King of the Forest

Courage! What makes a king out of a slave? Courage! What makes the flag on the mast to wave? Courage! What makes the elephant charge his tusk in the misty mist, or the dusky dusk? What makes the muskrat guard his musk? Courage! What makes the sphinx the seventh wonder? Courage! What makes the dawn come up like thunder? Courage! What makes the Hottentot so hot? What puts the “ape” in apricot? What have they got that I ain’t got?

Recently, I attended a weekend retreat for the internship I took through the Maxim Institute in Auckland New Zealand. Alumni Weekend. A time where interns, past and new get together and laugh about old stories, update each other on what the internship has done for them, eat, drink, and you know…be merry. Obviously it’s so much more than that, but I want to talk about something that greatly touched me over that weekend.

Continue reading “King of the Forest”

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Writing for Another Part II

So, some of you know that I write. Yeah, I know. Shocker. Most of you know that I like to write different kinds of things, not just blogs. I enjoy branching out creatively and experiencing the joy when writing in an untested medium…at least for myself.

Not many of you know that I write for another blog, called How We Lost the Moon. There, writers, experienced and novice find a voice. You can write whatever you want. If you’ve been wanting to write a short story, but didn’t feel confident publishing it, this site will publish the work and the audience will accept it. It’s a safe place to experiment in your writing. I started writing poetry when I was a teenager, then in college my good friend David started a writing group where we shared our writing. Then I got into blogging and loved that format. HWLTM was the first place that I tried to write a short story. Once I tried it, I loved it. I couldn’t get enough of it. The stories I write are getting longer and longer now, ha. I am a huge advocate for the cathartic release that writing can give a person, and I will always encourage people who are shy about their writing to take a step of faith.

This month on HWLTM, they are running a contest. It’s a Blue Moon Contest. The rules are to write about a famous painting. My piece is called “A Self Portrait in Retrospect,” written on the painting “The Wanderer Above a Sea of Fog,” which happens to be my favorite painting. The rules are also this: Like the post you want to win. The Like button is located at the bottom of the post and is a button with a star in it. Mobile versions of the website might have more trouble, I hear, so sorry.

Thank you for reading my blog and for enjoying what I do here. If you enjoy my post that I mentioned above, keep an eye on the website for a new short story that I will be publishing within a few weeks called, “The Adventures of Booker and Bishop: And The Lost Door.”

Thank You.

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What I’ve Been Doing for the Past 6 Months

Convicted murderer, high gang affiliations, addiction, domestic violence charges, and theft. I have to admit, I was quite nervous. Still, Te Whakaora Tangata wanted me to interview some people who attend their organization. I had never conducted interviews before, let alone talked for an hour at length with Maori people. What could I say? What couldn’t I say? What would be taboo for me to bring up? Will I insult them? What do I need to know before going into this? These questions and about thirty more were cycling through my head.

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For those who didn’t know, for the past 6 months I have been living in New Zealand, working with Maxim Institute. Maxim Institute is not the think tank where they come up with a bunch of ideas for a dirty magazine (sorry if that joke flew over your head), but rather a political think tank where we discuss policy and inform the leaders of the nation about issues that matter. Yeah, it’s been an interesting time. And for those who know me and are like, “Eric? You? Working at a political think tank? Yeah, okay. So what are you actually doing in NZ, common, you can tell me.” Ummm, I don’t know what to tell you. I have been.

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I graduate on Thursday and reflecting on what I’ve done here has been bitter/sweet. The beginning of this post was describing the project that I have been working on for the past 4 months. Basically Maxim and Te Whakaora Tangata (an organization that works on the Marae (a sacred meeting place for Maori (the native people of NZ))) have partnered to bring their first placement together in the internships history. Mainly to best take advantage of my specific skills as a Social Worker. What can I say? I’m kindof a big deal.

The day that I applied to the Maxim Institute, they asked me what I was passionate about. I told them that I loved being on the ground floor, helping people in their place of need. TW saw this as an opportunity to do something that they have been meaning to do for some time. They asked me if I could go to the Marae and interview people who have used their services. The object was to hear them out. The opportunity to be heard is a very powerful thing. To be noticed, to feel loved, cared for, and heard…can sometimes mean the difference between life and death. Additionally, as an organization, it is important to know that you are serving the people in the most effective and efficient way possible. This is done by the very popular and arduous process of research. I was to ask specific, and yet representative people questions about their past, present, and projected future through the work that TW has been doing in their lives. I was beyond excited. This was an opportunity for me to do what I have always wanted to do.

With my mentor Luke helping me through the process, I felt much more confident, as he has done this very thing in Germany 4 years ago. I knew from the start that the interviews would be incredibly helpful for the organization and for myself. I would gain knowledge and understanding about the people and culture, and TW would understand what they are doing well and maybe not so well.

Looking back on the experience now, I could not have been set up with a more perfect fit for my placement. This is Social Work. Helping people where they are at. Not in a cold office with a fluorescent light beating down on you, but on the streets, in their meeting places, in their homes, with their families, seeing the problems they’re facing, understanding their stories, and doing something about it. Social Work requires action, and I feel that my placement allowed me to know more about what that looks like. Now I am left with the question: “So what? What will you do about it?” Honestly, I can’t wait to answer that call, and this placement has given me the confidence to act.

