Yoga for Duckhunters

from the studio to the tidal flats

Category: off the map (page 2 of 2)

the edge

cc-remote-writingAdventurers inspire me. They are the fearless few of us who do not shrink at change, at risk, at loss or gain, at limitations, at third party perspective, at any of the things that truly do not matter. Instead of emotionalizing a static world, they vitalize the real world with their daring. They are never victims. While the world vaults them as heroes just as it attempts to wrap its arms around them never wanting to let them go and crying over goodbyes, the adventurer always must go, always grow, and lean into the light.

The spirit of adventure is one of the most attractive, healthy, thriving spirits out there. It is often unapologetic, not because it doesn’t care, but because it lives so close to the survival instinct. It cannot explain, promise, or otherwise foster co-dependency. Hesitation means death, stopping to explain or wrongly consider is a waste of its time. The adventurer is meant for heavenward flights and plummets by the grace of gods within us all. Let them go.

I remember a friend who always stopped when entering a store. Right inside the doorway, he would stop. Much like a deer transfixed in a road way by lights, new information came to my friend at overwhelming and dangerous speed. I ran into his back at least twenty times. “What are you doing?” I would say. We were on the anti-adventure of shopping and still it dealt too much adventure for this friend. I got to where I would map out the store in advance of the visit: “When we go in, head to the right…”

Although my adventures do not amount to heroism, world records, or even great feats, the spirit of adventure courses through me to a degree that I make decisions as fast and wrong or right as possible just to keep on top of what feels like a wave. When I walk into a building, I never stop. I’ve been known to push through a crowd. I’ve been known to walk out of meetings and classrooms. I’ve been known to chunk away relationships, jobs, and ways of life just to feel the raw edge of new beginnings again.

Most of all, I love other adventurers. I love, especially women, who never say “I can’t.” They become young mothers and find a way to make it work. They have a dream and they do everything to make it real. When obstacles are presented, they find paths to a solution. Or better, their way of thinking is constantly addressing obstacles before they arise and developing contingencies and alternate routes before they ever need them. They inspire others with their conviction, and they have conviction in spirit if not by way of explanation.

In my mind, these rare few are always living on the edge. They are recognizable instantly by a certain clarity in their eyes, a weathered complexion, a distracted purpose if any where other than the mountains, air, or sea. This edge that they live on and I hope to always live on is also a gap. It is the space beyond. It is the sun that a blade of grass reaches toward. It is the next bend or hill a hunter must travel. Or else it is the endless night and ache and torture of a life spent in the office.

When I had the recent opportunity to write a regular column for Women’s Outdoor News (the WON), there were several ideas for what we could call it. We thought about what I would write and the appeal of Alaska to readers. I thought of Alaska titles with a bit of dislike. What I wanted to write about was living on the edge. I wanted to write about why adventure matters. Why it matters in small ways and big ways. How it matters. Where it matters.

My new column “The Edge,” sponsored by EvoOutdoors, explores the expanding perspectives on hunting and the outdoors offered by a growing community of women hunters. I hope you read it between adventures.

 

inside the outdoors

boatEvery couple of days, the need to get outdoors overcomes me. It isn’t the need to go “outside,” which is just the external of being inside the house – the outdoors is a place that is everywhere and nowhere. It can be on the edge of the neighboring woods or in a farmer’s field. It can be on the summit of a mountain, if that’s how far it takes to feel spaciousness and serenity. Being outdoors means being beyond the edge of the modern world. It’s a place where there are rhythms instead of language, cycles instead of signs and, suddenly, you pass through an invisible door that is not like the one that exists on a house. It’s a door that closes everything that is behind you and you are finally free. Once you find that place, you never stop looking for it.

There are plenty of legendary outdoorsmen who have crossed that threshold and never come back. They are the storied mountain men of another era or even the cautionary tales of today. Most of us have to come back from our outdoor trips. We have families and jobs. We have to find a balance between the need to experience the great outdoors and still keep the lights on back home. Sometimes, it seems like it would be ideal to live a techno-primitive lifestyle – a remote cabin with an internet connection and espresso machine. As cool as it would be to scrawl out a note that says my gun “kilt the bear that kilt me,” the best thing I can do is just try to get outdoors at least every couple of days.

Several years ago, at the Vancouver Peace Summit, the Dalai Lama famously said, “The world will be saved by the western woman.” His words were in the context of global and humanitarian issues, but his words rang true for something else as well. This isn’t to say that women aren’t powerful globally or there is an impending apocalypse we all need saving from. It just so happened that I read his words after reading a similar quote in a conservation journal: It had said that women were the future of hunting.

In the context of the outdoor industry, more women hunters means more hunters and more hunters means the salvation of hunting. Statistics then showed women were the only growing demographic and the rate in which children were apt to hunt increased when their mothers hunted (more so than their fathers). What interested me most in these numbers, however, was the potential for quality instead of quantity. Women have always hunted, but what would the growing number of women bring in terms of the female values of compassion, connectedness, and community? As articles went to press about the downward trend of the “vanishing hunter,” I was more interested in the hunter that was emerging.

In the same way that western women have a sociopolitical position that allows us to take a leading role in humanitarian efforts and business, hunters also have the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation on our side. Even as media began promoting women as the new sportsmen, we had already been connecting socially online and creating communities some writers have called “the underground sisterhood.” It wasn’t anything so clandestine as far as I could tell. But, something was happening, and we were all part of an emerging industry that matters.

As much as it is fun to share the outdoor experiences that connect us, the adventure happens in the field. That’s where we find that place that is a Neverland of sorts, where we walk through the invisible boundary between our human world and the world that always was and will be. It’s a place for new beginnings and restoration. For those who crave reality, there is nothing more real, more life-affirming, than the outdoors. It was there before the indoors, afterall and before a word like “outside” became possible.

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