I and my classmates presented our Independent Study Projects on Tuesday. What a great day…what a revolutionary idea- an academic program where you not only learn from your teachers, but also from your classmates!
The question to all of us was- how has this informed you as a practitioner? In my presentation, I did my usual gig. I threw up an enormous amount of random information and hoped it stuck to the wall. Upon reflection, I think a summary is in order…
Lesson #1- Efforting means you’re probably doing something wrong.
I began the project with grandiose ideas of not only cracking the code of solar and lunar calendars, but also taking on Chinese cosmology, astronomy, astrology and phenology. Not to mention compulsively checking dates in the middle of trying to correlate the Native American moons to the seasonal almanacs. At a certain point, I realized that if I pulled my head out of the mounds of data and got my ass out there in nature, it was right there in front of me. All I had to do was watch the light, feel the air, observe the gentle tugs when something caught my attention. Do the work, but don’t mistake your personal agenda for the work…
Lesson #2- Theory informs practice. Practice drives theory.
(Just for the record, that pithy aphorism is straight from the Academic Dean.) There is no substitute for putting in the work. And at a certain point, the feet must start walking. The lessons emerge as we walk the road. You can look up the bus schedules, check out the destinations, compare fares. At a certain point, you’re either on the bus or you’re not.
Lesson #3- Who’s doing the work?
When I began the project, I thought I was doing all the work. Then, at a certain point, the lights came on and I realized the project was doing me. Nature was gently nudging-
hey take a look at this…
And then it became a dance. Sometimes we whirled in unison, other times I trod heavily upon its tender toes. But it became a partnership. A play where I realized I had a 2 minute walk-on role upon which the scene hinged. The show would still go on regardless. But I had to show up to the best of my ability.
“The forest person will scrutinize you closely. Maybe she will sniff you. Maybe not. But she will size you up, that’s for sure. Sacha Huarmi wants to see if you are complete, if you have the fiber to see the training through to the end.” Dale Pendell, Pharmakopoeia