My friend at the Golden State blog has a humorous post on Dangerous Vacations and a subsequent one on Surviving Dangerous Vacations. There he references my recent posts regarding my challenging return from a 21 day Grand Canyon rafting expedition, noting that, “Some vacations can even trigger existential crises.”
Well no wonder: Look at the world we are living in!
“Nearly one-third of US worker say they often feel overworked on overwhelmed by what they have to do….” and “only 1 in 5 people have found what they consider to be the ‘right’ work for them—work that truly plays to their strengths and fulfills their passions…. an estimated 50 percent of all deaths each year in the U.S. are due to social and behavioral factors often connected with stress, such as smoking, diet, alcohol use, sedentary behavior, and diet.
—WELCOA Special Report: Hard Times,Tough People. Is Resilience in Your Future?
I suggest we have forgotten the dangerous arts of ReCreation: how to re-create ourselves, how to recreate and how to vacation! Spending time in the natural world with intention, particularly with the spirit referenced below, would have fewer of us returning from our vacations to sit unhappily at 9-5 jobs that do not feed our souls.
“el Indio Wareme Cachora, renowned natural healer and Yaqui Naqual (man of knowledge) from Northern Mexico is ninety-six years young. He has taught many famous apprentices from around the world and will soon realize his life-long dream of creating a botanical garden for the cultivation of sacred medicinal plants. Cachora says that only by engaging plants in earnest dialogue, memorizing their uses and purposes, strengths and weaknesses, will a spiritual exchange of healing and power take place—if the plant is willing and the seeker worthy.
“When you approach a plant, sing something sweet to it, anything that comes to mind, it does not have to be any particular song; it is only to introduce your spirit to the plant. If the plant is agreeable, it may speak to you like this:
‘I am a being like you. I live in half-darkness like you—a good man, a bad man. Drink me in tea, bathe with me, smoke me away from people so you can meditate on what I have to tell you. But never disrespect me; for if you spit on me, you will be spitting your own poison. Remember, we are both of Mother Earth. I have poison too, and I have virtues like you, for good and evil use. So be careful what you ask of me—and watch my thorns.'”
— as told to B. S. Jones, The Magazine, August, 2009
Oh yes. As any whitewater boater worth his blades knows, it’s good to respect the river, to “watch my thorns.” And Grand Canyon type river expeditions present their own recreation challenges: Like this badly sprang ankle and subsequent infected blisters occurring on day 3 of our 21 day adventure:
Or take this flip that occurred at Upset Rapid (Yep. That’s me and my partner Dotty swimming, but seconds after the first photo.)
Now there’s a lot of us swimming in the turbulent waters of economic turmoil these days. And there is none of us who will not be challenged by the chaotic waters global climatic weather disturbances will present us with. The convergences of turbulence we are facing I reference as ‘The Narrows.’ They are the circumstances of Life’s river we are now finding ourselves in personally and collectively.
So what are the arts of navigating these waters? What are the dangerous arts of re-creation? I suspect they lie in our relationship to our sense and experience of ‘identity.’ We hold tightly to the ‘object’ sense of self—as western culture tells us we should—and in so doing we lose both the adaptable flexibility of our wild resiliency and our experience of and grounding in awe and mystery and wonder.
Recreation and Re-Creation are fundamentally and in their sacred function all about enhancing our perceptual agility. To intentionally lose ourselves in them is to risk our very sense of ‘self.’
So go wildly out into nature and recreate: Return to your senses! And let your heart be your guide as you open to perceiving with honor and respect the plants and waters and indeed, all your relations.
This post has gotten long and so I’m going to conclude it with a more explicit Part 2 on The Dangerous Arts of ReCreation (Vacationing?) The heart of it will be thoughts from another ‘man of knowledge,’ Hsin Hsin Ming, a Lao Tzu like Zen Master.
Also, as a Note For Readers, with this post I am transitioning from these recent ‘personal posts’ to sharing a number of ‘resiliency resources’ that are piling up around me looking to find their way out of the eddy on my desk.