Welcome to The Cascadian Wanderer

My name is Bob and I live in the Oregon Cascades. I’m 64 years old. I’m one person on a planet that has 7 billion people on it. One thing I have learned in my time on the planet is this: what I have to say about my life, the experiences I’ve had, the wisdom and answers I’ve found and the questions I still have are all far more interesting to me than others. 


In the mountains here, on a walk with my wife Lenore and our dog Charlie, when I’m in the middle of that certain quality of air and light among ancient trees and lush ferns and the cascades of the glacier-fed river near our home, I’m not even that interesting to me.




The mountains and the river have been here a long time. The trees are far older than I will ever be. I will be here, and then I will be gone – an infinitesimal mote on the timeline of the universe. I will have been an individual, I will have been unique. I am here, and then I will be gone from here, incorporated into the grand gestalt of the universe.


I’m an anonymous writer.  I’ve written all my life. I started with numbers on a Big Chief tablet and a pencil when I was four. My parents allowed me to stay up late that night because they wanted to see how long I’d last. One thousand, one hundred, eleven. I was sleepy, but I wanted to get to all those ones lined up in a row, and I hung in there. I also started in on the alphabet at that age, and by now it is quite done with me and wishes I would give it a rest.

Cannon Beach ImpressionistIn 1969 I turned 21. It was the best time in the 20th century for an anonymous writer to come of age, a time when nobody surfed the tsunami of America into adulthood. We were churned by it and spat out, dazed and hammered, onto the shores of the next decade. I wrote full-time from 1971 to 1975. Experimental, unconventional, outlaw art. In the days when Hunter S. Thompson was laying the foundation of Gonzo Journalism I was writing in a steaming, chaotic chrysalis of gonzo literature. I wrote essays, vignettes, stream of consciousness roller coasters, fragments, prose photographs. I tied them together with simple threads to create strange, jigsaw-puzzle novels and short stories that unfolded in nine separate panes of a window, or were shaped like an hourglass.

Vacation Fall 2008 Sunset Bay Watercolor

The more I wrote the more I became aware how words fractured the truth of being I sensed and sought. The more I wrote, the more I fractured the truth I wanted to reflect. I knew that I was young, and that while I had already acquired an extraordinary and unusual breadth and depth of life experience which very few, if any, of my peers could share, I still needed to experience even more of life. They say be careful what you ask for.  At some point I asked for “a great gestalt of being” to be in me as the result of much experience. I got both. 

 Later, I would write this about writing:

            Words. Could there ever be words that would catch such a place? No, not now. How would he do it? Once he would have tried; he had been a writer once. Long ago, it seemed.

             It had fallen away from him — or he from it, more likely, considering the wide-arcing spirals of the life behind him. But that had been a good thing, the writing. With the exuberance of youth he had worn the raging, passionate persona of a poet well, but inconclusively. The outward trappings and strife had later fallen away and left him for the most part still. The heart of it had been good. He recalled when he had yearned for a great measure of living to be within him, when his time upon the earth would have provided him with a wealth of events, characters, places and wisdom. It had not turned out to be so. His past was rich and wild with these things, but they had not remained separate or clarified. They had run together and merged and flown apart and shifted until now nothing occurred cleanly in recall. His life had become a gestalt, the events and characters and places of his living funneled into a cumulative focus that became only a single event, a single character, a single place.

             There had always been an uneasiness with the writing, the manipulating-god aspect of it, the contrived chiaroscuro biases between the poles of light and darkness, the forced orchestral constructs. A growing discomfort with profane fragments as a singular wholeness welled up around him everywhere. For a time he had traced; drawn and shaded as honestly as he could, seeking tones that were not contrived or certain. Even his slightest touch, he found, had shattered his subject into pieces, and finally he had stopped.

             It had been a portion of his path. It had been good to catch the exquisite images whirling in the world of emerging youth, had been a necessary step into the greater mystery which followed when each shattered piece began to fit with every other.

             He felt now as though his path had been more of a free and dizzying fall, where the velocity of wind had stripped him clean on his way to an absolute destination. A fall still in progress. He thought of the shards that had so far been torn away, wondered what fastenings now unknown would prove to be more excess, to be flung away too in this constant, inexorable cleansing…

I still write, obviously. For the most part, though, I am an anonymous and lazy wanderer in the Oregon Cascade mountain range, where I live my life. 

Trillium Tee Shirt Photo

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3 Responses to Welcome to The Cascadian Wanderer

  1. Amy Putkonen says:

    Hi Bob,

    I came over from your link and it brought me here. Last time, I just hopped over to your Tao Te Ching link but this time I stayed. “What’s this?” I thought. So I read it with some space around me, unrushed so I can see who this Bob character is who is answering my call for Tao Te Ching essayists. Fabulous. While you were in the throws of your Gonzo Journalism, I was scooting around in diapers. How fun to look back and see the spanse of time behind us. I love your new life in the Cascades. I love your free fall through time image. Yours is the second post today that has had me recognize, consciously, my love for writing. Before it has always been the wrapper. I tear it off to get to the meat inside. Today, I am looking at the wrapper and appreciating it’s place in my life. Thank you for being part of my experience.

  2. Harmony Grifith says:

    “Words fractured the truth of being I sensed and sought.”

    Yes. And this is the thing that separates me from my writing process the most right now, I think. I struggle with the manipulating God/dess feeling as well; Who am I to summarize a life that has felt so far beyond my control, so singular and yet so small? Is it possible, or even beneficial, to do?

    By the same token, I’ve remembered: The only things of value that I will leave behind are the ideas and values that I choose to express. Yeah, I’m temporary, bound to crumble back into the star-stuff we’re all made of when I leave here. My life (so far) has been rich and deep, even in times of suffering, and often overwhelming. But the process of expressing, exploring, and answering the call to create is what gives this free-fall a bit of context. In my creative process, I find a place to stand and sing among the swirling of the universe.

    To my excitement and joy, the more time passes, the more I turn to my writing and say “All right, what part of myself am I going to peel off of the mirror and put on paper today?” My efforts are not perfect, but part of accepting my divine right to happiness is knowing that the flaws in my prayers and my ponderings are holy, too. Wabi Sabi. Progress-not-perfection. I think of Leonard Cohen: “There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

    You’ve taught me the value of expressing my Self, however tentative, however piecemeal, however cracked and skewed. And for that I am grateful.

    • bobgriffith says:

      It’s been observed that if you ask for something for yourself rather than accepting what the universe has given you, you’re going to short yourself terribly.

      When you were born, your mother and I had, together, found it is best to “wait on the Lord,” that is, to accept what comes, to bloom where we were planted, to get out into life and plant flowers and drive nails and listen to music and dance and love and feel the peace and passion in life and learn the truth of it all.

      I’m so glad we had learned to not ask for anything for ourselves. When we got you, you were so much more wonderful than anything we could have ever imagined or asked for. And still are. You are unique. Thank you, God, for you, Harmony. We’re grateful, too.

      I love that – “All right, what part of myself am I going to peel off of the mirror and put on paper today?” Keep expressing, exploring, answering the call to create. You see a lot of light coming in through the cracks in everything. You’re aware that even the flaws in our prayers and ponderings and expressions are holy; progress-not-perfection is holy; expression of who you are, really, is holy. You know your expressions of that holiness, no matter how tentative, piecemeal, cracked or skewed they seem, are holy, and wholly valuable. I love all that – and I love that it was you who said it. And I love you. We both do.

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