Where Are My People?
a short essay
“Of the three phases of a rite of passage--severance, threshold and incorporation—the hardest to navigate, by far, is incorporation.”
I say this well-practiced line to most groups at the end of a School of Lost Borders program. I offer it as a wake-up call for the initiate. Having just survived the ordeal of a wilderness solo—no company, no food, no four-walled shelter—they will now return to a world that, save for a few precious friends, won’t understand much of what they say about their experience.
“Smudging and sacred space . . . intention and vision . . . authentic storytelling and mirroring.”
Back in the world of jobs, 40-hour weeks, paychecks, and all the rest of urban/suburban survival, the initiate may feel as if the intoxicating world of a wilderness fast has become dream-like, perhaps even a touch “crazy”. The challenge of incorporation, then, can be summarized in three questions—questions that may take a lifetime to answer.
The last question might be rephrased: Where are my people?
Ꚛ Ꚛ Ꚛ
"Two of the behaviors that set early humans apart were the systematic sharing of food and altruistic group defense. Other primates did very little of either but, increasingly, hominids did, and those behaviors helped set them on an evolutionary path that produced the modern world. The earliest and most basic definition of community—of tribe—would be the group of people that you would help feed and help defend. "
— Sebastian Junger, from Tribe: On Becoming and Belonging