5,300 Mile Journey ON FOOT - Thru-Hiker Chris Carter on the Challenges Faced On The Trail

I think we're gonna call this one Survivor and the Adventures of Tim and Jim. That's right. Chris Carter is checking in from Jackson, Montana, along his 3,100 mile journey of the Continental Divide Trail. He's going to give us an update on what life is like on the trail.





Below is the transcript of our conversation.

If you'd rather listen, here's the link to the episode:

#89 - Chris Carter LIVE From the Continental Divide Trail



Thom Pollard 0:00
This is The Happiness Quotient.

I think we're gonna call this one survivor and the adventures of Tim and Jim. That's right. We're with our guest, Chris Carter, who's checking in from Jackson, Montana today, along his 3100 mile journey of the Continental Divide trail. He's going to give us an update on what life is like on the trail there

The Wood Brothers 0:33
I never learned a thing being happy.

Thom Pollard 0:36
For a free pdf download of a course in happiness, go to patreon.com slash the happiness quotient where you will find a free, colorful issue replete with adventure photography, and some good wise words. Welcome to the happiness quotient on Thom Pollard Today we welcome back our inspiring, and intrepid Pacific Crest Trail through hiker and filmmaker Chris Carter, who I caught up with on a live Instagram session on July 9 2021. That's today as I'm recording this, where he was camping in Jackson, Montana population not much over 100

I first spoke with Chris in Episode 67 to talk about his beautiful and moving documentary about his thru hike of the PCT called to measure a mile. At that time, Chris was in the nascent stages of planning a double thru hike of the Continental Divide trail and the Appalachian Trail, a journey of six months and 1000s of miles about 5000 something give her take. He is now on the second half of the Continental Divide trail and has met some big obstacles along the way. This very day as I write this and read this. He is encountering lots of smoke from forest fires and his next steps are actually in question. So we will look forward to talking with Chris about how it's been on the trail. It has not been easy. what he's doing is about 32 miles a day give or take he's a madman completely insane. But on the other hand, one of the most sane people I think I've ever spoken with. Today's episode is a slightly edited version of my Instagram Live conversation with Chris, which you can find on my Instagram page at Tom Dharma Pollard. Our conversation started with Chris giving me a synopsis of his objectives and what it is he's undertaking at this time. We spoke about overcoming loneliness and doubt challenges all human beings, let alone those on a 3100 mile thru hike of the Continental Divide trail looking down the barrel of the Appalachian Trail right afterward. He also told me about his friends Tim and Jim. Hmm, believe it or not, that's his right and left foot I'm not sure which is which actually, here's my conversation with back to back through hiker Chris Carter from his campsite in Jackson, Montana. I am currently

Chris Carter 3:32
through hiking the Continental Divide trail right now, which is a long 3100 mile wilderness footpath that runs from Mexico up to Canada. It's totally kicking my butt. But it's been one of the best experiences of my life, as most things usually are. And then after that, I've got plans to try to hop over to the east coast immediately and then rip a southbound trip of the Appalachian Trail. So it's been a dream of mine for honestly as long as I can remember at least kind of my older years to do what's called hiking the Triple Crown of thru hikes and long distance trails which is the Appalachian Trail the Pacific Crest Trail and the Continental Divide trail and I did the Pacific Crest Trail in 2018 and got the bug it ruined my life in the best way. And once you do one of them you just got to do all of them so now's a good time I had the time I had the money and I've given it a shot and it's been it's been freaking wild. I'll tell you that much.

Thom Pollard 4:34
Yeah, well thank you for the little synopsis of it. So you the Continental Divide trail certainly didn't go fully smooth. I mean, you It sounds like you've seen like five people the entire time and you've encountered deep snow in Colorado like incredible like 100 river crossings down in the southern part. Yes be thing thrown your way in looting, like the the mental anguish and challenge of what it's like, you know? So tell me about some of those challenges.

Chris Carter 5:09
For sure. Well, it's it's really cool to be talking with you like during the journey because I haven't had any time to process this and it's going on right now I'm in one of the loneliest stretches I've ever been in. In my life, really, I've never been this alone for so long. I mean, I'll go over 100 mile stretches without seeing a single soul, because I've kind of pushed ahead of the pack of other people that are hiking the CDT. And also I've done some flipping around to avoid the snow that I ran into that you mentioned. So yeah, it's, I think it's a mental battle over all of it at this point. And it's really coming down to the wire of like, Do I want this bad enough, you know, and what is it that's motivating me and pushing me to the end, because I am stoked to do this. But the grind gets to you, man. And so mentally, I'm in I'm in Jackson, Montana right now, and just got an awesome boost here in town. But it's really cool to be having this conversation with you right now. Because it's definitely a grind. And there's a lot of big decisions I got to make. And there's just, you know, some things that I have to I don't know, some things I have to figure out. And so it's Yeah, it's kind of fresh on my mind. But yeah, I mean, I started relatively early, but kind of in the pack of people that are starting to CDT and got up to the San Juan mountains in Colorado, really fast. I'm trying to, you know, average pretty high mileage a day to link the two trails. And you have the CDT is just proven to be another beast. You know, I grew up in Kenya, as we've talked about in our previous conversation and did not have a lot of mountaineering experience in Kenya, when I got to this spawns. And it literally looked like Antarctica, and I got up there and I felt like I was on, you know, Shackleton's voyage across the Antarctic, I was pretty out of my comfort zone, for sure. But thankfully, I was able to link up with a guy who had a little more kind of mountaineering and snow experience than I had. And he had actually been waiting and pagosa Springs for five days for showing someone to show up. And I rolled in kind of all stoked and ready to go forward. And he was like, dude, I've been waiting for someone to go into the mountains, we'll be the first ones of the CDT class of 2021 to give it a shot. I was like, well, son of a god, let's do it. Like I'm stoked. I don't really know what I'm getting myself into. And so we got some snow shoes, eh, and I got this cool thing called a whip it which is like an ice axe on the end of a trekking pole and microspikes, we kid ourselves out, and we charged up into the mountains and dude, immediately, it was just like, holy crap, what have I gotten myself into, I mean, we were postholing with snowshoes up to our hips at times, and it was just so slow going, you know how it is. And if you don't have the technique, and you don't have the proper kind of idea of what you do, and then it can definitely get to you. But it was, I mean, it was one of the most incredible views of the trip, the most incredible experience, but man, it tested us mentally. And our goal was to do this, like, over 100 mile push to a town called Silverton. And we had enough food and stuff to do that kind of we knew we were going to average a lot less miles per day. And we got up there and we were getting it done. But it was slow going and, and we there was no trail that follows totally under snow. And so we just kind of stayed on top of the ridges and made our own line just loosely following the GPS. And it was unbelievable. I was blown away. But a couple days might say like maybe four or five days into our push through the mountains, started snowing at 3am. And then just didn't stop all day. And we had looked at the weather and it had said some storms early on in the week. But we got through those and then there was this little tiny rainstorm that it was talking about. And that ended up being the one that dropped like two and a half feet of fresh powder up in the mouth on us and so we were sitting there in our tents, watching the snow slowly rise up our tents and I was looking at lying on my tent and I was like I once it reaches this line, we got to make a decision because like we're about to get freakin buried in here. And so we were you know, I was talking with my other friend that was in the tents were like, yeah, this is getting sketchy. Like, I don't know if we're gonna make a decision. Like we might have to bail out of this. And it got to that point on my tents were like, Alright, let's make a decision here. And the snow had gotten so high Tom that we couldn't find my friends one of my friends snowshoes and we excavated like the entire area around his tent and it was just gone. We could not find it really sonofa

God all the times we need to snowshoe right now this is crazy. Like, we got to we still have like,

I don't know, like 50 miles to push. We're like this is just bonkers. And we were I was like well, let's plan out some you know, bail options. Let's see what we get. And let's just try to push forward see if we can make the miles and so we're just getting super cold and he decided like alright Chris, unfortunately you're gonna have to pave the way and I'll walk behind you with one snowshoe and

so oh actually looks like he just Wind on the low kidding. Yeah, the guy that I the guy that I did the ones with

Thom Pollard 10:04
well, greetings to what what's your friend's name in the sky? 21 sky I see some laughs laughter face Yeah.

Chris Carter 10:15
Yeah, Sky you guys battle well right now I think he just finished up the Colorado stretch. We're unfortunately not hiking together anymore. But skier thug. And it was awesome sharing those miles with you. But anyway, so I kind of said often, we were just making our own way. And the guy was behind me with one snowshoe like just bawling out it was awesome. I was I was so impressed with his endurance. And we got to, we started going, we realized we were going to have to bail. There was no way we were going to make the miles and make it the town with the food that we had. So we saw this kind of gorge that went down to a road that we could take to Pagoda, and bail down that Gordon, it took us two days to bail out and was probably the coldest I've ever been. I mean, we were soaked to the bone. There was snow piled on either side of this gorge up, we were postholing up to our chest. Sometimes I mean, just sinking in so deep. And at one point, Skye just said, hey, let's just get down in the river and run down the river like it's going to be faster. And so we literally just jumped in this like freezing river with snow banked on either side, and just ran down the river. And it was extremely, extremely cold. I started getting bad shin splints, too, because I was using my using my snowshoes for the first time. And yeah, it was just kind of, I don't know, something I wasn't really used to, and started developing the shin splints which I hadn't had all trip. And so poor sky. I was like, Look, man, I know we got to push down below the snow line, but I cannot walk another step we have to set up camp in this most heinous place, it was like sleeting and snowing. So we set up camp and had one of the most miserable cold nights ever. And he was awesome. My hands were numb and shivering and he like helped me set up my tent and we have a cool relationship after that. Anyways, all that to say the snow kicked our butts in the sand. And we got down to it goes to springs realized we had to make a decision. So from there, we decided, look, if we're gonna do the miles that we can do and especially with all this fresh powder, we're gonna have to bounce up to the to Wyoming, rip out the dry parts of Wyoming, come back down to Colorado, see if it's a little more snow free. And we just start got gotta start hopping around this trail. And as a thru hiker, it's really hard to explain but you have like this visceral desire to do a continuous footpath, which is where like you don't take any time off trail. And I mean, you don't like deviate off that line, you just go straight forward come hell or high water. And that was obviously messed up. And when I was doing the PCT, I was religious about it. I was like, I'm not going to deviate. You know, I'm gonna do continuous footpath. And I've just had to have kind of a different mindset for this trail and realize that to get it done in the timeframe I have, I need to be bouncing up and down and knocking out the sections that I can that aren't snowy and that allow me to do the miles that I need to do. So you know, I was loaded to do it. We bounced up to lander Wyoming and then southbound at the Great Basin in Wyoming did that got to Colorado, it was still a little too snowy. So I flipped back up to Yellowstone and right now I'm doing Yellowstone to Canada. And then I'll have to come down and rip the Wind River range and the sand ones and I'll officially finished the trail in pagosa Springs. So kind of hard to I don't know, it's kinda hard to explain without a map, but it's a heinous jumble of flipping around, but I'm getting it done. And it's been an adventure.

Thom Pollard 13:36
Yeah, well, you Well, no, that's that's a great synopsis of of how back and forth and up and down. It's all been and you know, Chris one that we had a great conversation a week or so ago on the phone. I think we talked for like 90 minutes. And it was honestly such a huge encouragement. Well, it I mean, you might be one of the other people on the planet who matches my level of Stoke ness and, and how to get amped up and, and just like walk into a room and people are like, Whoa, that guy is fired up, man. And, and so all of a sudden, like 90 minutes into a conversation, it occurred to me I was like, Oh, I should have recorded that. But I'm glad I didn't. It was just the magic of like reconnecting and so so we've we've never met in person, but I feel like I've known you, you know forever and ever and ever. And I get I'm really excited to meet you when you come out. You're going to come out to Maine and do a southbound hike of the Appalachian Trail. And you know the Appalachian the 80 goes right near where I live like a mile just a couple of miles. So hopefully you'll be ahead enough that you can chill and spend some time in the Mount Washington Valley and recuperate. Take some showers, eat lots of good barbecues and things like

Chris Carter 14:57
that. Gosh, I'm so proud I totally agree, Tom, I feel like we got a cool connection. And I'm just extremely excited to link up with you up there and actually meet you in person. And yeah, hopefully, I'll have a little bit of a squad by that point. And I've been telling them about you, and they're stoked to meet you as well. And yeah, it's gonna be awesome. I'm super, super amped. And it'll just be sweet to be back on the East Coast because the West Coast is dope. But there's just, there's a lot of obstacles out here, the 80 is a little more straightforward. It's kind of just like mental grind, green tunnel, get it done out here. It's like, Alright, you got snow up to your hips, like, what are you gonna do? And then suddenly, there's like, fires all around you and there's smoke in the air, what are you gonna do? And it's like, oh, my gosh, it's just and the CDT in general just is a much more brutal trail to follow. And so for, you know, a lot of it, it's just been kind of bushwhacking and finding your own way. And in 2020, not a lot of people hiked the trail because of COVID. And so a lot of places, there's just not like a trail to follow, you know, it's just like this, you know, you're kind of like looking at the GPS, I think I'm going the right way and just choose the path of least resistance between these two peaks. Right? Right. It's hard to just kind of like, zone out and enjoy it as much as you're just like navigating the whole time, which is all in its own way and has given me a lot of like, cool, you know, skills in my toolbox, but it's definitely added to the mental grind. And then do I.

Thom Pollard 16:22
So Michael, Michael conkel just wrote Dude, this is lit stuckness. So he might want him to say that I II as as much Stoker's, as the two of us added up, which is dangerous right now. Um, Hey,

Chris Carter 16:38
my name Chris Silva is one of my best buddies from Chattanooga. He's like, ultra running and if you're listening, I love and miss you a lot.

Thom Pollard 16:48
I'm amazing. Wow, Chris, that hey, so So Chris, I don't want to keep it too long. You probably got some things you need to do today, like hike the CDT you know, you This is the, the thing that really interests me and that we spend a lot of our time talking about a week or so ago, is is what happens to a person when when they're they're feeling tried and I mean, the physical part something is really it comes naturally to you and a lot of ways and, and to me as well and I always enjoyed the like the the obstacles physically, the pain sometimes even was like a friendly reminder of just that my body was working and I was always able to kind of psych it out. It's the other stuff. It's like the little nagging fears. And so for me on a mountain, for instance, it would be in the middle of the night I would wake up and I would hear the like the familiar but but frightening ping of a glacier ever so slightly shifting, and you can almost feel it reverberate through your body. And I would show I've lay awake thinking I hope a crevasse doesn't open up in the head. Yeah, which theoretically hat could happen, you know, but but for you like how in those difficult times of whether it's loneliness or, or questioning what what the heck you're doing out there, what the what your life is meaning about and where are you finding your strength? Is it to the higher power? Is it? Do you dig deep and suck it up? And just get I mean, what happens in those moments of axed?

