What Do Ernest Hemingway and the Dalai Lama Have in Common?

It sounds like the beginning of a joke on a Laughy Taffy wrapper, right? Well it’s not. Ernest Hemingway and His Holiness the Dalai Lama really do have something in common. They have both been to the remote Wood River Valley, a small yet wealthy area in central Idaho.

What these two men did there, however, contrasts sharply. Hemingway had a house in Ketchum, a small town in the valley, which is where he put a shotgun to his head in 1961. The Dalai Lama, in 2005, visited Sun Valley, another small town, to “bring his message of compassion to Sun Valley during the anniversary of 9/11” (Idaho Mountain Express). (more…)

Stalking Annie Dillard

“Stalking is a game played in the actual present.” —Annie Dillard

I often go for walks during my lunch breaks, and when I do, I’m usually reading. I learned this method of multi-tasking as an English major with more books to read in one semester than I could stuff in my backpack. Now that I’ve graduated and gotten a “grown-up job,” I have to fit reading in whenever I can. “Read-walking,” as I call it, allows me to get some fresh air, exercise, and a daily dose of good storytelling. (more…)

The Kid and the Canal

I’ve heard stories of children drowning in canals. A canal runs past my apartment complex, and it doesn’t seem threatening, yet I’ve heard these man-made streams can be deceptive and treacherous. This one was emptied several months ago with the approach of winter, but during the warmer months it was full of water and life. Green moss billowed on the rocky bottom, ducks dove to catch small fish, and my wife once saw a muskrat scuttle to the water and swim upstream. (more…)

The Tale You Did Not Know You Needed to Know

In early December, the well-known author Brian Doyle did a reading at BYU-Idaho and visited the nonfiction class I was taking at the time. Meeting him and hearing him read his writing aloud was an incredible experience, and I realized that while our personalities and writing styles are different, our goals as writers are much the same. We both see our writing as weapons. We both see stories as food that can nourish the world.  (more…)

Why Stories Are Weapons

I am reading a collection of nonfiction essays by Brian Doyle called Grace Notes. Doyle’s writing is a nice balance between the lighthearted and the serious. Though his writing is sometimes goofy, he truly believes that “stories maybe save lives.” He knows his writing has the power to heal and to build. He also knows his stories are weapons, as shown in his essay, “What Am I Doing Here?” In part, this piece describes his desperate desire for justice in the aftermath of 9/11, in which three of his friends were killed: (more…)

Advice to My Roommates

Don’t leave it there. Do clean it up. Don’t pretend to be the crusader of cleanliness. Do make your bed. Don’t pee on the toilet seat or on the floor. Do clean the toilet and the floor when your aim is off. Don’t let cooking oil collect under the element on the stove after you deep-fry chicken to the point that it causes a grease fire. (more…)

“Walk in the Light of Your Own Fire”

Christ is our Light. Nothing we do can come close to recreating His Light. Our purpose is to follow the Light and reflect it into the lives of others. But many of us shun the Light, thinking our own artificial light is enough. This is like trying to exchange the sun for a light bulb. Both give light, but there is no comparison. (more…)