on my first day back, how much a part of me this has become....my legs and shoulders feel the burn almost immediately, and my body hits the wall early, recognizes it like an old friend, and pushes through
happily. The drum beat moves me, infusing my movements with the spirit of the lion.

The lion dance drum beat sets the rythym of the year, cleansing the negative energy of the past year through the very pores of my skin, and clearing the way for the blessings of a new year to be welcomed in. Reflecting over the sometimes spectacular mess that has been my life over last 2 years,
it is clear to me how much this rythym has been missing...when I get back on the drums I quickly remember the old beats and riffs, and am soon smiling as I start to throw in new riffs here and there. Hello creativity, where have you been? Nice to meet you again....

Playing for the children is what makes us happiest; they are scared and thrilled and happy all at the same time, and they love to feed the Lions their lai-see offerings for good luck. Young and old alike squeal with delight as the Lions nibble hands, legs and the occasional small child on their way to the red envelopes and lettuce offerings.

We get to be superstars for a week each year; some of the people in our audience have watched the Au children grow up, and have been following us for 15- 20 years... and despite the inevitable behind-the-scenes drama that will unfold when bodies and minds in such close proximity are pushed to the limit, we all grin when it is over. The bond that is formed when you share an intense collective experience goes beyond words. Each of us walks a little taller, feels a little stronger on the other side of Chinese New Year's celebrations ...walking in the knowledge that if we can do that....we can do anything.

And thus, a new year begins....

Sunday, February 8, 2009

My First Couchsurfing Experience!

THIS IS HOW YOU PACK TO CYCLE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA

So I had my first Couchsurfing experience this week!!

Nico is from Belgium and is cycling solo across Canada, North America, and off to the Baja Coast of Mexico after a brief stopover in Hawaii to cycle around Oahu and hike Molokai.

Apparently, this is what Belgians do for fun.

Seriously though we Americans have it all wrong.....we live to work....Europeans work just enough so that they can live it up!

Nico has taken a leave of absence from work for 12 months to travel and recharge his batteries, and his job will still be there when he gets back. Apparently, he must take off at least 4 weeks / year to prevent burnout [he's a nurse], and can take up to 5 years of extended leave throughout his career....


Similarly, I backpacked New Zealand in 2003 with an Austrian nurse who was also on an extended 12 month leave of absence she had decided to spend travelling the world; with the knowledge that her job would be waiting when she returned. Come to think of it, I hung out with some German executives at a bar in San Francisco who were on their way to Tahoe, also on an extended leave....they even invited me to hang out with them on the slopes when I'm back in Europe!!

I wonder what the national health of developed European countries looks like....probably much lower stress-related diseases, which means that national health care costs should run lower....in my travels I've hardly ever met any fat Europeans; they always seem to be fit, healthy, and active. Not like the spongy fat Americans I am used to seeing flopped on Waikiki's beaches.

The recent movie WALL-E was a perfect parody of US society, which was probably lost on the vast majority of US audiences....the human passengers onboard the spaceship are whisked to and from their "cruise ship" activities on mobile entertainment capsules, devoid of any real human connection and interaction even though their fellow human beings are right there next to them. Kind of like the table at the bar where everyone is on their cell phones and no-one is talking to the people right next to them that they came to meet in the first place!!

Meanwhile, the endless array of mind-numbing and frivolous distractions from their true plight - the only survivors of the human race lost in deep space at the mercy of the supercomputer built to sustain their lives. What a potent metaphor for the decline of the American Empire that we are all witnessing this very moment. Caught up in our own indulgent need for more more more more more, we were blindsided by the white elephant in the room; What do you mean we can't spend our way out of trouble??

But I digress! back to the couchsurfing experience...we were to meet just for coffee and a chat, so that I could pick his brains about do's / dont's / insider tips from a real live actual person who has successfully couchsurfed... instead, we wind up sharing a few beers at The Dragon's Den, a local live jazz spot in Chinatown, which I had not yet been to in 12 years of living here!

I love the wandering lifestyle. It is as though simply meeting and hanging out with travellers gives you a new pair of eyes to see the world.....this trip may last longer than 12 months.....

THE DRAGON'S DEN IN CHINATOWN HONOLULU