I love outdoor skills. So, when I was asked why I did this “Stuff”, It floored me. First, what “stuff” specifically? The basic Wilderness Survival “stuff” that hunters and military folks get? The Bushcraft “stuff” that many folks invest their entire lives in because it is so vast and so enjoyable? Perhaps the Primitive Skills “stuff” that deepens ones connection to the landscape and pushes one to develop their awareness internally as well as externally while pushing them physically, mentally, and even spiritually? I just stood there for a moment. Not knowing what was going to fall out of my face when I started speaking, all I could hear was,”What else is there?” With that I scrambled for an explanation. I mentioned research and neural connections and cultural similarities across continents and learning. After a while, too long a while, actually, I added, “besides. it FUN!” That should have been the whole answer. Giving folks too much can shut them down. It has been my experience that the vast majority of folks who ask these questions ask them from an unshakable mental platform that either prevents them from truly hearing what can only be shared through direct experience in the first place, or has no patience for a real answer, the question being the highlight of their amusement. Either way, I’m still going to push people s buttons, play in the mud, challenge perceptions, forage for wild foods and dance in severe lightning storms. Why? Just in case you are in the small percentage of folks who can really hear, which means you probably have some dirt under your nails, I will tell you. I do this for the sheer joy of being alive. I do it because being truly connected to the landscape and acutely aware of my own mortality has put me in a place where I have no time to manifest and dwell on grief to the point of dividing my mind from the minds of others. When I see a tree, I want to know it for all that it can share. Not just the board feet of lumber, or its personality in the wood stove, but the type of bow it makes, the color of dye it produces, the ways it responds to coming weather patterns and what feeds on it, nests in it, uses it for winter forage, and it can be prepared as a medicine. And that’s just one tree! Expand that hunger for knowing to ALL the trees, shrubs, plants, tracks, insects, rocks, birds, mammals, and people and you can see why I have no time for folks who exclaim, often with faces soured and noses lifted, “Why don’t you grow up and make a living like everybody else”. First, I’m too busy living to “make” one, and second, I am NOT like everyone else. I’m me, and I happen to love me. I make myself laugh and the folks who love me laugh too….hmmm….dubious, but I’ll roll with it. The point is, pain, suffering, loss, it all hurts, but it’s all real. It can stifle and debilitate, or it can allow us to savor the sweetest moments of a subtle sunrise, simply because we can breathe in peace in the absence of the hard times. I practice these outdoor skills, do this “Stuff”, because it unplugs me from the cocoon of convenience and the living death of a 9-5 routine, even if only for a sacred moment each day. In those moments, I am truly alive. If life is, as it has been told to me, the only sexually transmitted disease that is 100% fatal, than I’m going to go knowing I was fully and truly here! Would love to blabber on, but some students are coming up the drive for an Earth Living Five Day course. See ya!
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