September 28, 2005

Buongiorno, Principessa!

Life is Beautiful is a comedy about the World War II holocaust, a movie that helps me further define adulthood and an experience that I think is necessary for every person. I think everyone should have to watch Schindler’s List in his or her lifetime, and I think everyone should have to watch Life is Beautiful as well, but for two different reasons.
First I think that we all need to more fully understand the human capacity, to love and to hate, to save others and to be indifferent. Guido, the main character, naturally surrounds himself with wonderful, loving and caring people. His family, his relationships and his personality are all very healthy, happy and supportive. However, he crosses some people who would rather not think of such things. In Life is Beautiful, Guido meets a doctor who is obsessed with riddles. They first meet in the hotel in which Guido works as a waiter and they later meet when Guido is in a concentration camp with his family and the doctor is working as a Reich physician. The doctor had always admired Guido’s ability to solve puzzles, but as the movie moves on the viewer begins to realize…that’s all the doctor ever admired about him. Guido comes to the physician for help, for safety and for a way out of a camp designed to kill him, his wife and his young child. The doctor comes to Guido with another riddle that he just can’t solve on his own. That’s all. No help.
As we all develop or fail to develop into adults, we have a lot of choices to make. We have to decide on professions, sacrifices, relationships, finances, education, spirituality, clubs, family and friends. We all have to decide what’s important to us, what we are willing to volunteer our lives to, and what we are ultimately willing to die for. For some of us, it’s intellectual challenge like the doctor. He chose to ignore the people around him that were dying everyday. We can do that do, and a lot of us probably will. People can and will die around us everyday, whether we acknowledge it or not. Then there is Guido and people like him, willing to sacrifice themselves for others, willing to save another person at his own expense. People all around us can and will be saved each and every day. Who will do it? How will they? How will I?

September 27, 2005

Homemade Ice Cream

After spending minutes unwrapping and chopping up reese's peanut butter cups, hours churning vanilla ice cream, seconds devouring all the goodness and then hours and hours watching the Lord of the Rings: Return of the King Extended Edition up until the wee hours of the morning, I would like to say "thank you" to Shaw Rowe, the mastermind and genius behind the whole interprise. Thanks to him we were all able to share in this joyous occasion insidee a huge auditorium with a big screen and a super sound system. Way to go Shaw Rowe!

September 25, 2005


In each of our lives I think we all have calibrations, times of pause and orientation. Sometimes we take on too much, or we take on too little. We feel out of sorts and we feel far from our normal selves. I get to that point and often don’t realize it for weeks. I suppose we sometimes get to that point and don’t realize it for years. It’s funny how we can fix our mice at our computers, or our cars, or our CD players before we fix ourselves. “It shouldn’t be acting like this!” I’ll say right before I go into the control panel, or the car shop, or grab a CD cleaner. How can I be so technology savvy and so self ignorant?
I think it has a lot to do with how much I expect out of myself. We can all put ourselves under an unfair amount of pressure, to perform, to achieve and to control. To what end? Sometimes burnout. Sometimes success. Sometimes despair. This is where a slew of sayings come to my mind: everything in moderation, inner peace is the key to happiness, be easy on yourself, you cannot perceive beauty but with a serene mind. I think all of those are pretty precise. We have great opportunities each and every day. If we have one to many things weighing us down, we might not get to any of them. Isn’t that crazy? I don’t think it’s crazy, I just think it’s ambitious and shortsighted. In airplane flight, take offs and landings are very exciting but the real trick to accurate travel is constant correction; more than ninety percent of any airplane’s flight is off course. Pilots are constantly aware of their direction and spend all of their time in flight correcting their direction. Not a bad idea really. I think we often forget to do this in our own lives. Sometimes we think we’re broken or need to be fixed. The truth might be we aren’t broken, we just need to be straightened out a little. Patience will get you there, just pause, orientate and calibrate.

