Plunk : About Plunk


(Homo Amabilis Peregrinus)

Plunk is an amiable vagabond, currently residing most often in the coastal strip of southern California. Vagabonds are wanderers - akin to nomads, tramps, and hobos in that they are constantly on the move. With his feline companion, Plunk's daily travels mostly take him up and down the coastal strip, with occasional trips to the local mountains and desert. On occasion, he still embarks on longer trips. 

Vagabonds are often conflated with bums or deadbeats. But they are not the same. There is a difference bewtween being irresponsible and being carefree. Vagabonds are not beggers and do not shirk their obligations. They are not lazy and do not avoid work. Vagabonds work when they need to or when doing so suits them - when the work helps them satisfy a desire or express a passion. They work to live, not live to work. Plunk works a variety of odd jobs - most often refinishing furniture at a local shop owned by a female friend he has mentored over the years or cooking at a kind couple's entertainingly eclectic eatery. He enjoys the physical labor, the opportunity to create, and passing pass on what he has learned. Because even greater than enjoying the beauty in the world is bringing a little joy and beauty to others.

Wanderlust has possessed Plunk all his life. Although he does not roam as many miles as he once did, Plunk's journeys continue. As any seasoned traveler knows, a journey is measured less in the miles traveled than in the worlds explored. Exploring is more of an attitude - an approach to life - than physical movement. And there are always many worlds, big and small, all around us to explore - if you open yourself up to them. Now, the focus of Plunk's explorations are more often on the many wonderous worlds in the diverse region he currently calls home.

Explorations may most often be thought of as journeys into the natural world. Some journeys into nature require extensive or intensive physical travel. Plunk adores the outdoors and has traversed a wide diversity of landscapes using a variety of modes of travel, mostly in the American West that lured him from the earliest days of his youth. A desert rat, many of those travels are in the vast arid regions "beyond the hundreth meridian," as Wallace Stegner defined it. Plunk's favorite region is the Red Rock Country of the Colorado Plateau. Considered by many to be the soul of the West, it is a magical area that was not well traveled and was still mostly uncivilized when Plunk first ventured into it. Despite greater popularity, the region is still as remote as any in the lower 48 and retains a spiritual quality that - despite the laudable efforts of some of the greatest writers and artists - can only truly be experienced in person.

But logging miles is not the only way to explore nature. Layers of nature coexist all around us. Exploring them can be as simple as pausing from our daily routine and observing: clearing our minds of the frenetic noise that fills it, turning off the constant bombardment from technology, relinquishing our anthropocentric perspective, and opening our senses. Other times, a specialized tool (e.g., telescope, microscope, recording devices, etc.) is required to explore nature. Loren Eiseley was a master of observation and a model for us all in how to gain great insight by combining scientific knowledge with the wisdom derived from keen perceptions.

There are also many human worlds to explore, both internal and external. Within us are spiritual and emotional landscapes full of bewildering mysteries and conundrums. Because our personal nature, much less human nature, can never be fully understood, they provide limitless opportunities for exploration - as they have since the inception of self-awareness and self-reflection. Also within are our memories, dreams, and reflections - a rich world not indelibly etched in stone, but istead shaped by us as much as it shapes us. And one that is ever-present for exploration - at least until something like the brutal cruelty of dementia steals it from us. Although he has learned how to live in the present and experience the world around him. the past is still very much alive to him. Whether a skill he has honed or a sign of madness, Plunk easily transitions between the two - one often sparking greater awareness or understanding of the other.

Our social world is also rich for exploration, comprised of people and our relationships with them. The people include includes those we define as within our network, outsiders we acknowledge in the brief utilitarian encounters we have, and "invisibles" - the homeless, the chronically poor, migrants, dayworkers, etc. Anonymous people whose presence we barely register, if we notice them at all. Although often lumped together, it is a diverse group to those who bother to get to know them. What they share is that they go through the world mostly ignored - unnoticed until they are needed to serve some purpose or they interject themselves into our consciousness.

Our social relationships are a complexly layered set of defined roles and self-imposed boundaries that are often far more rigid than any in nature. Those roles and boundaries prescribe the fundamental character and limits of our interactions. Understanding our social relationshipd has been the focus of human exploration for eons - probabaly even pre-dating humans, as animals wrestle with many of the same social challenges. Crossing those boundaries and breaking our defined roles can as daunting and adventurous as any physical adventire - and as dangerous. To many (or to too many) Plunk is one of the "invisibles." But it does not bother him and Plunk even embraces his invisibility. It can be powerful, enabling freedom of movement and the ability to serreptitiously observe others.

More important to him, Plunk knows that the people he values - those who truly know at least a part of him - see him differently. Plunk has earned their respect - maybe even their love. ï»¿Plunk is well read, has an inquisitive mind, a sharp intellect, and many talents. He has an infectious smile and what is best described as a wicked laugh. Plunk's friend know him as honorable, principled, generous, polite, chivalrous, and valiant. He stands by his word, and is trustworthy beyond repute. To most Plunk exhibits a caring heart and a kind soul...but there are those times and and those people who seem to trigger a deep and dark anger. Plunk is an unwaveringly loyal friend and a fierce defender of of the vulnerable, the marginalized, and the downtrodden - a crusader whose mission is not always clear, even to himself. 

When not relishing the beauty around him or finding comfort in common activities, Plunk attempts to capture both his journeys and reflections in his tales. But, it's difficult. In part because all of it is at times so surreal and othertimes so hyper-real. He can not always believe it all actually happened. But he knows it did. More troubling, words have become harder to find - sometimes escaping him entirely - and memories have begun to fade. The loss concerns, even frightens, him. Not for what it may portend about him, but what it means for his stories. They need to be told so they can live on - so that the people, places, and times will not be lost. An ancient tradition, it keeps alive what has been lost. ï»¿

So Plunk persists in telling his tales. He understands the profound value of storytelling, because he sensed it when others trusted him enough to share their stories. It is said that the indigenous people in the southwest believe that we ultimately suffer three deaths: first our body ceases to function, then our spirit leaves this world, and lastly we are no longer remembered. Through his tales, Plunk tries to keep alive people, places, and times so that they will not be lost. To use a well worn phrase, through Plunk's tales we also learn that there is more to him than meets the eye - more than just the man before you and more than one man's story - and ever more to tell.