My Power Place

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About Roger L. Durham

Roger L. Durham is an ordained Presbyterian minister, a former business owner, and is currently working as a client development manager for Summit Energy.

Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing your Power Place Roger. It is truly empowering when we define ourselves by who we are rather than what we do. Spirit can meet us when we are empty, not so full of ourselves. Our busy lives don’t often allow this opportunity.
    I have fond memories of backpacking in the Tetons, very beautiful. I met my first grizzly bear there. He came walking on his hind legs into my camp, probably 8′ tall. That was an interesting night. You were lucky to have gotten a raven!
    How did this experience alter your perspective in the dynamic changes that you were facing?

    • Great question, Michael. Mor than altering my perspective, I think it allowed the emotional and spiritual space for me to make the transition from what I knew to what I didn’t. In preparing for my vocational change, I had read a little book by William Bridges titled, “Transitions – Making Sense of Life’s Changes”. In the book he suggests that our culture does not do well with transitions. We jump from one thing to the next, so we don’t do the necessary work of ending one thing well, before we begin the next. There is, what he calls, a “neutral zone” that, if we attend to it, we can make transitions more effectively. My trip to the Tetons was my attempt to honor that neutral zone – to set aside the one vocation, before starting out with the new one. And it really did make a difference. I had time to think about what I was leaving behind, and what I wanted to bring forward with me into my new career. When I got to work on that Monday morning, I was ready to engage fully in what I was doing.

      The trip didn’t help me so much with the family piece. I wasn’t ready to let go of my marriage at that point. Actually, when I read your question again, it did alter my perspective of my marriage, or more importantly, of me in my marriage. I found myself, apart from my wife, and realized that I was a whole person apart from her. We had married very young and we did not do a very good job of differentiating ourselves from each other. In the vast expanses of Wyoming I found a perspective that would allow me to be a whole person in my marriage. Unfortunately, it was a discovery made too late for that marriage.

      Thanks for your question.

  2. Roger- this beautiful piece of writing is matched perfectly to the vast grandeur depicted in the photo above. I, too, ran away beginning at age 14 and would hitchhike over a thousand miles away…just trying to escape that which I could neither fix nor live with. Your journey didn’t sound like a running away, but rather like it was a pilgrimage back to yourself, ultimately. Reminded me a lot of Tom M’s photo-essay about going to Africa. What’s such a treat in these pieces is that they are armchair vacations, visceral reminders of the wider (and wilder!) worlds out there when we can wrench ourselves away from our computer screens.
    Thank you for the felt-sense of open space, humility and wonderment you articulated so beautifully.
    Did this trip broaden your perspective about the change in your family life when you returned?

    • Thanks Lili – as I said to Michael above, the trip broadened my sense of self, prepared me to re-engage as a whole person, rather than a half of a whole. In the end, it did not change the innevitable path we were on. But it changed me. My world got bigger. My spirit grew stronger. And my determination to be a good father to my sons was reinforced.

      Thanks for the question.

  3. Tom Matlack says:

    Roger:

    Like you, I have found respite in the wide open spaces of the American west: colorado, Idaho, and most recently Montana. I’ve gone every summer now for 5 years running for a couple of weeks to ride horses, hike, fish, and just stare at a universe that is so big that it makes me feel a lot less significant than when I am trying to run the show back home. I find great comfort, as you did, in seeing nature in a raw and powerful form. It takes the pressure off in some profound way. Since I was a boy my dad taught me about Thoreau and Walden and I think I have absorbed that by osmosis despite trying to fight it. “I went to to the woods to live deliberately.” I am still trying to do that, even for just a couple weeks a year.

    • Tom, it was my mom who taught me to respect the universe. About 13 years ago, when she was 75, she came over to watch one of the Comet Hale-Bopp that was passing through for the last time in her lifetime. She and I and my sons were on a blanket in the front yard, on our backs , watching the stars and looking for the comet. She was teaching us about constellations – but more importantly – about the vastness of the universe. I hadn’t realized it before, but she shaped my worldview in significant ways – and that was just one more chapter.

  4. Profound or profund?

  5. Marcus Williams says:

    That sounds like an amazing trip, Roger. I’ve never really had an immersive camping experience like that, but I’ve immersed in the other direction with scuba diving. I haven’t dived recently, but many times I’ve been awed by the life down there. On a day-to-day basis, the ocean is just something with a surface we see, and a depth we don’t really think about out or visualize as being busy with life. Swimming around with stuff down there and thinking about how that life is constantly teeming even when out of sight is kind of mind-blowing.

    One of my favorite diving tricks (not officially recommended) is to recline back about 40 feet down, pop my regulator out, and blow bubble rings. When they’re done just right, they start as small rings but get bigger and bigger until finally a bubble ring several feet across reaches the surface and disappears. That’s not really a life-related thing, but something about that never fails to delight and amaze me. The need to return the regulator to my mouth reminds me I’m just a humble air-breather.

    • It was an amazing trip – in so many ways. And I have always been fascinated by scuba diving, but have never been. So, I’d say, when we meet for that beer, it needs to be after a visit to the world beneath the surface of the sea.

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