The Beginning of an End (for me at least)

Ah the whirlwind of emotions that is the U.S. Of A. There have only been two places in the world that I have ever, truly, considered living outside of Australia: New Zealand and North America. Each time I arrive I always ask myself the same question “Why wasn’t I here sooner?”.

Maybe it has something to do with the 36 hours of flights, buses, terminals and lost luggage. 

But as I cruise through the sleeping streets of a very warm night in Boulder, none of that matters. The air smells sweet, sweeter still with the knowledge that I’ll be reunited with my lover soon. I arrive at the address, there’s a camper van in the driveway, our temporary home for the night. She spills out into the night air, nude and more than half asleep, straight into my arms. It’s like no time has passed at all.

Only, time has passed. 2 months in fact.

This fact becomes painfully aware the next morning in a cafe. Questions are asked, questions that are not aimed at a jet lagged, travel weary brain. Questions aimed at my heart. Questions of it’s absence. Tears are spilled. Coffees go cold.

We knew separation would not be easy. Chels has been traveling for 2 months, but not just traveling. She has been experiencing. She has been doing beautiful, opening soul work, plunging into her depths, connecting with amazing people, both in group settings (in courses) and personally through reacquainting herself with her family. 

Juxtapose this with my life. I have been static, hidden in our beautiful forest home. I have been grinding the ‘usual’, stressing about work, lamenting a seperation from my lover in a setting where everything reminds me of her, restraining a collapse into ‘ash work’ (ash work is in reference to a term I first heard from Robert Bly’s thesis on modern man ‘Iron John’. It refers to the base work that a man goes through after he has ‘burnt out’ been destroyed in some way or voluntarily gone underground to soul work).

It’s not like I haven’t grown, we have just grown in vastly different ways. Whilst hers has been uplifting, mine has been constricting. A breath in, though at the point where I am staring at her tears in a cafe in Boulder the realization hits me. Too long have I dallied in my hidden home. Too long have I tried to hold myself back from the ashes, from the collapse. It’s time to let go, to be burnt and destroyed. It’s time to breath out.

I bow my head. I open my heart. I cry too now and admit my short comings. I promise to see her, if she will see me too.

And so sets the tone for the journey, the realization of why I am here and what stage of my life I’m at. It is the destruction of the old. It’s time to bravely step into the fire and allow myself to be turned to ash, so that something else may grow from from the fertile ground. To have faith to let go of the broken image of ego that I’m holding onto and allow the Phoenix to rise.

Bit by bit it has become more obvious to me. Revelations are exposed at the right time, as they need to be (if you choose to listen though is another question) but I still had surprise that I had not realized this sooner. My own theory, based on looking back at my life, showed that at every seven years, my life cycle has changed, I have changed. At each of these points, a rite of passage happened (or at least needed to) in order to move to the next stage of my life. 7, 14, 21, 28…35. I turn 35 in 3 months [slaps my palm onto my forehead].

This is the beautiful thing about a conscious relationship. Within its container, there are no taboos, no words left unsaid. If something is wrong (or right), then it’s brought up, processed and then acted upon. Growth is accelerated. In this case not only the growth of the relationship, but my personal growth. Without this emotional ‘kick in the ass’, I don’t know if I would have been motivated to critically look at myself in this way. It set me on my path of change, of growth, and for this I am eternally grateful to her, both as a person and as the power that she represents.


The medicine of the US

I am in the midst of major personal upheaval. My path of change has been shown to me, but only the fact that there is A path. I still have no idea where it goes. I have no idea how to get there. I know where I’m at. I’m in Boulder, Colorado. I fly home in 6 weeks. The rest is a mystery. No itinerary. No fixed locations. No accommodation (except the tent on her back). No idea.

And that is absolutely perfect. 

Without the restrictions that we normally place upon ourselves we have opened up a space, a space that affords the great mystery the opportunity to pour in whatever it will. If we are not worried about which way to swim or which rock to cling to, we can just sit back and allow the river to take us. We can sit in Tao and flow.

