October 31, 2006

Haunted Trail!

The Third Annual Haunted Trail has come to past and, might I say, it was fantastic. Chase Vaughan did an incredible job in organizing it this year and it was a pleasure for everyone involved. We had more than 350 people come through in 2 nights and we raised over $1750 for charity (UNICEF and Buies Creek Elementary this year). I was very proud of the club, and in different ways than every before. Thank you all for showing me a great time and making me so proud!

October 19, 2006

Seeing Other People

"I love my country...but I think we should start seeing other people."
I saw this quote on the back of a Colorado-tagged car last week and it cracked me up. I even took a picture of it so I could get it right when I tried to remember it. I couldn't read the very fine print at the bottom citing its source, but it reminds me of something Peace Corps would say. There is so much value in understanding other cultures and finding out what it means to really be human in a global sense that this quote really hit home for me. We might think we understand what it is to be human and how we should act in the world, but honestly I think we have to start seeing other people to make that a reality.

To Be Treated

One of the things I have been reflecting on a lot lately has been appreciation for the people who have helped me to get to where I am. However, it didn't start that way. I started thinking about appreciating others because I was not feeling appreciated by others. One small example is when people talk about the Recycling Program developing at Campbell this year. The SGA has taken it over now that we (Shaw, Heather and I) finished our report to the administration last year explaining all of the research we were able to conduct. When I read articles citing the program's development, numbers, figures and vision I see all of our hard work and research in every sentence. At first I wished Ryan Jones (SGA President) would say my name every time he citing the work that we did. I wanted to be recognized as one of the people who helped found the project and make it possible. Maybe for my reputation, maybe to make me feel good about myself. I'm not sure exactly why, but I felt angry I wasn't being appreciated.

After that thought process came and went, I recognized that there were many other people besides myself who had led to the development of what is now Campbell's Recycling Program, namely Dr. Bartlett, Shaw Rowe, Heather Davis, Dr. Larsen and myself. However there are also many others whose names I have actually even begun to forget. Why didn't I want all of these people's names mentioned in addition to my own? Well, I suppose the answer is that sometimes it is hard to remember everyone who has helped us and even harder to find space to say "thank you" to each of them every time you might should. The more I thought about it, the more I wished Ryan Jones would just recognize and appreciate all of the work we have done and I know in my heart that he is doing just that. Appreciation might not mean outwardly expressing how much we are indebted to others, though sometimes that is appropriate, it might just mean living appreciatively and thankfully for the things that we get in life that have nothing to do with our own reputation, deserved-ness or entitlement. I am very lucky, as are many people I have helped myself, and I hope I can meet their expectations of being grateful for what I have. Even further, I should treat others as I like to be treated and thank them just as often as I want thanks from others.

October 16, 2006


Simplification has been a goal for me for quite some time. Up until now it has remained much more a goal than a realization. I have involved myself in so many things for so long that it is hard to pull away. However, when I think about those people whom I really admire, they are the ones who are able to choose not to do too much even though they could. I spoke with Tyler Toney and Ben DeBlanc today for example and, to me, they are those kind of people. It is a treat to be around them and it is refreshing to see how dedicated they are to the few things that they are involved in. From my perspective it seems like those things are: classes, clubs, relationships and research. They have limited the clubs they are in, including leadership positions they have, and they dedicate a lot of time to studying even though they could go out and have fun all the time if they wanted. I really admire their priorities and enjoy being around them. I am probably not too far off from being more simplified in my approach to life, like they are, but I am far enough away to realize I have some improvements that I need to make.


As I drove home two weekends ago, I recorded a thought through Audioblogger (which, as it happens, won’t be recording for blogger much longer) and I thought it was worth writing down here as well.

One of the things I found interesting this weekend as I was home for Elias’s birthday, was the interaction that I had with my dad. I’ve had a few times to interact with him over the past few weeks and I’ve been surprised not only by him but also by me and how much I thought I was getting older and how much I was getting to be like him. One of the interesting things I saw was when we played football. Elias, dad and I were all throwing it together out in the yard and I was throwing it really well. I have been throwing it really well lately with friends when we go out and play, and so I was launching perfect spirals to my dad and he was throwing them back to me as he has for years. But as we were throwing I was thinking to myself that, you know, I’m getting to be pretty good, I’m getting to be pretty accurate at distance and overall, pretty close to being like him. I was really proud of myself. But, as in many things, right when I think I’m getting as good as I need to get or really getting accurate or skilled at something, usually something comes along and shows me I have ways to improve. So when we were throwing, maybe thirty or forty-minutes into it, I started realizing he wasn’t even throwing with his right hand, he was throwing with his left hand and he’s right handed. So I looked at him and I said, “How long you been throwing with your left hand?” and he said, “Well, I threw a little bit with my right hand when we started but then I’ve just been throwing with my left hand the whole time.” Then I asked him, “Can you still throw with your right hand?” and he said, “Sure,” and threw a perfect spiral to me right handed. I was thinking, man…“It’s pretty easy,” I said, “I guess you don’t forget.” “Nah,” he said, “it’s like riding a bike.” That really cracked me up.