Chris Carter 18:31
Yes. And as you know, from our last conversation, that is a very long answer with a lot of different facets. And so it's really cool to explore. And I think the mental game changes based on if you're hiking alone, or if you're doing these journeys, like for you on Everest with other people, or, you know, if it's like you're doing it isolated, and you have to kind of figure out how to mold yourself to those situations. Because even when you're with people, it's it's a mental grind. And you it's, it's an individual effort, no matter how many people you're around, when you're trying to summon a mountain, you still got to push yourself through that. But you do have those brothers around you that can support you and uplift you. And, you know, so I think, you know, I've had to figure out both of those on this trip, I've been blessed to hike with a couple of really cool people like Skye, and even in that, I mean, I faced probably one of the biggest mental and physical challenges with him. And in that just learning honestly, what we talked about last time, which you kind of brought to mind is this idea of impermanence. You know, this idea that no matter how bad it's going to get a, it's going to eventually end there's nothing that's totally permanent. And be I know, I'm gonna love it in the end. And so it might be the worst thing and the hardest thing I've ever done in the moment, but I know that this is fostering awesome things inside of me, and just has been a dream of mine for so long. And also no matter how bad it gets, I know that it's going to get better at some point and this can't last forever. So I really appreciate you kind of putting a word to that. The last time we talked because that was really encouraging to me of like Yeah, this is something that I cling to a lot. But I haven't really identified that as kind of a coping mechanism. But it's definitely something that I've had to realize is like, no matter how high this hill, no matter how smoky the air, how deep the snow, it's going to get better. And these are going to be dope stories that I'm going to tell my kids and then I'm going to tell my friends and it's worth it, you know, and this is why I came out here, I came out here to kind of suffer for the pursuit of adventure in the pursuit of doing something that I love. And so I would honestly, that's one of the biggest things, you know, you mentioned, claiming to like higher power. So as a Christian, I am clinging to the Lord as much as I can. And this time is as being alone, it's just been awesome to get to talk to him and kind of grow deeper in my relationship with Him. And so that's been super, super cool. And I've just been able to grow in very deep ways there. But, um, but yeah, it's, it's just all that together, you got to figure it out. You know, it's, it's definitely the hardest part. I mean, you can process your childhood five times, and then you're like, Alright, what do I think about now and then you think about this, and you think about that, and the mental challenge is getting to me, man, like, I'm not gonna lie at this point in the journey. My body has adjusted incredibly, it's awesome. And it's like, the only way to do it is to thru hike. But you get to the point where you rip out 32 mile days back to back to back and you don't feel anything, and it's tight. Whereas if I did that, at the beginning of the trip, it felt like I just like went through a blender, you know. And so it's really, I was just thinking about it the other day, like ripped out of 32. And I was like, This is sick, like I went into camp, and I wasn't hobbling on crutches. And it was awesome. And it's cool to see like, progress. But with that, then as the physical challenge kind of goes away, then the mental challenge comes to the forefront because you're not constantly thinking about your pain. You're like, wow, okay, what do I think about now, and though I'm walking through the most beautiful parts of America, it still gets monotonous. You know, and you, there's only so much you can see. And frequently, you're walking through just very kind of dole, you're on a road walk for like 50 miles, and you're like, Alright, here we go. And I'm using my phone for primary navigation. So it's hard to use a lot of battery to like, listen to podcasts, and music and stuff. And so, dude, yeah, it's crazy. my newest thing that let me know I was going a little bit insane is Do you happen to know this show survivor, where they like both people off the island and stuff? Do you know that show? It's awful. It's lovely.

Thom Pollard 22:19
Getting being really mean to each other in lying with an excuse.

Chris Carter 22:24
Oh, it's a horrible show on so many levels. But I do actually love it a lot. And I was watching with my model. And we would I've made this like, fantasy survivor show in my mind and have named all these fantasy people. And then I'm like mentally voting them off one by one in my mind until I've got this whole, like, fantasy season of survivor. Yeah. And I did. I did that. And I was like, Alright, this I feel like the insanity is getting real at this point. I've like named both my feet and I just talked to them throughout the day like it's bad.

Thom Pollard 23:00
Can you tell us what you've named your feet? Or is that something you'd rather not? It's Tim and Jim. I

Chris Carter 23:04
got to do it something that I remember, Tim's the trouble one. It's always it's been the one given me issues the whole time. It's like, either got a blister or it's been given me tendinitis. And so I just, you know, curse that guy all day and adventures with

Thom Pollard 23:17
Tim and Jim. You can't vote them out. I don't think on the survivor game you need to Jim to be the final three.

Chris Carter 23:24
I do. You're not wrong. You're not wrong. So yeah, there's been a couple of things where I'm like, Alright, this is getting a little crazy. And maybe I'm going a little insane. But in it, I'm learning a lot. I'm learning a lot of ways to cope. And, and so yeah, there's, you know, there's good and there's bad ways to cope. I think it's a it's a super great question. It's a super deep one that I don't know, I'm still learning, you know, and by the end of this trip, if we do another interview, I'll have a better answer. Because right now I'm in the thick of it. And I'm like, you're asking that question. I'm like, shoot, yeah, what do I do, because it's rough, for sure. And I haven't thought about quitting at all. But it's like it the, it's just come to my mind how difficult it is. And it's a lot more challenging than I thought. And now, the mental challenge, again, is coming in. And I remember it being so hard on the PCT, but you don't recall the depth of just the struggle and how much it zaps your energy. Because when you have a negative mental response to something, then your physical energy is that you know, and so as you know, so well. And so I have to keep a positive mindset throughout the day as the survival method to get the miles in that I need. And when I see myself start going down a negative track. I know it's gonna affect my performance and my and my body. And so I have to keep that positivity, you know,

Thom Pollard 24:41
right on. Hey, Chris, I don't want to keep you for too long. I want to ask you one thing about your film and then i'm gonna i'm hoping you can give us just a little visual of where you're at. But But your film, the way I met you was when I watched your mazing an awesome film to measure a mile about your Pacific Crest through hike which literally I'm getting goosebumps remembering how incredibly blown away I was at one at it was just a great film. But but it was the first time you ever made a film. And it really I really felt like I knew what it was like to go through the trials and tribulations the highs and the lows, the friendships the the separations. Like it was like life in this one hour and 15 minute film to measure a mile anybody who hasn't seen it go to YouTube right now meaning Is it is it is so good. Well, now you're on the Continental Divide trail and now and then you're going to be on the 80 with all it should all things go well, you're filming like a madman? We will I would imagine see a film or two or Part Two and Part Three in two years because probably gonna take you forever to go through this. So So yes, is there there is a film planned

Chris Carter 26:02
right? There is there is a film planned. I'm super stoked for it on the footage has been tight, I've had to have a reframe work of kind of what the narrative is going to be for this film, because it's been a much more isolated experience. And something that I think resonated with a lot of people with measure mile was the community, you know, I was able to introduce a lot of characters and people like I can Grizz and just people that made the film kind of come alive. And it had some cool dialogue. And this time I was actually I was talking to bugs the other day. And I was like, dude, I don't like I feel like I have to have a totally different framework in terms of like, what I film and how I film. And honestly, it was cool talking to you the other week where you were like, dude, in those moments of loneliness, and in those moments of just like agony, we're trying to figure out like, what to turn to and what to clean to, like, your girlfriend's just left you and you feel totally alone. How are you going to cope with this for the next 100 miles film that in like, capture those notions? And I was like, I don't want to I just want to sit in the fetal position in my tent and wallow in my grief. You know, sucking your thumb. Yeah, exactly. But I did I set up my camera, like the day after my girlfriend left. And I was just like, all right, I mean, here's my emotions. I don't know who's gonna see this. I don't know if there's gonna be in the film. But live sucks. Right now this is really hard. And right what I like what I'm clinging to right now. I'm just trying to give it a shot. And it was I mean, it was really cool. Not only was it helpful to like, verbally process, but I think like you said, those are things that people are going to resonate with. They want to see this element of a journey and this element of like, what does it take to do something like this, you know, anyone can travel out to glacier and look at the scenery, but to know what it means to walk from Mexico to glacier and then experience that it's like, gotta tell that story. So for me, I've had to reframe how I think about how the video is going to be, but yeah, I'm amped for the footage, it's been so sweet. I, you know, I mean, the Lord's just throwing me some incredible views out here. And so as far as like, footage wise, it's gonna be sweet. And then I think that the, I don't know, there's a cool story behind, like, the loneliness in this and the isolation. And so I think, now that I've kind of understood more of what the journey is gonna look like, I'm able to figure out kind of what I want to film and how I want to film it. And hopefully, you can synthesize it into something people can resonate with. So I mean, the ultimate goal is to just try to inspire people to not necessarily through like, but just go out there and just do what you want to do. And even if it's going to be like the hardest thing you've ever done. And even if in the moment, it's going to be the worst thing you've ever experienced, it's impermanent, it's gonna, the worst is going to end your good is going to come and it's going to be something that you're going to look back on and be so proud of yourself for. You know, I've even just the past couple of weeks has been probably the loneliness I've ever felt. And I'm sitting here feeling really, really proud for what I've done, you know, and so even if the journey ended here, even if I get injured, or something happens, I'll come away with just a new understanding of myself, how deep how deep, I can dig, and, you know, just a desire to keep pushing those dreams. And so, hopefully, if the film can do anything like that, then I'll be I'll be psyched, you know, but yeah, we'll see.

Thom Pollard 29:16
Yeah, you know, Chris, the thing that every single human being on the planet, no matter where that person is, they can all identify with what it feels like to feel lonely and lost. Everyone gets that and that that's just part of the human condition. And so you've, you're taking your story to a place that most people will never know, let alone climb, or hike just one of these three trails, but three of them within a few years to back to back on so you're doing something extreme but to bring a story that everybody can relate to home and that That to me is the beauty of what you're doing. And I'm and listen, I don't have a ton of followers on Instagram, but I've seen a lot of hearts fly up on the side. Michael conkel is pumped up because he got a shout out. Evan B Taylor perma stoked to catch this today. Love you, Chris. I saw somebody from Kenya a Carter is your mom in Kenya may be watching in Kenya? Yeah,

Chris Carter 30:20
I saw that she hopped on for a second. I know she's, I don't know, she's got a lot going on today. So it's cool. He's able to snag a little bit of it.

Thom Pollard 30:27
And here is Pablo says, Chris, you're the strongest, man. I know. That ain't bad. Well, yeah, go ahead. Anything Pablo? Is he a trail friend of yours? Yeah, he's,

Chris Carter 30:39
I mean, it's just been really cool. Like the I mean, you know, social media can be used for good and for bad, you know. And it's, it can be a very like arrogant thing. Or it can be something where you draw just the sense of community. And honestly, like, the community that I've gotten from being able to stay connected to like friends on Instagram, Facebook, and just random DMS people send me in random messages. I'll get random phone calls from people they've been so so encouraging, and really have kind of kept me centered and kept me focused and helped me see that, like, there's people that are supporting me and behind me, and that people remember me. Like, alone in the world out here. I haven't seen another soul for 100 miles, holy crap. And it's cool to come back. And people be like, dude, you got this. I'm rooting for you. And it's this, you know, it's kind of this like, fruitless journey. Oftentimes, it's like rock climbing. It's like, you're just going up and down a rock, but there's something there's something in it that people resonate with. And that is yes. And so it's just really cool to be like, other people are stoked on the journey. And I'm so thankful for that. So yeah, the support has been unreal. And it's just been kind of what gets me through the hard days. So I couldn't, couldn't be more thankful for it. You know? That's awesome. So here's a viewer. somebody's watching Pluto, pl UT zero Pluto. I've

Thom Pollard 31:54
watched your film three times with a hahaha. Some others checking in you guys. fn. fn. stat. You guys are awesome. Keep up the great adventures. I'm good. So, Jay RC you're awesome. Chris praying over your continued journey brother. And keep pushing Alyssa bird fold. Keep pushing Chris. You're an inspiration to us. And Trussell sup you too have been following Chris for a while and love this content. Hey, and thanks for the solder by the way. I appreciate that. He's hooked me up. Right on and Okay, Becky Carter is back and upendo we What is that? What is that? Did I get that wrong? Anyway, it means I love Swahili. I think I got it wrong. Okay. No, I appreciate all that. That's awesome. Phenomenal. Hey, Chris. So um, just give us a quick tour. Before we say so long. Let me see your you stayed behind a hostel last night, it looks like that your tent. If you want to quickly shout out any of your sponsors, or people that you are madly in love with or family that is watching right now. Just giving you a prod here?

Chris Carter 33:16
No, that's awesome. I appreciate it. No, I've been blown away by the support of, you know, everybody that's been kind of watching the journey. And maybe they, you know, just kind of started following afterwards measure mile and stuff. And it's just been, it's been really cool to like, feel like there's people that I know and that I don't know, out there that are kind of pushing me on and so couldn't be more thankful for that. I mean, obviously, my girlfriend coming out to join me was huge, like she came out and joined me for two weeks and left like a week and a half ago. And that was just I mean, the sacrifice on her part was huge. And then with the mental, like the mental and emotional boost that it gave me was was super needed in that time. So that was awesome. But yeah, I'm also just like an update for where I'm headed I I kind of have a big decision to make right now I've been part of what's been adding to some of the mental challenge is there's been a lot of smoke building up where I've been walking through right here and kind of the Idaho Montana border. And looking at the smoke map. I'm kind of in the swamp of smoke right now. And there's tons of places that don't smoke, but it's compounding for a couple issues like it's just been making it a lot harder to push the miles the uphill plot is a lot more difficult because getting a little harder to breathe and stuff. And it's good. There's also just so many blowdowns so the trail is not like super maintained right here. And so it's been there's like trail crews out that are working their butts off to try to clear the trails, but I'm like just ahead of them. So I've been just going through some crazy blow downs and it's really slowing down progress. So for a number of reasons. I've decided to just kind of pick a direction and stick with it. And so I think I'm going to flip up to Canada and then southbound the rest of the trip from here because glacier is looking tight right now. And there's no smoke, and there's a big, it's super dry up there. And there's a big fear of maybe a fire closure up there in the next month or so. And it's just been a dream of mine for a long time to experience glacier. So I kind of want to experience that before it shuts down. And so yeah, I think at this point I've got plans are kind of hilariously coming together super last minute as they always do on trail. But I've got some opportunities to get up to the Canadian border, and then that'll actually, I've got to do that hitchhike anyways, yeah, whether I go this way, or whether they come back down. Once I get to Canada, I've got to come all the way back down and rip out the Wind River range in the San Juan, Colorado, before I officially finished the trail. So it kind of makes sense for me to just get that hitch out of the way, get up to Canada and then start knocking out these sections southbound and I think I'll be able to do them a little faster, because the trail is going to be a little more cleared. And it's just not going to be as difficult and yeah, so at this point, I'm in Jackson, Montana right now. And I was having dinner last night and these sweet old ladies were like listening to my story. They ended up buying me my dinner and gave me two ribeye steaks, they were so stoked on it. And I was I was just what I needed because I was the hiker hunger was real. And they're from Helena, Montana. And so they were like, Hey, we're driving up to Helena, tomorrow, you could just come with us. And that's like half of my trip up north. So I was like, that would be tight. And they're like, Yeah, we got a place you can stay in crash. And so that happened last night. And I was like, Alright, guess I'm doing that. So it looks like I'm gonna be getting with them going like up to almost 200 miles north and getting to Atlanta. And then from there, I'll start my hitch to East glacier. And then for me glacier, I can get up to the determinants. I mean, one of the coolest things, and also one of the hardest things about a thru hike is how, you know, plans just come together. So last minute just out of necessity. And they always seem to work because they're really, it's hard to know, like, where you're going to be a certain times and how fast you're going to be. And like something may happen, like there might be a 30 mile section of tree blowdowns where you're doing like point five miles per hour. And so you're like two days behind getting to your resupply than you thought, you know. And so it's just like, plans just kind of come together at the last minute. And it's super stressful, but also really cool to be like, Alright, I'm just, like, gonna wait and see what happens. And obviously, you got to plan. But you also just have to, I've learned how to be a lot more chill and humble and just like, relinquish things, you know, and be like, gonna happen if it's gonna happen. And if not, it's gonna be an adventure along the way. So, yeah, I'm kind of looking down the barrel of a long, probably two, three day hitchhike, which is never fun, but it is what it is. And it's a lot funner to do with other people. And doing it alone is kind of like ooh, so I'm excited to get that out of the way. And then I'll get up to Canada and then crank south and just become a South pounder and finish this thing southbound, which, you know, I feel a lot of peace about and I'm really, really excited to get up to glacier. So, yeah, you know, as much as I don't like to I've had to kind of bounce around the CDT to knock out the sections that I can but it's just the way the cookie crumbles out here. Honestly, a lot of people do that on the CDT because it's just difficult to time the seasons The snow is a lot harder and the fires and so it's it's a different beast. anyone thinking about doing the CDT needs to have an open mind? You know?

