Empty-handed and Less Traveled Roads. And other social media DOHs.

Empty-handed and less traveled roads. And other social media DOHs.
by Stan Faryna

Play the soundcloud player to hear the podcast. Or download it here. The podcast sounds awesome with earphones or played on hi-fi speakers. Try it and tell me what you think.

Mobile users: you should be able to hear the podcast here.

Notes:

There are bloggers that I cherish, like, and fan – bloggers who have embarked upon a pilgrimage to fame, fortune, success, and happiness. They travel a road less traveled – in a manner of speaking.

These bloggers arrive at destinations (100 readers/month, 1,000/mo, 10,000/mo, 100,000/mo, etc.). They often arrive empty-handed with great expectations and hope. They move forward into empty-handed whole-heartedness. They move forward undaunted by disappointment and seemingly unrewarded faith, due diligence, and sacrifice.

They connect. They uplift each other. They do amazing things, day and night. They declare victory in the midst of the test. Again and again.

I relish and celebrate their courage, fortitude, and hutzpah.

The trials of these brave bloggers remind me of my own pilgrim’s progress. My disappointments. And my spiritual defeats.

Road to Cacica

I spent last week up in Cacica. If you’ve read my rough draft of a science fiction novel about the end times, the name rings a bell. Cacica is a small village in northern central Romania where my protagonist and his friends escape to when the world falls apart. The village is nestled amid rolling hills. Green rolling hills in the spring, summer, and autumn.

In Cacica, the roosters begin to crow a half hour before sunrise. By sunrise, trotting horses pull creaking wagons – rolling on automobile tires. There’s cars too. But not every family has a car. Every morning at 7 am, the church bell of the Catholic church rings out the motif of the Ave Maria. It’s very charming. For me.

Last weekend, 20,000 or more people (from all over the world) camped out in Cacica for the Catholic celebration of the Christian story of Christ’s mother’s body being taken into heaven. After her death.

Roman Catholic Church in Cacica

Poles, Hungarians, Italians, and Czechs were the most noticeable of the foreign pilgrims. It was a large crowd for the little village with an actual population of 300 or less. The crowds left the next day. They almost seemed to disappear into thin air.

The official population may be in the thousands but anyone who can get out of Cacica or any of the other rural, nearby villages – get out as soon as they can.

There’s a salt mine in Cacica, but it doesn’t operate most of the time. Generally speaking, there isn’t work for people in the country. But that doesn’t stop people from bringing money home from their migrant labors (as poorly paid harvest workers, construction workers, prostitutes, or whatever… in Europe and Israel). People build new houses with that hard earned money.

I often wonder why.

I have beautiful ideas about starting a rural development project in Cacica that would define practices that preserve and utilize cultural traditions, crafts, and natural resources. It would also encourage rural economic sustainability and growth. I can’t realize those ideas alone, however. Any worthwhile project must begin with several millions of dollars. Three might do. But ten is the sweet spot. Yes, millions of dollars.

Some of the local people recognize me in Cacica. They don’t get a lot of Americans that come by again and again – year after year. Or going to their church, every day. The latter seems to be something that only the elderly do! And unusual suspects like myself.

Holy Mass

Some are puzzled. They can’t imagine why I enjoy what seems to be the very foundation of their poverty: rolling hills, clean air, clean water, traditions, and their country hospitality.

“Why do you come here?” An old woman asked me just after telling me that I won’t find any boxed milk in the village. People don’t buy milk from the store. They own a cow if they need milk for their coffee.

“I come because the beauty of the land heals me. Because God has blessed this place. Because I feel God strongly… here.”

Green rolling hills of Cacica

My answer touched her heart. It almost made her proud. Almost. Because she couldn’t really believe it. But she felt a little better about things. She smiled and went her way.

I could tell you about the chickens that hunted the lawn of the hotel where I was staying. Every morning. Or the hotel guard, an aged dog, that barked up a storm and refused to make friends with me. Or how the lack of air conditioning was harder on me than I had remembered from last year.

On this particular pilgrimage, I had no moment of enlightenment. No revered ecstasy. Instead, I found friends in troubles greater than I could solve for them. I met elderly people who were starving to death. And men broken by the hard times. Things had gotten bad. These were very hard times. It was the first time I had seen such suffering here.

Myself, I was tired, dehydrated, and struggling to be thankful for something. I really wanted to be thankful, but I found myself being thankful without heart. Not to mention that the first few days, I couldn’t get any kind of mobile internet connection and that made me very, very grumpy.

