Thursday, June 13, 2013

52 weeks later

If patience is the key, pace is the trick

Dear Reader, it's been a year.

This week marks the 12-month anniversary of Woodsman Enough. When I started it in the June 14, 2012, edition of THE-BEE and Park Falls Herald, I had no idea what it was or where it was going. I knew I wanted to write about adventures and experiences in the outdoors, but I had no idea if anyone would find value in it, no idea if anyone would enjoy what I was writing.

That's where you stepped in, reader. Thanks to you, I've had the guts to keep going. You who have called, e-mailed, or spoke to me in person, with Facebook likes and shares, with favorites and RTs on Twitter, through smoke signals and bird calls in the woods - you gave me purpose to keep chugging along, and I truly do appreciate that. Without your support and your voice and your feedback, I would have burned out a long time ago. What an accomplishment this has been for you, as a supporter, a companion on this adventure, as a cast member in this play, as a reader of this column - I give it all to you. Thank you.

See, the thing is, I can write until my fingers go numb, until my mind is mush, until the sun blinks out, and none of it matters if you don't connect to it. Someone must connect with the story, else it's no story at all. I can send these ideas off to print or into space or wherever, but if nothing ever comes back out of that void, why continue? Feedback is critical. Action is critical.

Sometimes I have this notion that I should be writing these entries from the side of a pine-sheathed mountain that just recently became an active volcano, and I'm recording the final hours before a mass extinction. Sometimes I like to think I'm writing from sitting atop the back of a charging bison, in a flannel and cowboy boots, while shooting clay pigeons with an over-under combo, one-handed. Other times, I picture myself fighting off a bear attack or a pack of wolves, bare handed, from a canoe, all the while shirtless and scribbling notations down in a blood-splattered notebook - a notebook of glory.

Alas, few of the above stories are true (only a few), and more often than not I'm generating from a keyboard at a desk, simply wishing there was a window to look out of. The truth is, having an adventure is easy if you know where to look, but recording it in an interesting way is a whole heap of work and sometimes the inspiration to slog through it is hard to come by.

In these times, there is only one rule - keep going. "You must write," I tell myself, "you must be a writer or you are nothing at all."

This adventure of becoming a woodsman is one that has taught me so much, and one of the broader lessons is consistency. There have been many weeks where I have truly considered giving up. I've wanted to sit down on the side of the road and wait for someone to come pick me up. I have been too tired, too distracted, too overwhelmed, or too underwhelmed to carry on - my boots worn down, no reason to continue. Maybe that makes me insane, then, to have kept going, but I don't think so.

Through these last 52 weeks I truly had not the slightest clue where this journey would take me, and I'm happy to report that I'm not a whole lot closer to knowing even yet. If there is one thing I'm sure of though, one thing that I'm absolutely positive of, it's that I'm headed in the right direction. I can't tell you where I end up, but it will be in the right place, I am certain of that. And really, that's all I need.

Every week I practice patience in my journey. I focus on doing what calls me, which is writing these entries, and I put my faith in the universe to take me to the right place. As my boss, Eric, would say, "We are running a marathon, not a sprint." You see, this whole bet that I've taken - that doing right and doing meaningful work that I am passionate about will take me to where I need to be - is based on patience and listening. Pace is the trick to practicing patience successfully.

We have to pace ourselves on our biggest adventures. You can't climb a mountain in a day. It's too much and too far and no person on earth has the strength, speed, and ability to do it in 24 hours, but you might in a week or two. In the same way, you can't cross the Atlantic by ship in a day. Not even the fastest, most technologically advanced vessel can do it, but it can in a week.

Our life's journey takes... well... our whole life. Maybe it doesn't end like you picture it, but if you take your steps one by one, with appreciation, recognition, and reflection upon each, the journey completes itself a little more with each and every footstep, with each and every breath. Isn't that the best way to live your life's journey - each day, each breath?

I don't know what your journey is, but I hope you are passionate about it, and I hope you take steps to further align yourself to it. As you do, know that I support you. Know that I believe in you becoming your best you, because a world full of everyone's best selves is the kind of world I want to live in. Be brave, dear reader, and grow strong. Take it one week at a time, and build and build and build. Don't ever give up, but don't be afraid to change, either. Always show up, whether you want to or not, you must show up.

Sometimes you won't put your best foot forward, and sometimes you might slip and take a step backwards. Don't be discouraged. Some days you'll forget what you're doing or why you're doing it, and other days you'll become jaded to your progress or afraid to continue. In these times, shake it up. Change what you're doing, and maybe even why you're doing it. This means that you're growing, and you must grow... you must.

If patience is the key, pace is the trick. The one thing that matters most is that you keep going. Keep going, keep going, keep going.

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”
- Calvin Coolidge

See you out there,
A woodsman in training.

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