Thom Pollard 38:32
I hear you. Hey, so um, alright, before a quick tour M has said given two hearts to the trail moms, and I guess we will save your fly fishing rod gift for another conversation. Carrie Cory says stay safe Chris. So there's a lot of love coming out your way and I think everybody is super stoked for the next film installment but but Chris, when when you are here, we're going to do a sit down huge interview on my you know, I'm going to set up the mic hold camera set up and we'll do a big interview that you can use for your film if you should ever care to but we'll we'll maybe we'll do a couple more Instagram lives when you have good bandwidth. But you know,

Chris Carter 39:18
so Jackson, Montana look like here's my setup. I'm literally just kind of dirtbag posted behind this. There was like this huge wedding going on in town. And so

places were booked. And there's, there's I think there's um, right now the population of Jackson is under 20 people, which is tight, it's just a scratch on the map. And that's the same as like some of the other towns I've been going to. And so yeah, it's just this old like one horse town. There's like one, one road going through but it's cool in that building right there. There's a hot spring that goes nice ladies that got me dinner last night. They also like bought entrance into those hot springs and so I just got like posted last night and so it was awesome. And don't tell anyone I sneaked it as an opportunity to do some laundry as well.

Thom Pollard 40:12
Hey, Chris, you are an inspiration you're Europe kind and positive soul who has so much has already given so much I'm excited to catch up with you in your next stop perhaps even if it's just a quick phone call so I can update my happiness quotient fans which are not nearly as numerous as your ticket to measure a mile fans rightly so which is the brilliant film. But thank you for taking the time out of your day. We will all be eagerly awaiting updates and and I will save this if I if I don't screw it up. I will save this conversation here on my igtv and hopefully converted also to an audio interview for the happiness quotient and I'll try to get that on today. So I'll share it with you and my friends and you know because it's it's really uplifting for I mean, I'm here and in Bartlett, New Hampshire. It's raining and it's been yucky and chilly. I had a woodstove going last night. It's July. Good. Nice. Nice.

Chris Carter 41:24
I'm hitting record temps out here on the West Coast just barely making it up these hills running through way too much water. It's it's Yeah, we're living in opposite worlds right now. For sure.

Thom Pollard 41:33
I'll send you some of the rain or the cool weather. And yeah, and as Bowden says, loved catching this in our prayers, and then there's some that thank you so many people. Appreciate it. Wonderful. Well, my man, slay it, dude. And I'll talk to you on the on the flip side.

Chris Carter 41:54
I appreciate it. Tom, thank you so much. You're an inspiration to me and so many others. And thanks for having me on. And thanks for the wisdom and it's just Yeah, it's great. Great.

Likewise, ahead, I appreciate it.

Thom Pollard 42:16
As of this recording, Chris is measuring his next steps. There is a lot of smoke from forest fires in the Montana area. If you want to follow Him, please find him on his Instagram page. You can message him and encourage him he is at Chris Carter 146 and anybody of my friends and listeners from Livingston or Bozeman realizing that's about three hours away from where he is right now that wants to be a trail Angel bring him a meal. Treat them to a warm shower at your home. He would be more than willing to oblige your kindness. Chris is inspiring film is called to measure a mile a journey along the Pacific Crest Trail. It is magnificent. You have to watch it, it will inspire you and potentially motivate you to get out there and do something of your own that you've been dreaming of. Type in to measure a mile and click Subscribe on his YouTube page, Chris Carter. One of Chris's mottos is, if you put your mind to it, you can do anything. What Chris is doing is truly out of this world. Certainly one of a kind individual. We wish him safe travels. Chris will check in soon. I look forward to having you visit us here in the Mount Washington valley of New Hampshire on your Southern swing of the Appalachian Trail. Stay safe, my man slay it. Thank you to the wood brothers and their management for the use of their song happiness Jones for our theme song here on the happiness quotient and to their publicist Kevin Calabro for helping make it happen. If you'd like a free downloadable PDF of the happiness quotient, a course in happiness, visit me@patreon.com slash the happiness quotient. And for more information about me to inquire about personal coaching or public speaking in person, or virtually, visit me at eyes open productions.com you can reach me anytime at Tom dot Dharma dot Pollard at gmail. Please share this episode with anyone that might find these words inspiring. I rely on the kindness of my listeners you to share and distribute the episodes. And while you're at it, click some stars and leave me a review on Apple podcasts. Remember, something very bright awaits us. Set one's mind straight guard your thoughts keep your mind filled with good intent. Even though the Search can sometimes be dark and deep. Something bright awaits us in the insane and never boring journey that we call

life.Thank you for visiting the happiness quotient. I will see you all real soon.

The Wood Brothers 45:17
I might as well change mine to happiness jones, my friend. Happiness Jonnnneeeessss. Happy, happy, happy. Happy, Happy. Happy. Happy. Happy Happy, Happy. Happy

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

The Happiness Quotient Transcription of #72 - The Soul of Seth Walker, Musician, Author, Poet & Artist's New Book Your Van Is On Fire

Greetings, here is the transcription to the soulful episode #72.  Please excuse the exact wording of the music segments!

Episode #72 can be heard here: https://www.buzzsprout.com/268133/8147283


Thom Pollard 0:00
THOM POLLARD: This is the happiness quotient.

For a free pdf download of a course in happiness, go to patreon.com slash the happiness quotient. Or if it's more convenient, check it out on my website at eyes open productions.com slash happiness. And I welcome your thoughts and ideas to on your happiness potion.

The Wood Brothers 0:34
MUSIC - All of my wisdom came on all of the toughest days. I never learned a thing being happy

Thom Pollard 0:57
I'm Thom Pollard and welcome to the happiness quotient. This is an episode about soul. If there ever was a person fitting the essence of the happiness quotient, it's this gentleman Seth Walker. He's our guest today. The happiness quotient exists purely to inspire people to follow their heart to listen to the song of their soul. Literally and figuratively Seth Walker, an American blues guitarist, singer, songwriter, author, poet painter, has followed the song of his soul.

Seth Walker 1:42
MUSIC Here I sit in this hotel bar jukebox playin' low , Whiskey in my glass, worry's all I know...mmm mmmm

Thom Pollard 1:55
He learned a classical instrument early in life taught by his parents, and in college became so enamored, obsessed with the guitar and learning the blues licks of musicians like t bone Walker to name one, that he literally dropped out of college to go as deep as he could into the world of being a musician. There's only so many hours in the day and Seth wanted to devote every one of those hours of each day two, learning how to play the blues like a real blues master. Seth has a new book out. It's about his life. It's called your van is on fire. And that's a great story he tells within his book about the van catching fire.

It's a memoir of sorts. It includes a wonderful array of short stories about his life, his early life poems and paintings, photographs of paintings.

Again, he's more than the sum of his parts. His music is captivating, soulful, beautiful, bright, and insightful, sometimes deep, or in the instance of his song inside. It can be dense. That's his word, written about a trip to Cuba in 2016. Right after the death of Fidel Castro. We'll play that song later. I learned about Seth by way of his publicist Kevin Calabro of Calabro music media. Kevin is also the publicist for the wood brothers. Among other fine bands. Seth has no less than 10 albums.

He's a real Road Warrior has been touring for years and years. His albums got to get back and leap of faith went high on the Billboard blues Album Charts number six and number two, respectively. Not too shabby. safty. Today, we're going to share a ton of Seth's music and weave it into a revealing soulful interview that I did with Seth just a short while back. And we'll talk a lot about his book and how it came to be, which probably wouldn't have happened had it not been for his touring schedule being shut down due to COVID. What's new, right?

What seems to be happening, at least here with the interview subjects I've had on the happiness quotient is that musicians have lost a ton of touring time and income but creative types that they are they've had a chance to pour themselves back into their craft, their are their muse. That's how Seth's book your van is on fire came to be. You want to know the world of a musician rising up through the ranks. This is a treasure for you

COVID helped Seth he said he was on a spinning flaming hamster wheel. It gave him time to reflect and write. I'm going to read you the liner notes of the book. Your van is on fire is a riotous and charming collage of a touring musicians meandering life, part memoir, part meditation, part Art Gallery, it sheds light on the ends outs and what have us of life inside the mind and van of an artist. The collection includes short essays, poems and paintings, capturing Walker's early years growing up in a musical family on a Quaker commune to his discovery of the blues guitar of T bone Walker, and his coming of age as an artist.

The book centers on his life making music in the southern love triangle of Austin Nashville in New Orleans, and includes some hilarious contemplative and wild Tales from the driver's seat of the van, and other random locales. So jump on in, go for a ride. Bring matches and a fire extinguisher, you will need both

Seth Walker 6:16
MUSIC: call me what you will. But I know that I could see what love can do

Thom Pollard 6:26
THOM After some pleasantries and telling a couple of Willie Nelson stories, how I personally met Willie and how Seth played at some Willie shows. Seth told me first about growing up on a Quaker commune. Let's hear our conversation interspersed with his fine music, and a reading or two from his book.

Seth Walker 6:49
MUSIC: you wake uppppp, and dream...

Well, you know,my, I guess was probably 19. I was born in 72. So around that time, my parent Scott and Carol Walker met this other couple, Jim and Susan Walton, and they just became buddies. They actually met this place called Quaker Lake, which is a little retreat in North Carolina and they were just buds and you know, when I say Quaker, Tom, please, it's it's, you know, Amish is, is serious, you know, Quaker, heavy duty Quaker. This we were it was kind of it was more of like a loose lifestyle than it was hardcore Quaker. I think the thing that my father resonated with it was met the meditative part of it, because it's, they it's a lot of silence. There's no preacher or anything like that.

So my father's always been in the Eastern philosophy things. So he was like, Man, this is pretty cool. There's nobody saying anything I can I can dig this. And and so they just, it just kind of organically happened that they decided to build this log house together. So we they built this thing, and I think they started in around about time I was born. Yeah, round 73 I think they started and we moved in there in 1975. And we lived we lived there community, nine of us for 13 years. That's how I kind of got that's, that's that's what I knew growing up. We had about 15 acres of land and I mean, we're talking about serious hippies, man. I'm talking about like, you know, I mean, it was Yeah, yeah. Willie Nelson records were playing. Yeah.

Thom Pollard 8:44
So we that's, that's appealing, and and very, very cool. So you're, it's like, it's like a commune kind of it. That's, uh, I don't know if that's a derogatory word

Seth Walker 8:54
It was a commune. I mean, we had chicken we had chickens. And they were you know, we were sharing the chores and I mean, how they even shared money which seems insane I can't imagine that night and trying to navigate that you know, and all the needs wants and desires of of of everyone and it really it really, you know, looking back on it, you know, it's it's it seems so natural growing up I really, personally I couldn't imagine trying to do that as an adult

Thom Pollard 9:32
Yeah, good. So your your parents obviously seem really really cool. I both your parents still alive now.

Seth Walker 9:39
Yeah, they're both alive. They're they're both great musicians. My father, a cellist guitar player, pianist. composer. My mother plays violin. My sister plays violin. And they're there. Everybody's healthy. They're doing great actually. They last couple albums. We finally got together and they collaborate with me on one of my albums and played some string parts with me, which was a real What a treat that was for me.

Thom Pollard 10:09
That is so cool. So you, you obviously fell in love with the with music and then the impact it had on you. And you obviously then is well showed quite the the talent for playing the guitar and other instruments and how on earth does someone go from just loving music and me likes like just kind of hacking away at a guitar, turn it into a real professional kind of dream because there are a lot of damn good musicians out there who just, you know, sleep on couches and eat dirt for their entire lives, you know? So it's a pretty big, like a big leap of faith to say, this is who I am. I'm going to do it come hell or high water. Good times & bad.

Seth Walker 11:01
Yeah, yeah, it was, you know, you know, growing up with the classical music. I will I will be the first to tell you that I Well, I didn't have the passion for it. It wasn't that it was it wasn't it wasn't like a total complete bummer. But it was and it was an art. It wasn't taught with an iron fist either. It was just what we did. Yeah. And I mean, I did enjoy parts of it. But it wasn't until college where these guys were playing electric. They're playing Stevie Ray Vaughn, Clapton, Hendrix. And when I something about it, man, when I picked up the guitar, like, there was something, it was something that I found. It was something that I discovered that maybe it just and I think just the the that blues thing. And the way you know, how improvisational it was and how much of a feeling that it was not the classical music doesn't have feeling but it's not written on a page. It's, it's, it's all by feel. And that's kind of how I grew up.

Because this was a very organic, kind of a, lots of moving parts. And you'd have to kind of improvise and how you lived your life with nine people. So maybe that somehow stems into why I kind of resonated with improvisational music, read, um, anyway. And anyway, that's, I just remember vividly, Tom, like when I could bend the string that you can't then the cello string, you know, it's hard to and, and then I was to get back to your question or your comment, I it wasn't even, it wasn't even a decision that I made, or any kind of epiphany that I had that I want to do this for the rest of my life. It was just, I just went I just did it. I just I just tunnel vision. It's probably it's probably good that I didn't think too much about.

Thom Pollard 13:07
Yeah, no, that's actually that's how it that's if you did then it's not really happening. It's kind of like the, you know, like this idea that when people want something, they find themselves in the state of wanting something as opposed to having this essence in your heart and soul and just going to it as opposed to like trying to get too much you put the thinking in it and it screws the whole thing up. It's like

Seth Walker 13:43
it's I mean, it goes yeah,

Thom Pollard 13:45
yeah, it's like I want to be enlightened. But and so there you are in a state of wanting to be enlightened. It's just it There you go.

Seth Walker 13:54
Don't work it don't work that way. But it's so funny man. Really just surrender to it. I mean, there's been many times obviously through the process where I have tried to grab it and steer it and white knuckle it and it then it always comes back to bite me on the ads because I because that's just not the way the Muse works.

Thom Pollard 14:18
It's not the way creativity works. That man that is just so right on what the Muse and so what is the Muse? I know this this is like, sometimes there are no words for it, but what is the Muse? What is your Muse and, man What?

