Friday, May 21, 2010

Who am I at my.......

....core? A post by Lua Fowles on her blog  sparked this idea, and for that I'm truly grateful. After reading her thoughtful words, I decided to share exactly what keeps this Old Indian farm kid grounded, a concept I was introduced to by my Group Leader when I was a wet-behind-the-ears 20-something who was trying to find out who I really was deep inside. He and a very good selection of instructors over the decades have shown me the way. But, even to this day, peeling away all the layers of who I am at any given time to reach the true inner being is not an easy task, although it gets easier every time it's done. As with any endeavor so complicated, it's well worth the effort, especially if you're like me and like who you find there at the center. 
    Although I've worn many hats & titles through my life, when they all get stripped away, what's left is myself at the simplest, purest, time in which I remember actually being acutely aware of my needing to find where I fit in the world. It was a time when I was not untouched by horror, fear, and pain; but also missing was that deep sense of love a stable home gives the fortunate among us. Having recently arrived to live on the adjoining farms of my Uncles 'R' and 'F', I felt out of place and awkward and the only up side I saw at first was the absence of pain and insecurity. But this new security came at the price of whatever labor I could do to earn my keep. Eventually my adoptive Dad would re-introduce me to my biological family, but even then they were unable to assume responsibility for even one more tiny mouth to feed. So there I was, wanted yet rejected, through no real fault of anyone. I think this is when I began to develop a true sense of who I was and where I fit in. Although I never gave it much thought until much later, even without being aware it was occurring, I was molding myself to belong to the world I found, and most of the molding was designed to fit with nature.
    As young as age 7 I'd already developed the knack for withdrawing from the world, mostly out of a need to survive as told in my early posts. When I went to the farms it opened my eyes and ears to a whole new world full of life rather than darkness. Soon it became clear that my biological family was unable to take me in and I resigned my young self to life on the farms where, when doing even the most repulsive and mundane tasks, a world of wonder was there if you looked for it. Some of the life forms weren't particularly nice in any way other than as a curiosity. Maggots in the manure piles come to mind. They did become more attractive after Uncle 'F' showed me how to convert the ugly into bait for tasty trout dinners.
   As that first year on the farms unfolded I discovered that being extremely quiet and motionless could result in various wild animals venturing very close. At first I thought they didn't know anyone was there, that notion was abandoned pretty early when the deer, squirrels, and other critters apparently decided that the small human in their home posed no threat. Eventually the perfect 'me' spot was discovered in a small clearing with the small brook that fed our pond running across its northwest corner. As it was close to a crude road we used year around for various activities such as logging, maple tree sap gathering, and the other things done on a working farm, it was easily accessible. 'My' clearing was a short way from the road through pretty thick, boggy, swampy woods. This pretty much assured me that nobody would bother me there. I did take the liberty of moving some old dead-falls to make an easily traversed path in, but one that was fairly 'invisible' to nosy adults.
    Soon the animals started to reveal their traits, some of which were nearly identical to their domesticated fellow critters. Every evening that I could, between supper and starting chores, I went to my lair for an hour or so. Nobody ever questioned my absences either, which made it all the more secretive in my mind. No visit there passed without discovery of something new or the progress of construction projects run by ants, bees, etc. Being the curious type, I found it simple to remain quietly rapt by such things. It soon became apparent that 'my' clearing was a favorite 'wintering over' area for a wide variety of life forms, all of which had pretty much decided to ignore my presence as if I was on the 'list' of approved visitors. To this day I seem to enjoy a closeness with animals not common among my friends. Perhaps it's simply that I saw and remember what attracts, calms, and frightens them. And so, at this later point along my life's adventure, I find myself slipping into and out of that inner consciousness and peace that I found so young. It's been a trusty refuge from life's trials and where I go to savor the memories of the many joys I've had. Could be that it's become such a familiar and welcoming journey to that inner, non-existent, yet very real realm deep within us all that I look forward to my forays. I think of it as my 'temple', within which to commune with that which I find omnipotent and 'all encompassing'. Rather like joining an unseen stream of existence and energy that's timeless.
    Each time I venture there, which is more often as time goes by, I find that I'm still amazed by all the layers of my 'life onion' that fall away to enable me to pass through to who I am at my core, a simple, observant, Indian, country boy who's in love with what he remembers as that which first loved him back, nature. So it is, and perhaps that's as it should be, as it seems mankind is continually fighting his environment rather than developing a symbiotic union that would benefit all of earth's inhabitants, from the cold rocks to the sweetest newborn of any species.
    Until next time, stay safe and be well. Remember too, that the roses and their many beautiful qualities will still grow long after we're gone, so enjoy them while you're still able.[and no, the photos aren't even from Maine. Top is Two Medicine Peak in Glacier Park, Montana from George & Linda Allen via the Park WebCam net; and the beautiful critters below are in Anan Wildlife Observatory, Alaska by an unknown photographer. Both are special to me for personal reasons, Mike]


deanna said...

Thank you for these memories and glimpses into the world that became, it sounds like, your inner universe.

I relate to going into nature and being quietly accepted as a child. Though I grew up in urban settings, when we went camping each summer I always found my "thinking rock" and would stay there for hours, observing. I'm sure if a bear had come along back then I wouldn't have feared him (much). It's just been in adulthood, traveling trails with the goal of reaching a viewpoint, that I imagine being stalked by wild critters and sometimes let fear get the upper hand.

Journeys into the wild do help us journey into ourselves and find richness.

Anonymous said...

I think, Mike, that you have made lemons into lemonade. Thanks.

Kay said...

LBorealis said it well. I feel like I learned from various youthful happenings in my life and was able to apply what I learned from my hurts to help other children.

Right now we want to share beautiful places with my mother and aunt. We're planning to take them to Yellowstone and Glacier next yeart. It's such a gorgeous place.