The Life Examined

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23 things I learned from 23 days on the JMT

Whenyou have a moment…


#1: The summit isn’t where you learn who you are or what you’re made of. It’s somewhere during the climb.

#2: Wildflowers offer a beautiful lesson in resiliency.

#3: If there’s a hell, it’s surely filled with mosquitoes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA McClure Meadow; rocking the mosquito net I picked up at Muir Trail Ranch

#4: You can literally never have enough salty snacks or cheese flavored snacks.

#5: People are really, really fascinating beings and we are magical storytellers. Everyone hiking the John Muir Trail had interesting stories to share and had experienced so many wonderful things along the trail. Being without cell phones or televisions or any other distractions forces you to really listen to people and connect with them. It gives you space to really understand people. If someone makes a campfire, go out and ask to join them. This feeling is something you’ll miss most when you’re off the trail.

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Let Go by Chelsea :) on #SoundCloud

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Crave A Revolution

If patience is desired, persistence is the game
A long forgotten memory, is a face without a name
We’ve dismantled all the bridges, to that city on a hill
Transforming all our shovels into weapons that can kill

Your whine, is less displeasing as you age
If you crave a revolution, lift a finger, turn the page

Our songs of celebration, mask our feelings of regret
We stupefy the masses, with every chance we get
Singing lyrics not yet written, with our hands raised in the air
Sharing sermons of concern, just to let them think we care

Your whine, is not as bitter as your rage
If you crave a revolution, lift a finger, turn the page

There could be a great revival, if the dead would loose their grip
We might witness that progression, deep within the fellowship
A twisted sense of reason, leads a charge toward no return
Waiting for a sign, to let us know, that we have just been burned

Your whine, is getting sweeter as we age
If you crave a revolution, lift a finger, turn the page

James F. Ross

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Sunlit Contours

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All Will Receive A Blessing 

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Satisfying Conversation


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Fade To Way 

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A Lifetime of Action

“What’s the world come to, Fatback? What do we now?”

“Have a moment of silence, and commit to a lifetime of action … that’s my unsophisticated recommendation.”

“Some people over in Calamity are sayin’ that what’s happened is a good thing.”

“A good thing? Is that right?”

“Yes sir.”

“Well, I’ve got a jackass that makes more sense than those Calamity Bode lard-heads.”

“That’s a fact.”

“Have the much deserved moment of silence, and then, if you really want to change your small portion of the world, commit yourself to a lifetime of action.”


~ Fatback Jack~

James F. Ross

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I Said, She Said … Seeing The Light

These colors.


It’s what you’ve captured.

“Is it?”

Of course it is. You can’t deny your intention.

“I can’t?”


“Yes I can?”


“Which is it? Yes or no?”

It’s no, as in, you cannot deny your intention to capture the colors in this landscape.

“Well, I can.”

Don’t be ridiculous. They’re right here on display, splashed across the canvas.

“If that’s all you see, then your pulp criticism is guided by expectation and form. I’m not painting for color’s sake.”

You’re not?


What are you doing then?

“I’m doing my best to replicate the light.”

The light?

“And the dark.”

The dark?

“It’s the areas where the light begins to fade or is, for the most part, absent … the transitions.”

I see.


What about me?


What about my transitions?

“I haven’t ever considered your transitions.”

That, I have noticed; but what about right now? What do you think?

“Could you slow down your pivot a bit?”

 Like this?

“A little slower … just like that … all the way around.”




“Your transitions are all kinds of cambered curves … with an occasional line or two that draws attention.”

One can only hope … I don’t have any angles?

“Angles? You? I’d need a transit and a box of protractors to cover all your angles.”

 I’ll take that as a compliment. As I was saying, I see … a lot of color.

“That’s okay. Color is good.”

But I do see the light too. Sunset.


Long shadows.

“Could be sunrise.”

Not a chance. I’m pretty sure that I’ve walked through that meadow. Long shadows  stretching in that direction … has to be sunset.

“Then it is.”

You should paint more often. This is very relaxing to look at.


I should come with you next time.

“Next time?”

When you go out to paint another landscape.

