Give the Gift of Poetry!

The holidays are upon us once again! A few of you have asked if I’m still offering my poetry for sale…I am for a limited time. Please place your holiday orders by 12/12 to allow time for delivery.

Pricing is as follows: 1 poem for $20 or 2 poems for $30. After 2 poems are purchased each additional poem is $15 (same order only.) Each poem is printed on parchment (suitable for framing) and autographed.

Payment is accepted by credit card via PayPal, see the link below for details on how the process works:

https://ericvancewalton.wordpress.com/poetry-for-sale/

If the poem you have in mind isn’t listed on my site just private message me to confirm if that poem is available or if you have any other questions. Thanks!

Life Is Better When You Step Off The Treadmill

Life Is Better When You Step Off The Treadmill

Warning: The title of this article might startle those of you who know me because I’m so health conscious. But the treadmill I’m referring to is the one forces us to spend the best years of our lives chasing “stuff”, material goods. Prior to the 1950’s it was common for the average person to save for months to buy quality stuff that would last a lifetime and if it broke down it would be repaired, not thrown away. It’s a different world now and those days are long gone.

Today most manufacturing in the United States has been shipped overseas so companies can take advantage of cheap foreign labor. The products are then shipped back to us and these cheap goods fill our store shelves. This cheaply made stuff is engineered to break down in a short amount of time, this is called engineered obsolescence. This means in a few years we have to, again, spend more hard earned money on new stuff to replace the stuff that breaks. Many times we really can’t afford to buy new stuff so we buy it on credit so the true cost is much larger over time. We’ve been conditioned to accept this way of life but many are waking up and realizing that it isn’t. This continuous cycle of consumerism is a treadmill that keeps many of us broke, working more than we should, distracted from our pursuit of happiness, and has put our planet in peril.

I stumbled onto a hobby when I was in my late twenties, purely by accident. In 2004 I started collecting vintage American watches from the teen’s to the 1940’s. My favorite watch is a 1918 Elgin trench watch from World War I. Even though it’s 96 years old, it still keeps perfect time and looks almost brand new. I was fascinated by these timepieces. To have one of these works of art ticking away your wrist is a true joy. They were built by craftsmen who honed their skills for many years to do one thing for their entire working lives. This hobby of collecting vintage watches made me realize that there was once a day when things were very different.

This epiphany off a wonderful chain reaction in my life. I began to evaluate the true cost and value of the material possessions I owned and set out on a mission to retool my life. I quickly discovered that quality didn’t always translate into something being more expensive. For example, I discovered I was spending nearly $20 per month on razor blades. For a total of $40 I replaced my multi-blade disposable razor with a Merkur safety razor and bought a box of 200 blades. Three years later I’m still using that original box of blades. This one simple change has already saved me over $650.

I’ve discovered that there are certain instances when I simply can’t afford new items of the level of quality I desire. This is when I applied a lesson learned from watch collecting, vintage goods can be an amazing value. I recently bought an English made 1958 Raleigh 3-speed bike on Craigslist for $130. It’s heavy (and a tad Pee Wee Herman-ish) but solid and impressively, at over 50 years old, everything still works. Each part of the Raleigh bike is made to be repaired, even the pedals. The only bikes I’ve seen that come close to this quality are made by Dutch companies or Shinola in Detroit and cost 500 to 1000 times (yes, 1000 times!) what I paid for the Raleigh.

Surrounding myself with quality is just a means to an end and that end is freedom. Breaking this cycle of runaway consumerism frees up more time and money than you can even imagine. As I settle into middle age, I’m realizing how much I still want to do and my intention is to fulfill every wish, every dream. My wife and I are shedding a lot of our excess possessions and will soon downsize our residence. We may never own a home again, if we do, it will likely be a tiny home.

My goal is to keep writing, see the world, experience life, and make lots more memories. My idea of an ideal life is not working my fingers to the bone for the rest of my years inside the framework of an unnatural and toxic system that has been designed to make wealthy and power corporations wealthier and even more powerful. We’re not alone, more people are awakening to this fact every single day. It’s true that we can’t change the speed in which the hands of time move forward and we can’t change the past but sometimes all it takes is a little shift in perspective to find your own true path to happiness. Believe me, it’s worth every effort. Maybe, just maybe, if enough of us retool our lives in the process we will also retool America.

~Eric Vance Walton~

Memories Of The Sun

Smothered…
in this deep
winter bleakness
as the sun
walks away from us,
an ancient journey
to be traveled
once again

but I will hold fast
in my memory the days
when it seemed
close enough
to pull from the sky
and whisper to

I remember
each moment
it warmed us
and the wondrous twilight
when we squinted
as it danced broad
along the water’s edge

these memories
of the sun,
they will offer me solace
through the gathering darkness
as we patiently await
the lushness of the equinox
with a certain feigned indifference
that fools no one.

