I set off as the sky started to darken, crashing down the tree laden path and away from civilization.
Away from the noise and electronics and artificiality I’ve let pollute my senses, leaving me utterly under-stimulated and over-stimulated at the same time – seeking out the dopamine hit of a Facebook update or an email. Leaving my phone behind and grabbing my headlamp.
As my walk starts to settle, I find a walking stick and it becomes my trusty companion for the next couple hours.
Onwards I walk, a bit stiff in the cold, hiding my hands as best I can and continuously pushing my hood up to keep it from blocking my line of sight, unable to decide between clear vision and sheltered warmth.
I think of Robert Frost’s famous poem; “A road diverged in yellow wood (and I couldn’t take both so I had to choose) and I, I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference.” (May have paraphrased the middle a bit.
I think about how incredibly grateful I was to have heard that poem at such a young age.
I think about how fortunate I was to have had that be part of my middle class New England upbringing, instead of learning to be obedient and comform to the collective, or memorizing holy verses (a brief stint in Catholic school led to my first C and days of shame and guilt when I couldn’t remember the 10 Commandments… I still shudder when I think of that place. Clip on ties and forced Mass attendance… And I wasn’t even Catholic!).
No wonder I’ve always marched to the beat of my own drummer – despite the many instances of public schooling striving to crush my soul and spirit, sprinkled within were seedlings that fed that independent nature and inspired my curiosity as I sought to find my own path in life.
And finding my own path I am! After years of searching and working and studying and building valuable skills, I’ve finally landed the apprenticeship I’ve been preparing for. And within the year, I’ll be moving up to journeyman status, and then one day I’ll be a master marketer, able to take my skills anywhere I desire – like the masons of old, granted free passage because their skills were so in demand because they could make things like magic. That’s what I’m learning how to do – to make marketing systems that create sales and customers like magic.
It’s been an intense few weeks though. Between the apprenticeship and back to back weekend conferences – not to mention getting sick for the week or two prior to that – I’ve been neglecting my body, spirit, and soul. I haven’t been to the gym since end of February. It’s time to get back on track. Not by forcing myself, but by acting from self love.
Tonight’s adventure was a big step in that direction. When the paths diverged, I usually just kept going straight into the woods. That was my version of “the road less traveled.”
But the thing is – it is no longer less traveled because I keep taking it. Being rebellious is no longer rebellious when it’s my default reaction. So I decided to take the road less traveled for me (“turning right”) even though it may have been most traveled for others – it was new for me.
Just like lots of things in life. Like moving to a new city or getting my own apartment or starting new relationships. If I tried more alternative paths in the past, then something totally mundane and ordinary could be new and exciting. Like my first March madness bracket I filled out for work. Or seeing the super bowl halftime show and understanding why people like it.
Walking down the path less traveled on (for me, because I’m a weirdo and make my own path more often than not, so taking an existing path is new and exciting and subversive), I go deeper and deeper into the woods. It is cold and I’m walking like an old man. Stiff and empty and leaning on my cane of a walking stick. I come to a bench and sit down.
I sit in nature, feeling all sorts of uncomfortable feelings. The uncomfortable feelings drove me out of the house, and they followed me out here into nature – into a safe container where I can process them and get the wisdom and medicine I need to return.
I sit on the bench and let the world go on around me. I’m struck how utterly insignificant I am in the grand scheme of things, and yet how I influence the ecosystem just the same. Nature is at once a loving, benevolent caretaker and an indifferent, uncaring tapestry of intertwining thoughts, feelings, actions in endless numbers of organisms – organic and inorganic.
It makes me think of the endless intertwining tapestries of relationships that exist in our lives. The people I met at key junctures that impacted me – in big or small ways – all permanently connected to and woven into the tapestry of my life.
As I sit and meditate, dropping into a hypnotic trance state with my eyes open while constantly being distracted by the animal noises all around, I feel the urge to sit on the ground. I’m scared to sit. I’m actually scared to sit on the ground because I don’t want to get dirty and I don’t want ticks. So I squat. And I look down as sadness overwhelms me. I want to cry, but I can’t. I breathe into it. I remember that it’s not about the content, it’s about just breathing through the experience and not abandoning myself. Allowing things to release in this safe container of nature. I may have howled at this point.
Allowing the sadness to move through me, I am struck by a desire to connect more deeply with others. To truly see and be seen on a deep, intimate level. But it feels like there is no time or space for it in the rushed hurried nature of our day to day lives. How to make space for it?