It’s really interesting to me, that we all have those kinds of things happen (and not always in football exactly). When someone older than us, or our fathers or mothers, does something and they do it really well we don’t really pick up on how skilled they are and we don’t realize that there is always some way for us to improve. I might be getting very good with my right hand throwing, but when I tried to throw left handed it reminded me of Elias growing up and trying to throw for the first time. There is always that chance to look forward and realize that the goal isn’t necessarily to reach perfection and some state of not learning any more but to constantly challenge myself and learn how to get better. That’s one of the things that I saw this weekend that I really thought was enjoyable. Right when you think you’ve got it all under control, the guy’s throwing left-handed.

October 15, 2006


Being grateful can be a very hard thing for me. It’s not that I don’t recognize the wonderful things I have in my life, it is just that I usually underestimate them or forget about the majority of them. For example, just living in this house on campus through campus life has brought me dozens of wonderful opportunities and blessings. I am an RA without all of the daunting responsibilities that befall the other RA’s who have over 30 students in their care. I control my own air conditioning and heating, which no other dorm on campus can do. I have 8 great guys in a house that is the perfect set-up of closeness and privacy. We have tons of great friends from all over the world who have come together and get along incredibly well and all of this I forget about on a daily basis. I complain about something regardless of the dozens of things that I would regularly complain about otherwise. It could be anything from parking to loudness to sunshine to neighbors that I might regularly complain about which just don’t exist here. I have a refrigerator provided by Campbell, a wonderful television, surround sound provided by Chase, a private room, a wonderful bed, plenty of closet space, wooden floors and wooden walls, wide, clean, tall windows facing the sunset and isolation from everyone else on campus, yet the closeness that comes from being twenty steps from academic circle.

I don’t say all this to brag. I say all of this to explain to myself out loud just how lucky I am this semester. I have spent time writing down all of my worries and problems more than once and until now not once have I written down my happinesses and my solutions that are provided every second. I have many blessings and opportunities before me and, in spite of myself, I think I have enjoyed many of them without any appreciation or gratitude in the mix. Being Sunday maybe I have found it especially easy to be grateful and rested, but I hope that I can be thoughtful and appreciative every day of the week. It is certainly easier than being worried and more realistic than just thinking about all of the problems that I might encounter.

Growing Up

"I'm interested," said Lloyd as I talked him over dinner, "what's your definition of growing up?" His question came after my response to him that I feel like I have been growing up a lot lately. I have had a lot of my mind, what with graduating, responsibilities at school, and other personal things, and I told him it has been a lot. "I guess I mean, I never felt like the line between childhood and adulthood was this blurry. I am getting to be the same age as my father was in pictures of when he was holding me as a kid, and I still feel like I want to be a kid rather than an adult."Lloyd understood where I was coming from, even though I probably went on a bit too long and repeating things a few too many times, and he had an interesting perspective. "When I was your age," he said looking off to a far wall, "boys were going overseas, shooting guns, burning down villages and fighting in a war...even today actually I received a e-mail reply from a boy that is in Iraq saying where I can shove the FAFSA, he's just trying to stay alive." It's interesting, he went on, to think about all of the people in this world and the varying conditions in which they live. Story after story, he explained the world he has seen and the horrible things he has watched in front of him whether it was him just visiting China on vacation years ago or watching the news late at night last week. Growing up is something that will always be happening, he said, and how we deal with that responsibility as it comes is the important thing.

I may not be a kid anymore, but I don’t think I am quite an adult yet either. I look forward to the many responsibilities coming my way with a curious anxiety and hopeful uncertainty. Maybe the line between childhood and adulthood will always be blurry but I hope my thoughts and actions will become more and more clear as I grow older and wiser. I might not be doing anything incredible like shooting guns or burning down villages, but I have a feeling my actions can change the world just the same.

October 14, 2006

Hammocks Beach!

There is nothing like taking a shower and sleeping in your own bed after going on a filthy, sweaty, long, exhausting, beautiful, sandy, long-distance, sleeping-on-the-hard-floor, wet, frozen-nose-having, shower-less, wonderful camping trip with friends. Every time I go out, hike, backpack, set up camp, stare at the stars and sleep outside, I remember.

Operation Seaspray: Hammocks Beach was a great adventure and I have five great people to thank for that: Chris “Blue jay” McMillan, Chase “Seagull” Vaughan, Wee “King Fisher” Wan, Anna “Mamabird” Garrett and Shaw “Albatross” Rowe. The first four are the brave adventures who lugged the weight, were there every step of the way and made it wonderful. The last, Shaw, was there before it ever started and helped me to create the idea during the summer months ago. Besides the wonderful pictures we were able to take (and Wee was able to take in particular), there are little things all along the way that can’t be captured on film. Thank you for everything guys, long live Eagle Team and its many operations to come.

Yours in Adventure,
Travis “Eagle 1” Hellstrom

Hammocks Beach, originally uploaded by Travis Hellstrom