Looking back, I see the connection.
I see where it began.
What if you could be temporarily transported to a magical place? A world where the everyday clutter and noise fell away to reveal a more fundamental truth about yourself?
That’s my “job.”
I get to meet men in real physical locations—often at the border where the urban, built environment transitions into some form of nature. It is at this border where I lead them on an adventure grounded in the physical, but also requiring their mind and spirit.
This experience transcends their everyday reality.
They are temporarily transported to a place where priorities shift and access to deeper understandings and insights becomes normal.
I become their guide into what Joseph Campbell calls the “Special World.” A real and/or symbolic place that presents the hero of the story with novel interactions and challenges. Think Luke Skywalker going to find Yoda to complete is training.
The experience is a bit disorienting, a little scary, even. And, totally necessary for his advancement and the achievement of his greater potential.
We may do this once, but more typically our meetings happen regularly for a period of weeks or months. Long enough for real change to happen in their “normal” lives.
Most of us have never experienced anything like this before. Some never will.
But for me, it all makes so much sense. Looking back, I can see how I was starting to craft these kinds of experiences even as a child.
There was the time I built a climbing wall on the side of an abandoned warehouse on the edge of the highway to teach my little brother how to climb. He was scared, so I taught him about fear and how to fall properly.
And then there was the time by buddy Greg was getting bullied by the kid down the street. I taught Greg how to throw a powerful kick so he could stay out of reach of the bully’s short, powerful arms.
We would practice down by the old stone wall, next to the tree we loved to climb. He could throw a powerful kick, but his focus was shit, so I had to teach him how to keep his attention in the right place.
I could list dozens of experiences that all contain similar elements: movement, challenge, mindset, skills, coaching, training. Usually in a place that was on that fuzzy edge of the urban environment where nature was beginning to reassert her dominance.
Interestingly, these places were also typically on the edge of, or just outside of the boundaries of “normal” civilization.
Places near the activity of daily life, but where people just didn’t go: old warehouses, rusty and abandoned oil field buildings, old stone foundations from bygone neighborhoods, cement flood control ramps and gates along the creek that cut through town.
We lived in an interesting place. I cannot deny the connection between the physical environment I grew up around and who I’ve become. But I digress… We’ll explore this topic another time.
Where were we? Oh yeah, Yoda.
I get to be Yoda for a living.
Let’s explore what that actually looks like next time.