Seth Walker 14:38
Well, it's definitely something that I it's, it's, it's something that I don't own. It's not mine. It's really, you know, just trying to be a conduit for it to to let to be open enough to let it come through and you know and as you as you as you grow and as you try and fail and try and you know that that muse changes some for sure just like obviously with the book i i needed i've been playing music my whole life and all sudden the world stopped and i'm staring out the window asking some serious questions and you know the muse just kind of redirected somehow thankfully redirected my spirit towards a new a new form

MUSIC they're could not be.... it was right in front of me i was searching up around i was looking out instead of looking in, and I've drfted, yes I've drifted

Thom Pollard 16:19
you the muse it's almost like some people would call it god or or source or something like that or divine inspiration it and that's really beautiful you just become a conduit to because it's it's like we're all connected to something greater than who we are at least as an individual maybe communally we can be truly great and more perfect and you know but but yeah it's like

Seth Walker 16:50
yeah it's it's an interesting it's an interesting concept elizabeth gilbert did a great ted talk about it and she was talking about you know they call like the genius it's like you know in african cultures they would they call it they call it the spirit you know or god like a genius and the genius would come through and it really started to get screwed up when you started to call when you started to call someone a genius because you know you can't be a genius it's like plus there's a lot of pressure

Thom Pollard 17:25
that's where the the power and the the intoxication with one's own you know superiority and that you know why people you know i've always been very uncomfortable neces when i was a kid i'd had you know i looked up to rock stars and musicians and stuff like that but when people begin to put say a leader of a religion or or even of a church in a way on some sort of pedestal that makes him or her greater than just an average person man the power the it doesn't work

Seth Walker 18:05
MUSIC that leads me back to the place


away i've lost my way lost my way calm at all gotta get back

Thom Pollard 18:46
this is Gotta Get Back title track offsets 2016 album it was produced by the woods brothers drummer and keyboardist the multi talented gentle rick's no doubt some deep experience and wisdom in these words but seth didn't just pick up the guitar and write a song magically he practiced he put the hours in he sweated it out fell in love with the sound of the blues

so just in in kind of the pragmatic practical aspect of it did you when you were first learning say guitar did you lock yourself in your room and practice you know eight hours a day i mean how did because it seems like a lot of people go through that

Seth Walker 19:44

i did the beginning i was just you know i that is all i did i didn't even i dropped that a college no i made the call to my parents and i literally sat around my dorm room and i just play blues good play Along with blues records, my uncle was pretty instrumental in some of the early development because he had a radio show down in Jacksonville, Florida called the after hours cafe and it was a blues program. And he played oh man all like Piedmont stuff. Blind Willie McTell, blind Blake, you know, out to Texas t bone and gate mouth and lightnin Hopkins and Mance Lipscomb and Chicago he played, he would play all these different, you know, genres or areas of blues, and he would send me these tapes, and I would just sponge a man. And that really, that those seeds were really the the kind of sprouted me to go to Austin, because I knew I wanted to be in, you know, and some rich soil out there that where this stuff comes from, or at least at least the version of the style of blues that I really resonated with. So to answer your question, yes. I played a lot of guitar in the early days.

Thom Pollard 21:04
Yeah. Damn. So how is COVID impacted you as it shut you down? Are you still just going forth kind of doing other things? Like, you know, COVID? Just, it's a wall up, but it's like, the creative juices don't stop. So for you personally, what what's that been like, for the last year?

Seth Walker 21:27
Well, you know, it was first it was obviously very, very shocking. And, you know, a shock to a system that I've been, I've been rolling with for, you know, last 1520 years, you know, just tour, a tour tour, and just, you know, just the whole perpetual feeling of it keeps me spinning. And so when the world stopped the the uncompromised the comfortables ness of it remain, but there was, but there was a new there was, I needed it. In other In other words, I actually needed I was on a spinning flaming hamster wheel that I needed to stop. Wow. And yeah, I and, and so I think I wouldn't have been able to write this book. If I didn't, if I didn't have the time to enter, really just reflect on my life and, and different, you know, things that I would shadows that I would bat back by just going back on the road, you can just kind of pretend like they don't exist, and I'll go do another gig. And so a lot of things creatively, and personally, that I needed to address. And this gave me the opportunity to do that. I'm not saying it was comfortable, right, because there was no, there, you know, that the money was tough, and you know, not making any income and, and just, you know, trying to realign my, you know, my, my Chi as it were. Yeah, but it's worked out pretty good.

Thom Pollard 23:10
Yeah. So tell me about your book, your van is on fire. I love it. It. There's there's a lot of touching parts in it. So I don't mean to say it's just a funny book. But there were times I just like, really, really laughed. I mean, great. You're, you are no problem poking fun at yourself. And, and you know, and that's the best part if you're real. And all of her would your friend he wrote the, the intro to it. And in it, he talks about how this, this book shows about you that you're you bare your soul, you and you know, so it's obvious in your music, but and in the book now that I've read it, but So tell me about it, what the process was and what you are endeavoring to do when you when you put this this artwork and poetry and prose together?

Seth Walker 24:07
Well, it originally was not, it was I had no grand scheme or plan to even write a book. I through the years, I would journal song from the road and I would write little things and I would do a little bit of poetry. I mean, I'm guessing, you know, obviously, poetry and songwriting are kind of, you know, somewhat and similar worlds, the brevity of it, but I went back to some of these early journals, these essays that I would write, and I had just a handful of them and I just I was like, oh man, these are kind of fun. And and I just, I just started you know, just retracing some of my upbringing and I've never really told my story. I've never written it down.

And it just so happened man that my next door neighbor name is Liz leadership. Little shots. She wrote a story about me in the East nashvillian. She's an amazing poet writer herself. And she was my next door neighbor. And so I showed her a couple of my pieces. And she was like, Wow, dude, you, you might have you got some stuff here. And she became my editor for the whole project. So that was very instrumental in having someone to encourage me have someone to tell me that, that I was barking up the wrong tree, or you know, that maybe I had some bones of something there, but it wasn't fully developed. So that was instrumental and then, and then, dude, I just deep ended, I just started reading, you know, the classics, I started studying. You know, how these essayists put it together?

And, and I just found myself so, so creatively inspired without even trying, I don't know, I just, it was so freeing not to be tied to a three minute song. Hmm. You know, even though these are short essays, yeah. For me, that's a long form. You know, two pages. I get to express myself in two pages. You can get a lot. Maybe it was just Yeah, I don't know, man. I just I felt there was no expectations about it. You know, this is my I'm not a writer. I don't I don't call myself a writer. It was just it was pure muse, I reckon.

Thom Pollard 26:46
Let's read a little excerpt from your van is on fire. And you know, the problem with an excerpt is that it doesn't tell the whole story. This is a very touching book full of love full of this, this beautiful connection with his family and his friends. But it's also got some really funny instances. I'm going to read you this one excerpt from an essay of his called Southern knights and he had the privilege of playing with the musician, the New Orleans based musician Alain Toussaint, who passed in 2015. Among other songs, Alain Toussaint, wrote, get out of my life woman, which is was picked up on Paul Butterfield's second album, I actually have a YouTube video of Paul Butterfield's son performing that song with Jimmy vivino and it's smashing indeed.

But Alain Toussaint highly regarded musician truly like one of those guys that you can't touch. Funny, you should say can't touch. Let me read the first two paragraphs from this excellent essay. This is Seth writing now,

There's a small group of artists that possess a certain aura azsuna C'est quoi? levitating them a few feet off the ground wherever they walk. Floating. Allen Tucson, the New Orleans piano player, singer and songwriter falls precisely into this category for me. The man was Americana royalty, prolific, imaginative, funky, soulful, touching, mysterious, sensitive, honest and swinging. He left an everlasting mark on the world of music with his illustrious career. I had the distinct privilege to open two shows for him in New York City in the summer of 2012. I met him in the afternoon of our first performance down at the city winery in the lower west side of Manhattan. He showed up for soundcheck in full suit leisurely accented with sandals and white socks. His silvering hair was perfect. Mr. Tucson spoke with slow Southern rhythmic diction and eloquence. We exchanged some laughs and thoughts about life music and New Orleans. As we were walking off the stage, I patted him on the shoulder not thinking all country bumpkin style. Nice to meet you and see it tonight Mr. Tucson. He looked at me calmly but sharply and said, don't touch the suit my man. It seems I left quite a mark on him but not the one I was intending.

Seth Walker 29:29

Thom Pollard 29:52
Back to that Muse thing. You're expressing yourself and that's what this book is. It's it expresses something really beautiful and alive. different forums and this

Seth Walker 30:01
sprawling it's it's sprawling, you know, I, I'm kind of like, I'm kind of like that with my music I've got so many different influences and different moods and different things. So I just kind of went with that same Yeah. brawling approach to this book, if you will.

Thom Pollard 30:17
Right on. I love it. In terms of of your music. Are you in? Are you putting together an album now? Are you right? Uh, do you have any, you know, recording sessions or any kind of in its new form, doing any live performances or anything

Seth Walker 30:33
I'm actually right in the middle of working on a new album. I'm actually kind of close to getting it ready to be mixed. I kind of worked on it alongside with the book somehow. And it's funny, man, the, I guess when you do something long enough, you it's easy, it's easy to lose sight of why you started doing it in the first place. And so the book really kind of realigned me in in in some ways, it's kind of got me back into into music again, I'm excited about music, just as a you know, as an as a contrast, it happened the same way with some of my artwork.

I remember years ago, I was living in Austin, Texas. And a man in the music business that beat me up so bad dude, I was I was I was about to check out. And I just started painting. I just started just and I painted for three months straight, seriously, and it kind of re align me with my, you know, to get back into music again. So the book has done a similar thing for me

Thom Pollard 31:40
Do you put just put the guitar down sometime for a week and not touch it? Or are you like one of those guys? Bam, you wake up in the morning. And you reach for it? And at least like a brain and maybe I'll see if anything is wants to speak to me.

Seth Walker 31:55
It's It's It's pretty it's pretty. It's pretty spiky? I don't have a I don't have I don't have as much of a as a routine as I probably should honestly. Be But yeah, I mean that they're laying around, you can see them there. I mean, I'm always I guess I guess you're right. I'm always picking them up. But, but real quick, I just had a thought I was just thinking back about how all three of those things I keep kind of dancing around between them are writing now and, and music.

You know, a lot of times it's just you know, I'll get if I get low, you know, or, or, or I'm having you know, you can get you can get in this business it can be it can be theirs, it can you can get spiky with your with your emotions, and your you know, your ego and your you know your fragility. And I find myself you know, looking out the window sometimes and then and then the windows looking back at me asking love asking some serious questions and the artwork and the art is the only way that I've found that, you know, provides me any kind of remedy for those reasons.

Thom Pollard 33:19
That's pretty awesome. Um, hey, I don't know if it would be putting you on the spot. But I love the story you told about when you drove up. You're just gotten back from a tour or live some time on the road and your buddy's urge you to drive up to go see guy Clark at a at a you know, small club in Austin, I guess.

Seth Walker 33:43
Pootie, Pootie, Pootie's Hilltop,

Unknown Speaker 33:45

Thom Pollard 33:46
you put the silt up. And something like you were kind of actually it sounds like you were kind of aggravated to screw it, I guess. But there was some Yeah, if you use the word earlier in some of the Epiphany thing and that something kind of happened. And you when you least expect it. So can you share with me a little bit about that story? Yeah.

Seth Walker 34:08
Yeah, this was probably shoe man. Probably the early 2000s and I'm embarrassed to say that I was not familiar with God Clark's music at the time. I mean, that's that's but alas, my friends told me about him playing out there. So I drove out there way outside of town. I was Krennic very crusty state coming off the road and and I reluctantly did drive out there and and it was just such a you know that this today's hilltop. It's good. And back to Willie pootie was Willie's tour manager forever. So this was his spot. And you know Willie Nelson studios out there two part analysis studios out in the hill country, about an hour west of Austin and up up jumps Scott Clark and Daryl Scott and Berlin Thompson and I was just so I've been I've never been so schooled and sit like a just a dagger I mean just a real a real epiphany to it was just so potent his lyric and his music was so potent to me I just like it completely threw me for a damn loop and what what I what the amazing thing about God Clark's music that I've that I kind of discovered that night I touched on briefly in the essay was how accessible he could make and how simple these sometimes complex feelings and images that he that he would portray anybody from intellect to ranch handgun Get it?

Thom Pollard 35:59
So cool. So cool. And so yeah, and so this got all of a sudden boom, I got it and you taught I in your in your the the essay that you wrote about it you I think the word soul You felt that connection like he was pouring his soul out and that's it. That's you, man. That's like the music your music is

Seth Walker 36:22
and that's what we all try to do as artists, you know, he and he's definitely a guidepost. As far as that goes. I mean, what a lifer. I mean that that probably was a very, you know, a big reason why I ended up moving to Nashville. Because I started to listen to his music and I started listening to john Hi, Ed and I listened to Nick Lowe and Jesse Winchester and all and a lot of guys Townes Van Zandt, of course and Steve Earle. And that's why I that's when I realized, you know, maybe after that trip to parties where I was like, man, I need to I need to submerge myself with some songwriters. So I was this guy, Gary Nicholson, a great songwriter. And he's he writes a lot in the blues world. And when I heard him play, he lived in Nashville and he was playing blues with all these really great lyrics he actually worked with guy for a while and wrote a bunch of software guy and I was like, You know what, I think this was probably 2008 where I made the move to Nashville

cool Yeah.


No need to speak no need cuz you're tell me all the way down the windows there's something there's something there there's something there Here we are being known funny, cuz y'all need to know

you know, at first I was just so wide open and I was learning I was just taking it all in and really riding with a bunch of different people. And then I found myself

starting to as we talked about earlier with a muse starting to stare it I was trying to calculate stuff and like some of the songs I was writing man i didn't i didn't believe they might have been like crafty or they might you know, I was like man, I don't even believe what I'm singing. And it really it really messed me up man and I ended up moving to New Orleans as a

as almost like to

because that that city in that music culture is so wrong. It is so not calculate. It

is so pure.

As almost went to New Orleans almost to unlearn. I felt like I was getting squeaky or something squeaky clean I was getting tu tu tu tu policy that's why I moved to New

Malindi all army Here we go.

Thom Pollard 40:53
If somebody said what what, what is Seth Walker's music, you have your own sound. That's that's what if that's it, my gut tells me that if any musician is after anything, its originality to be who he or she is. And you, you got that? Like, thank

Seth Walker 41:13
you, that's, that's my that's my that's my goal to end. And as you as you go, you're you're you're constantly changing if you if it with any luck with any luck, you're you're you're changing and you're morphing events, I don't want to I don't want to put out the same record every time I'm a different person every time right? You know, so I tried to you know, find that run that balance, you know, to, to step outside my comfort zone somewhat. Step out to the skinny into the branch, see if it'll hold me and then all the while staying true. To my my sound or my you know, my place is a tricky is a tricky is a tricky little one. But I really appreciate you saying man, that's that's as artists we want to you listen to BB King, you're like, bam, one note, you know is BB,

you know, right?

never find show. never find a way back. You'll never find yourself.

You know what, that's kind of funny. You could insides kind of a dense track, but it's cool. It's It's It's raining here today. So that's a song that I wrote, I actually referenced it in the book, it's about it after a trip I took to Cuba. called Havana quiet is the piece and it was after Fidel, we arrived there three days after Fidel Castro had died. And I was you know, they had banned all music for nine days and morning. It was, you know, it's all detailed in the book, but very, very strange, bizarre time to be in Cuba. But it it was so stark to me how the, the art and music of that culture of any culture that is repressed like that, and you know, finds a way

you know,

creativity always finds a way through the you know, the mean go back to slavery, they're out there just sing in their soul. And in any event, I bought a painting down there of a man holding an umbrella, silhouetted and it had rain all on the inside of this guy was like it was just raindrops all in him and he had no umbrella, but he couldn't, there's no way you can get out of the rain, if the if the raindrops are on the inside. So ended up writing the song, as a poem was not expecting to be a song, start as a poem, and then I'm later made it into the song that's called inside. So that's kind of tied in right in the training, the training and his training and his training.

