Jason Wright, 2013 Apprentice
Its become common perception that anyone who pulls off the side of the road to check out the state of roadkill, to see if there’s anything useful left to it and then tosses it into the thick brush – giving a moment to honor its journey – is considered less than ordinary. Looks of uncertainty are cast over such people, on their bellies crawling through the dirt (or dumpsters) foraging for food or following an interesting path of animals passed. These odd people don’t belong, it seems, to the larger community.
The larger community, though, looks at the forest floor and sees only a mess of leaves, dirt and discomfort. The trees and plants are reduced to mere muses of aesthetic beauty and stillness of old times. Perhaps a single, mass-produced use can be found in their living presence that would soon become their end. Few see the depth of personal relationship and the peculiarity of each being. Few see the stories left behind by vibrant lives. Few see the homes of sisters, brothers, fathers and mothers. Most people in my world feel they do not belong to this earth. We share this sense of hopelessness sprouting from disconnection. We yearn to be part of some group, some happening that is separated from the rest. Some thing to give us identity and security while we bustle about trying desperately to find some distant figment of actual satisfaction.
If the landscape and all living communities – balanced with death – are healthy than I am healthy. Health is not determined by how well I care for myself but how well I care for my whole community. All the nations of life. This is what I have learned at this school. I did not read this lesson in the text of a book, but in the loving nature of calm, simple and whole people. There is still health and abundance to be had. The stars still shine; though, it is true that we see it less and less by the day. Our great migration is not across the Great Plains of this continent but from the prisons constructed in our mind and into the Great Oceans of the Heart. Listen to and nurture what is always around us. Give it a sacred place inside and guard it against the commotion and poisons. Let both of these, within and without, grow and intertwine together giving shelter, water, fire and food for all.
There are more things happening here at Maine Primitive Skills School than it seems one person can accomplish in a day. Most are left to their own passions, visions and motivation. Classes are intense and demanding. Its a place to feel comfortable. Its a place to heal. Its a place of a vast and still breathing collection of forgotten knowledge and skill, if one has the tenacity to find it out for their own self. Its a place where it seems parents have relented to the child’s wild curiosity in an endless playground – and some times we get hurt. But we learn, and learn well.
Most of all this place, to me, is a return of the civilized mind – well-experienced in the ways of loneliness, isolation and atrocities born from misunderstanding – to the primitive lifestyle. By primitive I mean nothing less than utmost intelligence being drawn out of our own nature by a full interaction each moment with the landscape in all its diversity. This lifestyle holds precious wisdom in life, in story, reborn again and again with new understanding – not stale symbols of empty routine striving against the winds of time. Lessons are vibrant and alive. Primitive lifestyle throws one into challenges that demand attention, quick responses and inner solitude. Creativity, imagination and child-like joy become tools of survival and efficiency. Such are the ways of our Mother… ruthless in her compassion.
This is not a turning back of the clock. Primitive skills is not the imitation of those before us, nor the hypocrisy that follows such stale attempts at suppression of a constantly changing world. Primitive beings were not perfect. I venture to guess that their communities were not free of the self-created chains we still suffer from today; although, our problems are allowed to run rampant with unchecked consumption and growth. To be free is utterly different than any mere concept, tradition or physical expression. The wisdom and teachings that are surviving through the destruction of the natives’ ways from this earth are more precious than I can describe here, but it will not be our saving grace. Nor will any other preserved collection of thoughts, no matter how divine and beautiful they are. Our discovery must be our own. We will pull our selves from the muck of such violent separation and dive deep into peace as we rediscover in our own reality what has been forgotten. As we carefully straighten out what has been trampled into near extinction and nurse our lives back to health. Stronger and wiser than ever before. Whole human beings full of joy and very, very good friends to grief – living new lives on this planet like never before and never again.
This is the movement of spirit I see Maine Primitive Skills School is fully participating in. Weird and wild people dedicated to always learning better how to abide by a flow of nature greater than our own self.