Tag Archives: Quest

Rites of Vision

Where are you going? And how will you know when you are on your way?

Note: We have been exploring twelve attributes I see as conducive to recovery from PTSD and other past stress. August contemplates Vision.

When my oldest daughter was very young, perhaps three or four, she asked her mother and me, “What do you want me to be when I grow up?” To our credit I believe, we both answered, “Happy.”

Children want to know. Adolescents need to know. We all search for our fit in this world and Vision is the answer.

Several years ago I was sitting in a quiet spot outside a family party talking with a young relative, probably about six years of age. I asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. He looked at me with an expression of serious thought. “I don’t know. Something easy. Maybe I’ll drive a dump truck. How hard could that be?”

He is not yet of age to drive a dump truck on the highway, but he does like driving farm equipment. But, he also likes playing music. Very soon, however, he will be making decisions, choices of forks in his road, that will take him in some direction. Who will guide him?

Most indigenous cultures practice some form of adolescent rite of passage into adulthood that involves introspective searching for one’s place in culture. The concept is quite foreign to America–to European descendants. Pity.

The Native American rite is the “Little Death” known as the Vision Quest. Unfortunately, I didn’t do my first Vision Quest until I was already middle-aged, a teacher, and in graduate school. Still, it guided my research and teaching.

But back to my adolescence, I did search for answers to questions unspoken. I did look to my future to see what my life may become. In my early teens I decided that making money was not important to me, that I only wanted to be modestly comfortable. In my late teens, I committed my life to learning how the universe works. Everything else that has happened in my life has been a walk within those two decisions made before I graduated high school.

Scary? Well, the frightening aspect is that I made those choices with little to no adult guidance. Oh, sure, I was influenced by attitudes and enticements of home and school, but I discussed little of my future with adults.

Is that how you made life-determining choices? Is that how your children and grandchildren decide their futures?

Around 1978, I read a Reader’s Digest condensed book called THE TRACKER about Tom Brown, Jr. I went out and bought a copy to read the whole version. I talked about the book with anybody who would listen. Nancy listened. When she found another book authored by Tom, she gave it to me for Christmas in 1989. That book was THE VISION. If you have any interest in understanding the concept of developing a vision for your future as a part of our culture, I highly recommend reading it, discussing it, and rereading it.

I believe I was lucky. I grew up in a kind and hard-working family. I grew up running the fields and forests, encouraged to become who I would choose to be, to make my own choices, to live my own life. I grew up sharing and caring. I chose my Vision with mostly unselfish motives.

Deep down inside you, in that joyous and free pre-trauma self, what are your unselfish motives?

It’s a big question, but if it is an important one for you, there are methods of finding your way. Those methods will be our topics for the rest of this month.

Happy Tracking!

Love Enough?

There is a story in my first novel, BEYOND THE BLOOD CHIT, that I now confess to be based upon personal experience. Okay, there may be a few. This one happened in my woods in the summer of 1999.

Reminder: This blog series is dedicated to love, the various kinds of love beyond the romantic and erotic that support personal growth and healing, especially the healing of invisible wounds from Combat PTSD.

Have you ever had a question lodged in your mind, swelling like a bean in water, pressing upon your conscience and consciousness for duration? One probably does better attending to such questions until a complete answer is articulated. Peace of mind demands it.

I went to the woods in search of answers and came back with a question.

A Vision Quest is a commitment of mind, body, and spirit to devotion of some purpose. I marked out a small circle, about twelve feet in diameter, on a hill above my stream valley. I laid out raingear, sleeping bag, and four days supply of water. I set up a cedar pole nearby but out of sight where I would tie a flag each morning to indicate my wellness to a friend acting as protector.

At dark dawn of Day One, I entered my circle from the East.

I frequently advise people in a hurry that if one day seems too short, try a Vision Quest.

I sat between the Sugar Maple and White Birch, leaning against a rotting stump. When I became bored, I watched something moving—anything—Quaking Aspen leaves, ants, inchworms, even clouds. Cloud watching usually becomes big by Day Three.

When emotions arose, I danced around the perimeter of my circle. Here I would stay, except for potty breaks and one daily trip to the cedar pole, for four days, or at least until I got answers. Come Hell or high water.

High water came with midnight of Day Two. It was called a “Storm of the Century” and really did bring a 100 year flood that seemed focused on top of my head. It filled my little stream valley with 6-8 feet of water, raised the lake 2.5 feet, and washed out several roads including mine.

I stayed.

I did not need to stay for my answer had already come to me out of the West in the form of the question soon after sundown of Day Two—and very soon before the thunderstorms began.

To protect the power of my Quest, I will not reveal specifics of the arrival of that question; however, I believe the question belongs to all of us.

Here it is: “Do you love enough?”

My answers have evolved since 1999. In fact, the answer seems to change day to day. Sometimes yes, sometimes no, usually somewhere in between with qualifications.

It has been my experience that my best days occur when the answer is a simple, “Yes.”