Friday, December 1, 2017

truth in nature

Outward Bound

my life has endured so well
that I can remember back in large chunks,
near two generations ago, 48 years,
I spent a summer in Outward Bound
as an assistant instructor,
I wanted to test myself,
to see if I could handle a major physical challenge,
and I learned I needed to see
if I could handle the mental, the psychic,
how to move forward while fear envelopes me,

the first weeks a confusion of bandanas and salt tablets,
pushing self physically and helping craft people
into a viable whole 
that supported the individual to succeed,
that supported the group to succeed,
that cut away comfortable culture
to a simpler elemental world,
with a run and plunge before breakfast,
a day of physical challenges: hard hikes, rock cliffs,
the driving need for all of us to make it,
our world? trees, rough paths,
objectives barely within what we could do,
the world often reduced to whether we could get a fire going
when the rain soddened the wood,
sassafras twigs and heath branches my key
to open the door to boil water and have a meal,

I spent two nights and three days alone
at top of Hawks Bill Mountain for my solo,
I ate nothing and emptied myself in expectation
of wrestling with the impinging Vietnamese War
and my reaction to when the draft would call me,
the Devil did not come to me in the wilderness
rather I just cleared myself to be ready 
for whatever would come at me,

after my solo and fast, I hiked out,
and my friend had a steak and tomato for me,
I can still taste how good they were,
life itself calling me back to it,

two months later my other half and I 
fell into each others’ worlds,
Outward Bound can cut away the extraneous 
and help you find yourself at your most real.

by Henry H. Walker

November 20, ‘17

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