~Eric Vance Walton~

Just Who Do You Think You Are?

Have you ever considered what makes you who you are as an individual?  Is it nature or nurture? This debate has gone on for many years. If we think about it deeply enough it is easy to consider and argue both viewpoints.

Recently a large part of who I thought I was as well as the history of half of my family was turned on its ear.  Almost everything we thought we knew about ourselves and our origins was discovered to be a fabrication. Somewhere this big lie, that was undoubtedly born of pain, shame, and the hope of assimilation took on a life of it’s own and was passed like a legacy from one ancestor to the next.

I’ll never forget the day that this legacy was passed on to me. I must’ve been six or seven. My father and I were walking, as we usually did, and he proudly told me that we were Native American, a mixture of Shawnee and Cherokee to be exact. How did he know this? His father had died when he was very young so the legacy was passed to my father by his uncles just as they learned it from the generation before them. Rumor had it that long ago a distant relative had ridden with the great Shawnee chief Blue Jacket.

This was an easy story to believe, our skin has a olive hue, the Walton men have dark hair, high foreheads, and larger noses. Aside from these physical characteristics, the story was also something to be proud of for a family that had never amassed any great fortune or fame. It was a legacy that must have provided comfort and continuity to my father and his sister as they were being raised in a succession of horrific foster homes in the 1940’s and 50’s.

It was about ten years ago that the cracks began to spider in this story’s veneer.  My brother, newly divorced and having a lot of time on his hands, decided to start researching our family tree. My mother’s side was easy, most came from Eastern Europe. Her grandfather immigrated from Ukraine and arrived on Ellis Island by steamer shortly after the turn of the century. Answers to the origins of my father’s side of the family didn’t reveal their secrets as easily.

My brother tracked down as many living relatives as he could find.  He discovered that back in the 1990’s my father’s last living uncle took some notes, written in his own hand, from what he said claimed to have uncovered from courthouse records. These were just bits and pieces mainly. His pages were filled with tales of running moonshine during the Depression and hints of Native American origins but there was nothing truly cohesive about his words. They seemed like the ramblings of a man who realized he didn’t have many days left on this Earth trying desperately to validate a dream.

If there’s one thing bred into us it is diligence. My brother was steadfast and continued on in his research, probing further and further into the past. He joined a few genealogy websites and then the trail became quite interesting. He could find no evidence of Shawnee or Cherokee blood but eventually traced our lineage back to 1621 in Warwickshire, England.  William Walton was born that year and this was as far back into history as my brother was able to reach.  William resided not far from where Shakespeare had lived, just a few miles to be exact. William produced two sons who eventually sailed to America. But hundred year old lies have deep roots and not too many in the family, especially my father, wanted to believe these findings.

Fast forward a few years. I decided to take a DNA test with the genetic testing company 23andMe. I spit in a vial, mailed it off, and then had to wait a painstaking four or five weeks for the results of the test. My family was on the edge of their seats the whole time. My father somehow knew this would validate his long held beliefs. Finally the email from 23andMe arrived announcing the DNA findings were complete. I clicked on the link contained in the email, logged into the website, and found my way to the results for my paternal line.

The findings of this test changed my family forever. We discovered that my father’s DNA, my paternal haplogroup, originated in Northern Africa thousands of years ago. There were zero Asian markers, which means we have not a drop of Native American blood. Science revealed my paternal haplogroup was J2, which is Ashkenazi Jew. This was the furthest thing from what we expected. My brother and I, once over the initial shock, embraced this newfound knowledge. The older generations aren’t having as easy of a time coming to terms with the truth.

What makes us who we are? Is it nature or nurture? In my mind it’s a little of both and a whole lot of a third, less tangible, element. As humans we have a great and unique freedom. I believe what is written in our genes or the environment in which we are raised are just two small slices of a very large pie. The third and largest piece represents our inner thoughts and beliefs. It may sound overly simplistic but I believe we are who we think we are. From the cradle to the grave it’s mainly our own thoughts and beliefs that ultimately define us.  So I ask you, just who do you think you are?

~Eric Vance Walton~

My Autumn Muse

Thoughts thunder

through me,

twisted magic,

minus metrics
creating absolute

unbridled hope,

static pops,

air electric
I am immersed

in the fathoms

of my muse during

these fall days
I wring the darkness,

words drip slowly

and freely like syrup

and to my soul

they taste just as sweet.
~Eric Vance Walton~