I'm sitting here by our pond at Headwaters Outdoor School. It’s January 3rd, 2012 and this is going to be the first of many blogs that I'm going to be adding to our website. The land right now is incredibly beautiful. All around me the sun is shining down upon the water, the trees, and the grass, and I look around and I realize that my dream from my childhood came true. This land I dreamed of since I was nine years old, this land I dreamed of my whole childhood, this land I never knew how I would get it, in fact this land I thought was in Alaska or Canada when I was young. I didn’t know it was in Mt. Shasta.
I turned 57 years old on Christmas Day 2011, and here I sit 40+ years later on a beautiful piece of land in Mt. Shasta called Headwaters, and I'm full of gratitude. Not only has my dream of the land come true, but my dream of being able to share nature with people has come true. I'm one lucky guy. Maybe it pays to be Irish.
So, as I sit here I think what will this coming year bring for Headwaters? What will it bring for the land that we live on? What will it bring for all the students and the people affiliated with our wonderful school? This I know, it can only bring good, if we remain positive, and we remain focused, and we give our best, and we come from kindness, and of being of service, only good can come out of it.
As I look back at my life 57 years, and I look back on some of the most difficult times, times when I really didn't think that I’d be able to survive because it was so difficult, now that seems like it was no big deal. I sit by this pond now and look at the beautiful, blue sky and at gorgeous Mt. Shasta, and it's all put in a very, very simple perspective. The answer to so much happiness is simplicity. Simplicity in life, simplicity in our thoughts, simplicity of the physical things we do, the things we have, simplicity, simplicity.
So I sit here thinking about the future year and I know that I'm going to be trying to simplify my life as much as possible. Get rid of the clutter, get rid of the stress inside my body, inside my head and outside, and all around the land, to free me up to be more creative, and to find really truly who I am.
I want to offer up a very, very deep thanks to all the Headwaters people who are reading this, from back as far as 23 years ago when I first started doing work on this land. Thank you, thank you for making my dream come true. You're all wonderful, and whether I've heard from you or not I wish you greatness in your life's journey. My one deep wish is that all of you will do something in your life to make the world a better place, and that you’ll find a way to give back. I have no doubts that will happen.
You know when I go back to the beginning when I bought this land, I didn’t know Headwaters was going to be on the land and hadn’t created the school yet. It was just after a major earthquake in Santa Cruz in 1989. In my chimney sweep business I had been working 80 hours a week in order to rebuild chimneys and help the people in Santa Cruz County.
At that point my life I was in my mid-30s and I made a lot of money or least at the time it seemed like a lot of money for me, and I said, “What am I going to do with it?” I thought of going north to find a place, to buy a beautiful piece of land. When I came to Mt. Shasta I traveled around looking at land and when I came to our land in Mt. Shasta, those of you who have been here, Headwaters, I walked out onto the creek and a Red Tail Hawk feather floated down in front of me, not even wet. That was a power animal at the time for me, and I looked at the realtor and said, “I’m buying the land.” and I did. You wouldn't even want to know how cheap it cost back then, and I bought it, and then I started running vision quests on the land in men's groups. After a couple of years the vision of Headwaters came, and the rest is history. Twenty one years later now Headwaters is going strong thanks to all of you.
Young and old alike, all of us are entering a tumultuous period in our history, and I know there's a lot of anxiety about it. People are wondering what's going to happen to the environment as global warming takes effect, and as Human beings keep taking from the earth and not giving back. We wonder what is going to happen to our government with all the turmoil and the lack of anything that they're doing, or should I say the lack of their doing nothing, and it's a very difficult time for the young folks looking forward and wondering, how am I going to fit in, how am I going to make my way to be kind, to be of service, to make a difference in the world when there are so many things going on? I want to say one simple thing to that. When I was back twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen years old I had the same feelings. The Vietnam War was on, the environment was under attack, on and on, and I took it very hard. I had to deal with a lot of anger, a lot of anxiety, a lot of fear, a lot of concern, but what I did was, I never quit. I never gave up on my vision of my dream.
