Rick's Journal

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Facing the Unknown: Healing and Growth in the New Economy

This post could be titled "What I've been doing for the last three weeks", if I am being totally honest. And you know what? I could easily just say that I have been boiling maple sap, going to schools, ice fishing, tracking and painting the farmhouse. All of which are true.

But that wouldn't be exactly honest, now, would it?

I mean, it makes for a great newsletter, you know. Wilderness guy takes the brush and roller in hand, makes maple syrup, goes tracking and ice fishing and all that homey stuff you come to expect from Hawk Circle and me, maybe.

Nothing wrong with that. In fact, it is really good stuff. Usually.

But in this case, it isn't good enough. No. Not nearly good enough. Because if I tell you all that good stuff, you know, how we tracked some fisher, some foxes, or bobcats, or had fun trying to catch fish through the ice, whatever, it wouldn't be real. It would feel fake, or more correctly, like a half truth. And I can't do that this time.

The whole story is that I have been going through a lot in the last three weeks. A lot. Feelings of all kinds have been ripping through me like waves, and I have been working hard to understand and integrate what has been going on.

You see, I am a guy. A man. And we don't have the reputation for a huge emotional range, or familiarity with the five thousand different shades of emotion and depth. (Think: A hundred different words to describe snow, or something like that!) Which doesn't mean we don't feel them all. We do.

It's just that we are hard wired to be more fight or flight types. Rather than communicate all of those feelings.

So, why all the feelings? What is going on?

Well, it's the economy. The uncertainty. The fear. That is definitely creating a fight or flight response. Except there is no where to flee too, and usually no one to fight with.

I see it in the faces of the men I play basketball with. A lot of them are scared. Nothing is predictable anymore, and things that seemed rock solid and sure have evaporated like the morning mist. It doesn't feel good, for a man, who wants to be able to tell his family that things will be all right, and feel sure about it, and for them to know they can trust him, to feel that way in this new world we are living in.

Trust me, most men are wired to get food, provide, and lead their families, their band or tribe, through the cold and the dust to a good place. A place where we can all feel good and positive and build something beautiful for this life, for this world. But I know I can't do that right now. Many of the instincts and senses still work, but the messages are conflicting. And so much of our lives are based on connections and relationships that intersect and make each other stronger and better.

I know all the stuff about the wolverine and everything, and that is good stuff. It is good to focus on that when we are preparing for action. But when you are painting for hours on end, or sitting in the cold wind boiling sap, you start to think about things. And feel those feelings. At least, I know I have.

It is hard right now for us. Enrollment in our camps is very slow. Scary slow. We have afterschool groups going on, and a small semester program, too, but the flow of income and energy is trickling and we are an organization that doesn't have vast resources of cash reserves, or an endowment, or anything like that. So we take action, we work hard, we leverage our resources, all that good stuff, but in the end, we wait to see what happens. We can't really add to our debt right now, and most of the banks aren't lending either. We do what we can, like everyone else in the world right now. We pray. We are thankful for what we have. We offer our mission and our lives and our vision to the Universe to help guide us through these times.

I know that if nothing else happens in this crazy world but this, I will be thankful. Because this experience has opened me to healing and my own growth that is so powerful and profound that I can't express how grateful I feel about it. It has been an opportunity that is like the perfect storm, if you know what I mean. The right conditions, pressure, winds, whatever, to create the energy and will to heal, to grow, to change. For me! Of all people, me. Which I have needed for a long time.

I am not getting too personal here, because when healing happens for me, it happens across the full spectrum of my life, not just in one area or another. Everything. And I have been waiting for a long time for this. A long, long time.

Most of it surrounds the fact that I have worked and worked and worked, as hard as I know how, as I am able, to help Hawk Circle and the circle of staff, students, campers and community, to grow and prosper and find hope, renewal and light in this world. And I have struggled with myself as much as the challenges that lay before us, working against myself, ironically enough, to find a way to grow. The feelings of despair, of disappointment, and frustration usually are there, just under the surface of my consciousness, for not being able to bring Hawk Circle to a stronger place, a more secure future, or to be more successful than it is.

(Just a side note: I am proud of all that we have accomplished in the last 20 years, and I feel great about where we are going, too, and how so many people have believed in us and still support us in many different ways, it is overwhelming at times too!)

However, the threat of the slow economy and the realities of low cash flow has only served to accenuate my fear, my own inability to be better than we are, etc, and opened my whole self to letting go of my own expectations and stress, and look within. Which has been very scary. And good too, at the same time. I know it sounds crazy, but things are crazy right now, so it kind of fits.

We still need campers, and support. We aren't giving up on our mission, our vision. I know we stand ready to serve, to teach and to guide, in the best way possible, without fear and with love and respect and thankfulness. I know I am afraid, but also filled with gratitude and hope.

The rest of this story has yet to be written. What happens next?

Time will tell. I will let you know, too. Stay tuned!

By the way, I finished my bow that I was working on for the last six years or so, really slowly! Thanks to Barry Keegan for all of his time and support! And Barry is helping Connor with his bow tillering in the pics here. And I am adding some pics of our maple processing and Trista with our baby rabbits! So it wasn't all healing and growth for the last few months. There was some ordinary Hawk Circle type stuff too!