September 22, 2005

The End of Innocence

One song I have really enjoyed lately is called “The End of Innocence” by Don Henley. It’s a really beautiful song. Here’s a little bit on If you’d like a copy I can send you one.
What I think is so moving about the song are the words. They are sad, but when I used to listen to it, I never noticed. Maybe that’s what innocence really is sometimes, the illusion of serenity and calmness. When I was a child and even a young adult up until a few months ago, things were very rosy and very cheery. It wasn’t fake, it just wasn’t deep on my end. When I really began to see the depth of relationships, the truth behind the face of the lives of others, a lot of that cheeriness slid away.
When I listen to songs that sound so beautiful, I usually just relax and sing along. When I listen to even sad songs, I can sing right along and never listen to what I am saying. How often have all of us done that? We kiss our parents, we hug our grandparents, we laugh with our brother and sister, but what’s really going on? Plato said, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.” I think that’s the truth. There is depth to the shallows that we will never know. Your parents could be going through the hardest times of their lives and you wouldn’t know. I didn’t know. An even better question though, how many people want to know?
In the song by Don Henley, the singer explores the end of innocence. He seeks refuge, he sees reflection of his youth and he tries to find that place again. He sings, “Offer up your best defense, But this is the end, This is the end of the innocence.” I think I want to know. It happens all too fast some times, it hits us hard and we have to try to stay upright. We want to lay down, we want to give in, we want to return to ease. But I think I want something else more. I want to know the truth and I want to live openly with others. That means I’m not always happy, but it also means I’m not disillusioned. It means I cry, but it means someone else can cry too. It means an end of innocence, but it means a beginning of understanding. Maybe it means adulthood, but atleast it means I can still have innocence around me as I protect it for someone else.

Remember when the days were long
And rolled beneath a deep blue sky
Didn’t have a care in the world
With mommy and daddy standing by
When happily ever after fails
And we’ve been poisoned by these fairy tales
The lawyers dwell on small details
Since daddy had to fly
But I know a place where we can go
That’s still untouched by man
We’ll sit and watch the clouds roll by
And the tall grass waves in the wind
You can lay your head back on the ground
And let your hair fall all around me
Offer up your best defense
But this is the end
This is the end of the innocence
O’ beautiful, for spacious skies
But now those skies are threatening
They’re beating plowshares into swords
For this tired old man that we elected king
Armchair warriors often fail
And we’ve been poisoned by these fairy tales
The lawyers clean up all details
Since daddy had to lie
But I know a place where we can go
And was away this sin
We’ll sit and watch the clouds roll by
And the tall grass waves in the wind
Just lay your head back on the ground
And let your hair spill all around me
Offer up your best defense
But this is the end
This is the end of the innocence
Who knows how long this will last
Now we’ve come so far, so fast
But, somewhere back there in the dust
That same small town in each of us
I need to remember this
So baby give me just one kiss
And let me take a long last look
Before we say good bye
Just lay your head back on the ground
And let your hair fall all around me
Offer up your best defense
But this is the end
This is the end of the innocence

September 21, 2005

Worry, Worry, Worry

“Sometimes I worry, worry, worry – such responsibilities. But I try to turn that into more determination for Tibet and to carry the Buddhist teachings.” – The Dalai Lama

For me, I would replace the words Tibet and Buddhist teachings, maybe. Otherwise, however, that is quite a universally sound statement to make. We all have such responsibilities, such cause for worry, fuel for panic and reason for madness. Everyday we face challenges that we sigh under, yet we accomplish so many of them. Too often we accomplish 9 things during a day and focus squarely on the 1 we did not accomplish. Too regularly I evaluate myself on my failures and forget my accomplishments. Sometimes I worry, worry, worry. But what if I turned that into determination, purpose, focus, discipline, excitement and exhuberance? Well, that’s not even really a what if question, I do it so often. Why don’t I just do it every day? Ha, great question. Great question. Such responsibilities, such responsibilities.

September 20, 2005


I think it is a constant challenge for us to live up to who we want to be, who we try to be every day. There is so much potential, and we all know it. I think it’s frightening really. Sometimes we accomplish things that we can’t even believe we did. We look back and realize it wasn’t that hard, we thought it was going to be impossible and it wasn’t. Other people might have even told us it was going to be impossible, and it wasn’t.
I think that’s what frightening, we all know that we can become better than even we realize. We can create, plan, share, lead, teach and love new things all the time. We can be our own best dream. We can become our own horoscope, legend and legacy. We can make our life into a book that others would like to read. We can even start this very minute. Right now.