First stop is a lesson of being in the right place at the right time, of the medicine of the US. Through a contact of a beautiful sister back home, we went to have a chat and a coffee with Mary Sweeny. Mary runs re-wilding camps for children. Her background in psychology and wilderness therapy is impressive, but much more than that is her vibrancy and focus on the work she is doing. The three of us meet for 30 minutes, have a coffee and drop in deep and fast to juicy conversation. It’s one of those conversation where everyone feels like an excited 7 year old that’s just met a new best friend. You want to simultaneously tell them everything about yourself and learn everything about them.
30 minutes later we part ways. We are now staying at her house in 4 days and then spending the week helping on her kids camp. I feel the sense that we are now flowing in the Tao. We also have a list as long as my arm of other people we should connect with (including an equine therapy camp that we went to and helped out on). And here in lies the first clue to the magic of the US – Connection.

There is a willingness to help, to connect you with others and to look after others, that seems somewhat foreign to my Australian (or colonial?) mindset. Americans seem to always see the ‘angle’, to overload people with help. They understand that referring to others with most likely lead to referals back. In my experience Australians are little behind in this respect. Don’t get me wrong, we do ok at it, but not to the scale that is happening in the US. 

But this is really a symptom of the greater medicine that the US offers to me, what I call the ‘Big Mind’. There’s a bigger picture here. There’s more people. The scenery is scaled up. There’s more opportunity. “Everything’s bigger in Texas”. Despite the talk of climate change, Donald Trump and economic collapse, there’s a real feeling of possibility in the air. That air is fresh and sweet to someone coming from a penal colony. The fact that Americans have never heard of the ‘tall poppy syndrom’ is a telling sign

Perhaps it has something to do with the land itself. We toured from Colorado to New Mexico to Arizona to Utah and back to Colrado, and each place in its own unique way was over whelmingly beautiful. Each place had its own grandness, on a scale that seems to wipe the fragile ego of a human away. In these places I could behold the spectacle of nature, in all its unbridled glory. 

Only in Nature can you feel simultaneously insignificant and God-like. 

She’s casting spell on me, I can see that, but it’s a two way street. Yes I am getting a feeling of awe and wonder from the land but I’m also giving something – my attention and presence. It’s easy to discount the magic of this vast nature, to whiz by in a car, to jump off a bus snap a photo and then leave. When you sit, watch and wait however, that’s when the real magic happens. If you give yourself the time and space to be open to what is there, that’s when the medicine happens.There is a realisation that the medicine is a two way street, that which you gives also gives to you. 

As we were leaving the kids re-wilding camp Mary pulls me aside and talks to me, tells me how important is that I give ‘my medice’ to the world. Up until this point I had seen many of my hunting, stalking and other military skills as something to be ‘rehabilitated back into society’. Now, for one of the first times, I’m being told that it’s exactly who I am is what the world needs. Mary’s words are not taken lightly by me, in fact they hit me like an arrow striking a prey. Even though it’s a massive compliment, it’s the first blow to my constructed ego, an ego that must die in order for me to find my true purpose in the world. 

The ego must be hunted, killed and then eaten to be made anew.

These words bounce around in my head, the thought of what my medicine is, what anyone’s is. Just themselves. My behaviours and knowledge isn’t social or anti social, it just IS. Skills learnt that have no place in a society, a society that in many regards is sick, may just be the medice it needs. That I had to take people to the wilderness, teach people the skills and philosophy of hunting, that I had to be open and transparent, that I had to talk about my thoughts on being masculine in today’s society – all this and more was taking flight in my mind. The wounded ego was losing its grip on the infinite possibilities of my soul. 

This was but the first step in a much larger journey, but a pivotal one. This was the door opening, or a least being a jar, allowing me, if I so wish to kick it open and step inside. It’s not an easy path, in fact it’s terrifying. Looking into yourself and being prepared to tear apart all that you are (or think you are), but on the other side is something larger, much larger than I could ever believe. Like laying eyes on the Grand Canyon for the first time, once you step through that door you will struggle to fathom the depth of possibility that await. 

It’s time to start thinking with a big mind. The world needs it.