Atz Kilcher

From the blog


I just sort of suspect that I’m not the first person to think about the many differences in us human beings. Any spectrum you choose, we’re all different. Politically, ideologically, physically, athletically, artistically, we could go on forever, we are all different.

I spent a lot of time thinking about what makes me tick, whether I am in the norm, and what the hell is that norm exactly. I believe this trait of interest in exploring the inner realm comes from my childhood. Either I inherited it, or my early environment taught me that it was a skill as important as any other survival skills.

I once saw a poster on the door of the school library. It read,” If you can walk you can dance, if you can talk you can sing.” That my friends, is going to be the deep topic of my very serious morning meanderings today.

Singing after all, it just like talking only you change the pitch and the rhythm of your voice. Dancing is just a series of steps, and again to a differing rhythm and patterns. Now whether everybody can be a great singer or a great dancer is another matter. Even with lots of practice some Olympic athletes are better than others. Even among accomplished singers and dancers some are greater than others. We differ in things we’re good at, we differ in our areas of interest, we differ in what we like, what we spend our time doing, and we differ in what makes each one of us feel good. Yes, you can generalize that we all like to be happy, that we all like to feel good, that we all avoid putting our hand on a hot stove. But even still, there are many differences.

With all of these many differences, comes a challenge of accepting one another, of seeing someone who is a little different or very different as just as human or worthwhile as we are. The greater the difference, the greater the challenge becomes to still accept that person, be it murderer, rapist, an atheist, someone who believes in abortion, or someone who has a different sexual orientation than we do.

But don’t worry all of you faithful readers, I am going to keep it light. What I want to talk about is what makes me right. My Dictaphone chose the wrong right, But yes there are also those times when I firmly believe I am right. But the question this morning is of all the ways I can start my day, why do I choose a writing? There, the little gremlin inside my laptop who faithfully translates my words into print, finally got it right. Correct?

So I could add to the library poster another line that says,”If you can talk, you can write.” Or,”If you are alive, you have a story.” I believe both of those statements firmly. It may not be award-winning writing, it may not be an interesting story, but anyone can write. Everyone has a story. The big difference is, not everybody wants to, and not everybody enjoys it, not everybody feels the need or the importance or the drive.

I once read something my daughter Jewel wrote. She put into words what I had believe all my life and apparently had passed onto her. She said, “I don’t so much write songs or poetry because I want to, for me it’s a matter of necessity, I have to do it to stay alive.” Sorry Jewel for paraphrasing what I read probably almost 20 years ago.

I love the camping metaphor. There are so many aspects of it that you can apply to life. Go out camping with family or friends and just watch how everybody spends their free time. When there are no tools or toys or electronic distractions or memorizing rituals and routines, it is interesting to watch what people do, what interests them. You can learn a lot by observing. One kid climbs a tree. One adult walks down the riverbank. Kid starts building a fort, or makes a boat. Another adult whittles, or makes a basket, or writes a new song. Some stick with what they’re doing, some keep trying new things. Others get bored and complain. I’m never going to take them camping again.

So part of my lifetime research and what makes me tick, has been what makes me love to write; prose, poetry or songs. Those parts of my personality or similar to that part of me that loves to perform, share my visual arts or my performing arts with others.

Okay. I’m good for another day. Just back from the outhouse. Going to the outhouse gives you a good opportunity to get in touch with the morning, to see what the day has in store for you. Sort of like turning on the weather channel, except the outdoors is your channel, and you are the weatherman. That’s another thing about going camping with people you learn a lot about their personal habits, Yes, even going to the outhouse. But all of that is going to be in my next bestseller,” The Wilderness Outhouse”.

Atz Kilcher alaskan outhouse dunny wilderness toilet heart door

Some of the reasons that pop into my head about my need to share what I do with others are the need for attention, need for validation, that I have something somebody else would want, the need to belong, to feel important, the need to believe I’m special. My songs in my heart are something precious and worth sharing with others.

I could say other things such as sharing with others, filling the needs of others, bringing them the experiences they would otherwise miss out on, passing on my legacy, my heritage, part of my spiritual and emotional mission on this earth. It’s a major part of who I am and what gives me joy. Where I find my passion, how I find the fuel to keep my spark alive. Probably most of these reasons would apply one time or another.

You got all of those people that are too complicated. Those people who see things more simply and don’t feel the need or the drive to dig as deeply to see what makes them tick. Ask someone like that why they do what they do and they’re liable to say after they shrug and kind of look at you like they don’t really understand what the hell you’re talking about, “well I never really thought about it, I guess just cause it makes me feel good because I want to.” And you know what, their answer is just as good as anyone else’s.

I try to be that man of few words, deep thoughts and simple answers most of my life. One who didn’t wreck his brain to figure out why he was the way he was. I learned early on that all of that can be pretty painful. The blocking it all out and trying to be someone I wasn’t didn’t work real good either. Not just trying to figure out what makes me tick and accept it, and love it. And as I figure it out, I like to pass it on, just in case it might make other people trying to figure out what makes them tick a little easier.

So why am I sitting here in this remote cabin in the middle of the beautiful quiet wilderness watching a sunrise over the spectacular mountains writing? Staring at the screen of my Mac computer. All the while going outside frequently, looking out my east and south windows, watching the colors change, feeling and believing that I’m part of this beautiful valley. If you were to ask me I think I would say.” I guess because it makes me feel good, because I want to”.