Vigil Mass for the Assumption of the Virgin Mary in Cacica, Romania

During the celebratory mass (service), an elderly woman put her hand on my shoulder to lean on me and then she pointed to the night sky.

A single long cloud crossed the full moon like a comet tail. This in an otherwise cloudless sky. She whispered that it was a sign. She whispered to me that I should make ready.

She told me that she had a vision of hundreds of stars falling from the sky. Like unripe figs.

But I was preoccupied with my growling stomach. I was looking forward to a bowl of soup at a friend’s house – just as soon as the celebration had finished.

A little boy tugged on my shirt and held out his hand in humble askance. He was hungry too. I gave him the equivalent of five bucks. He didn’t smile or say thank you. Actually, he looked disappointed, sad, and angry. He took the money and then took his mother’s hand as they moved through the crowd of the faithful.

Is there a lesson here?

I don’t know. Like I said before, I’m not a genius nor exceptionally intelligent. But if a lesson, message, or actionable motif is obvious to you in this recounting, please do explain it to me. That would be something for which I would be thankful with all my heart.

A friend asked me, today, to make a blog post slash podcast about anger, sorrow, and  disappointment. This recounting of my recent pilgrimage is all that I had in me. This recounting is what comes to mind. This recounting and the first proclamation of the ten commandments:

I am the Lord your God. Exodus 20:2

Minor Basical in Cacica, Romania

Stan Faryna
23 August 2011
Bucharest, Romania

Faryna Podcasts recently produced by Adrian Klein:

1. Why do I blog: Faryna Podcast EP1

http://wp.me/pbg0R-kX

2. If Tomorrow Was Your Last Day: Faryna Podcast EP2

http://wp.me/pbg0R-la

3. Money Can’t Buy Happiness: Faryna Podcast EP3

http://wp.me/pbg0R-lv

4. The First Duty of Love is to Listen: Faryna Podcast EP4

http://wp.me/pbg0R-lO

5. Are You Ready for Love? Faryna Podcast EP5

http://wp.me/pbg0R-lX

6. Reading The Desiderata. Faryna Podcast EP6

http://wp.me/pbg0R-mr

7. What is Love? Faryna Podcast EP7

http://wp.me/pbg0R-mw

8. Confessions of a Freak-Geek-Misfit. Faryna Podcast EP8

http://wp.me/pbg0R-nJ

9. Do you love strongly? Faryna Podcast EP9

http://wp.me/pbg0R-nY

Note: If you want to make a professional podcast out of your blog post, get in touch with Adrian Klein on Twitter or Facebook.

Faryna Podcast EP10 Information
Empty-handed and Less Traveled Roads by Stan Faryna. ©2011 Some Rights Reserved.
Produced by Adrian Klein. http://www.adrianklein.co.uk
Music by Adrian Klein. All Rights Reserved by Stan Faryna

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40 Responses to Empty-handed and Less Traveled Roads. And other social media DOHs.

  1. Stan Faryna says:

    Note:

    Feel free to leave a hyperlink and the blog post title to your recent blog post. Hopefully, with a comment. [grin] I don’t have any issues with polite self-promotion in the comments. Actually, I encourage it. And, just maybe, I’ll come visit.

  2. Betsy Cross says:

    Stan, I’m learning how much of my heart and my world view I project onto other people and their lives. I
    I broke down in sorrow when I couldn’t be with my father as he went from the nursing home to the hospital last week. I called him as he was first being attended to in the emergency room thinking that he’d be comforted knowing someone had remembered him. Turns out the call was for me. I thought he was lonely. He wasn’t. I thought he missed me. He didn’t. I thought I could make a difference. I don’t know what he got from the interaction. He’ll never tell me. But I felt like I was teaching him about me. That I’d show up in person or via phone whenever I wanted him to know I support him.
    I’ve always been touched by suffering and always want to do something, my part, to alleviate it. But because I’ve had experiences like yours where either there is no common world view of gratitude (the woman thinking about seeing God in her beautiful surroundings, or the boy, the dog and the doorman not seeing that you were a gift to them), or there is no deep understanding of human inter-dependency, there is a challenge to keep showing up to teach them that language (not that you intend to teach).
    What I mean is sometimes the biggest gift we give is our new point of view that awakens another person’s soul to the beauty and possibilities of their life.
    You SAW the beauty and the possibilities of and for their community, and you GAVE what you could when the opportunity came, because that’s who you are.
    You are an “EYE-OPENER”!
    That’s what I got from your post.

    • Stan Faryna says:

      Betsy! Your comment throws much needed light. Thank you.

