"Spirit" That Moves Us
In the following few paragraphs, and in my own humble manner,
I will talk about something that artists and poets have been trying to teach the
world for thousands of years. I feel safe writing on this subject because some
of the greatest men of all time have tried and failed to reach all but a chosen
few. If all these great and gifted men have had such poor results in reaching
the masses, I can't go too far wrong.
Right now you are probably saying to yourself. "But I
didn't go to Tom Brown's Tracker School to learn art or poetry; I came to learn
to survive in the "wilderness". So what does art or poetry have to do
with survival? In a survival situation you will have to fashion bow drills,
traps, fish hooks and many other neat and fascinating tools and weapons. These
tools and weapons are the basics you will need not to "just survive"
in nature but to thrive and actually learn from it. That's where the art and
poetry come in. The degree of awareness and perception we put into whatever we
do will better enable us to survive, and the easier we survive, the more aware
and perceptive we can become. Awareness and perception are key ingredients in
art and poetry. If we keep this in mind, the teachings at the Tracker School can
be a doorway to a new life. They are not just about survival if you get lost.
They are that, too. But, most importantly, they are designed to teach you to
become so mentally comfortable in the world that you are able to open your heart
and mind to what the plants, the animals, and the earth have to teach you. This
is the main reason your skills and techniques of survival are so important.
These "spirits of the earth" are so much wiser than we and have so
many stories to tell. That is what the Tracker School is all about in a
And speaking of nutshells, some of you are probably saying,
"The boy's been in the woods so long he's gone squirrelly". But I must
correct you, NOT THE WOODS -- THE CITY! I used to think the same thing about
certain people too, until one day it happened to me. It was just like the sun
coming up over a mountain peak. Bang! There it was! Suddenly, all those mystical
things artists and poets tell about were right there at my fingertips. The
earth, the waters, the air, even love have new meanings for me. I now find new
lessons in everything around me.
The key to my new awareness came with the realization that
everything has a spirit. Once we learn this, we begin to see that even the
seemingly insignificant things around us have valuable lessons to teach. The
degree of importance in the lesson depends upon how we perceive what the spirits
The Native American knew these spirits well. They were a part
of everything he did in life and he flourished upon the land while he respected
them. The decline of Native American culture came about only after he became
awed by the white man's magic and lost his respect for the spirits of the land.
These spirits of the earth that the Native Americans knew so
long ago are still very strong in the land. They can help us too if we open our
hearts and learn to respect them.
The Native American lived very closely with the spirits of the
natural world around him. He was able to see more completely than we do because
he had, by nature of his life, a greater awareness. He did not see "just a
tree" as we do. He was aware of a complex root/feeder system anchored
firmly to the breast of his Earth Mother. He saw the syrup that could be made
from the sap, the food and clothes from the bark, the flour from the nuts. He
saw the tree in all of its stages from the seed to the warmth of its burning
embers. He saw his connection to the tree and the dependence of one upon the
others. In life he depended upon the tree for survival and in his death the tree
was nourished by his body. He saw these things, and more, because he honored and
respected the spirit of the tree and it rewarded him with its help and
All of this talk about spirits of things may sound very corny
to some people but if they would just substitute the word "PURPOSE"
for "spirit" they might have an easier time understanding the concept.
Everything has a spirit (purpose). When we come to know the
spirit (purpose) of something we can learn its full and true value to us, and it
can help us. Learn to respect the spirits of all the things you have
occasion to use, whether they be natural or man-made. If this is the only lesson
you learn from Tom Brown's Tracker School, and you can extend it to all of your
endeavors, you may well have learned the most valuable lesson of your life.
All the knowledge of the Earth is at your beck and call, when
you learn to listen to what the spirits of the natural world have to teach you.
You will also be well on your way to becoming one of the "chosen few"
that have learned something from the artists and the poets.