Atz Kilcher

From the blog

Find your tribe

Lots of research out there indicates or actually proves, beyond a doubt, that us humans are a herd animal. And, of course, as in every herd, there are always a few loners. A few horses that are grazing at the edge of the herd, or just a little ways off. But at the first sign of danger, when safety and survival are at stake, the herd comes together.

Apparently it is not merely a matter of emotional or mental well-being that we experience when we are with other humans. Some interesting research also shows that physical health is actually also improved. Of course, we are assuming that those human interactions are of a positive nature.

When I look at the major issues I have struggled with in my life, right up there close to the top is that sense of belonging, sense of community, fitting in. I have written quite a few songs on this theme. I have often said and believe it to be true, that a happy well-adjusted totally fulfilled person is seldom a poet or a songwriter.

Where do I fit in I don’t know where I belong

Where has my hometown and my old friends gone

I ‘m no longer a kid but I don’t feel full grown

And I don’t know how to find my way back home

I ain’t a cowboy no more, I ain’t the yuppie type

And I don’t know if I’ll find that place just right

I’m not a Backwood hick from the sticks, But I don’t like a big town

Maybe I’m a square peg in a world full of holes that are round


But I do know when I’m riding my pony out across the rolling hills

I watch a brand-new sunrise over the mountains I get a deep Down’s trail

I hear a mountain stream bubbling this through my dreams

I hear the early Robbin’s song-and I do believe I do belong

~Part of a song from my,”Spirit filled air” CD. Available for purchase on my webpage (a great CD if I must say so myself).

That beautiful song would never have floated into my beautiful mind, had I not felt lonely, rejected, like I didn’t fit in.

I used to think that changing or getting over something meant that you would never have to experience it again. Boy was I wrong! Here I am 69 years old and this morning once again I felt that loneliness as keenly as I did as a young boy on the homestead sitting out in the forest under a tree crying my eyes out. I had no clue why I was feeling what I was feeling back then under that tree. I had no clue what the emotions and thoughts were that were driving my tears. Of course looking back, it was part of that dysfunctional family dynamic. Not enough goodies to go around. Parents with their own issues they were struggling with.

Anything can trigger old deep emotions. There are a couple of tricks I have learned along the way. One is trying to stay away from those triggers, the other is handling those old emotions in a new way. So this morning when I heard from one friend that he was going skiing with some other friends and I realized I was not invited…I was right back there as a young boy under that lonely spruce tree.

How could I have avoided that? I could have organized my own ski party. But more importantly how did I deal with those old, yet still strong feelings. That ladies and gentlemen, is one of the great secrets of life. I will share that secret with you now. It was very simple. All I had to do was pause for a moment and notice how miserable I was. How much I was hurting way down deep. How rejected and awful I felt. The next step was just as simple. I allowed myself to have some thoughts and feelings about those deep dark feelings of loneliness I was having. It went something like this.”Well howdy there little buddy, so you come to visit me again, eh? Yep it’s been a while. But I know you well. I am no longer afraid of you and you no longer have power over me. I am no longer angry when you come to visit. I respect you, I know where you are from, I know why you exist. That was then, and this is now. I feel your deep pain, but I need you to go back to that old spruce tree. I got this.”

And then I spend a few moments pondering the strength and tenacity of that old emotion. I love it back to where it is from. I distance myself from it. I breathe deeply, count my blessings and visualize all I am grateful for, yes, including all the friends I do have.

So perhaps changing isn’t changing, but merely accepting. Perhaps changing is just noticing, pondering and not letting it grab you- stepping back. Perhaps changing is merely about becoming a little more conscious about all of the amazing little parts and pieces that make you who you are.

So the main thing to remember is that it’s simple- don’t make it complicated. When an old feeling grabs you, a feeling you don’t like, anything which you no longer wish to be a part of who you are, just breathe deep and notice what’s going on. And if there is an another human involved, just tell them you need a moment, that you will be right back. That in itself gives you the power of choice, helps you separate, helps you realize there are other selves at play, and that that lonely, left out child is not running the show. And remember, no matter how bad, how ugly, how awful that old feeling is that comes to visit, it once had a purpose, a reason for being, but that was once long ago. That old feeling no longer serves you well. So bless it and love it back to that old spruce tree of long ago.

atz kilcher and foal on the homestead in Alaska

Oh yes, fitting in, belonging, being part of a herd is important. So find a herd, go find your tribe.