      We are gifts to each other. Showing up may be all we can do, sometimes. But showing up can be enough. It can be a gift. Sharing what we see. It can be a gift.

      You are so right! We need to be reminded of this. I need to be reminded.

      My heart goes out to you as you hold your Father in your heart.

      I appreciate you.

  3. Wow, Stan. I hope your novel becomes an audiobook and you narrate it. Your blog posts aren’t just posts, they are experiences.

    Thank you for taking us along with you on your journey to Cacica. I appreciated the contrasts of your annoyances, being tired, hungry, dehydrated, with the suffering of the villagers. The interactions between you and the villagers were remarkable as well. You reached out to them, wanted to touch and move them, but your efforts were neither embraced nor appreciated. Yet you want to want to give so much more to them, to make a difference, perhaps in a further effort to touch and move them.

    Betsy’s comment was incredibly insightful. I imagine when you didn’t receive the responses you wanted from the older woman and the boy you thought about its impact on you. Similar to how Betsy thought about her reaching out to her father had an impact on her.

    I am still catching up from being away, and I look forward to savoring more of your blog creations. Thanks again for sharing them with us. Incredible.

    • Stan Faryna says:

      Big hug to you, Carolyn.

      I’ll make podcasts for the second draft of the novel. But there’s a lot of writing and rewriting to get there. I even have a whole new, custom blog for that second draft. Just sitting somewhere. [grin]

      Keep on encouraging me.

      Your and Betsy’s comments give me the light I need. Thank you. I’ve started writing the next blog post slash pod cast. And I was pretty sure that I was burned out and didn’t have anything more to share from my heart. Not anytime soon anyway.

      I didn’t regret giving the five bucks to the boy, but I do regret not being able to do something for him that makes his heart smile. On the other hand, I don’t think a hundred dollars would have lifted him up in a thankful spirit. His problems are bigger than that.

      Betsy’s story, however, does give me a beautiful perspective by which I can contemplate my own story. Just as you say.

      The bottom keeps dropping out – deeper and deeper – in rural Romania. Elsewhere too. However, those of us in the cities need those people there to grow our food. And for other reasons too.

      • Hi Stan, I didn’t think you regretted that you gave the boy $5. What scares me is that he didn’t appreciate it. A jaded child is not a good sign for the society’s future.

        When I visited Romania there was a lot of poverty and those who regretted democracy. But there was hope. Your story makes me fear that hope is eroding there.

        Thank you for trying to bring hope to people there.

  4. Hi Stan, firstly thanks for sharing these pictures of your trip…I wish you featured in one of them. Thanks for sharing your feelings experience and observation of this place, this pilgrimage, a place that seamed to bring you such joy and such discomfort at the same time. I feel like I’ supposed to have something profound to say, except I don’t other than you have a way with words that kind of grinds me to a halt and makes me feel, yes.. makes me feel. Your writing has a gentle quality and emotion filled humility to it,I’m struggling to find words to express what I’m feeling or trying to say. I hope you understand. Thank you for sharing this pilgrimage with us all

    • Stan Faryna says:

      Big hug to you, Stacey!

      I’ve added two blog header pictures to the random mix of headers on this blog. Both with my face: me wearing the famous K-9s mentioned in my science fiction story. [laughing]

      One header shows the exterior of a painted church in the background. That would be the Sucevita church with the famous stairway to heaven painting. That’s actually three pictures from the iPhone stitched together.

      The other new header shows a view of the Cacica salt mine and hills as seen from the church. That’s actually six pictures stitched together. Three pictures of the land. Three of the sky.

      Eventually, you’ll see the new headers. They swap randomly.

      I was afraid that this podcast slash blog post really sucked hard. I almost have a story but I don’t really have a beginning or an end. Actually, if the comments don’t tie it up – nothing can.

      But maybe that’s what I need to more of – let the story resolve through the comments. What do you think?

      I also have the spiritual pilgrimage of the week before to write about…

      How are you doing?

    • Yogizilla says:

      I second that. Stan’s voice makes me at peace with everything.. Even if it’s only briefly at times. ;o)

  5. Mike10613 says:

    You novel sounds interesting, I like science fiction; but not science fiction that is too out of this world! I liked Star Trek for example but not Doctor Who. You read your blog well and an audio book of your novel would probably be attractive to a lot of people. I am a blogger on a journey and understood the first part of your blog. I think I understand why you want to help the people of Cacica too; we all want to make a mark in the world.

    You might like my blog – http://wp.me/p194MF-nf

    • Stan Faryna says:

      Mike, it’s awesome to meet you. How the heck are ya?