Thom Pollard 45:21
So you said you don't have a lot of journals, but some of the recall of some of the little details I'm thinking,

Seth Walker 45:29
I heard, I don't know. I don't know how

I can remember that shit, either. I really don't. I can't remember what I have for breakfast yesterday. But I can remember these I really like glowing details of some of these early days. It's funny, it's very similar to with a Suzuki method that I grew up is an ear is an ear training thing. So you don't learn from the page, I guess is indirectly related to what we're talking about. But for some reason, when I pick up a cello, which I never do, I don't even own a cello. I can remember these early songs from like, when I was you know, 12 years old. It's some kind of weird encoded thing. It's selective memory. I guess you'd call it above? Yeah, I don't know.


some of these, I

will say this, some of the stories in the book are so outlandish and funny that I've been telling these tales. You know, through the years, you know, to the bow, bandmates, or whoever, but I just never written them down.


MUSIC Got to get next to you. Guys.

Thom Pollard 47:38
What's this? So the Suzuki method, this this method? Did your mom and dad teach you this? And could you explain it? Yeah.

Seth Walker 47:48
Yeah, it's, uh, Dr. Suzuki is a Japanese music teacher. And it's, it's set up into, I think there's 10 books for violin, I think is the seven or eight books for cello. And it's, it's it's all, most, at least in the beginning stages is all learned by ear. So you don't you're not reading notes off the page. So for it, you start off with Twinkle, twinkle little star. That's the first song in every book. And then there's variations of that theme rhythmically. They'll have, you know, and then. And what happens is you we would play the tapes, or records as you go to sleep or during the day and you hear these things in your subconscious. Right. You know, so when you go to play them, you know, the way it's supposed to the melody, how is supposed to sound so you're not tied

to this

lot, you know, these lines on the page. So I think it's a really beautiful way to learn music. It's definitely helped me through the years because I play a lot by ear a lot by field. I'm not a I'm not a surgeon with music theory.


in the same breath, I will say sometimes it can be inhibiting, because you you haven't learned that other side. You know, it's all about balance. And any anything you do

find the ballet.

Thom Pollard 49:39
This Suzuki method thing is really cool. Some days I'll just play and I love. I love the wood brothers. So I've got a couple of like, I'll slow down all of her and like freeze it. I'll be like, what the hell cord is that? And he's got this right and he's like this. Yeah, he

Seth Walker 49:57
got he got he got some chords. Yeah,

Thom Pollard 50:00
so this is just should I be just frickin play the guitar? Like what do you think I should do?

Seth Walker 50:07
I mean it's always it's it's always good to know a little bit more than you do on anything.


yeah man it's all about it's all about the feel. It's all about. It's all about the way the way it feels it's like is people people don't want to hear math. They want they want to hear they want to hear music, you know.

MUSIC Love is a giver....love is a thief. We'll pick you up and then that job is seem like a no friend. No fan and the cold. There were times I've been untrue. of big things don't always go to play the way you wish they were when that no, you never got to be come on and son. Wherever you are, wherever you are, wherever you are. Just call Monday

Thom Pollard 52:18
the beautiful music of Seth Walker. That's a lot of soul. This is call my name off is gotta get back album released in 2018

Seth Walker 52:31
MUSIC trial little forgive. My see you're brand new. There wherever you are you just call Monday. Makes no difference. By with you. Just call wherever you are, wherever you are, wherever you are you call Monday

Thom Pollard 56:17
It feels like sacrilege to talk over any of Seth Walker's music. So if you want to hear these incredible songs of Seth's and any of his 10 albums in their entirety, start off by heading to Seth walker.com. I'll provide links for where you can buy Seth's music in the liner notes of this episode. And I'll also list each song we've played in today's episode. The soul of Seth Walker, musician, singer, songwriter, guitar player, author, poet, painter, man of wisdom sets book, your van is on fire is a damn good read. I loved it. I recommend it for especially any aspiring musicians.

But for that matter, anyone who is breathing thank you to Kevin Calabro of Calabro music media for introducing me to Seth. And a special thanks to Seth for taking the time out of your day, that rainy day in Nashville which inspired your song inside when you were in Cuba. And that rain perhaps was the tonic necessary to get you to go so deep in this excellent, insightful interview. I'm deeply honored. Thank you for taking the time. In the notes of the episode, I'm also going to post a short video link from our conversation where Seth showed me his favorite two guitars. on video, you can see them and if you're into guitars at all or beautiful pieces of art, you will surely drool. Thank you for listening to the happiness quotient.

Thank you to the woods brothers for their gracious permission for the use of their song happiness Jones as our theme music,

The Wood Brothers 58:17
MUSIC all of that wisdom came from the tough day I never learned thing in happy.

Thom Pollard 58:27
If you'd like a free downloadable PDF of the happiness quotient, a course in happiness, visit me@patreon.com slash the happiness quotient or head over to eyes open productions.com slash happiness.

The Wood Brothers 58:47
Happiness Jones

Thom Pollard 58:50
for more information about me to inquire about personal coaching, or public speaking in person or online, eyes open productions.com look for the word contact at the top click it. Boom. Please, my friends share this episode with anyone that might find these words inspiring. I rely on the kindness of the listeners to share and distribute these episodes.

The Wood Brothers 59:17
to get, happy

that ol' dragon

Thom Pollard 59:22
set your mind to things of good intent. Even though the search can be dark and deep, something bright does await us even in this tragedy that we call life. Thank you for visiting the happiness quotient. I will see you all real soon.

The Wood Brothers 59:42
Happy, Happy Happy, happy

happy happy happy happy

Happiness Jones

Words I wrote

to rock my boat was stuck in my throat when I was happy.

I was singing

and next thing I'm thinking I might as well change my name to happiness, Jones my friend. Happiness Jonessss

Happy. Happy, Happy.

Happy, Happy. Happy, Happy.

Happy. Happy. Happy. Happy Happy. Happy


The Most Unique and Least Popular Personality Type: That's Me! (The Happiness Quotient)

The Most Unique and Least Popular Personality Type: That's Me! (The Happiness Quotient)

21 December marked the Winter Solstice in the northern hemisphere. On that day I posted the inaugural episode of The Happiness Quotient (Episode #63 - with the Reverend Freakchild). My intent on posting this "first" of the rebranded Baker Street with Thom Pollard on the shortest, darkest, emotionally coldest day of the year, was filled with intended irony. The Happiness Quotient, to those disinterested in looking beneath the hood, is NOT a touchy-feely, sage-burning, happy happy, New Age type cure-all for the maladies of western civilization. On the contrary, The Happiness Quotient endeavors to enlighten listeners/viewers (like me!) with information, knowledge and inspiration to conquer that which stifles our ability to experience the full range of happiness in this life.

Why is Happiness in the title? Each individual that has ever been born on this planet was born a perfect, fully loving being, pure and endowed with the essence of innate happiness. As soon as a baby begins interacting with the world, receiving messages and energy from those around him or her, that baby takes on the vibrations of whatever confusion, anger, sadness and depression, or malevolence that those people may be experiencing. In the process, a baby must navigate through life having taken on the energies of those who raised him or her. Happiness, however, is innate and deep inside, requiring a vision of clarity and openness to experience it. I'm not talking about the happiness one feels when receiving a gift or a back massage. I'm talking about pure happiness.

Why is Quotient in the title of the episode? A quotient is the sum of one number divided into another. Metaphorically, as an individual goes through life s/he gains experience, and, ultimately, wisdom. On The Happiness Quotient listeners/viewers learn and become inspired by the wisdom and experiences of the guests we meet on the podcast. In so doing, we're able to whittle away - through deduction - the preconceptions and fixed ways of thinking that has kept us in ignorance. When we attain a quotient, of sorts, we begin to experience true happiness.

So, today I was doing a bit of research for my next episode when I saw that Jordan Peterson, a psychologist/philosopher that I admire, is an INFJ in the Meyers-Briggs world of personality testing. INFJ stands for Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging. The INFJ is the least common personality, according to studies. Only 1.5% of all people who test for it turn out to be INFJ. That also happens to be what Jordan Peterson is. Another thing I saw in my research was that INFJ is one of the LEAST liked personality traits. Well, I bent over laughing at that one. If you know me, my gut tells me that few would describe me as an offensive person. Maybe I broke the mold?  If you're so inclined, here's the test: 16 Personalities free test.

This is the essence of The Happiness Quotient: Connected, engaged, passionate people inspire us to discover our own truths, and help make our lives more meaningful by challenging our preconceptions, our fixed and unbending ways of thinking and living. My journeys have taken me around the globe, from Easter Island to the top of Mount Everest and everywhere in between. But the greatest adventure of all is life itself….the journey of the soul, the search for meaning. On The Happiness Quotient we meet inspiring people and hear amazing stories that help us unlock the mysteries. They in turn help us grow in wisdom, revealing the inner happiness we were all born with.

I hope you'll sample episode #63 or any of our past episodes and join the community of citizens of the universe who wish to reveal their true nature.

Here's the link to the episode, Healing Power of Music and the Reverend Freakchild

Peace and Love,

Thom Dharma Pollard

About The Author


Calling Upon Voices of the Past for Inspiration, Bob Marley's War and my Patreon Experiment

Hi Friends, I took the leap and am now officially on Patreon, with exactly ZERO supporters!  I smile, because I didn't get into podcasting for the money. However, I'm putting the vibe out there in hopes to raise some funds for new equipment and a bit o' mojo. If you're interested, below is the Patreon link. Oh, and if you get to Camp 1 of support, you get a mug with MY 'mug' on it. Talk about inspiring!

HERE'S THE TRANSCRIPT TO MY RECENT EPISODE (SEASON 2 EPISODE 10) about atonement, and gaining inspiration from philosophers of the past. ENJOY!



THOM: (00:11)
THOM: One year ago tonight, I crawled back into my tent at advanced base camp on Mount Everest in Tibet. Earlier in the day, I had had the symptoms of what is known as a transient ischemic attack. TIA, as it's known as, is like a small stroke, and I was told that what I should do is not go up the mountain.

THOM: (00:54)
Hmm. And

THOM: (00:58)
When I went back to my tent that evening, I made the decision to go up no matter what. And here I am tonight, listening to the sound of a barred owl calling out into the night, hauntingly, beautifully, soulfully reminding me that going with my gut instincts, going with what feels right inside of my body

THOM: (01:32)

Speaker 2: (01:35)
It is the only way to go

THOM: (01:44)
Welcome to Baker street with Tom Pollard, that recording that introduction that you just heard was made about two weeks ago in my driveway at night, you can hear the barred owls echoing into the night, incredible creatures that live near here with the other beings of the air and of the earth. I intended at that time to use it for a Baker street episode. And this very episode, episode number 10 is fitting for the matter at hand. One thing I want to say here off the bat is you shouldn't believe a word. I say, when you hear something from anyone, be it a podcaster or a politician or a preacher or priest don't believe what they say. Don't take it as fact, what people don't do often enough is to go deep inside to ask themselves if what they're hearing serves their higher. Good. And if it doesn't, then the question has been answered. If it does not serve your higher good. When you come from a place of love, then you know that it, it isn't a truth and it is not for you.

THOM: (03:13)
And so today we're going to talk about equality about Haile Salassie Rastafarianism about judgment, inner peace and how they all tie together with recent events in the United States and the world, the activities in the United States and the world appear to have risen really to a fever pitch in the last several months. But going back about a year that the protests and uprising in Hong Kong began basically over China, who had planned to extradite a prisoner to the mainland for prosecution and the protests ultimately worked tens of thousands. Hundreds of thousands of people got behind it. And in time in September, China actually repealed their plan to begin. Extraditing prisoners to the mainland. And the protesters now have have a core set of demands. One of them is, is for the government not to call them rioters, but in the year, since those, those peaceful protests started and they've turned violent protesters, some of them throwing petrol bombs at police police have responded with live bullets.

THOM: (04:31)
There have been deaths, thousands of injuries, casualties to protesters and police alike. And then here in the United States arising out of the senseless death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Back at the end of may at the hands of a police officer who along with three other police officers standing by have all been charged with murder. George Floyd was a black man whose death has set off growing unrest and dis ease here in the United States, exacerbated greatly by a growing political and economic divide in this country and the world. This has been going on for time immemorial and occasionally things quiet down. People go back into their places. And as time goes on political parties, the gap between them widens and in the last week or so, I personally grew increasingly restless after watching with total indignation and rage as the protests grew across the country and the world, which in my estimation was, was really just catalyzed by George Floyd's death.

THOM: (05:48)
That it was, it was rumbling and grumbling and growling in the stomach of, of the beast, ready to rise up where the vacuous gap between the haves and have nots has grown out of control and people are angry, many blame it on the current administration, which seems willing to go to any lengths to protect its own interests. It continues to pander to the base voters, most of whom who have zero in common with the wealthy elite running the government. And I mean that on both sides of the fence, but most egregiously from the standpoint of the current administration, creating tax loops for corporations and the top 1% who seem to just be getting richer and richer. So why I bring this up today is not to launch into a bitch session and grieve my woeful position as one of the 99%. But to talk about how my inner sanctuary was uprooted this week at my own doing by the fact that I allowed the negativity and low vibrational energy of newscasts news, the news that came across through my telephone and my television, I let it invade my inner peace instead of just watching.

THOM: (07:04)
I did let it, let it upset and topple my inner peace. I grew angry. And as you heard in last week's episode, I began posting fervently on my social media, particularly Twitter, but also Facebook, even on Instagram on my story, which here to for has always been a nonpolitical zone of mine, kind of a, a safe place where I could focus on things of creativity, mountain climbing, electric guitars, and other like-minded artists and filmmakers and nature lovers could share with me the things that they love as well. So the other day I made a post on Facebook pointing out a comment that was made by former secretary of state Madeline Albright, the first woman, secretary of state in the United States. And she was interviewed about Trump and how he's played into the hands of, of Russian premier, Vladimir Putin, and how in communist theology, she shared, there's a saying about having a useful idiot to help their cause.

THOM: (08:15)
And she said something to the nature of, I don't really have to say anymore for you to understand the point that I'm making. And so I posted the quote and was very quickly called out by a guy I've known for years who lives up in the Valley, where I live. And he thought that the post was beneath me B look, he seemed defended and actually kind of angry. He called me out saying that was really below my level of intelligence. And at first I was upset and, um, you know, I, my ego was damaged a little bit and, but it really sent me along on a thought trajectory where second thought I thought about what I'm really all about. Who am I, what do I want to portray to the world? What do I want the inside workings of myself and soul to feel like every day that I wake up, no matter the chaos that might be going on outside, how do Y want to spend my days?

THOM: (09:17)
And what do I want to project to my friends and to the people who listened to my podcast in that very moment, it was as if my wheels became re-engaged on the tracks. I felt that once calm in control and extremely thankful for that post that this guy had had made on my page, which I have since deleted, I reached out to him and I said, you know, this is by private message. And I just said, listen, I, I hear ya. You know, um, thanks for reminding me, um, that maybe I'd let the emotions get the best of me. I, it doesn't change my opinion. I still feel very strongly about those things, but it made me realize, you know, I am better than that. I've got more to offer the world than my ramblings and quotes from Madeline Albright, as much as I do believe that she is a brilliant woman and, uh, but I'm best doing the things that I'm best at.

THOM: (10:18)
And so I'm going to quote two other people today. Um, I'm going to talk about Albert Einstein and Haile Salassie so, yeah. Um, so this is episode 10. Here we are in this COVID-19 world protests around the United States and the world, the economic and political divides appear to be growing greater. For me. My world has grown, colorful and enriching because I'm a person who has always seen that in our tragedies and losses comes an opportunity to learn. And when we're giving over to anger or particularly judgment, we're giving away our power. So I've said many times in this podcast, we create our reality with the thoughts that we empower. That's the very foundation of Baker street with Tom Pollard, more plainly put, when we have a thought inside of us, when we give it strength, when we give it power, empower it, it becomes us.