This project was my baby, and tomorrow I present it to the organization, Maxim as well as the Lion Trust. I am excited and hopeful that the results will spur further action to aid the people in the Manurewa area. From here, I go on to bigger and more challenging opportunities in Social Work.

I will continue to live in the Maxim Intern Residence that I’ve been living in, until November, when the new batch of interns move in. There I will be living with the guys that I will be flatting with for the coming years in NZ. I have to say that I am excited for the changes ahead. Change, historically for me, Eric Peterson, doesn’t usually hit me until about 1-2 weeks later. At least not the sad things. So whatever comes, let it come. I’m ready for you.

The Early Leanings of a Traveling Warrior

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In the time that I have spent in the country of New Zealand, a few things have raised to the surface as clear: The driving is not the same, the food is not the same, the humor is not the same, the culture is not the same, and the weather is not the same; The same as my little hometown in Northern Illinois. I knew these to be true before I checked my luggage and boarded the flight into Auckland. What makes them real is having experienced them. Having lived in the shoes, heard the stories, tasted the delicious and not so delicious, talked the local, steered the left, laughed and laughed, and stopped laughing, the picture becomes more clear. Like a photograph out of focus, or staring at a painting with your nose on the canvas, you won’t see the full picture as it is meant to be seen. You need to really take some steps back to bring everything into focus. Then take that leap, with humility, and what is revealed will be beautiful.

I chose to go with the title that I gave my post today because I feel as if I came into this foreign land, to fight a war…in a sense. There are some serious problems in this country that are “too taboo” to talk about. When entering a new country, it is important to be culturally competent. The last thing you want to do is automatically apply everything you learned in the United States to New Zealand. Rookie mistake. One cannot assume that because one method works with one population, it will work with another. This is what Aurora University taught me, and it is a very important lesson. Still, if there are young adults, teenagers, and even younger, who are dealing with suicidal thoughts and don’t know where to turn or who can help them, that is a problem. I feel that there are some things in this country that need to start changing, and if no one will do anything about them, then I need to step up.

I love this country. In my travels, everywhere I have gone, New Zealand is the most beautiful. This land captivates me. There is something that saturates me and doesn’t let go. The people are kind, the food is exceptional, and the sights aren’t bad either. This is a beautiful country. It can be easy to notice the beauty and overlook the hurt. It can become convenient to only notice the working and neglect the broken. I am fortunate to be working in such an incredible country with incredible amounts of freedom (more so than the U.S.), but I follow a Father who realized that it is the sick who need a doctor, not the healthy. It was difficult getting used to this new life, but I am on my way to truly calling this home, and making my home a better place to live for everyone. And I will warrior on until that day comes.

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Life in Moments

It is said that there are about 2.3 billion ‘moments’ in the average lifetime of a human being. Why that precise? In the average life, there are 2,366,820,000 seconds, 39,450,000 minutes, 657,436 hours, or 27,393 days for those moments to happen. Moments are made every second. They say that someone is experiencing something incredibly significant on the planet at all times.

No video could more accurately appreciate the seconds in this lifetime more than Andre & Markus at “The Beauty of a Second” vimeo channel. Here they really convey how precious the moments that we have in life truly are. Additionally, they prove how tragically and at the same time beautifully fleeting this life really is.

With each of these moments often come memories. Memories that if you search yourself, will have more of an impact than you anticipated. Some memories are bad, but for most the good memories are stored in a special place. The good memories seem to be placed in an area where they can’t be touched, waiting…waiting for you to remember, or access them again. I think this is healthy and keeps us alive, filled with hope for a better time, a happier time. In a project done by Galvea Kelly from Ireland, this director takes on a simple mission. 50 people in Chicago, one question: “What is your favorite memory?”

Moments in life happen all around us, and I wager that we most times are numb to the insignificant ones. Why would we pay attention? In this incredible visual collage of everyday moments, Vitùc shows the viewers that moments are everywhere, and these are some of the “under appreciated” ones that happen right under our noses without us sometimes even noticing them. To quote Vitùc, “the simple things of everyday life.”

Finally, I wish to show you, the readers, an incredible “life art project” in where the filmmakers, musicians, artists, politicians and cats…I’m quoting them on that one…, , come together to create a moment. The video is truly beautiful as they attempt and succeed in creating an artificial environment in an otherwise impossible situation. I like this philosophy. When you have an idea that will make people laugh, scratch their heads, giggle, play around, look like fools, or wonder…then MAKE that moment happen, don’t wait for it to fall into your lap. And that’s exactly what these people do.

All of the stories and moments that you found on this blog post today were originally found at the Incredible website Colossal. I would recommend checking it out and having your mind blown each week.

Additionally, if you want to check out more moments in life, there is an ENTIRE ARMY of people doing this very thing in New York City called “Improv Everywhere.” These people are creating, most times hilarious, life moments every. day. Enjoy.

ORIGINAL CONTENT LINKS:

The Beauty of a Second: https://vimeo.com/thebeautyofasecond

Fifty People, One Question: http://fiftypeopleonequestion.com/

Vitùc: https://vimeo.com/vituc

Kut: https://vimeo.com/kutfilms

Colossal: http://thisiscolossal.com

Improve Everywhere: http://improveverywhere.com/