      My attempt at science fiction is more mundane compared to either Star Trek or Doctor Who. Of course, there is a dose of fantasy and superstition in my story of the end times. Anyway, I find the genre allows me to be completely honest about the human condition.

      I visited your blog, Mark. I enjoyed the pictures of the woodlands. I also noticed that you write about Farmville. I’d like to have a guest post about Farmville – if you are interested. If so, please email me and let’s discuss: stan(dot)faryna(at)gmail(dot)com

      And yes, you’re absolutely right! I want fragrant flowers and small, wild berried greens to spring from my every footprint.

  6. Yogizilla says:

    I was here.. NOT first. *sad face* BBIAB. ;o)

  7. Yogizilla says:

    This all goes to show us that we should not take for granted what we have. Quite honestly, my hopes are to be financially-free for life and provide for my loved ones.. Filthy-rich.. Who really needs that much money?

    But, if I did have that plethora of cashflow, I would want to give it to those that really need it. When I think about neighborhood stabilization, I think about job training, gentrification, attracting new business, agriculture, manufacturing.. Making an area as self-sufficient as possible.

    This is why I find companies like NACA exciting. They fight predatory lenders and large corporation sharks, sticking up for us “little people”, whereas most other business entities try to take advantage of the “little people”.

    Another moving podcast and blog entry, my friend!

    • Stan Faryna says:

      Thank you, Yomar. I appreciate you. And your wild enthusiasm to be a marching social force!

      Your mention of predatory lenders reminded me of my surprise when GE opened up loan offices in Bucharest with exploitative interest rates. “Them too?!” I thought to myself. I once had a better opinion of GE.

      Helping the impoverished develop sustainable practices through their cultural context is important. It’s awesome that you see that.

      Dude, it’s too bad we can’t hang out and watch some Doctor Who, anytime soon. I’d like that.

  8. [...] read Stan Faryna’s post, “Empty-handed and Less Traveled Roads” , yesterday, and I wondered. I wondered about the mindset of an old woman, and a [...]

  9. bonnie67 says:

    Hi Stan

    I got to say this has bought me back to the yuwie
    days when you blogged about differences places
    you been and how you gave back than.

    Such wonderful pictures you put up. To bad there
    such sorrow there but who knows my be some day
    you can put your ideas into a plan and build the town
    up and help the people out.

    I enjoyed this pod cast and how honest your being.
    Bonnie

  10. Stan Faryna says:

    Bonnie, I appreciate you. You’re a wonderful friend.

    While rural poverty can be a challenge anywhere, I think Cacica has natural and cultural resources that make it an ideal location for development. Perhaps, such development can serve as a case study for rural development. I’d like to think so. Maybe, I should outline my thoughts about how to develop Cacica here on my blog. In case, someone with more gumption than me can actually execute some of the vision that I have.

  11. I’ll echo Carolyn’s thoughts and say your podcasts are an experience; very creative and very well done sir.

    Your pilgrimage on the road less traveled certainly is a lifetime experience that touches many emotions. I think it’s great you are in a position you can experience this. Sometimes experiencing things in the simplest fashions have the biggest meaning.

    Thanks for sharing Stan, hope all is well.

  12. Stan Faryna says:

    Bill, I appreciate you. And your kind encouragement. I should make these podcasts a bit more fun…

    I was just thinking of a different kind of pilgrimage. Bill and Stan’s excellent adventure. It kicks off with a country-style breakfast of Romanian moonshine. There’s pole dancing, a little insurance fraud to pay for all the misadventures, and Jack wins the lottery – fair and square.

    What do you think? [grin]

    • billdorman says:

      I’m all in; that might get us half way across the country but I’m sure we can work away across the other half. I can yodel….oh wait, wrong country…………………….

      Jack needs a break; we are all in.

  13. Stan,

    As a christian, blogger, social media manager, mother of four and European (Dutch), your recounting of your time in Cacica has really touched me. I know nothing of your work or your background. You asked why you were there even though you found it a harder and sadder and poorer place than previous years. From where I stand, you are a witness. You are a witness with the extraordinary gift of writing and storytelling. Everyone needs a voice and you’ve just given a voice to the people of Cacica. Thank you for that!

    • Stan Faryna says:

      Dorien, I appreciate you. And I thank you with all my heart.

      Yes, there may be many reasons why I ended up in Cacica – unexpectedly. But being a witness to Cacica was one of the reasons. And, I admit, I couldn’t see that until you pointed it out.

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