THOM: (11:26)
That's our reality. That's what we project to the world. So if we do what I did last week and allow thoughts of anger and judgment to consume me, that's the not only what I portrayed to the world, but that's what I was. I was very upset and I didn't sleep well through the night. The few nights that this took place, I woke up early. I was visibly not the person that I have always liked being. And that's person from a place of positivity. You know, when we give into fear, we ultimately give our power away. We stop becoming the master of our own experience. Your physical body is the reflection of the thought forms empowered by your consciousness. So we're all manifest from source. We are all one. We're all knowing indestructable beings of light. We are all in this together. We all come from source manifest the same place.

THOM: (12:31)
It has only one ending to this thing, and we're all going to die. And in the time between now, and then if we come from a place of love, our lives can be a lot happier and peaceful. So Albert Einstein said the soul given to each of us is moved by the same living spirit that moves the universe. So here's a guy who's known as a brilliant mathematician and physicist. And here he is talking about the soul given to each of us moved by the same living spirit that moves the universe. I think about that. There are consequences. This is me talking, not Albert Einstein, but the same offshoot. There are consequences. When you choose to come from a place of love. And then there are consequences. When you choose to come from a place of fear, one of them sets you free. And one of them imprisons you.

THOM: (13:26)
And that second one, the latter is from your own doing nobody, but yourself can make you feel fear or love. No external events can make you happy or unhappy. Prisoners of war being tortured have found joy. Don't get me wrong. They want to be out, but they're, they're not broken or beaten down in terms of who their soul is from any condition being imposed upon them. We're connected to one greater living thing, not a he or a she, but in it. And when we understand that we become less judgmental toward the other beings with whom we share this journey. So when you find yourself doubting or limiting yourself, release those doubts into space up toward our source, transmute them with love and then learn through experience by the mistakes. There are no mistakes, but by those mistakes that we've made. And remember when we judge another or giving away our power do not embrace judgment around anything, everything you judge, you support energetically at the expense of your physical and emotional wellbeing.

THOM: (14:46)
When you judge it allows others from physical and nonphysical levels to feed off your life force, don't give away your power. Haile Salassie was an emperor of Ethiopia back in 1930, up until about 1974, his internationalist views was part of why Ethiopia became a charter mender member of the United nations. And in 1936, among other things he condemned Italy's use of chemical weapons against its people during the second Italo Ethiopian war. So he was, uh, outspoken for equality and, and against racism. Now I know that there are people who have done their research, that Haile Salassie was also criticized by some, for his suppression of, of various rebellions in Ethiopia. Um, and he opposed certain reforms that, uh, you know, that some say hampered Ethiopia's ability to modernize rapidly, but, but for the sake of this podcast, and I'm, I'm embracing that there was a negative side to him.

THOM: (15:59)
Like there are to all of us, um, on among the Rastafari movement, Haile Salassie is, was, but is still, even though he's been dead for decades, um, as the returned Messiah of the Bible, God incarnate and beginning in Jamaica in the 1930s, the Rastafarian movement, uh, thought of him as a figure who could lead them in the Rastafarians into eternal peace and prosperity. There's a song that Bob Marley does and it's called war. And it sounds so much like that song could be spoken today. And I'm able to read the words to that song because the words to the song war were taken from a speech that Haile Salassie gave to the United nations in 1963. And it was published in a book back in, um, the early 1970s, which States that any portion of the book could be reproduced without permission, which is pretty cool, perfect for a podcast or like me looking for content.

THOM: (17:16)
So here's part of Selassie's speech that Marley put to music in war. You should look it up and play it and crank it. And I'm going to read it for you because anybody who's aware and familiar with the events that are going on in the United States today, we'll see that our struggles are not new. It's on the question of racial discrimination. He talked about as long as there is racial discrimination to those who will learn there is this further, further, less than that until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned that until there are no longer first class and second class citizens of any nation, that until the color of a man's skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes. That until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race that until that day, the dream of lasting peace and world citizenship, and the rule of international morality will remain, but a fleeting illusion to be pursued, but never attained.

THOM: (18:38)
And until the ignoble and unhappy regimes that hold our brothers in subhuman bondage have been toppled and destroyed until bigotry and prejudice and malicious and inhuman self-interest have been replaced by understanding and tolerance and Goodwill until all people stand and speak as free beings equal in the eyes of all men, as they are in the eyes of heaven. Until that day, we will not know peace. We will fight if necessary. And we know that we show when, as we are confident in the victory of good over evil that's Haile Salassie. I swapped out some of the words. He talked about Angola and Mozambique and South Africa and Africa, but as a world nation, his words hold true. So as our nation, the United States and the world, those listeners I have from Australia, from Nepal, from India, from Finland, from France, from Italy, from Spain, I have friends all over the world, listening to this.

THOM: (19:44)
As we ponder racial and economic chasms that continue to grow, we can do our part by remaining centered, coming from a place of love, not judging others or ourselves, staying above the fray, not giving away our power by investing in ways to harm or discredit someone we disagree with. When we do that, we only give away our power, our power. That's all we have. And we have this life we do that. We make that other person, the object of our scorn or disagreement. We make that person politician whomever, more powerful. We're giving it away to that person, hold onto your power. Keep your love. Stay centered, come from a place of love. We're all in this together. This life in this realm, we're going in the same direction. Whenever that fateful day may arrive, it will be over. And we will only have our legacy to call back upon handle yourselves with integrity, mend ways.

THOM: (20:49)
With those, you disagree with fight hard for your beliefs. Yes. Vote on November 3rd. If you are an American citizen and you disagree with the current administration, as I admittedly do urge others to vote as well, use your voice. Don't lean too far left. Don't lean too far, right? Stay in the center. Keep your wheels on the tracks and listen to the voices of those who disagree with you and be open to change. Listen to the voice of others as I did from that Facebook post, thankful for that person to remind me about who I am today, because of that disagreement on Facebook, which has now been deleted. We both admittedly grew in respect for each other. Peace and love to you all. I will see you real soon with another Baker street with Tom Pollard. I leave you now with the wisdom of the owls of New Hampshire.

THOM: (21:53)


Episode 23 of Baker Street transcribed!

Episode 23 of Baker Street with Thom Pollard has made quite an impact on a few listeners. So much so, that I've decided to transcribe it below. The Episode is about why one should never lie, how it impacts our destiny. It's also about encouraging others, and why that is so important. Below is the transcript.

(Episode 23 in audio form can be found at BakerStreet.buzzsprout.com - scroll down and click on Episode 23. You also can find my podcast on iTunes, Pandora, Spotify and wherever podcasts are found.)



MUSIC: (00:03)

Thom Pollard: (00:17)
Welcome to Baker street. This is Thom Pollard. Thank you for coming back again. It has been a long couple of weeks, lots going on. I am eagerly watching the last of the crop, if you will, of Monarch caterpillars turning into the chrysalis and flying away and the late season Monarch butterflies are the ones that catch the thermals and fly down to Mexico for our winter. And then they come back and lay the eggs and those are the eggs of the, of the monarchs that hatch back up here on our patches of milkweed that we see flying around in the summertime. And I reluctantly release summer and slowly bring autumn in, And it's been a good autumn. I'm still having fire pits. I've got a good fire pit. Last night I was warm and, and got in just in time. And then a couple of hours later after I was sound asleep, I was awakened by the sound of rain and it was very peaceful. So it's kind of an interesting time of year. I always feel a little melancholy this time of year as summer slips away and the cooler evenings settle in. I do love fall foliage but I'd take summer pretty much anytime. I just love the warm weather and walking around barefoot outside and that's kind of my groove.

Thom Pollard: (01:52)
We are together again on Baker Street. So come on in and why don't you guys put your feet up, get the most comfortable chair in the living room because today we're going to talk about destiny and our calling, and primarily why one should never tell a lie. It's not going to be a long podcast. Right to the point. Rip your heart out and then set you free to go look for your own Monarch butterflies flying off to Mexico like I think that some of us wish we could for the warm weather down there.

MUSIC: (02:35)

Thom Pollard: (02:37)
We are listening to my man Lobo Loco and I picked this song not only because I love his music, but the name of the song is Battled Daemons. And for those of you who have ever read about or read Socrates, he talked about his daemon, not his demon, but a daemon being a sixth sense, if you will, a voice that would speak to him when a thought or, or an urge came upon him or that was improper or or immoral. But daemon would speak to him and, and, and remind him that, that it would be better for him to not do what it was he was thinking about or about to say. So Battle Daemons - daemons, in the context from what I just shared with you are really good but - but they, they linger and are, call us to our attention, the bad things that can go through our mind. And that's why also I picked it was because we're going to talk a little bit about destiny and calling and why one should never tell a lie.

MUSIC: (03:55)

Thom Pollard: (04:07)
When we do not act in accordance to the central spirit of our being, we become off kilter. And I say that meaning we have been put on this planet and there's this fire that burns within us that some listen to and some do not. And millions and millions of people live their entire lives, never truly listening to their central spirit of their being and die. And, and when those people die, for every person who dies, never having followed that central spirit, the world ends up, a,, a colder place. And so the calling of this episode is to, to urge all, to listen to the central spirit of our being, to avoid becoming off kilter. Uh, this world is very, very difficult. The Buddha said that life is suffering and, and eh, but for our ways to transcend that we can accept that we can understand, yes, that, that life is suffering.

Thom Pollard: (05:18)
And in so doing, we can experience the vicissitudes of life, the ups and the downs. And, and in, in, in order to do that, we have to let go of attachment. Attachment not only to our material objects or to the love or affection of another or attachment to our own bodies or, if you will, of living here, cause we're all going to die that much as assured and we're gonna lose things that we love or that we desire. And so if we were able to let go of our attachments and accept that everything is change constantly,

Thom Pollard: (05:58)
...that change is everywhere. That is the one thing that will always be happening. A beautiful feeling will change. It will go away. An awful feeling we'll change that will also go away. And everyone knows deeply in their heart that there's a calling essential spirit. Everyone knows it. We're all human and we've been put on this planet for a purpose and go back in some of my earlier episodes, and I talk about the purpose of life, that, that ability and that, that freedom for us to go and explore our creativity all as one as connected to the source, we, which we all are. So some whom the world often chastises or conversely, champions for living their own calling are heedless to the judgment and rejection of others because they know that their central calling is tantamount to their survival, to their own, if you will. their way of transcending the fact that there is suffering, that there's sadness, that there is death, that we're all gonna die.

Thom Pollard: (07:10)
So we have to look at those people who have, who have gotten up the courage to live the life that they were meant to be on this earth for and, and understand that that somewhere deep within them, they have a gratitude for everything. Everything that happens in their life, the good, the bad, the ugly, the indifferent. And for me personally, I've spoken about this before in losing my brother to suicide. My soul mate, my best friend, it completely threw my world off-kilter. I was, you know, I, I was, I was gonzo baby. I, you know, my dad had passed away only three months before and my brother kinda rallied and, and then boom, you know, he, he was gone and, and I, the, the, the rug was swept out from underneath my feet. Any, any bullshit lie I'd ever told myself about, you know, me, transcending suffering was I was, I was on my ass.

Thom Pollard: (08:12)
I was, I was right on the ground. And so, you know, and also God knows, I look in the mirror and know that that ugliness of, of whatever moved my brother to do what he did is within me. It's in us all. We all have that capacity for evil and ugliness. But what we also have a deep and profound and undying capacity for love, for, for joy and, and, and the people who truly embrace that, who understand that, that, that every, any person who is happy, who comes from that place of love makes the world a better place. Those people who do that actually wish not only for their lives to get better each day, but for the lives of those around us. Even our, if you will, enemies. I've spoken about Ubuntu, that, that notion that when one wins, the community wins. When one succeeds and, and, and loves the community, succeeds and loves.

Thom Pollard: (09:24)
Imagine what a world that would be if we were to encourage just one other human being every day just in the smallest way. I have a close friend and she's a middle school teacher and I had this conversation with her recently and talked about how important it is. You know, I love kids. I could never be a teacher. I couldn't do it. I used to think, Oh man, you know, there's oh it's such an easy job. It's not, it's such a big job. But I could never do it. I, I always had to be off flitting off around the world on this adventure, that adventure. But, but here are these teachers, they, they, they stand in front of this class and in this classroom there's 20 kids or 25 middle school kids, 12, 13 some going through puberty, some who are outcasts of some who are, you know, the, the stud or the hot shot or the, or the girl who's pretty and all this different levels and, and we'd never know what, what insecurities or fears are within them.

Thom Pollard: (10:26)
And back to that conversation with my friend who was the school teacher, I said, can you imagine how incredible it would, how incredible it would be for each kid in, in every class that you teach for every single kid to hear maybe once a week because every day you can't do it. But every week or maybe every two weeks or 10 days, that every single kid that comes into that classroom is told how capable they are individually of such great things and how beautiful and perfect they are. Just the way they are and all that they have to do. Just one small thing they have to do. Yup. This is the thing that cripples people, is have the courage to embrace the central spirit of what burns within them. Now, for a kid who maybe has a parent who tells them that they're good for nothing or they'll never amount to anything, and I never had that.

Thom Pollard: (11:31)
My parents were so cool and they told me how amazing I was probably almost over the top. But there are kids out there who go home and their parents tell them, you are a piece of trash. You are nothing. And they believe it. Can you imagine that teacher telling them, you are amazing. You can do great things. All you have to do is embrace essential spirit of what burns within you. Now you take your time, you wait, you hold onto it and any friend who tells you you're crazy for having that central spirit of what burns within you. If any friends who says that stupid, they're not your friend, therein. Is that secret to life. How do I know who my friends are? Boom. You know immediately your friends are the ones who embrace you the way you are and who champion your successes.

Thom Pollard: (12:22)
And comfort you and your loss, right? How many times have we hung out with people or gotten married to people who treated us like crap, but because we were so weak and, and lacking self guidance and assurance that we stayed in those relationships taking the abuse, Oh, I'm good for nothing. I deserve that. So how do, how if a kid looks at you, or your friend and they say, how do I embrace that spirit within me? And the way to do it is to live in truth. And how do we live in truth? Well, it's, it's by speaking the truth, by not literally, literally, fundamentally by not lying, which we all tell small lies every day perhaps, you know, um, I'm not talking about, you know, how do I look in this dress kind of thing and saying, Oh, you know, it looks great.

Thom Pollard: (13:27)
I mean, the truth might be miserably on the opposite end of that. But sometimes not lying. Is is merely done by not opening your mouth, telling the truth if you, you know, so and, and if we're, and here we are, we're all on our path toward, we're all going in that same place. We're all gonna die. So if we're going to do something, we fricking might as well do that. We might as well aim for some thing that we believe in, right. Instead of, Oh, you know, I think I need to be doing this, or I think I need, you know, you know, you know what the central spirit of your heart is. So many people spend the rest of their, their entire lives crushing it. I've had friends, some of my best friends who were artists or writers and, and they gave it up because, and that's fine.

Thom Pollard: (14:32)
They made their choice because they were like, well, I, I want a bigger house or I want a better car. I want to send my kids to private school. It's fine. I have no judgment about it. What I'm saying is I could never do that. And wow. You know, I, I, I that well it cost me marriage I suppose in a way. And I know my children listen to my podcast. I'm not saying I was a letch or anything but, but I couldn't do anything but go after the person I was put on this planet to be honest. But the one thing at least,

MUSIC: (15:07)

Thom Pollard: (15:10)
it at least at least I was going after something right. Why not? Why not go after something that means something true to who you are? And if you lose the person who you're married to because of it, then who cares? At least you're going after the right thing and you can look in the mirror with dignity and integrity. If you don't do anything malevolent or unkind or tell that person things that hurt them and then your children can look you in the eye and know that you are real.