September 14, 2005

Interview with God

I think this has a lot of interesting thoughts, I appreciate the effort it took to write it and I hope it might be helpful to others like it was to me. It is called, an Interview with God:

I dreamed I had an interview with God.
"Come in," God said. "So, you would like to interview Me?"
"If you have the time," I said.
God smiled and said: "My time is eternity and is enough to do everything; what questions do you have in mind to ask me?"
"What surprises you most about mankind?"
God answered: "That they get bored of being children, are in a rush to grow up, and then long to be children again. That they lose their health to make money and then lose their money to restore their health. That by thinking anxiously about the future, they forget the present, such that they live neither for the present nor the future. That they live as if they will never die, and they die as if they had never lived."
God's hands took mine and we were silent for while and then I asked. "As a parent, what are some of life's lessons you want your children to learn?"
God replied with a smile: "To learn that they cannot make anyone love them. What they can do is to let themselves be loved. To learn that what is most valuable is not what they have in their lives, but who they have in their lives. To learn that it is not good to compare themselves to others. All will be judged individually on their own merits, not as a group on a comparison basis! To learn that a rich person is not the one who has the most, but is one who needs the least. To learn that it only takes a few seconds to open profound wounds in persons we love, and that it takes many years to heal them. To learn to forgive by practicing forgiveness. To learn that there are persons that love them dearly, but simply do not know how to express or show their feelings. To learn that money can buy everything but happiness. To learn that two people can look at the same thing and see it totally different. To learn that a true friend is someone who knows everything about them and likes them anyway. To learn that it is not always enough that they be forgiven by others, but that they have to forgive themselves."
I sat there for a while enjoying the moment. I thanked Him for his time and for all that He has done for me and my family, and He replied, "Anytime. I'm here 24 hours a day. All you have to do is ask for me, and I'll answer."

September 11, 2005


I would like to send out an official Travis Hellstrom Inner-Peace-A-Gram to the creators of, the website which has afforded me the opportunity to place pictures to the right of this entry in stylized fashion.
Flickr is a site affiliated with Yahoo! and it has earned its stripes in my book. Of all the programs available, Flickr takes the cake. The options, the community, the vision and the lightheartedness of the staff and site make it one of the most impressive and exciting programs I have ever seen. I would like to invite all people to explore it’s great contents, but even more, if you are an avid picture taker I would suggest you try it out. It is free and very flexible. I hope you all enjoy it, I know I certainly am. Thank you Flickr.


One of my friends has in her profile, the following passage:
Find a guy who calls you beautiful instead of hot, who calls you back when you hang up on him, who will lay under the stars and listen to your heartbeat, or will stay awake just to watch you sleep. Wait for the boy who kisses your forehead, who wants to show off to the world when you're in sweats, who holds your hand in front of his friends, who thinks you're just as pretty without make-up, and who is constantly reminding you of how much he cares, loves being with you, cares about you, and says how he's the one.
I think that is really cute and well said. I hope girls know that guys like that are out in the world. I am quite confident they are.

