I woke up on the day before my 29th birthday, my head spinning some time in the future, somewhere down the road.
I’m starting to imagine the community I want to be a part of — one that relies on land and the local for sustenance, one that promotes creative thinking and tinkering, one that values disciplining the mind and exploring the workings of human consciousness, one that asks us to be fully present with each other, to be awake to the world and to ourselves.
28 was a wonderful year. It was a time of ripening, of coming of age, of freeing myself. It felt like the year of the pendulum, and I was finally set in motion.
29 is the year I start constructing the future I want to live in. 29 is the year of connections; it’s the year of envisioning; the year of taking the next steps.
A huge part of Outward Bound, whether it be Outward Bound USA or North Carolina Outward Bound is the act of circling up and coming together for debriefs, reflections, or planning.
During the second night at NCOB for our spring retreat with the Kurt Hahn Fellows (those involved in the educators intitiative), we enjoyed a dinner with the residents and staff at NCOB base camp at Table Rock.
They come together for meals and have a communal space for the kitchen and eating. Before the dinner, just as happens on course, there is a coming together in a large circle — people clasp hands and speak of appreciations for one another, they talk about plans — it’s essentially a moment to recognize the community and your reliance on those people with whom you belong.
As I looked around the circle, I thought about our own crew circling-up during course and before our meals. It’s a novel experience. Some people buy in, some people don’t — they always feel a little bit uncomfortable (but isn’t that what OB is about: finding your stretch zone and living in it). One reason we liked it so much is it was novel — it was something we weren’t used to and it symbolized some lofty ideals about the submission of the individual to the collective.
These last five years represent both a continuation of how I’ve lived my life since I was 12 and a change. It’s the first time in a long time there has been some stability in my occupation and living situation. Even though I’ve moved from house to house, I’ve been part of the same residential school, teaching. More than that: I had known many members of this community from my time there as a student; I had also understood in what ways this community works.
However, my life and work is still part of a school schedule. Every year some people come and some people go. Every four years, theres a complete turnover in part of the community. The faculty is in transition from year to year.
I woke up this morning with the Beatles song in my head:
There are places I remember All my life though some have changed Some forever, not for better Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments With lovers and friends I still can recall Some are dead and some are living In my life I’ve loved them all
But of all these friends and lovers There is no one compares with you And these memories lose their meaning When I think of love as something new
Though I know I’ll never lose affection For people and things that went before I know I’ll often stop and think about them In my life I love you more
Though I remember I’ll never lose affection For people and things that went before I know I’ll often stop and think about them In my life I’ll love you more
In my life I’ll love you more
I used to struggle a lot with this idea: that people were like meteors in my life. They appear out of nowhere, they light up the sky, destined to fade into the darkness of memory. You try to hold on to the moment for as long as you can, but it’s bound to pass.
Kurt Hahn, founding father of Outward Bound writes that
Your disability is your opportunity
and I think I’ve spent a great deal of mental energy trying to ignore the disability of instability, of flux, of constant change, and I think I’m beginning to see how I can turn the challenges of developing community into opportunities for adventure and personal growth.
I honestly think this has been the busiest week of my year.
Over the weekend my colleagues and I were working hard to finish up our “projects” for the PLP Professional Development program we’ve been engaged in throughout the year. For those of you who are interested, PLP is short for Powerful Learning Practice. It’s a company started by Will Richardson and Sheryl Nusbaum-Beach, both rent authors and gurus in the field of #edtech. They’re message is along the lines of Tony Wagner’s: that schools today are not preparing our students for the work they’re going to be doing in the world beyond the walls of their schools.
Of the many I lessons I learned from my second year through this experience, the #1 is that leading, organizing, and coordinating a group of 12 educators from different departments in my school is nothing short of impossible. I thought I would take some lessons from my outward bound experience, but it wasn’t a group receptive to creating a community of learners collaborating toward specific goals.
Everyone at our school is so focused on their job, which is admirable, but it’s sometimes at the expense of creating small communities of educators as learners, a goal which drives my motivation as a
Challenges aside, we managed to get out act together at the 11th hour, get our team wiki page up and running, and finish the presentation for our project. On Monday and Tuesday we had final webinars before the culminating event yesterday (Wednesday).
So week continues and I’m in Asheville today, heading to Table Rock — where I’m finishing up the North Carolina Outward Bound Educators Initiative. More later.
Shawnee Moon is her name, and she’s from Wyoming, but began walking last Sunday in Ocean City New Jersey.
Ocean City, New Jersey to Ocean City, Washington, she says. Shawnee’s got all the stuff she needs under that blue tarp in the stroller.
I asked her how long it will take her to travel.
About 6 months she said and she plans to average 18-24 miles a day, which seems pretty good.
I looked at this woman, about 50, casually dressed in a printed top and some warm capris. Hanging on the back of her stroller was a feather at the end of a small cord of leather, maybe a bead or two. It reminded me of something Native American, but I didn’t ask. The mystery and ambition surrounding her was enough to leave me excited for her journey.