Thom Pollard: (15:50)
The only way to live properly is not to lie to yourself or to others to allow the truth to shine through and not, not, not until allow yourself to be condemned or judged by those we pass by each day. Who are pissed off and angry because their lives suck worse than yours and they just want nothing more than to read about you failing. There's a lot of people out there like that.

Thom Pollard: (16:14)
We don't hate them. The people who come from that place of truth and love don't hate them. We don't judge them. We just don't spend a lot of time in their presence. They're hurting too. They need hope. God knows every single student in that classroom needs hope. Every single person who goes unnoticed every day elsewhere, they cry for some level of understanding or encouragement that they are perfect. You know? Tell them their lives will improve if they practice that. If they practice just living the truth, honoring what light burns inside of them. Never lying is a big challenge for some. I mean, Holy crap. Some people, that's all they do is lie, but, but how about just by not opening your mouth when you feel a lie coming on, that's a good start. That's a darn good start. So many of hopeless, you know, hopelessness in their lives. And you know, when we start to embrace things that come from the truth of who we are and why we were put on this planet, we start to become, you know, surrounded by people who are doing the same.

Thom Pollard: (17:30)
I listened to this, this, this speech recently by Jordan Peterson, who, God, I'm just, this guy tells it like it is. Um, he says, he says something about we're always bettering betting our life on something. And if you make a commitment truth, your life straightens out in that we find a meaning. And now these are my words, cause I'm just rattling off a conviction. We find dignity by undertaking something of importance in ourselves, in the core of who we are, why God or Source put us here. We literally changed the world one for ourselves. But by coming into contact with the hundreds or thousands of people that we have known or that we know, they come into contact with a man or woman of dignity who is willing to lose, willing to be judged, willing to be shunned by people, for living their conviction. And that is inspiring to students.

Thom Pollard: (18:38)
That is inspiring to the people who have no hope. And when we treat ourselves as an entity that's worth something by just doing something so simple as not lying. We show ourselves respect. And in doing so every day we grow in dignity and confidence. And so another thing that one time, one thing I heard from Jordan Peterson, he said, when you wake up in the morning, don't judge yourself on, on the people you look up to or your idols, judge yourself on the person that you were yesterday. That's, that's really cool because we can't be what other people are.

MUSIC: (19:41)

Thom Pollard: (19:42)
So you know, I'm not ashamed to tell you, man, my life has been difficult at times. I was a complete screw up in business. I tried so many times. I was not a great husband. I didn't cheat. I wasn't a bad man. I, I never hit, but, but damn, I wasn't a great husband. I, I just, I mean, I'm pretty sure I was a damn good dad. You know, I, I lost it on my kids a few times. I mean, damn I, but, but for me, I felt like so many things like fell apart from me at times financially and, and even, you know, my brother committed suicide three months after my dad died of lung cancer and we had just moved into our new house up in the Mount Washington Valley of New Hampshire. I was a complete and utter mess and my wife at the time would walk into the kitchen and I'd be sitting there in front of the fire in front of the wood stove just staring.

Thom Pollard: (20:37)
And she asked me how I was and I couldn't even, I couldn't even talk. I couldn't even answer. And she would take my hand and say, stand up and walk me down the driveway, the little pond near our house just so I could go outside and reconnect with the trees and the grass and the air. Feel my toes in the grass. And, and in so doing, I started to remember that life was going on despite my own suffering inside, despite my incredible loss thinking, you know, my kids will never know my dad or my brother, you know, the way I knew them, and you know, well we still got divorced, but God bless her, she deserves something so much more than I was able to give her at the time, you know? And so doing that, the, the gift for me was that another human being looked into, the wretch that sat there before her. And in the simplest act of taking my hand showed me that even in the deepest depths of Hell there is, for lack of a better word, Whoa.

Thom Pollard: (21:43)
Now, almost 15 years after that suicide of my brother I've been just as broken many times in between then and I'm sure I will be again working for myself and just following my passion. But, but at least now I look at his tragedy, the tragedy of losing, losing him as a miracle, as a gift. And even in the evil, there's, there's beauty. And in one and I accepted that I was never angry with him. But by walking in that truth as one person at a time, we make this world more tolerable. We make it possible to ascend above this suffering and the death and the reality of that we will all one day die and lose those things that we love. You'll have to say goodbye to our dog or say goodbye to a parent. And if we lie, just one lie, we reject the foundation of what we are put here on earth to experience this, this, this flame that was born within us in our soul, this thing that will never be tampered - tampened? (laughs). And we reject the core of our own being by lying, the true spirit of our existence. The essential core being is to stand straight in truth and accept that which is in us and to be be a person of dignity and honor and courage and not to lie and to tell the truth. When we do open our mouths and speak and as more and more people grow up and take responsibility for themselves, they help eradicate malevolence in the world. Just by keeping their own house clean, to borrow the words of Jordan Peterson, and when we do that, the world is going to be a better place.

MUSIC: (23:44)

Thom Pollard: (23:44)
I hope you'll visit website eyesopenproductions.com go to contact. Please click on that. I'd love it if you would follow me and I'll put you on my mailing list and check me out on iTunes and wherever you can find podcasts and I also have a YouTube channel that's got some kind of cool stuff on there. You can see my funny face when I start to cry and a YouTube. If you hit search Baker street with Thom Pollard, it will come up. I hope you'll subscribe to me. I appreciate you guys taking the time to listen. I hope I haven't shocked my children. Maybe I should block them from listening to this one. I love you all. Have a great day. I will indeed see you all real soon.

MUSIC: (24:28)

Episode 9 - F16 Fighter Pilot Uvaraj Rama, transcription

Here is the link to the incredible and inspiring interview with Uvaraj Rama, a Singaporean fighter pilot that went on to serve others in the public domain. Below the link please find the transcription. Please share!



Puja Ceremony: 00:11 [Puja ceremony]

Music Intro: 01:01 [music]

Thom : 01:24 Welcome to Baker street with Thom Pollard. Thank you for being here and to my regular listeners, thank you for your patience and awaiting my episode number nine. It has been quite some time since episode eight was released and do to many, many unforeseen difficulties, some of them bad weather, some of them, some physical illnesses and some related just to distance and poor website reception. I was unable to get any podcasts out and you know, it was kind of good to take a little break as I toiled away on the biggest mountain in the world, which I call Chomolungma, adopted from the Tibetans word for mother goddess of Mountains. Chomolungma. It was a beautiful expedition and I got to meet many fine people along the way. And that brings me to the guest that we will discuss many life experiences with today. A gentleman by the name of Uva Raj Rama, a Singaporan gentleman who became a fighter pilot in the Singapore air force.

Thom : 02:50 And then went on instead of retiring like he could have, he went on to do work to give back to run welfare homes and now is in Kathmandu, Nepal, where I conducted this interview about a week ago and discussed with him his desire to give back why it is something that he feels like he wants to do and what it is that he's done. And he is a fighter pilot through and through, but one of the nicest guys I've ever met. So as we get ready to interview Uva and me to introduce him to you, we first heard the sounds of a puja being performed in base camp in Tibet by a Sherpa who was a Llama, uh, trained as a lama and he was performing a Puja ceremony one evening in base camp to help ensure the success of climbing expedition members who were up on Mount Everest and pretty cool sounds.

Thom: 03:58 And then I meld it into it. The sounds of Metyu,VKTRD & Ondro M, a band that I have played before on Baker Street with Thom Pollard. We heard the song improvisation 1off of their Improvisations Volume II release from radio bunker. These guys are from Slovakia. I love them. They're awesome. Great groove music that I really enjoy seeing and hearing and hopefully we can find more out from these guys in the coming months or years and if you want to find out more about them you can look them up on the Free Music Archive, which is where I got this cut. But without further adieu, I'd like to introduce you to a remarkable young man named Uva Raj Rama.

Thom: 05:06 All right to my guests, I want to introduce a new friend of mine who I suspect will be a lifelong friend, a great gentleman who makes an impression on you from his kindness and his his. His demeanor is so lovely and friendly, but when you dig a little bit deeper and learn about his past, this gentleman has a past that shows a much more fierce and strong and persistent champion attitude that I just had to introduce him to my Baker Street with Thom Pollard podcast. His name is Uva Raj Rama and he is from Singapore. And now lives in Kathmandu. Welcome. Thank you for taking the time to talk to me.

Uva: 06:02 Thank you Thom for having me on. And thank you for kind words.

Thom: 06:07 I know. I'm not just trying to butter you up. It's true. You Ha there's something about you that is very gentle and kind and the smile. And I will also say just before we get and talk to Uva about his background and what he's doing now, um, he's one person who actually takes time to dress nicely in Kathmandu. So is this, is does this,

Uva: 06:36 thank you.

Thom: 06:37 There are people, people pretty much grub out in this city. It's, it's a, it's a warm, humid yeah. Uh, you know, kind of a subtropical place. So tell me a little bit about your background. You're from Singapore. (That's right.) And you are in your late thirties. We're just gonna leave it at that. You're a lot younger than me, but, um, but I like to think that I'm a, you know, we're peers. (Yeah. We're peers, yeah.) Um, tell me about your life. So you're from Singapore. What, what are your beginnings? How did this all happen?

Uva: 07:15 I was born in Singapore. Yeah. I think at the age of 17 and 18, if any to military service...as the cumpulsory military service. Um, then on I've been on to officer cadetschool, got selected to become an officer and subsequently a signed up to become a pilot. Wow. Yeah. Um, it's been, uh, it's been a lifelong ambition for me to become a pilot. And, uh, when I, when I got the job as a Singapore air force pilot, he was a dream come true.

Thom: 07:43 Okay. So you, first thing you said was compulsory, so does that mean everybody serves in the military and the Republic of Singapore?

Uva: 07:49 That's right. At, uh, from the age of 18 for two and a half years.

Thom: 07:53 And um, so for you, you probably w I think what it, what it seems to have done for you is it, it started to get some gears turning and you started thinking, well, since I have to spend two and a half years, I might as well do something really cool that I love to do.

Uva: 08:10 Hmm. Um, kind of for me, my focus, because we have this first three months of basic military tutoring and the top 10% of this cohort gets selected for officer candidate school. And I wanted to be part of this top 10%. That was the first motivation. Yeah. If you do it, you do it best. I don't delete it all. Yeah. So yeah. So I went in, I was the top 10% and we went on to officer candidate school and that's when I thought, hey, let's sign up to be a pilot, because the pilot is a top 5% or something. Yeah. So Yup. I just putting the benchmarks for myself to test myself, to improve myself, to see whether I can attain those benchmarks and uh, yeah, I guess it's something which my dad taught me when I was young. Set goals for yourself. Achieve those goals. Yeah. And many a, I'll just keep you with a percent. Your word is gold. I abide by these principles. Yeah. So yeah, it's been an interesting journey, but a 15, 18 years of flying with the Air Force.

Thom : 09:05 Okay. Well, so you became a pilot, which is cool. But what the people listening don't know is you became a pilot of one of the most incredible fighter jets that has ever been made on this planet, the F-16. Right. So you're not just some guy flying a piper cub, which is cool, but you're, we're talking about a lean mean fighting machines. So to fly an F-16, you're already part of the top 10%. And then you said some of the 5% of that it can, you know, get into that training, (The fighter pilot school.) What Ha, what, what small percentage of guys get to fly, fly and F16?

Uva: 09:53 Oh, I mean the last 10 or so, but um, by 80 of us went into the flying school and about nine of us or 10 of US got selected for fighter school. Yeah. Uh, because there's a lot of trainings we have to go to two years of training before we get our can and stuff like that. And where it says everything about you. Yeah. Your physiology, psychology, everything. Everything was like, yeah, but it's, it's, well, when wasn't a hell of a ride.

Thom: 10:17 Yeah. So in all honesty, you as you said, they, they really drill you. I, I have a friend who's no longer living, but he was a friend of mine in college and he became a pilot and it was his dream to fly f 16's and. Um, he, believe it or not, he was a pilot, uh, one of the copilots, um, during 9/11 in, in, in an American Airlines plane that was flown into one of the World Trade Centers. And to me, he represented everything that would be an f 16 pilot. He was coincidentally one of the nicest guys I've ever known, but he was, when he wanted something, it was bad and he just went, but it wasn't knocking other people down in the way. He'd just focus. And he had this laser, he just would look at you when it, and we'd go into you. It was a huge loss for this guy. (I celebrate his bravery. He isa brave man.) Oh God. He was such a good, good man. Um, but, but you talked about like the mental part. So did you ever feel like giving up or or did you get more resolute?

Uva: 11:37 every time I come to a point where I don't really recall coming to a final, when I give up. I mean, whenever the going gets tough, I guess, I just get more reresolute wanting to, to make it. I think it makes me more determined to reach my goal. The more obstacles there are, the more and want to reach my goal. I think it's something from me from style. Uh, part of it is also because of my training in psychology, as well, I'm also a psychology associate. It helps to recognize mental fatigue, mental stress, uh, burnout and you're approaching burnout and stuff like that, both in the students' sense and when you're flying, when you put too much G's and stuff. And, uh, if you know your body, you, you learn to recognize the limitations of your body and, uh, that's very key in handling yourself during those high G stressful flights.

Thom : 12:27 So you said that your dad and I would imagine your mom as well, kind of just like, how were you raised? Were you one of many children or did what, what, what was your, what was your upbringing like?

Uva: 12:40 I was the eldest of three children. Uh, I've got a brother and a sister. Uh, my, my parents were pretty strict with us. I was usually the, the naughty one, the too active, I can never sit still for very long. My Dad is, is that there's a period of time and he, he left me alone at home when I was three years old, I think. Then he, he went out to the shop then have any, he came back, he saw me doing something and he was like, what are you doing? Apparently what I did was I took all the, I asked my, I remember my dad was telling me, I asked him for allowance, uh, I wanted to go buy some tid bits when I was three years old. He said, no. So I took all the stuff from inside my home. I laid it out on the veranda outside and I was selling it to my neighbors.

New Speaker: 13:23 (laughter)

Uva: 13:26 Oh my dad. Huh. You have a good future.

Thom: 13:30 So your dad wasn't mad. He was impressed?

Uva: 13:32 He was mad. I sold all his prized positions outside. I would say like laughing, you know, I mean, and that we still talk about it once in a while. He shares it to this day, oh my God. And I was three years old man. So what am I remember him?

Thom: 13:47 So you, so you don't remember what you soldthat it wasn't like some like his grandfather's wedding ring.

Uva: 13:53 It was all his collectibles. He was collecting a lot of antiques and I was selling to my neighbors!

Thom: 13:58 so did you have to do, I don't know, did he have to go back and re buy it back from the people?

Uva: 14:05 No, they returned it. Know my family is, you're just humoring you there. So yeah, so my, yeah, my man, my parents were, uh, I mean the, the, the, they raised us up with good values, but a principles good principles, I mean, uh, the thing about keeping our word is very important. Didn't, don't promise blindly. I think twice before I give my word to someone. If I have a doubt of doing something, I'll just see. I'll try. But if I know I can do that, I said Yep, no worries. Yeah. So it's kind of like stuck with me all these years. Yeah. And it's helped me to my career.