And how to be there for myself. How to see myself deeply and give myself what I need first, before I can give to others and allow others to do the same. Realizing that I’m just an organism. I’m only responsible for myself – for my survival and reproduction (maybe growth and evolution too). I look at the plants and animals around me and they fucking get it – why do I forget so often? I don’t think Mr. Chipmunk is all torn up with existential angst about whether things are alright as they are while stressing over how they should be different. I don’t think the giant vine winding all the way up the tree is wondering whether the tree thinks it’s uncool or whether it’s doing a good enough job. It just fucking grows. It just exists. And that’s enough.
It makes me think of native peoples living in healthy tribes before western civilization and diseases utterly destroyed that way of life. I wonder if people in a tribe in the Amazon feel anxiety and low self esteem. I wonder if they stress about their penis not being big enough or not being smart enough.
It is astounding to think that maybe rampant anxiety and depression isn’t our natural state as humans – maybe it’s just a symptom of our disconnection from nature, from ourselves, and from each other.
I knew all this already. I just forgot. I got caught up in a few weeks of work, and I forgot who I was. I think that’s what’s happening on a global level. We get caught up in the day to day and forget who we ARE. Wild motherfucking badass beings with infinite potential living in finite bodies that need very little to be happy apart from what’s right in front of us – which we eschew in favor of chasing magic dragons that will never fulfill us. Sigh…
This makes me think of the blog post I never wrote about using potential child-rearing influence evaluations as a metric for socisl investment. I’ll just put it here because why not. Who knows when I’ll write again. I’d like to make a habit of it, but why not just get it all out anyways just in case. And then I can forget and go back to my busy artificial zoo human life compulsively checking my iPhone every 24 seconds. No judgment, lol.
So I’ll briefly mention this, and then if you guys want to hear more about it you can tell me in the comments. I am so motivated by validation and appreciation (words of affirmation) it’s not even funny. You can get me to keep doing pretty much anything with enough praise, affirmation, and recognition.
Here’s the basic idea…
I’m really into tribe building. Tribe building not as some obscure internet thing or having a million friends, but building towards a long term goal having 30-50 like-minded/hearted adults that I’m deeply connected to and that I see regularly (weekly or monthly at least) and that are just as closely connected with each other as they are with me. See the book “The Last Safe Investment” by Michael Ellsberg & Bryan Franklin for more on tribes.
I was thinking that a good heuristic for filtering people I desire to be in tribe / community with is – “Would I trust this person to help raise my child?”
And if the answer is no, why am I investing time and energy into them? Doesn’t my inner child deserve to be around people that nurture and inspire me? When I think of a child, I’m typically more mindful and conscious than I would be with myself (because most of us have been taught to systematically betray ourselves, so loving ourselves that much can feel like an act of treason).
The idea is simple – using the potential tribe-based child-rearing as a metric for social investment – because your inner child deserves it 🙂
It came out of this text message convo I send to a friend:
I’ve been feeling a lot of desire to raise offspring lately. Not necessarily anytime soon but in my life once I set up the circumstances for it. It is odd in the current cultural paradigms as a male to have childrearing be such a priority, but evolutionarily it makes sense 👶
I really want to be in an environment where I’m in a tribe and there’s many “alloparents” – trusted, safe, tightly bonded adults that help with communal childrearing. And also to do lots of personal growth work first and have the mom(s) have done lots of work on themselves first (and all the alloparents too…)
That’s like pretty much my core desire in life – both for childrearing and because that rich tapestry of relationships is very resilient and emotionally fulfilling for me
I’m gonna start talking about that on first dates and see what happens 😂
^kind of funny and goofy, but also really fascinating and holding the potential to be an influential metric for my major life decisions.
Would love to hear your thoughts!
So… Back to the forest… I gotta take care of myself, be that person for myself, and then I can attract others to reinforce it, but it’s got to come from within. Just like any other organism. I got my back.
I hear a voice saying, “just keep walking down the path.” I know I must continue. Mediocrity is “halfway up the rugged mountain” – can’t stop halfway, gotta keep going. To where? Who knows.
“I go hither, I know not where. To find and bring back, I know not what.”
I know there’s medicine and wisdom ahead for me on this physical woods path, and on the path in my life. I am accompanied by a chipmunk who walks with me for a while, going ahead and showing me the way.
That feeling I had of old age melts away as I walk, as I feel infused with confidence that I am walking down my own path in life and I just have to keep walking.