I hope you can spend a good part of every day doing what makes you feel good, doing what you want to do.


  1. Well put Atz. I had someone ask me why I crocheted, quilted, and did all those old fashioned “artsy fartsy things” as they put it. I told them it made me feel good. Working with my hands, with fibers, and textures are part of who I am. It’s a need for me. I have to do those things, they are as much a part of who I am as is the the air I breath that fills my lungs with oxygen giving me life every day.

  2. I think at some point you come of age and that frees you to more of what you enjoy as opposed to what you need to do to make ends meet and fulfill the responsibilities you’ve taken on. I hope to make it that far and be able to do so much more of what I enjoy. For now, I take joy where I can find it, grasp it with both hands and enjoy it for the time I have available. I do the things I love on the weekends, craft shows, reading, cooking, relaxing watching some TV.. and playing games on FB. I look forward to reading more of what you have to say on your blog. It’s great that you enjoy passing on your knowledge and sharing a part of yourself with those that are willing to read and embrace it. Great posting 🙂

  3. People who say they are doing what they want to do, during the day doesn’t always happen. Sometimes we have to do things we don’t like maybe to please others, or maybe putting to rest a friend or family member who has passed on. I’m a self employed farmer, have been for 45 years, so most of the time have been able to do what I wanted. After the crop is in can look to other things to entertain myself 🤓 also an artest love to do murals. Also have 3 children and 9 grandkids 8 boys 1 girl. I’m 63 and sometimes wondering where the time has gone. Also love to fish, but never get to. Guess i need to work on that. God bless

  4. Yep Atz you’ve nailed it. One of those good books state that ” Men are that they might have Joy” not the temporary thrill of the moment but the satisfaction that you have accomplished something during the day that you can look back on and say that it was a real pleasure doing it. For me art is more than the finished piece but the thinking process that you work through to arrive at the final goal. So making art whether song, prose, sculpture, painting, photography, or whatever, is the culmination of of what you have gleaned from your life experiences and making it visible.

    1. So do the Kilchers have like a “KILCHER DAY” were normal people like myself can meet you or take a tour. Please let me know. Ty. God bless. Howard Springmeyer

      1. I plan on driving to Alaska in June for about a month and would like to tour the”Homestead” while there.

  5. We are each created uniquely different! I was told if you work at your passion then you never work a day in your life….you simply live it. Live simply in your style, your fashion, and happiness will follow.

  6. Hello Atz!
    I was just thinking the same thing today about how different we all are and especially within my own family. Why, how can this be so when we were all raised in the same area of the midwest? All this came to mind this morning sitting on my front porch while contemplating a road trip from Colorado to Illinois very soon, to visit some family.
    I am 52 and still trying to figure out what makes me tick. I love the outdoors and spend as much time as I can camping, hiking, taking photos and the older I get the more I realize it doesn’t take much to make me happy. I would rather have experiences then materialistic things. The things that made me the most happy as a young kid was performing in community musicals/plays or spending a week at camp in Illinois. I would love just being a camp counselor all my life, like I was in High School and College in the day. I have spent the last 16 plus years working with Special Ed students and volunteer coaching for Unified Sports/Special Olympics, but I felt it was time for a change so I definitely understand the words you have written and wonder what my next move will be! I know I always need to be doing something that challenges me to be a better person everyday and when I feel there is no more growth in any position I have, then it is time to move on.
    Nice to read your blog!

  7. Thanks for that Atz. Im still trying to find out what makes me tick. Farm raised in The Land Between in Ontario Canada, I have realized it is the little things in life that matter. I enjoy the great outdoors and all it has to offer. Nothing like the outhouse. I get outside daily because I Need To. Right now I am enjoying the birds returning, the warm sunshine and longer days. Looking forward to the new baby animals, the blossoms, and fishing off my favourite dock. I take plenty of time to smell the roses. Thanks for sharing. Look forward to more stories of your homestead.

  8. Horses and dogs. I am happiest in their company. I like people very much and enjoy spending time with folks. But there is an honesty with animals that is difficult to find in human company. Thank you for taking the time to put your words in print Atz. It got me to thinking this morning…… and that is always a good thing.

  9. Have been enjoying your blog posts of late. I am always interested in observing the journeys of others and how we all evolve as we enter the 2nd halves of our lives. I sense that, even as a songwriter, you weren’t as introspective in your earlier years. But facing our thoughts and truths are often easier when we are older. Continue to enjoy path.

  10. Hi Atz your words come from your heart and from the land. you put your soul your heritage into your songs. we peoples of the world are different yes but we are all without exception at heart hunter gatherers. ok we are domestersised, packaged in all kinds of boxes, living in air conditioned all mod cons houses but we yearn for the smell of the forest, and your program is a emotional release for a lot of us. thank you for your commitment to this wonderful show. Laurence.

  11. Hi Atz here is a poem your family has inspired me to write. I haven’t written poetry on this level for 50 years. I hope you will like it. You say that your a homesteader and your folks were pioneers.and you remember all those who came before, and have passed throughout the years. the good times and the bad times, the sweet love of family and friends,that makes life here worth living, until that sweet life ends. what you need son is perspective,to carry on old Yules dreams, his idea of utopia,good land,good luck and clear streams. Yules spirit is there in all of his kin,you can see it in their eyes, when their battling nature,or renewing family ties.The land is hard the critters wild,and the people of this land, love the beauty that is Alaska the Kilchers, home Heartland.

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