Just recently we had a film crew come out and talk about a man who had eluded police in the north woods for months. They introduced me as, “Michael Douglas, a “survival expert”from Maine Primitive Skills School. It felt like an arrogant boast. It wasn’t an introduction I’d ever consider. Outside, the idea of an expert is superfluous to learning. Awareness and experience are too pressing to introduce terms like “survival expert” into the mix. I have enough problems keeping thoughts jangling in my own head from getting in the way at times to consider something that brash. The woods are different. Nature is both subtle and powerful. It is a great equalizer in that it humbles you and, once humbled, it reveals itself to you. Once a person touches upon that humility, a very personal experience, they forever quest after the bond that it facilitates with the natural world.
I use the term “authentic communication” in an attempt to convey what most of us experience when out in wild places. Many language have words that come close. I suspect that, for each person, the woods comes to terms with them in as many ways as there are personalities. When it happens. you feel it and it is something to be thankful for. I think I would rather be announced as a student of outdoor skills next time. I don’t want to risk another humbling experience the next time I reconnect because of that news story! Besides, if I become an expert, I might stop learning, and that’s why I’m out there!