Thom : 14:44 You know, it's, it's really interesting because the people who pursue the truth of, of what's inside of them, it takes on all shapes and sizes and colors and variations. And here you are. Had you been born in say the United States or, or even just outside of Singapore, right? We're talking Malaysia, all these different places where, or even in Katmandu, um, who knows? Who knows what you might have done, but what's really cool is like, so you figure you become an F-16 pilot. I'm, I'm guessing. I doubt it, but no, no, I shouldn't guess anything. But did you ever train with any like were there, where does the United States, yes. So how do you like, is that how you learn how to fly an F 16 or is it all from within Singapore?

Uva: 15:40 Yeah. I turned a few places. France, United States. I spent a couple of years in Arizona, a couple of years in France. Yeah. We have, we have advanced training. We have a joint trainings with, so webegin learn from each other. The US air force as well as us, the French Air Force, a few other places around the, around the world as well. And Austria as well, either based in Austria to the basic fighter training and stuff like that. And of course Singapore to another local airspace based things and stuff. So yeah, a couple of places. So he was two years in flight training.

Thom : 16:12 so any, was there any chance or a time that you thought maybe you'd have to go into action or like any, like, I dunno [inaudible] did you have to ever have to go and fly into like battles so to speak? Or was there no active?

Uva: 16:28 Oh, the, the uh, they were kind of, uh, kind of, um, complex scenarios. Yeah. Um, I, I wouldn't won't tell them as conflict. I'll just say a normal, normal intercept, normal checking unidentified aircraft scenarios and stuff like that. Yeah. And a couple of other missions

Speaker 4: 16:45 that you can't talk about?

Uva: 16:46 That's right.

Thom: 16:47 Really, seriously? You can't like, that's pretty cool. So like, yeah, because it's classified.

Uva: 16:53 That's right.

Thom: 16:54 Huh? That's interesting. Okay.

Uva: 16:56 I learned a lot from all of airlines, all across the world. I learned a lot from them as well. The US air force, the French air force, Austrian air force. That was everywhere.

Thom : 17:06 Okay. That's really, really awesome. Um, so here you are in Katmandu Nepal and I'm guessing there aren't many F-16's here in Katmandu.

Uva: 17:18 Yeah, only choppers. So

Thom: 17:19 ...a lot of choppers. I as a, as a Mount Everest climb or on the south side, there's a Lotta Lotta choppers, like the helicopters coming in and out. Um, I, uh, I like to ask, so how did you end up here? And you told me earlier that you've been in Katmandu for about 10 months, so it sounds like are you're entering a new career phase that F16 is now with past. You could jump in one and fly it, but you're doing something different now. Tell, how did you end up here?

Uva: 17:54 All right, that's a pretty long story. Okay. Yeah. Go for it. Yeah. All right. Um, all right. Well I was, um, I mean after 15, 16 years of flying a decided to step back and um, I came out of the air force for a while then I was, I wanted to give something back to the community. So Iwas running to welfare homes, one for persons with, uh, mental disabilities and one persons with physical disabilities as well as a age related disabilities, uh, like uh, end stage care kind of homes. So I was running these two different homes. Um, and uh, one more was for those who are abused children, and children who are orphaned as well. So these homes were in Singapore and I came out of the air force. Then I was thinking, okay, it's time for me to do something back for the community. What shall I do? And Yup. I got the chance to run these homes and I, and I ran them. I ran them, I ran these homes, I got the shape up. The, the military training helped me to base the foundation to base the structure of the homes and to revive the homes to make it more, um, savvy and making more sharp and uh, yeah, the focus on the residents. My, my background is psychology helped me understand, um, how do we deliver the best care possible in the most humane way, to those facing end of life stage and those who have faced, um, trauma in their lives as well. So they kind of like, um, I loved it. Yeah. Yep. So I was running that for a couple of couple of years as well. Um, and also doing, um, consultancy for management. I was advising, um, some businesses. And how do you, uh, leadership management and leadership? How do you, how do you, how do you develop leaders?

Uva: 19:38 Yeah. What makes a leader? Yeah. But what makes a leader tick, what are the qualities, core values of a leader? The core values define a leader, right? And when these core values have always, always have to be in a leader, you know, any one of these, uh, are not in balance or out of sync. It's going to be, it's going to spell trouble for the leadership. So I did a couple of talks on, on those as well. And uh, what I was doing this, I met Jamie McGuinness. Yeah. Yeah. Um, I actually knew his a partner from the Singapore navy. So then Jamie came asked me if I was keen to come away and there was this company here in Nepal. Can you come over, help see if you can develop this company, putting some of your ideas and thoughts, make it sharp. And, I say, Hey, why not? Wow.

Uva: 20:27 A chance for me to make a difference is what makes me tick. Yeah. Chance any chance for me to make a difference in anything I do makes me go get it no matter which way. Anywhere in the world. Yeah. If there's any, anything anywhere in the world, I know I can make a difference, I willgo and make a difference. Yeah. I believe in making an impact. Yeah. We are here for a purpose. I don't know what my purpose is, but I'me here to make an impact. That's what I know. Yeah. Yeah. So yeah. So I came out to come and do it, but 10 months ago, thanks to Jamie, learning the ropes of this, um, company, Expedition Himalaya, it's a fantastic company. Yeah. So got to know the staff. Um, yeah, it was my biggest challenge here was um, I didn't want to force down the Singapore level of efficiency into the existing level of the in country standards because that's not fair, you see... Because in country they've got their own protocols, their own default system of functioning.

Uva: 21:25 I can't come from somewhere and then foster my system into them. So what I was trying to do this last few months to find a common ground where I can meet them halfway, the Nepal efficiency, halfway Singapore efficiency halfway. I get mulch them and I'm glad to say that. Yeah. Kind of like done that, done that. Um, so the last few expeditions were pretty good. Yeah. We had a couple of, uh, rough edges to smooth up. I am going to be honest about that, but it's a working process but it's so much better than how it was before. Yeah. And company is developing. We recently got rated by TripAdvisor as well. Um, yeah, and we're on track. I've got certain goals for the company, which I want them to hit like a trip excellence awards and stuff like that. So I'm putting these in and then my guys, as we're setting them for leadership training, especially my Sherpas, I think in Nepal, the Sherpas need some form of leadership training.

Uva: 22:18 We are training. I don't think they actually have it here. So me and Jamie were thinking about doing a professional development training for the Sherpas. Oh, so I'm going to start one next year. (Fantastic) If this goes well, we probably include other Sherpas, as well... Just to this, to this, to teach them how you carry yourself. You know, they're very good in technical skills. But what about the PR skills, you know, how to speak your guests, how they speak to your clients, how do you empathize, you know, the quality that that's very important up there. High in high mountains. So this is something you have, we're gonna we're going to work on. Yeah,

Thom : 22:53 that's incredible. And I, I'm gonna jump in there. So Jamie McGuinness who Uva has spoken about who asked him to come over to help run Expedition Himalaya. Uh, Jamie is a six time summitter of Mount Everest. He has been on virtually dozens of 8,000 meter peak climbing expeditions and I've known Jamie for probably 10 years but never really known him until recently where we partook in a, in an expedition together in Tibet and um, and yeah, so Jamie's partner is Singaporean, right? And that, and so, yeah. So Jamie, fortunately and I sometimes I, I there are no mistakes in this world. I think it was probably meant to be and you were looking or running successfully, some incredible organizations. But boy Jamie scored when he crossed paths with you and the fact that you accepted his offer, it sounds like a big challenge because running an expedition company, whether its treksin Ladakh or an expedition to Mount Everest, there's so many moving parts and there's so many things that can go wrong. Let's take for instance, you think the team is driving back home from China into Kathmandu and then there's rains and an entire half of a road washes out. So everybody gets stuck on one side and they get stuck. And how do you get 12, 15 tons of equipment across a gap between where two roads should actually be just one. Yeah. Um, it's really, really exciting that the thing that resonated with me, obviously there's a dozen things I could ask you about, but you talked about the Sherpa cause the Sherpa are such a vital part of success on anything from a trek to get to the summit of Mount Everest or any other peak. You really nailed it. There's a lot of organizations, or not a lot, but there are organizations that are starting to teach technical abilities. Um, the Khumbu climbing school for instance in Phortse, Nepal, which is just being dedicated I think tomorrow or the next day for the first time. And it's an indoor climbing wall. So the Sherpa become proficient at the technical aspect. But as a guy who's been on a number of expeditions and it's okay, but, but you nailed it. It's there. There are some Sherpa who might have a little shyness about their inability to speak English or Spanish or French or whatever it might be. But you know, it's, it's easy to say this as a, as an American or someone from North America, but just learning English can connect so many cultures on an expedition because everybody, I hate to say it cause I'm not a self centered, like our country is the center of all activity in the world, but if some of these Sherpa just learn how to speak some really basic English, it connects, it builds bridges and suddenly there's working that people are working together. Um, yeah. And uh, well I would like to volunteer to at least be a part of that in whatever way I might help because that's a phenomenal idea and I've never really heard anybody talk about that before.

Uva: 26:38 Thank you. Yeah. Yeah. It's something which I'm really pushing. This can be done. I think d we needed to do a lot for that, for that culture.

Thom: 26:44 If somebody would be interested in learning more about some of the work that you've done is, do you have any, uh, like the, the, you said you were running hones in Singapore. It's right. Is there a, if somebody wanted to help or participate or, or, or be of assistance in some of the things that you've spoken about today, is there a place that I could send them? Would they go to Expedition Himalaya and send you an email or I think probably send me an email. Okay.

Uva: 27:20 They can probably call me at my local number, I guess. I'm on WHATSAPP. Viber, emo, everything.

Thom: 27:27 Okay. Well what I'll do is I'll put in the notes to this podcast a place that they can reach you. I'll probably leave the phone number out. So all of a sudden you're not inundated with fans. I want to meet an F16 pilot. He's single, you know, all these women who listen. Cause I've had so many followers who are single women who want to look for an at an enterprising guy. Yeah. Um, but, but I want to thank you so much and I wish you every success in the things that you're doing.

Uva: 28:00 Thank you so much Thom.

Thom: 28:01 And Uva, I mean, if any, if you continue pursuing that idea, I don't even really know how I could help other than maybe help you bring people to you that might be, have a financial resources or know some things. I would love to help because that, this is, this is the, one of the things I did in one of my, my podcasts earlier, uh, about 19 years ago, I had an opportunity to interview Sir Edmund Hillary as many people who listen to this podcast know he and Tenzing Norgay were the first people to climb Mount Everest citrus successfully in 1953. And the one thing about Ed Hillary is after he summited Mount Everest, he was given world fame. He, I don't know if he was a brilliantly wealthy man, but, but fortune. And what he did was he spent the rest of his life giving back beauties with the people of the Khumbu region and to Nepal. It's reforesting. He built schools, hospitals, he gave back and that was, he never wanted people to say your incredible, he was like, no,

Thom: 29:27 Oops, I just gave his age. All right ladies he's 39 um, you could have retired and you're going to keep on working hard.

Uva: 29:35 But he would've given me the sense of how I'm feeling now. That sounds like getting back, that sense of giving back is the greatest sense of satisfaction, I feel. Yeah, I always had that. Yeah. Putting a smile on someone's face buried in a counseling session of being in a one to one session is something that makes my day. It's incredible all the time.

Thom: 29:53 That's incredible. Well, thank you so much for being a part of Baker Street with Tom Pollard. It is an honor to be your friend.

Uva: 30:01 Pleasure is mine. My own at the same as well. Thank you so much. Thank you so much Thom

Music bumper: 30:06 (music)

Thom : 30:33 What a really cool guy and I so enjoyed my conversation with him. I knew from the beginning when I met you've a, that he was the kind of person that I'd like to have on Baker Street with Thom Pollard. I don't think that you need to become an F16 fighter pilot to be appropriate for this podcast. But what really fit the bill is that instead of retiring, which he easily could have done and still volunteered and things like that, Uva went on to run two welfare homes. He said at one point there were in different homes at 150 residents and 70 different staff, which is pretty incredible. And what he did with his psychology background, he had an aptitude for counseling, whether it was orphaned, abused children or children whose parents were incarcerated, or people with mental, physical or medical challenges and help those people transform their lives. It seems to me in some respects that says an important job as being an a pilot who helps defend the security of a, of a country. So he really reached down deep and gave back to his community. I was really my good fortune that I had the opportunity to meet you've, uh, as the person who helps run a company called Expedition Himalaya. And that was the name that you had heard earlier. Jamie McGuiness is a guy that I've known for some years and Jamie McGuiness is a, as a climbing guide and a trekking guide who has tagged Everest on six different occasions. And he was the one who through his partner, a woman who was also in the Singapore air force, met Uva and asked Uva to come and take the challenge of trying to run Expedition Himalaya and to help grow it. And I have no doubt in my mind that Uva's experience, enthusiasm, intelligence and sticktuitiveness will have a huge impact.

Thom : 33:10 So if you'd like to find him, I will post his email address on the notes to this podcast. He might be worth reaching out to if you have any thoughts or ideas or want to learn more about the programs that he had involved himself in. Anyway, next week I look, I, I dunno, it's going to be tough to match that one, but each week I'll endeavor to bring on a guest or tell a story that is of interest to you and hopefully we can continue to grow our fan base and our listener base.

Thom: 33:51 Uva, again, sums up really the idea behind Baker Street with Thom Pollard. I've said this every time we create our reality with the thoughts that we empower. And you've, uh, was somebody who really took his thoughts and his dreams and his desires and made them become reality, whether it was trying to hawk his father's a collectibles when he was three years old to go get sweets at, uh, the store downtown or becoming an F16 fighter pilot. Uva when he had a vision and a desire, he made it come true. I think he can be an inspiration for all of us. I know for sure he is for me and as a guy who's darn near old enough to be his dad, you know, I still look at people like that and I think there's so much more than I can do with my life. So many things that I can do to improve not only my life, but, but the, the atmosphere and the positivity of those who I come into contact with. So as I say, we create our reality with the thoughts we empower. I believe that just in in my good fortune, it wasn't a mistake that I met someone like Uva and I hope you've enjoyed listening to him as much as I did interviewing him, so thank you very much for listening.

Thom : 35:23 Again, you had heard the music of Metyu,VKTRD & Ondro M off of their improvisations volume 2 release, which can be found on the free music archive. If you're interested in finding out more about me or in joining the mailing list or in sharing Baker Street with Thom Pollard, with friends or family or people that you come into contact, go to my website, eyesopenproductions.com and on the top you can see a contact button. Click it and write me a short note and say, Hey, I'd like to join your mailing list so I can give you guys first dibs on the next Baker Street that comes out. Also, I would love it if you shared it on social media and told people you can put it on Instagram with a link. You can put it on Facebook, Twitter, whatever works for you.

Thom: 36:23 And I would be honored to have you share this with others because as we endeavor to make this a better world to live in, we need to spread our positivity and our thoughts and those things do impact people's lives even if we only come into contact them with them for such a short time. So let's make this world a better place. Let's make this a place that's more positive and kind and, and a place where people can grow and prosper and not worry about whatever shortcomings they might judge themselves to have or, or not judge others' shortcomings because judgment really is, is, is that the root of questioning the truth of who we really are. So be kind to yourself and when you look in the mirror, no judgment, just be kind, um, accept where you are. Endeavor to be a better person and more kind and make this a better place to live. Thank you for visiting me on Baker Street with Tom Pollard. I look forward to seeing you and hearing from you as often as you ever want to write me. Thank you so much and I will be seeing you real soon.

Music wrap: 37:45 (Music)

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