Chucking Out Agendas & Thriving Again
Thomas Watercrag, 2001
Except for the last ten or so generations, Homo sapiens lived a lifestyle very similar to the previous generations. We have the genetics suited to surviving in ‘natural’ environments on a temperate, fertile planet earth. Many of us in the Western world are applying our phenotypic equipment to surviving in a fantastic new world which has reshaped many forms of nature into a new experiential reality. And for many individuals and groups the challenge is proving formidable. A few are thriving.
My view is the whole phenomenon of outdoor education should strip itself, as much as possible, of political agendas. Let's stop trying to push barrows and relax. Let the phenomenon evolve naturally through the cracks in society which allow any variety of nature-based experiences in. Let go of the environmental stuff, let go of personal development, let go of therapy, let go of bloody accrediting what we haven't even understood yet, let go and start again with the myriad of new possibilities which arise each and every day in this brave new world, in unique ways for each individual.
So, go and be innocent. Try to be for the first time just whatever happens. Infinity is in a single flower. Enlightenment can come in a flash. Healing can happen just like that. Just open yourself and see what can really happen. Stay closed and struggle on, with lingering doubts, unanswered questions, dissatisfactions, disquiets, and secret, growing, cancerous agendas which you all wear on your sleeve as if to say, hey, yes, I am in the psychiatric category of not being able to resolve my shit within, so I have to project it loudly outwards. Leave your agenda at the gate and just you walk out there, unclothed. Let what happens within become the teacher. If there is counsel needed, ask anything out there; answers will find you.
Outdoor education is way too narrow at the moment for it to achieve the sorts of transformations necessary in human consciousness in the next 100 years to achieve so-called sustainability. So we must either adopt a radical, experimental, high risk, diverse approach to the evolution of outdoor education, or we must content ourselves with a small role, having a few effects at the edges of this rapidly changing world.
It is OK for outdoor education to not be that important, if that's we want. There are big other forces out there and it is wrong to assume the modern world is all bad. Sooner or later this human experiment with technology will lead to a revolution of some sort – and perhaps the other side of this ‘progress’ could be a utopian transformation like we’ve never been able to imagine – e.g., biotechnological fusion of consciousness through globally linked human-computer thought systems. Perhaps a nuclear war will reduce the population to a few resilient, lucky species who will have a chance to begin things again and evolve a stronger post-human species. Perhaps another field of endeavour, such as medicine, will find and approve a drug to make us relax on the progress-addiction and increase our desire to live more simply. Anyway, do the various futures really matter that much? Do they really matter enough, say, to make yourself grumpy or give yourself cancer over? Or to disagree with someone at a conference? Who says any one is ‘better’ than another? Why restrict the possibilities unless infinity is too much for you?
So just get along with the art of the now. The future is a construction, as is the past. Let's not get too caught up in these illusions and in so doing lose sight of the present. Relax and forget trying to solve the bloody problems. Get Zen. Baggage will come up of course, that’s why we don’t usually stay in the present. So just deal with it, and the world will be better for it.
Why we are getting so caught up in caring for the environment, as though its some zealous new religion? Only because we don’t yet have the skills for caring for ourselves. So we externalise and try to do something 'good' ‘out there’. Who are we kidding? The earth doesn't care! It has been around for billions of years and it will disintegrate. Big deal. Environmental agendas, like all political agendas, are just a wank. Ultimately, we are seeking our own healing. The clearest path is go straight to the heart of the matter and to travel within. For every moment that you spend outside of yourself, focusing and projecting your shit outwards, turn back to the journey within. Stop. Watch. Listen. And move to create shifts of healing within. Great leaps are possible. Just do yourself a favour and get over the obsession in outdoor education about deifying the outer landscape when we're really just scratching around to resolve our own shit within.
It is possible to live enormously happily in this world. Some people find it crazy and difficult and a few thrive. It is possible to embody paradox and to not get too carried away by outward agendas which make gaols of our goals. Some people live and die on the back of a single issue, an inner labyrinth from which they are never able to escape. Do yourself and others a favour and try something else.
Take a walk around. What do you see? Chuck it out. Walk around yourself again. What do you see now? Chuck that out too. Walk around again. Keep chucking out and walking around yourself. When there’s nothing left, you’ll start living again.
Example. Walk into the bush. Keep walking. Walk off tracks. Do not plan where you are going. Take whatever directions appeal in the moment. Keep walking. When (without realising) you are lost, look into the eyes of the dragon, then your adventure begins. Good luck.
About the author:
Thomas Watercrag is a North American who has backpacked in Australia and worked on cattle stations in the Northern Territory. He has also been in the volunteer peace corps, serving most recently in Jordan. Sometimes he instructs outdoor education programs. At all times he is a journeyman. He can sometimes be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org, but don't count on it.
Note: The second law of thermodynamics explain to us that ‘sustainability’ is only ever a temporary state.