When I decided I wanted to actively cultivate a skill-set that would enable me to live a more sovereign lifestyle within my local landscape, I felt like a baby just learning to crawl who wanted to grow up to be an olympic runner. I knew I would certainly need to know the most basic life skills, which oddly enough, had somehow escaped the “education” I received throughout my academic career. These skills, (such as finding food, water, and shelter), seemed to me to be fundamental knowledge to ALL creatures on Earth…except for humans. For us, these things must be sought out, otherwise, we remain disempowered.
Even the thing that supposedly set man-kind apart from the other “lowly beasts”- the ability to make fire, would be lost to me were it not for matches or a lighter. Thus, I identified this as the foundation I wanted to build from: Basic primitive survival skills. How to live. How to interact withand survive in the environment right outside my door, my homeland, the place I was born. For me, being unable to do so made me feel less than human. And how could it not? To live, act, and think as though we are separate from Nature, something apart rather than an integral part of Nature, is an illusion we all suffer for.
Imagine my delight at discovering there was a group right here in my neighborhood, that focused on all of the above. I immediately wrote in and asked to join the next event. I arrived at my first nature hike back in April ready and determined to suck all the information from the instructors as I could. I wanted to know as much as possible in the shortest amount of time possible, (this beingthe mental plague of my generation it seems). I probably would have shown up with a notepad and pen if I had thought it wouldn't make me look even more out of place. I was surprised at my experience.
Yes, that day I did learn several primitive skills, like how to make rope from plant fibers and how to build a small animal trap, but more than that, I experienced what it is like to be human again.
Really human. Myself and the other participants were taken to a place well off the beaten path. We sat in a circle within a primitive dome shelter built entirely of salvaged tree branches and listened to each other talk. And not just about survival skills. About life.
I thought I had shown up to learn how to be a wilderness badass, but I think my biggest lessons have been in learning how to listen. How to be still, quite, and observant. How to be at peace with just being. Within the Zspiritual community, I felt that was all that was expected or wanted of me: Just BE. I felt accepted simply for being there. In addition, the instructors and other participants, many of whom were Nature Reconnection regulars, made me feel welcome, seen, and heard. They held space for me in a way I had not experienced in any other social setting to date.
When you get a group of people together, and put them out in Nature (where they belong I might add!), with no distractions, a funny thing happens.
Its like our DNA remembers. It is written in our genetics, and when placed back in our natural environments, we remember we are tribal, and we are wild.
To be tribal does not mean we have 5 different social media accounts with 10K followers each. It means we engage with our local community and learn torespond with empathy rather than react with ego.It means we take responsibility for our actions and consider how these actions affect those around us, on all levels.
To be wild does not mean to be reckless, undisciplined, quick and chaotic. Quite the opposite. Spend any truly observant amount of time out in the wilds of Nature and you will sooner or later come to the realization there is a rhythm to things, a cycle. It is more often than not, slow and measured, like a steady heartbeat, and the rest of the Earths inhabitants, when left unmoved by our hands, seem to dance in perfect synchronicity with it. Nature does not rush endlessly nor strive constantly to produce more. Mother Nature, and all her cycles, seasons, and inhabitants, allows ample room for rest, recovery, stillness, receptiveness. If Nature hurries, it follows with stillness. If there is death, rebirth is never far away. It is when we forget these most basic truths that disharmony and disease result. It is when we neglect to acknowledge that Nature takes her time, moving slowly, sensuously, purposefully, and by behaving in contradictory manners (ignoring lunar and solar/seasonal cycles in lieu of our various work, school, familial, and social schedules), that we allow for all manner of physical and energetic debris to accumulate on our inner and outer environments, that the quality of life is hampered for All.
Chad Keel and Kody Sherwood seemed to have understood this on a very deep level and are offering up a solution in their Zspiritual Community and Nature Reconnection Class, the later being a delicious blend of survival technique, herbalism, space holding, sharing, native culture and a touch of mysticism. Yet it is their genuine welcoming acceptance of each and every type of unique individual who comes to learn from them, and the opportunity they provide for the members of our community to rewild together, as a tribe, the way humankind was meant to, that is the true gift.
You may arrive because they have promised to help you reconnect to Nature, but inevitably, you end up reconnecting with a deeper, wilder, more authentic part of yourself. It is an experience I hope to share with many in the years to come.
Written by Sara Lee