“Okay. That would be nice.”

I have a place in mind. It’s special to me.


A hillside. The view from there is amazing. You’d like it. There’s always a nice breeze.


Like I said … always.

“No. I mean when would you like to go. Tomorrow?”

Tomorrow is Sunday.

“Well, after we’re all prayed up and sanctified, you can take me to your hillside.”

Okay; But, leave your paints and canvas here.


We’ll just enjoy the view. You can capture the light some other day.

Sounds good. It’s a date.

Yes, it is … isn’t it.


James F. Ross


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I Am Flying … A Short Story Long

I Am Flying is available as a free download through January 2, 2016. Please follow the link below to download.

Thanks, James.

I Am Flying

I Am Flying



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The Life Examined

Beautiful precious souls
Rest now, ’till morning rise
Dream-abouts make known
That what might be

And what might be
Is spring in summer
Hand in hand along
Furrowed fields planted

Faith nurturing hope
Patience’s virtue vetted
A voluntary pause in motion
Begins anew the life examined

James F. Ross 


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Need A Rest

Taking time to walk away for a bit.



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Paint The Moon

Away away seafaring brood
Away to ships and sailing
Traverse again to distant shores
Remember those awaiting

Away away ye kindred kind
Away to gathering be
We’ll paint the moon ’til starry night
Whenever you come home to me

Away away to hinterland
Forever dreaming you’ll be
Arrest your fear to once again
Lay hold the joy you’re seeking

Away away ye kindred kind
Sojourn to gathering be
We’ll paint the moon ’til starry night
Whenever you come home to me


James F. Ross

a repost

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Sunlit Contours

Upon reflection
Just above the water’s crest
A grainy thorough inspection
Confirms my initial suspicion

An unpretentious free-spirit exposed
Natural ivory-white camber
Sunlit contours of perfection
A blameless guilty pleasure

James F. Ross

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Rise Now

Beneath the calm
Belies a struggle
Of want and not
And gain no more

It’s where is kept
The dearest secret
Pride and polish
Spun to lore

A sweet fragrant
Uniquely common
Portion not yet shared

Rise now
For on this shadowless eve
That solitarily embracive provocation
Gives way to fellowship and love

James F. Ross

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Fatback Jack … Absconders of Truth

“Mean backstabbing pretenders of civility and all things sacred? Yeah, those Calamity Bode folks sure have got their fair share. On the other hand, if you’re lookin’ locally for deviant self righteous absconders of the truth, who can, and will, talk both ears off a wounded mule, Sunday morning worship purports commencement at ten o’clock.”

Thanks, Fatback.

“A decent kindhearted feller like you would be keen to keep one hand on your wallet.”

Why’s that?

“It might be free to get in, but it’ll cost you to get out.”

How’s that?

“They like to pass the plate around until there’s no jingle in your jangle.”

Thanks for the heads up.

“My pleasure. Hey, I didn’t catch your name.”

Gibbs. Reverend Jon D.

“You’re the new white-collar?”

No collar, but yes, I am the new pastor of First Church.

“I’d take back what I said about your congregants, Gibby, but then I’d be lying.”

No worries, Fatback. Sounds like they might need a little shepherding.

“Or a good flood to cleanse the whole lot of them.”

Well, a little immersion always benefits the soul.


~ Fatback Jack ~
The Desert Sun Saga – Life In Motion

James F. Ross


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Of A Morning

Of a morning
Did she write
Word to verse
Upon reflection

Of a friend
A forest trail
Hand in hand
Sincere affection

Of a breeze
A sandy dune
Sloop and sail
Silently drifting

Of a night
Starry blue
Meadow moon
Fireflies dancing

Of a morning
She did write
Awash in love
Upon reflection

James F. Ross

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Sweet Surrender

A life unforgettable
Honey, creamed to perfection

Would that I confront my own struggles
As brave and courageous
Fearlessly shadow boxing to muster
One solid uppercut in the final round

Silence. Peaceful rest
Though never fathomed
Is an open-arm sweet surrender welcome
Extracting bliss from your love

James F. Ross

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