Rick's Journal

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Vision: The story between the lines...

I have been thinking lately about Hawk Circle in the visionary sense. After all, it's been nineteen years since we started this program rolling, and it is now large and far reaching, running year round and in all sorts of different forms and programs.

Bottom line is, having the vision is the easy part. Seriously. Of course, at the time, it doesn't seem that way. All of the fasting, isolation, pondering, deep thoughts and seeking spiritual guidance, when it is revealed in all its vague glory, it seems awesome and important and amazing. Blessings raining down from heaven. Yeah.

Then, you have to actually do something. You have to build up momentum, inside, and you have to believe. You have to try and fail and try again. You have to solve things, and look at all of the things that you thought would be easy, and realize that you just aren't that good in some areas.

In my journey, I have struggled in many areas. One is in the area of expectation. I expected that the universe would support me in the ways that I was secretly hoping it would. I thought it would be easy, or easier than it actually was. I thought that the way would be opened unto me, blah blah blah. It didn't matter how good the work was that I and my staff did, either. Sometimes it was still just plain hard work with small, incremental rewards that made me think I was just treading water.

My expectations also were blown wide open about myself. I would feel confident, sure and full of faith in my programs, and around my staff, even my family. However, in some cases, I would have my own doubts, my own fears and worries, and I was scared to admit this part of me, or share it with anyone. I thought no one would understand that I had these feelings, and that they would leave if I shared that side of me and the carrying of the vision.

I eventually learned that it is okay to have highs and lows in any given month or year. It is okay to be real, and real friends understand what it means to be honest and open. Even with the inner stuff that isn't as fun and magical as making a fire or turning hides into soft buckskin!

Carrying a vision is intense, especially in the field of wilderness education, because it is a pioneering field. (Pioneering is another word for struggle here, people! Have you ever tried to clear a field out of an acre of forest? Hard work, baby. When the stumps are gone, then you have to try to move the rocks.... Whew.)

On the other hand, I am just incredibly stubborn. I won't give up, and I will continue to pour my effort, thoughts, creativity and resources into bringing the Hawk Circle vision forth into the world.


Well, that's easy. Because the world, and the peoples of the world, need help. They need the healing, the awakening, the soothing of the soul, and the tempering power of leadership that the wilderness can give. And we can do something that many other agencies and organizations can't. We can create serious change through shepherding youth in the wilderness.

Contact with nature is key to help healing what ails us inside, and we offer ways of connecting that are seamless, almost painless and fear free. You don't have to feel bad about yourself, or the world, either. You just have to be real and be willing to spend some time away from the distractions of our modern world. For a little while, that is.

When I look back at the journey Hawk Circle has taken me, I know that I was held and supported (am still supported) by the universe, and by people who recognize and care about what we are doing. I was supported not in the ways I thought I wanted but in what I needed, which was to get better and figure things out and find ways to make things happen when you have little to work with. Kind of like wilderness survival! The love and support is always there, all around you. It just doesn't always look the way you thought it would. Whatever.

Anyway, I don't know where I am going with this post but I just felt I needed to write about it and it seemed important, so I'm laying it on you. I hope it wasn't a waste of your time.

If you have any thoughts or comments, I would love to hear about them. In the meantime, enjoy the sights, smells and sunshine of spring and get out and walk barefoot in the grass.....

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The 2008 Tracking Expedition

If there is one thing that is hard to teach, it's tracking. I mean, tracking is all about awareness, and it is damn hard to change that! Basically, you are working hard to change old habits of perception. And there is the added helping of belief. If you don't believe you can see tracks in leaves, or moss, or gravel or sand, then you won't. So that part is definitely important.

Fortunately, it is made a lot easier when people actually want to become good trackers, and are willing to work hard to grow. Which was the case in April while we were on the Spring Earth Skills Semester on the Tracking Expedition.

We left the third week of April to head down to Cape Cod, where we stayed for five days and melted our brains in the sands of this amazing place....

Luke Gaillard and I started with everything from footprint drawings and study, to stride and gait patterns and even a little track aging thrown in for fun. We tracked in sand. We tracked in gravel. We tracked in moss. We tracked in pine needles. We even tracked in deep leaf litter, and that was intense and revealing....

One of the highlights of the trip was taking the group blindfolded into the forest, letting them see and find their own trail in dry leaves. (Yes, they did find their way back.)

Another thing that was very successful was moving from area to area and applying the skills learned to the new place, building our awareness and tracking tools with each stop. It was amazing how tired everyone got just looking at tracks and trees and plants and animals and ocean. Nature can sure tire you out!

We followed skunk tracks in the dunes of Nauset Beach, and deer, coyotes, cottontails, fishers and raccoons in several areas. The crow tracks were really neat, and the way that the damp sand and clays showed hair and even finger/paw prints was amazing. There is something powerful about studying animals through their tracks, feeling and seeing the landscape and exploring the terrain through their eyes.... well, words can't express what it was like. Spring was in the air, with branches budding out, flowering and green. I wish I could share our walks and studies with everyone!

The open, fresh clean sand of the wide beaches gave us lots of time to test our skills, making tricky trails where we had to figure out what our companions did in fifteen-twenty steps, which let us ignore the wind and the fading sunlight and our tired legs and just unravel the mystery.

Yeah, it was a good trip. See you next year!?

Have a great spring!