See there, how simple it is? Reading this brief blog without a single rabbit trail, saved you years of therapy, kept you from having to read numerous self-help books, possibly helped you save a relationship, or perhaps just made you ponder a bit- and chuckle.


  1. You have explained in a few words a self help system for coping with strong emotions around self doubt, loss and deep sadness. In the UK this is referred to as Mindfulness. I don’t know if you have considered writing a book but if not maybe you should. It seems to me that your life has not always been easy and that it is only the strength of family that has given you comfort. I wish you well.

  2. Hi from Norway. What a beautiful description of how one can manage to deal with those bad feelings. We all have them from time to time. And we are herd people. But it’s so strange seeing all the struggle and all the hard work you have there. It’s fascinating but at the same time it must be so hard, day after day. Here we don’t have to go fishing, hunting or anything. I try to learn all the skills to live off grid, just because I want to learn it. I have always thought we are very poor, not of money, but of skills. I will never be poor as long as I have these arm and all the knowledge….. But here people may hunt for the joy of hunting, fishing for fun, throwing out the fish back in the water and so on…. anyway, we love you so much, both the show and your spirit!

  3. Your story seems so different from Otto’s. I can understand how two children in the same family can have completely different experiences, negative & positive. Your story could be my story. No excuse for abuse of a child, but there it is.

    I like the solitude of my life and at 72 years of age I have learned to accept that, even tho I sometimes wish for more interaction with my “tribe.” I am content without it, tho, for the most part.

    Who would think at this point in our lives people of our age would still think of such things? Go figure.

  4. Have just found a reference to a forthcoming book which I was unaware of in a previous comment. I look forward to it as I am sure will many of the fans of the show. I believe it is due out in the New year for those interested.

  5. Very well said. I wonder if there are any of us that are immune to that little child sitting under the tree alone. It’s easier to let go of those feelings now that I am 65. A lot easier than it used to be. But then I’ve worked at loving that little girl when her sweet face pops up. I wrap my arms around her and tell her everything is ok. That those people no longer have power over her. And I look to Creator for my strength and for his unconditional love. He has guided me to my herd, those who live where I do, agewise and faith wise.

  6. “I used to think that changing or getting over something meant that you would never have to experience it again.” Oh My! how many times I have said those same words! And you’re right – it is so not true. There are some things you’re never going to get over, but you can learn to live with it. Unfortunately, the only way to do so is what I call – Walking through the fire – cleaning out the wounds of our past can be very painful – and yes it does feel like you’re going through it all over again – which is why you should never do it alone. I know, there is something inside you that says, go away, get away from everyone, you need to be alone – but that’s the worst thing you can do. If you have one good friend, a person who can take all of your idiosyncrasies and abnormalities, and loves you in spite of yourself – then talk. Let all of what is inside come out, every sight, every sound, every hurt, every sorrow, speak it – speak it over and over, then speak it again – until it doesn’t hurt any more. It’s what I call throwing up all the pain. No, it doesn’t always sound good. Yes it can be ugly and painful, for you and sometimes even your listener – just speak it any way you can. When the old wounds go so deep, they don’t seem to want to heal – sometimes, the only way is just to Walk through that fire.

  7. Hello Atz awesome post I’ve been walking in the fire since August 28, 2016 the day my only son was killed in an accident and I’ve been lost trying to get back but I’m having trouble my son I called him Buddy “Josh” was 33 it’s been terrible for me at 65 my world seems gone I’d like for you to hear a song that seems it was written just for him by Vince Gill Alison Krauss and Ricky Skaggs called Go Rest High On That Mountain I feel peace when I hear it not that you’ll respond I actually looked at this screen for an hour before I started typing hope the best for you and your family

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