Looking Back on Anake
By. Rachel Shopper
We do so many things throughout the year at The Anake Outdoor School it’s hard to answer the question, “what will I get from Anake?”
Here is a recent graduates reflection on the year.
How was your year? I just returned to North Carolina, and everyone wants to know about my experience.
How do I even begin? It’s a story longer than I can tell. It’s a spider web shaped like a double helix. It’s a dream that happened in real life.
I left my home and went to live in a land where the maple trees weave themselves like baskets growing out of the ground. They are covered in moss and when the sun hits them just right, they glow. With thirty-eight other people, each of whom had a totally different life story, perspective, and set of expectations, I walked into a little building with an earthen floor and a fire pit in the center. We went on a journey. Many journeys, in fact. We got dirty. We asked questions. We covered our eyes. We opened our eyes. We moved through the landscape. We quarreled. We found deep respect. We were vulnerable. We told stories. We made fire. We shared food. We stepped into our power. We stepped into our senses. We took responsibility to create a culture among ourselves that was meaningful. We did more than can be told or understood.
And then we said goodbye.
As I drove back across the country, I carried so much with me. Buckskins, herbal medicines, fire kits. Songs on my breath. Memories in my muscles. A new way of seeing, a new way of speaking, and a new way of questioning. I carried huge love in my heart for so many people. People who are patient, and loving, and beautifully flawed, and courageous. They taught me so many ways to look at the world, and to love it. I carried with me experiences that transformed who I am and how I walk in the world. I believe in myself more. And I believe in the future more, that it can be beautiful. Although I will miss them, I am glad that my classmates have been flung across the world like stars across the sky. Every time I call one of them to share a story, or ask advice, or invite them to challenge themselves, I am weaving a constellation. Every time one of us contributes to our communities, or spends a half hour looking at the plants and counting flower petals, or helps someone get their first bowdrill coal, we are weaving a constellation.
It is an honor to have been part of my class. It will always be an honor. I feel I have been given a gift too big to repay in any other way than by living a life worthy of such generosity. I hope I can pay it forward.
Come join us and see what adventures might be in store for you at The Anake Outdoor School!