As I morph into a strong cavalier, I feel empowered and focused. The further I walk, the younger I get, regaining my youthful innocence. I realize that – as an organism, by myself, in the woods, as it’s getting dark, I would be well suited to have strong body language. Not to look cool, but because those are the optimal body mechanics for high performance and survival. Indigenous people aren’t ripped like fitness models because they go to golds gym – it’s because that’s what natural, healthy humans look like when we’re using our bodies fully in the world.
I walk under a tree crashed across the path – somehow still being held up by another tree. I think of my parents, and how maybe if I can just “do me” and keep standing and growing tall, then that might be enough to keep them afloat and taken care of as well.
As I keep going, a body of water appears to my left and I hear a loud noise, as if someone was throwing giant rocks into the water. I think it might be a kid on the opposite bank, but as I get closer to observe, I can’t see anyone and the sounds continue. Again and again. Until finally, I realize they are Beavers. I see their Beaver Home and I imagine they are using their tails to make those noises as they move.
I am honored and touched by the Beavers showing themselves to me. I know this is the medicine I came for. I’ve encountered Beaver medicine in my visions before, but never in real life.
I have this thing where I feel like I’ve seen a ton of things that will happen in my life, but then it takes so much time for them to actually happen. One of my mentors said once, “A vision like yours takes a lifetime to fulfill, so don’t feel like it has to happen right away.” Wise words for me to keep in mind.
Beaver is so perfect. The Builder. Ties in with freemasonry and its origins with the Masons who had all this power and ability to create, that they could go anywhere and even cross boundaries because they were so in demand and valuable. That’s what I’m hoping my marketing ability will grant me.
As I forge ahead with my apprenticeship, learning to build products and marketing systems – one day becoming a journeyman, able to hone my craft with others, and then a master – the forces of marketing at my command as I deploy them to create magic wherever I choose to invest my time and energy.
I’ll need it if I’m going to have a family and make my tribe vision a reality. To gather like-minded and like-hearted people together and lead them into a new way of living – a very old, primal, natural way of living that we are rediscovering together in this modern age.
Blessed by the Beavers, I do the tribute salute thing with three fingers from the Hunger Games (it just felt right) and start walking back. Darkness is upon me as I return, and as I walk, I welcome my feelings by name and dialogue with them.
First Mr. Fear, then Ms. Sadness, Mr. Anger, Mrs. Shame/Guilt, and Miss Joy. I invite each of them in by name and ask them what they have brought for me. I speak aloud their insights – E.g. “I am angry at myself for X, I am grateful and joyous for Y.”
The woods are cold, dark, and misty. Water vapor hangs in the air and walking through it leaves my face feeling wet and numb. The trees are as dark as the sky, and as I come to the fork in the path, I howl boldly into the night, before turning down the path from whence I came.
As I arrive at the tree from where I obtained my walking stick, still engaged in a dialogue with my emotions, I hear loud crashing up ahead. I see a handful of the most beautiful and fluffy tailed deer bounding through the woods ahead. So graceful and fast, only their white butts visible as they bound away into the distance.
Beaver and Deer. Two medicine animals I’ve worked with before in my spiritual journeys, now emerging in physical reality as well. That’s only the second time I’ve seen deer there, so this was really special and such a blessing for me. Exactly the medicine and guidance I needed.
Let’s hope I heed the signs sooner next time when I’m out of balance. So I can reach out and reconnect. Because I don’t have to do it all on my own.
Nature immersion and writing are both ways I can start to tap into that still, quiet voice that my soul uses to speak. Just because something is silent doesn’t mean it’s not important. When I get caught up in the busyness and find myself compulsively checking my iPhone, I will easily and naturally navigate towards more immersive, restorative practices (that can typically be enhanced by leaving my phone behind or in airplane mode).
And as I settle into this “new normal” – I focus on building and creating. Humbled and allowing Beaver to guide my chisel as I craft work after work, each one better than the last as I learn my trade and earn my power.
It’s time to start building and taking all of these ideas I have and publishing them. Not for anyone else, but for me. Because it’s therapeutic as fuck and at the end of the day, time passes anyways and I want to be able to point at something and say, “I made that” – not because I’m supposed to or because others tell me to, but because that is how I chose to embody and manifest the energies flowing out of my soul so that they may take shape in this material realm and hold power and intention for me.
Here’s more about Beaver medicine:
Essentially it’s all about taking something from idea to reality (execution) through teamwork and flexibility. Basically my apprenticeship in a nutshell. Beaver will be a strong ally in the process. So grateful for this experience.
Comment below and let me know what parts of this story most resonated with you and what your thoughts are. The more engagement I get, the more compelled I feel to keep writing!
Aho mitakuye oyasin