|Tom Brown type wilderness survival:
learning to be in the wilderness with and without fear.
The following excerpt is from IN, AND OF: memoirs of a mystic journey, by Jack Haas, "The Kerouac of the new millennium." (FW)
| ...When people eventually heard about my regular pilgrimages out into the bush alone, occasionally a friend or acquaintance would offer their admiration that I had developed the skills necessary to be so self-sufficient, and then they would go on to generally bemoan their own incompetence which kept them from such liberties. This type of comment I would quickly rebut, declaring that the only skill necessary to survive in the wilderness alone was the ability to endure oneself, everything else one could learn in a minute, for wilderness living required nothing more than a tent or tarp, sleeping bag, lighter, compass, and a bag of granola and raisins. Because to be in the wilderness meant to be in the wilderness. There was no need to go on an extended hike or paddling trip; the shortest distance required to get away from the hubbub was all that was necessary, it was far too simple.
I reckon this observation of mine- that the only talent one needs to be in the wilderness is the ability to be alone- and that means lonely- is why a certain well known wilderness school ends each of its courses with a three-day solo session, in which each person must not only apply the practical skills they have acquired during the course, but must also be wholly alone, which is a different type of aloneness altogether, out in the bush, instead of in the city where, devoid of company, one still has books, radio, television, newspapers and all the rest of the cosmopolitan clutter which never allows one to fall back into the abyss within themselves. ...
Occasionally a friend would confess to me that their fear of bears and cougars prevented them from going into the wilderness alone- which, being alone in the wilds, was a rewarding experience that I had declared was singularly important and a life altering necessity. And then the friend would inquire whether I was still afraid of such animals or not. My answer was, “Yes, of course I'm afraid of them.” But then I'd explain an important change which had happened to me, and apparently not to them as yet, which was this- I was not afraid of potentially meeting a bear or cougar, for I had learned that at every moment there is a false alarm if you're willing to allow fear to give you one. However, were I to actually come upon one of the carnivores, of course I was scared, but the difference between useless fear and jungle sense was what gave me, a coward, the opportunity to bask in the glorious outdoors, and stole the same experience from those others. And that is a terrible tragedy.
I recognize this dichotomy- this liberating or imprisoning nuance of fear- in many aspects of my life now: fear of potential harm, potential loss, or potential sorrow, all of which are limiting to life, as opposed to honest-to-goodness self-preservation fear, which is life affirming.
I had come to accept that life is not complete without some fear, and that trying to avoid what I feared was impossible without concomitantly building up walls which would bury me, because to avoid fear was to avoid life. I had to learn to discern between true response to a true situation, and false response to an imagined one. ...
Jack Haas is a wilderness explorer, world traveler, and independent researcher and writer. He is the author of four highly acclaimed books: THE WAY OF WONDER: a return to the mystery of ourselves, ROOTS AND WINGS: adventures of a spirit on earth, THE DREAM OF BEING: aphorisms, ideograms, and aislings, and IN, AND OF: memoirs of a mystic journey.
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All books by Jack Haas, and
Iconoclast Press home page.
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