The story of my current adventure. I write this not from my home-range of Northern Wisconsin, but from Spokane, Washington. A medium-sized sprawling city on the Washington side of the Washington/Idaho border. About to get into some exciting work, and meet some cool people. This is how it all came about.
For one week, I was a tourist in the Yellowstone and the Grand Teuton national parks. It was a family trip – me, Moma Olga, Dad Michael, dad’s cousin Varik and his wife Bronya. Every day, my dad spear-headed our early-morning get-ups and subsequent day-long forays into the strange wild beauty of those lands. We, along with hundreds of tourists from world-over, watched geysers shoot into the air boiling water and steam. We watched bubbles form and pop on the surface of acid pools, filling the air with the smell of sulfur, as if it were some kind of scene from Dante’s journey into hell. With the back-drop of snow-capped mountains, we watched herds of buffalo and elk graze the tender grasses of the volcano-and-glacier-created landscape. The streams and lakes were clear and cold. And the sun shone and shone.. We bonded as a family, with about fifteen million pictures (courtesy of Mom) to prove that is all really did happen.
On the inner level, I had the opportunity to ask myself what’s keeping me to being present to the beauty all around me, and thus acknowledge and work with my subtle fear-of-the-future-lack-of-self-trust voice that is so often in the background. When doing that work, I felt quite connected with who I truly am. And on a related and different note, I had the opportunity to practice speaking my needs and being an adult around my family – an oldie but a goodie :).
Buffalo. Being close to one is pure magic.
Hot Spring, colored by thermophylic microorganisms
Geyser. More magic.
While there, I received an email advertising a volunteer position at a nature awareness school for kids out of northern Idaho (Twin Eagles). I listened to m gut, and it told me to go for it. I sent in my request, and after some conversations, I decided to go for it. I would have only a week to go back for the start of the job, which would last a little over a month. As the days went on, I began to understand with my head as to why I made that choice.
For a long while now, I’ve been getting more and more disillusioned with the ways at the wilderness school where I spent so much time over the past decade – Teaching Drum Outdoor School. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of really wonderful things about the rewilding work that goes on there, and the people who live, play, and toil together to make it all happen. However, the things that don’t work for me have become more than I could handle, and after a long while of feeling powerless and depressed about it, I realized that it is time do something different, even if it meant going through the grief of leaving the people and land that I love.
Basically, the community’s leader habit (as well as the habit of some others) to factually state what supposed dysfunctions go on for those around them (especially when someone disagrees with their opinion about various things) has become quite grating. As did the hierarchial structure of the school and community, which I saw prevented folks from getting some of their needs met and truly feeling like the opportunity to steer the direction of their lives. Over and over, I felt rejected and shut down, and at last it became too much. I can say much more about all this.. Perhaps the subject for another post, in which I can explore the full extent of the issues and my hurt and sadness around it all – an important process for me – just today tears came once again.
And so, I’ve been reaching out, looking to learn other ways of relating, looking for opportunities to test myself, to learn about myself, to grow in skill, to contribute to a group who I believed in and who believed in me. A part-time wilderness therapy job for the past half a year helped to fill that gap, and while I learned a lot about how to help people through stuff (and am so immensely grateful for it), I understood that it’s not a sustainable job or community – the intense mental-health work put my nervous system on such over-drive that I began to dread coming back to each shift.
Wilderness Therapy – a journey of beauty and struggle
And then, the offer came. To teach kids nature awareness in a very well-thought-out way, and in the process receive training of how to be a good mentor. Wow. Nice. And of course, the eco-region of the place -the north-Western mountains and valleys – which has so captured my heart, played a part as well. And an August visit to the Olympic Peninsula to visit with my friends and fish for Salmon is that proverbial cherry on top. Future is uncertain, exciting and sometimes scary, and opportunities abound. In the process, I am learning about who I am and what I want. When the time is right, I hope to find myself living in a caring circle, living my vision, feeling like I am making a difference, feeling secure in my connection to the land. In other words, having that proverbial home, inside and out.
Some say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one..
Getting back to the trip.. I flew back, packed up my things, said my goodbye 😦 to my friends, picked up a craigslist ride-share person who needed to go in the same direction, and left. We drove through the night, and talked a lot (well, mostly he talked and I listened). I love how life sometimes can bring us gifts at the most unexpected times!
This man, at 56, has been both a pauper and a high-powered Chief Financial Officer for a number of high-end corporations. It was fascinating to learn what he was about. As he drank copious amounts of coffee and alcohol, tried not to exceed the speed limit with my car, and jabbered on, I could see that the high-stress life of risk, adventure, and immoderation was what lit his fire. He described to me the complexity, beauty, and weaknesses of the economic system, and regaled me with tales of million-dollar deals, hiking giant mountains, dating emotionally complex people, and writing about mathematical theories that explained spiritual Intendedness. And also of his divorce, the emotional impact of which spun him around and landed him in the place of openness and poverty in which I encountered him. I also watched him engage in subtle manipulative patters with me and other.. a skill that was no doubt of great value in his former life.
The beautiful Yellowstone River. I met her again, this time at a rest-stop in Montana, at dawn. I tried to go down to the water, but the incline was too steep..
With some of his last money, he sponsored a lavish motel room for us for one nights and bought me food, as he had a deal in the works which he was confident would come through. It had not at the time of our partying, and he was getting nervous. I was glad to say good-bye to him, as his lifestyle and my need for reflection did not mesh together very well. I wished him well, especially in living out his vision to convince rich folks that helping the poor is good for the economy, and thus for them – especially through sponsoring poor inner-city kids to attend summer camps and other such growing opportunities (something that turned his life around when he was growing up in the ghetto of Milwaukee).
And now, somehow, I am here, alone, in a western city (just for the night, I hope). My little car packed to the brim, the future spreading out in front of me like the giant and endless Western Sky. What dreams may come. Stay Tuned.
Spokane. A sprawling automobile-centered metropolis. Sigh.
The Western Sky..