Write. I made a promise to too many people.  I must write.

That doesn’t sound right.

But I must.

Too many.

So I have my composition book.  ‘Made in the GAMBIA’. Bound with duct tape – I suddenly worry that I have let the legend of the book grow to be greater than it’s actual value.

The current view from my desk - demolition 10 stories high...

The current view from my desk - demolition 10 stories high...


‘This is my most dear possession’ – this book, which could not have cost me more than ten cents back in 2005.  This is the tool I used to ruminate on my future and my values every afternoon in Njau, The Gambia.  I held it dear all these years – I remember wanting

deeply to belivethat I would use it as a daily guide.  A reminder of the person I wanted to be – not just on paper, but in spirit.

Let me open it:

We can experience fear, confidence, desire, pity, and generally any kind of pleasure and pain either too much or too little, and in either case not properly.  But to experience all this at the right time, toward the right objects, toward the right people, for the right reason, and in the right manner – that is the mean and the best course that is the mark of excellence.

–       attributed to Aristotle in my composition book

“in the execution of my life….I wish to continuously challenge myself to push the limits of my talents – learning both through success and construct

ive failure.  I want to always be learning and placing myself in situations that demand I adapt and improve.

I wish to devote myself to helping the communities that I am a part of: local, regional, statewide, and global – achieve the goal of having all members be able to persue the thing or things that are of the greatest importance to them – free from undue prejudice, inadequate educational opportunity, or an other imposed injustice and within the behavior that poses no threat to a free and fair society.

I wish to devote my time and efforts to the fostering of loving relationships amongst my family and friends

I wish to adhere to and promote a quality balance between the concerns of humanity and the needs of the world in which we live in – paying mind to the reverence I hold for man’s ability to reason and act on behalf of the less fortunate ones, while never losing sight of our collective responsibility to humbly live in harmony with the world in which we inhabit: personally living as simply as possible, collectively not taking more than we need, and acting less like ordained owners and more like members of a community of life – all with a common stake.”

Edward Grandstaff,

6th of June – 2005

Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park

Wow – I still feel this way.  All of these things resonate with me as they did before.  I would have to say I live pretty selfishly now.  I do a better job than I did when I was in China of staying in touch with my immedaiate family – but it has to be said – I have thought about,

and do think about starting a family of my own – living part of my life for someone else.

I have a pretty solid risk-taking record – putting myself out there – since I quit my first job back in 2003.  I feel like I’ve gained a lot – and in that time I have become more disciplined about how I live my life – and living in balance:

I am consistently improving my eating habits – and while I have some ways to go – I can now say I have consumed a very, very miniscule amount of animal products in the last 10 years – and am on track (I still go for one now and then) of eliminating soft drinks.

It’s closing in on 10 years without owning a car.  I have only driven when I have come back to the US – and the total sum of the milage has to be around six to seven hundred miles total.

The Bittaye Family - 2005 - I miss them

The Bittaye Family - 2005 - I miss them


…all this just sound pompous as I write it – I don’t like writing all this stuff – but I have been happy with how I have consistently shed things that I don’t need.

I am quite happy – I wish I had written about my time in China – because the group of friends that I have made and in particular a set of students that I have influenced has given me great joy – I really get a lift out of communicating with them – they inspired me to do some crazy things and took a time in my life that even I was beginning to wonder if was just a time where I was ‘drifting’ and turn it into something I am immensely proud of – I couldn’t thank that group enough.

So who am I now?  Quite a good question…

…it has stunted the flow.  Something I should reconnect with.   Reconnecting – something I need to do.  That’s enough for now.




5 thoughts on “Happy

  1. man your articles are getting more complicated….almost fall asleeeeeeeeep…haha joking! but i could some how see what you mean, not the aristotle part, of course but yeah, it sounds like you are a great person, and vegetarian:) and by the way it’s good to see your journal again, finally moved that lazy ass…

  2. oooooo, i really like this. I still remember the notebook, it was a yellow notebook with a bunch of duck tape on it. It’s a cheap one, but i guess it is the memories in there which made it valuable….u should write something about your life you had in China, that’ll be really cool actually!

  3. Hey,Mr Grandstaff.I wish you remember me! I was one of your Chinese students when you’re in Songgang Middle school. I saw you in Beijing again when I went to Beijing, and I took photo and sent it to you. Still remember ? haha. Now I am a college student now. How are you doing these days? You are in Gambia now?

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