Atz Kilcher

From the blog

Trailblazing

Atz Kilcher walking in the Alaskan Wilderness
photo: Scott Dickerson

Well this morning I’m walking and talking. Wherever my footsteps leads, well, that’s where I’ll go.

It’s one of those morning when it is hard to corral my thoughts. I see it kind of like a herd of cattle. First you got to gather them all up and put them in the corral. Then you got to get them all in the long narrow shoot.  Only when you finally get a critter in in the very end of that squeeze chute, shut the gate behind it and squeeze it’s body and lock the head in place, can you begin working that animal.

Delousing, dehorning, branding, castrating, giving shots,whatever you g have to do.
Well that’s way it is with my thoughts some mornings, takes time to get them gathered, in the corral, and in that squeeze chute so I can figure out where to start. What to do with all those words running around out there.

I think I’ll talk a little bit about trails. Trails that we have well memorized, trails that are a bit tricky and new to us,and trails that don’t yet exist until we make ‘em, until we blaze ‘em. Think I’ll walk and talk a little about safety and predictability versus the exhilaration of the unknown.We can pretty much stumble down a familiar well worn trail with our mind and eyes half closed. Our legs are moving but our heart and soul are far away. Far from the moment. Probably worrying and thinking about the busy day ahead.

I challenge anybody to be only half alert or half awake when going down an unfamiliar trail, a dangerous trail. I challenge anyone to be anything other than fully alert, alive and awake, and in the moment, if you’re blazing a trail in a place you’ve never been before. It’s a totally different experience.

You don’t have to call it being in the moment, you can call it being fully alive and awake, using 100% of your mind and soul, your intellect and your emotions and your spirit. For me, trailblazing is a good metaphor. A good way to corral all those vague concepts about being in the moment.

So then the challenge is how does a person in the modern world in the middle of a city spend a good part of each day trailblazing.? That’s where you got to get inventive; meditate, pray, read good books, be creative, make art.

To my way of thinking, art has many if not all of the same qualities as trailblazing, except perhaps a little less danger. There are many unknowns. You’re having to think on your feet. You have to be fully engaged. You have that sense of going where no one else has gone. You are creating something new. You are fully engaged in feeling inspired. Close to that”Source”.

And then there are those precious few double whamy experiences.  Where I have blazed a trail to a place I’ve never been, gathered roots from a riverbank I’ve never gathered from, and created a new and inspiring work of art.. Now that my friends, is living in the moment in a huge way. A person couldn’t take too many of those kind of experiences, could cause an overload in our main drive. With a mere spark, a mere thought, a new trail connecting two points was created, a new song was written, or a story, a new basket made, or book written.

Walk a well-worn trail with a closed mind, you will get back home no different than when you left, except your legs will have a gotten some exercise. Walk a brand-new trail, or blaze a trail where no one has gone, you will return home renewed and rejuvenated,that part of you which is not made out of DNA strands, that part of you that keeps you going, that part of you which has always been, and will always, be has been further enlightened and brought to a higher level.

Even if you keep it on a strictly physical level, and take out all of the questionable psychology and spirituality, the exhilaration is well worth it it’s something we crave as humans and don’t get much of anymore.

We’re all trailblazers at heart. Get out there and find a new trail to walk. Get out there and blaze your own.

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