on "Rendezvous '84"
by Jim Spina
I've just been thinking that it is too bad Tom Brown doesn't have
more than one early reunion at the Tracker Farm. I am writing this almost two months later
and I'm still exhilarated from meeting with all the wonderful people at the Rendezvous in
July. The weather was beautiful after the initial "Baptism" on the first night,
but looking around at all the happy faces on the second morning, one was hard put to find
any dampened spirits. I have always looked forward to meeting all the brothers and sisters
from past classes and this year was no different.
During the year I try to visit the Tracker Farm as much as possible, to assist with the
instruction and meet the people in the classes. In doing this I find I learn more than I
teach. It became quickly apparent to me that this year's reunion had the same effect on
me. I have always felt badly about not being able to remember names. My assisting at the
school has caused me no small amount of perplexity in this area. I meet and get to know
too many good people for me to be able to connect all the names with all the faces. The
rendezvous taught me that names are totally unimportant - all you have to do is remember a
person's face and associate it with his heart. Once I learned that lesson I had no further
problems living with my personal handicap. As the weekend progressed I found that I was
relating to more and more people on a "heart" level. Where before I had met with
people and compared lifestyles, jobs, families, etc., I now began looking beyond the
casual surface talk and was able to see the true person. It allowed me to get very close
to a whole lot of really good people and impressed me with all the honesty and compassion
I found surrounding me. As a police officer I found this to be a heartwarming respite from
an uncaring world. I was quite impressed, and wish thank you all for showing me another
facet to life in our modern society.
I must admit that I came away from this year's rendezvous with a bit of a swelled head.
During the weekend I found myself constantly being thanked by people I've taught during
the year who appreciated my efforts. It made me feet that what I'm trying to do is very
worthwhile and reassured me that it is important for me to continue. It was like a shot of
"Geritol" to my tired circulatory system. For this, I wish to thank all of you
again. You give me strength to go on and make my spirit soar.
Every year at Rendezvous time I make a solemn vow that I will set aside more time to
practice my skills during the coming year. This vow usually comes after I see all the
people exhibiting the craft items that they made with their skills. There were many craft
items at this year's reunion and it was obvious that a good deal of serious thought and
effort went into them. Seeing all this skill displayed made me feel a little better about
my own lack of practice during the year as I realized that many of the crafts displayed
were made with skills I helped to teach during the year. There can be no greater reward
for a teacher than to see the fruits of his efforts in the flesh.
Tom's lecture on Saturday night was very powerful. He is right when he says we must
practice our skills as much as possible. Skills are important - I see them as a back door
approach to achieving harmony with the natural world. The more tedious or hard a skill is,
the more it will help us to tune into the spirits of the materials and tools we are
working with. Long hours of woodcarving, bone-work, stone chipping or leatherwork create a
relaxed mood that clears our 20th century minds of all the Obstacles to our awareness. In
discussing this with many of you during the year and at Rendezvous, it becomes apparent
that the practical utilization of our skills goes far beyond the manufacture of quaint
little trinkets. It serves to open the gates to that lost world of our tribal ancestors.
It allows us to gain a stronger grasp of our roots. Strong roots are essential to learning
and awareness. We, like the forest grapevine, must retain our roots as we wander in search
of fertile fields. It is our subconscious need to find these roots that brings us all
together at the Tracker Farm. All the races and shapes of men, on a quest to find that
special place we know we've all been to before. A goal we all must attain before we can
partake of the nourishment and strength only our roots can give.
Rendezvous '84 was a very special time for all of us who attended. We shared many
priceless experiences together and came to know many special people. My special thanks
goes out to all the dedicated people who gave of their time and talents to assure us of a
fun weekend while we shared each other. I could begin to list the names of all the many
brothers and sisters who come to mind as I write this, but I prefer to close with a few
observances from the heart. My heart still can see all the help that was freely given to
the folks who nearly drowned the night it rained; the mothers who came with the added
burden of infant children; the people who shared their food and utensils, especially the
ones who made sure I never went hungry; the ones who displayed their many craft items; the
brother who fashioned a bow by hand, showing us all that it was easy even though he only
had one arm; all of us who helped build the sweat lodge; the babysitters; the musicians;
the instructors; our gracious hosts; and finally, all the young people who took an
interest and participated - they are perhaps the most important memories I have for they
represent the future, a future that would be nonexistent if we fail to educate our young.