Last week was my first post and all I did was just initiate my blog without actually saying much (sort of how it goes). So this week I suppose introductions are in order, although I hope this blog will explore elements of myself that I don’t even know yet.

My name is Jean-Philippe Clark, but most just call me JP. My age is somewhat irrelevant, although I should say that I’m perpetually young and hope to always be. Other important facts about me will come up throughout my story such as what I enjoy, where I come from and all that first date, flash card trivia. One thing that I would like to share with you up front, and something that has been a large part of where I am, is that ever since I can really remember I have been dealing with bulimia. This small word has had such a huge impact on my life and has essentially helped to create the desire for me to piece together a tattered life and print it to paper.

And for those of you who just had a visceral and rather disturbing reaction to that word, it is only normal. I had it too. First of all, this issue is popularly reserved to diagnose mostly females and those who have self image problems. Secondly, the word receives a bad connotation based on its history and portrayal in society. We call someone a bulimic or an anorexic without fully understanding what those words mean, hence the discomfort.

The important thing to remember when using these words is to have and open mind about it and know that although it might be a diagnosis, it is not the definition of who somebody is. I feel that when we label someone as ‘being’ an eating disorder (i.e. a bulimic or binge eater), then it gives that individual less power to actually overcome a it. That person will become the disorder. Also keep in mind that everyone’s issues are (and not just specific to eating disorders) evolved into creatures traced with elements of the individual. They are beautiful snowflakes of problems where no two look alike, but as they all fall they still cover the ground in a blanket of white.

Complicated, emotional and overwhelming, my life as been steered by this and it is difficult for me to break free. I would like to say that it is not the defining part of JP, yet I have allowed it to be. I have given it so much power and weight that if I drew out B (the name I have given to my eating disorder), he would look like a better version of myself. When I stare into the mirror – something that rarely happens – I feel a sense of hatred, denial, uncomfortableness and overall low self-worth. I should say, that is how I typically feel.

Now for the good part. Everything that we do in our lives, even what feels like the mundane routine of waking up and going to work, is a learning opportunity and I have started to approach what I feel or do as such. It has taken me over 15 years of ire to understand this concept. One of the big reasons why I write is to not necessarily understand everything, but to explore myself as one might explore the wilderness or a new place. This small concept has turned my life upside down and given me new hope and perspective on me as a person. I can’t say that I have changed my actions or how I feel about myself, but now I can look at it with different eyes. Breaking the cycle, remember?

That’s me though. This isn’t how I feel about the world that I live in. I have pushed myself so low that every person and every thing that isn’t me is the greatest thing on earth. I love people, I love this world and I personally see the good in everything around me – something that I would like to apply to myself. Beauty, love, life.

Slowly I’m learning to accept myself and try to explore passions that I may have. Being outside is one in particular that will make many appearances in this blog of mine. I even have made somewhat of a career (it doesn’t pay though so don’t get your hopes up) out of living out of my front door. As a product of the American Southwest, I have found a home guiding rivers and leading trips around the four corners region. I’m not the best at it, but I love it. Although my home and my heart go out to where I come from, it doesn’t disregard my lust for the world around it. I have now led trips in Alaska, Hawaii and California and now have even found a new home in Colorado. It is a love of the globe rather than the love of a specific place. Needless to say, adventuring is a big part of who I am.

On top of this bush-man side of me (a side that has been tamped down slightly from my fascination of big cities), one of the big reasons why I go on these expeditions is to see it through the eyes of those I go with – kids. There is nothing more special or more powerful than letting youth explore the world around them. It makes you look at the same mountain or river with a new set of lenses, usually surprisingly different than the ones you use. It may be a bit of a selfish endeavor, but I lead for them. They are the ones who will shape the world. They are the ones who need to discover that they are allowed to be themselves, whatever that might look like. They are the ones that will have the greatest impact on their own life. More on leading trips for kids later, because frankly it could go off on a thesis of its own.

Summary – going outside, taking kids outside and exploring the world are some of the main factors that compose who I am and a little of where my writing comes from. Other small tidbits are that I love the simple things. Waking up and having a cup of coffee, watching the sunrise, watching the sunset, slowing down and reading, breathing, watching, listening, learning and having fun. I need these in my life as much as the next person and they are things I find myself seeking out more and more lately.

Simply put, I’m just a dude. I like to write but I’m not very good at it. I’m exploring that it doesn’t matter if you are the best at something. You don’t have to compare yourself to other people. If you choose to compare, if you need that vin-diagram, do it with yourself (don’t take that out of context). I need to say that (and everything else) because I need to remind myself of it. We are all just people. We are all unique, beautiful and quite strange creatures who have the ability to think and learn. I hope that I haven’t scared too many people off with all of my rambling and I hope that you stick through the muck to find what good may come out of it. If you do that then I will try and do the same. I’m sure there is so much that I don’t know about myself yet, but that is again why I am choosing to write – for me. I encourage you to find something to help you learn about you. After all, once we stop learning or wanting to learn, we become complacent and mopey. Here’s to learning and exploring.

Until next week.

After a long day of work in Southern Colorado working on a trail crew with the Southwest Conservation Corps.
After a long day of work in Southern Colorado working on a trail crew with the Southwest Conservation Corps. That’s me in the middle.

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