The Making Of A Brave

wil·der·ness
n.

1. An unsettled, uncultivated region left in its natural condition, especially:

    a. A large wild tract of land covered with dense vegetation or forests.
    b. An extensive area, such as a desert or ocean, that is barren or empty; a waste.
    c. A piece of land set aside to grow wild.

2. Something characterized by bewildering vastness, perilousness, or unchecked profusion

So I am pretty sure I am due two blog posts. But one will have to do for now.

As I write I have slept 6 of the last 31hours and have traveled to Banff in Canada. It’s 7.35am where I am. I have been awake since 5am but I don’t begrudge it at all. My general cloud of panic makes me forget how much I enjoy being out of my natural environment. How being unsettled can be a tremendously empowering thing.

I am here for 5weeks. I have a studio called ‘The Davidson Studio‘. Which I will go and explore today. I have a lovely room which has a travel-lodge-but-nicer feel. The bed is HUGE. And apart from that, my time is my own. I am here to write. To read. To engage with the wilderness. My wilderness.

At the moment at The Banff Centre there is the Mountain Film and Book Festival so I am booked into a see couple of films over the course of the next 3 days. Which is a total privilege and a nice way to ease myself into a different way of living for the next few weeks.

On the plane over I started reading a book about Alberta’s First Nations. From what little I have read – and having no or little previous knowledge, I cannot wait to drive into the First Nation archives that are here. I want to share a passage that I read yesterday:

‘Young men sometimes underwent an ancient custom that had been variously described as ‘voluntary torture’ or ‘the making of a brave’. With their breasts pierced with wooden skewers that were then attached by the thongs to the top of the centre pole, they would dance, leaning backward against the thongs, until the skewers ripped free.’

I won’t unpick that metaphor for you. But I like the idea of dancing yourself free and of acknowledging the pain of it.

I added a photo of a map of downtown Banff and enjoyed that all the street names were named after animals. I get overwhelmed sometimes about how distant we are from the natural world. It creates a sharp pain in the space on left side of my ribcage. I think I will spend sometime thinking about progress – both mine and rather grandiosely, humanity’s. Dancing yourself free of wooden stakes in your skin sounds a lot less barbaric than the factory farming of chicken, where each hen lives in a space smaller than a piece of A4 paper.

And so in the middle of this jet-lagged, superficial philosophical, cultural tourist, badly written blog, I will simply say – We’ve lost our way. And I have had moments of losing mine. So now is the time to find the way back to ourselves, to be brave, even when it hurts.

The sun is rising now. For the first time in months, maybe years. I’m off to watch it.

I wish you more wilderness.Sx

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