September 9, 2005


I think we all have an amazing opportunity, as individuals and ultimately collectively as a people. Everyday we are presented chances to make differences in other people’s lives and we can do all kinds of things with that time. What’s truly amazing, I think, is how often those opportunities arise.
If there are such things as miracles, human made or otherwise, I don’t figure they would need to be very big. Something as small as opening a door for someone can create a chain of events which might effect hundreds of other people. You don’t have to be too creative to imagine this either. Say a girl walks through a door you opened, smiles at you, walks away a little happier and a few seconds ahead of schedule. Later down the road, she crosses pathes with another girl who was just about to finish off a horrible day. However, because they get to talking, the second girl leaves with a much different attitude and the group she leads has a much different meeting than what might have happened. Friends and club members of her's are later inspired and go on to raise thousands of dollars through a successful project supported in that meeting. Hundreds of people later, with thousands of dollars of supplies, one small door makes a big difference.
I have written and spoken over and over about my experience with Circle K. In no small way, seven very unrelated people made a direct path for me which has lead to the formation of a group of students who I think are changing the world. It started with a town hall secretary, moving to a mayor, a chamber of commerce representative, a cooperation extensions employee, a local lawyer, a Physical Plant director and finally concluded with a Kiwanis Club. From there I am a different person, and Campbell is a different school. Dozens, if not hundreds of people are different also and likely thousands will ultimately be changed in some way due to the actions of very very few people.
When I start each morning with a meditation bowl, it is easy for me to fill my bowl only half way. I am not supposed to do this, but sometimes I prefer it. I have to walk from the bathroom back to my room down the hall and it’s easier not to spill a bowl if the water doesn’t reach the rim. Yet, that is not the point of the whole meditation bowl exercise. I am supposed to concentrate on my water which represents what I bring to the day, and I am supposed to be careful not to spill it while I place it in my room. It is with me throughout the day to remind me of staying present during all my activities and then at the end of the day, when I empty it, it is a reminder of how all my activities in this life will eventually be recycled into the earth itself.
Often the meditation bowl exercise is a battle between my time and my patience. I have to fight myself to take time and walk slow, fill the bowl high and meditate carefully. It is easier to sleep in, easier to fill the bowl half way, and easier to rush myself through the morning. However, choosing these paths really doesn’t help me much, or others for that matter.
Today I didn’t fill my bowl too high, and I still brought so much to the table. I didn’t plan on it, but I was able to be a little door opener throughout the day. I talked with many people who allow me to be an important part of their lives, I met with friends and peers who allow me to share in their activities, and I relaxed with teachers and classmates who help me to learn more about myself and my world. I could have been a secretary for someone today, a stepping stone for a great miracle that I will never see. Actually, I bet I was.

September 5, 2005


Often I tell myself that I am too busy to write in my journal. I think the truth is, those are the moments when I am not truly busy and instead just doing stuff. President Lincoln said, if given eight hours to cut down a tree, he would spend seven hours sharpening his axe and one hour cutting the tree. Most people don’t think that way, but I would like to.
I have great opportunities afforded me by great events, if I am not careful I will saw with a dull blade all day and get nowhere. I want very much to be smart, thoughtful and contemplative. I want to be awake to my opportunities, decisive in my actions and meditative in all my activities. I might well be busy during any given time, but I am never to busy to do nothing. My blade is too useful of a tool to waste by using it.

September 1, 2005


It’s often hard for me to imagine a time or a place other than what is now. For example, it seems very normal to me that my room has fluorescent light instead of incandescent light, however this is new change. Soon enough students will not even think about having to pay to do their laundry and old codgers like myself will be a thing of the past. Collect quarters? Why?
A few of us thought about change the other day and Chase said, “You know change is happening too fast when the young people, like us, are starting to reject it.” Josh Sands harkens back to the days when you actually talked with a bank teller, when you smiled at the lunch lady, and when individuals seemed to matter more. Yet, I wonder where all this change is going anyway.
Is it emphasizing the individual like we often think it is? Are we really making people’s lives better by serving more and more people with more and more complex machinery? Or is it possible that we are beginning to get to that point, the point where we really have to start making new rules.
Rules like, there can only be 12.5 billion people on this planet or the United States can only use 12% of the natural resources of the Earth. Might we get to the point where people will need to establish worldwide systems of order to protect the majority of humans? If not, what kind of chaotic storm will sweep through civilization to create order?
I didn’t plan to discuss world government when I considered my dorm room’s fluorescent bulb, but doesn’t it seem like most change is leading us to some destination. Or at least, aren’t we being lead along some journey whose end I do not yet see. I don’t know myself, but I figure one way to get ready for the future is to watch how other people got ready for it. Most of us are naturals, we are young, ready for change and even creating it ourselves sometimes. I just hope we ask ourselves “why” as often as we ask “how.”