I’ve always put my foot forward, moving on and on in a good way doing positive things. It didn't mean I didn’t have bad days, it didn’t mean I didn’t have a week where I fell apart, but I always kept getting back up and moving forward, doing things that matter. Staying involved with the earth, getting out and playing with the land, exploring the land, it’s vital to our existence. Doing something to help the land, whether you're working with a crack in the sidewalk or that you’re taking care of your backyard making it better for birds and animals to come through is important. Maybe you’re helping in a national park or a local volunteer project, do something to help the land, be part of creating the new positive way of living.
Educate yourself. Put good things into your head. There is great power in education. Read, study, explore, ask questions, seek out mentors and teachers wherever you can. Remember, it's easy to forget that probably the greatest teacher of all is nature and the spirit of nature. The only way to really receive that teaching is to go out into it and be quiet, and learn to listen, and the land will come flooding into you. It'll fill you up, and you’ll have epiphanies, and great moments when clarity will come, and you'll know where you're going.
Surround yourself with good friends and positive community that help you to work forward, but all the while, while you're doing this don't ignore the problems. When I say there's great power in education, there’s great power in knowing what is going on in the world around you, whether it's in your own home, in your local community, or the world at large, but that takes being aware and being interested. If you don't know, if you’re not aware, then the bad guys have a better chance of winning. We want to get those bad guys that are only involved with their own personal interests and gain, we want to curtail them, hold them back and make a shift to a new positive way of living.
I’ve often heard it said, and I believe this from my own experience, that 95% of all people will usually do the wrong thing, and some of those will do some very bad things. It's 5% of the people that will do the right thing. And it’s those 5%, and this is the amazing part of that, it’s those 5% that hold the space for the rest. It's those 5% that can change it all. It's been said that 5%, no more than ten, can literally make major shifts in the way human beings live on the planet. So don't ever think you're ineffective, and don't ever give up. Fight the good fight, be on the right side, and then you have to simply trust that it'll happen.
The one thing I've learned from nature is patience. Things change in their own time, you can speed them up by participating, by working hard, but ultimately there's a time for everything, and it's the people that trust, that continue to work hard in the right direction that make the difference. Be that 5%, it will change the world. It will shift it so that we’ll become the earth caretakers, living on the land in a good way. The earth will be what human beings care take and I hope that is where we go. Our governments will become kinder and friendlier, more interested in helping the people and the land, and the world will get healthier. We have to believe this. We have to move in that direction. The alternative that dark dismal place of doubt and fear is no place to live. It's a place to be aware of, but still no place to live.
So again, I want to thank all that have participated at Headwaters. You’re wonderful, you've made my dream come true. I hope in some small way maybe a big way, I've been able to help you with your dreams, and down the road you'll have more and more dreams come true. People that have dreams come true tend to be happy people. Happy people tend to be giving people. Giving people tend to change things. So with that I want to make a last plea in that is, all of you that see this blog come to our school, participate take a class, come and help us up here.
Tell someone about the school, pass the word. I believe, and I always have, that at least one, maybe two, maybe ten, maybe twenty kids who come to our school are going to grow up one day, and they are going to be the ones that change it all. When I look in the eyes of these kids I know it. I believe it. And I’m holding onto that belief. So pass the word, so that one kid that you convince to come to our school, or that one adult you convince to come to our school, if they come out on our land, and they open up and listen to the land and let Mount Shasta touched them, they can be the one to turn it all around. I'm a believer.
So I wish you all the very best, and I’ll be doing this blog regularly over the years. I’m going to try to do it every two weeks, maybe more or less. I'm very interested in hearing from you what you think about it. I am interested in hearing if you have any topics that you'd like me to discuss. Please e-mail us and let us know, and I'll do my very best to give you some of my feedback. Okay, love you all. All the best and remember, get out in the woods it's the best place to be!