Carin #2 Instructor at Primitive Pursuits Camp June-August 2014
Carin #1 Wilderness Skills Instructor Certification (WSIC) with Primitve Pursuits May-June 2014
Jumping into joy with both feet, eyes open and with full clean breath: WSIC was my first move in this new chess game, I call life. !Check! One move closer to becoming an Environmental Educator!
The WSIC commitment and literal move from CO to NY was, and has been, nothing but beneficial. Even the 2 week cross country road trip to Ithaca with my two amazing friends Jake and Savannah was a time of adventure and growth. Right after I drove into to Ithaca, I set up my tent–my home for the summer. (I am spending a total of 4 months living out of a tent by choice and so far I absolutely love it!) Anyway, I met my new neighbors Shawn, Eric and Rob. I adapted quickly and naturally into the communal living setting. Only two days after arriving, I participated in the Ithaca Festival Parade representing the glory of Primitive Pursuits. I remember fully taking in the parade experince, yelling successful howl calls and receiving responses from the Ithacan’ strangers. At one point I had my first of many moments of profound reflection; for the first time in 4 years I felt belonging, connected, with a sense of community around me! Through my lenses at the time, I was a cherished community member to my fellow tent mates, and through association with Primitive Pursuits I was also an important, recognized citizen of Ithaca. So what is it about Ithaca and Primitive Pursuits that fosters such a magical feeling of connectedness and community?….
An emphasis taught during WSIC was a mystical approach to teaching, learning and general brain processing called Coyote’s Guide to Connecting With Nature. Ill call it a concept or philosophy, if you will. Teachings are forwarded by John Young— who studied under Tom Brown Jr.— who studied under Grandfather. John Young, by the way, is arguably the Neo of our time, or so I personally feel at the moment (Matrix reference, haha). So far, I interpret the Coyote process as this: tapping into our childlike wonder and curiosity followed by asking several diverse questions– question, after question, after question, after question, after question, until we find the optimal questions to ask. In this magical process the answer is not difinitive and is merely relative to asking optimal questions (MMM big words:). In my understanding of the Coyote, the answer may simply be the best of the best rhetorical question that one can ask. Take my previous question about community and connectidness for example; it is certainly a rhetorical question for now. If I were to explore the question in a different context, I am pretty sure I would find myself at the beginning of a whole new set of investigative questions. Thus i present to you–the most epic question game in existence. Sounds fun, doesn’t it?
During WISC I learned plant and animal identification among many other amazing primitive skills. When I was practicing the skill of identification, I found another dimension to this mind-blowing Coyote process that was most liberating. The answer to a question was never really right or wrong. Thats right, generally speaking there was no right and wrong– success or failure. (shhh, I discovered the loophole though, your right and successful if you learn). If i learned something from an experince even though i thought is was right or wrong it was recognized by my mentors as a right and a success. AMAZING!
Like most I grew up with this right and wrong paradigm and even trusted it as fact. Over the month of WISC there was a profound moment that really tested the validity of this known “right and wrong” archetype. We used animal and plant guide books fairly often. Someone in our group brought to my attention that a single well-known plant, such as the Burdock plant, was identified and discussed in one or two professional guide books but the descriptions differed drastically from one another. Guided by our discussion about the dilemma, I decided that the right answer to identifying what a Burdock plant is, was actually the opportunity to ask more insightful questions: Which book was right? Which one was wrong? Should I even trust guide books as the sole medium to identifying anything? What other resources will help me to identify Burdock plant and all other plants and animals, for that matter?
Don’t get me wrong, I found it frustrating. I still find it frustrating!! Its not easy, having spent my whole life accepting our cultures model of “right and wrong”— Like a baby who’s pacifier is ripped from her mouth, I feel vulnerable and detached from the comfort and dependence on this “right and wrong” prototype! However, it is becoming clear to me more and more that under this Coyote umbrella of understanding it is possible there is no “right and wrong” answer to most things. Its an empowering process nonetheless; no matter what “answer” I come up with, it will be unearthed by my intuition, based on my investigative questions.
seems a bit paradoxical doesn’t it, having the answer to a question be a question and overlooking “right and wrong” as a standard. And If you have no idea what I am speaking to, don’t worry, neither do I really! 🙂 Its philosophy, brain teasing and fun to ponder either way. In the very least, does this blog post excite you to ask more questions? Gotta start somewhere.