This morning I was listening to an interview with Esther Perel on the podcast Pivot. She was talking about this new reality we are all dealing with, how in face of traumatic events, we all have our own, different ways of dealing with uncertainty and risks. It resonated a lot with me because I am such an outsider when it comes to dealing with uncertainty and risk. But this pandemic has created a situation I surely wasn’t prepared for. I guess that is one of the big take aways from this traumatic chapter, we are all out of our element here. Which is also why we are all in this together.  

Crossing from Telegraph Cove

I do solo wilderness expeditions. I go out into the wilderness for long periods of time and face the wild. I deal with solitude, dangers, and a much greater sense of risk I know people can deal with. I have spent a lot of time facing my fears, learning about them and the way my mind and body react when facing the unknown and dangerous. I even created a breathing exercise to deal with those situations  – Stop Breathe Relax Listen, that I now teach and promote. In the morning, I take cold showers.

I know that I am an artist, a misfit, a rebel, someone who pushes the boundaries and question the status quo. And I have always been ok with this. I know my place in the world. My mission is to live on the edges, swimming in uncharted waters so that I can bring a different perspective. For more than 10 years now, I have been sharing the knowledge and insights I have acquired from my time in wilderness. I don’t expect people to do the same things I do. In fact I don’t want them to, the life I have chosen is not for everyone. I am fully conscious of this. 

Before this pandemic, there was a clear distinction between my creative wild world, the world I go when on expeditions, and the normal world, when I come back to my urban life. My expedition world is one of higher risks, of freedom and discoveries, where I decide what I want to do, when I want, where I want. And the normal world is one of lower risks, stability, predictability, community and order. I have always been aware of the separation between the two, and how they each demand a different approach, a different protocol. How I behave in the wild is not how I behave in the city. And how I behave in the city wouldn’t get me far in the wild.  

Negotiating my way down the Pacific Washington Coast

What this pandemic has created for me, is that, while my relationship with risks and dangers hasn’t changed, the “normal” world has. The way I deal with risks and dangers out there in the wilderness  works when I am by myself, doing my thing. When I guide people on an expedition, the group is aware of the risk involved and we know what we get ourselves into. When I teach about risk assessment and fear management, it is within the context of a normal reality. But this has nothing to do with a normal reality. What is going on is that the entire planet has been sent to a wilderness expedition it didn’t ask. It has been forced outside of its comfort zone and people now find themselves having to face levels of risks and dangers they are not prepared for. It is like the entire world has been shoved into my world of risks and dangers, but not by choice.

Going where there are not path. Embracing solitude

Before the pandemic, we each had our place. But now, my wild world and normal world have been merged and while this is for me business as usual, I know society couldn’t work if everyone pushed the boundaries like I do or dealt with risks dangers like do. I am meant to be an outsider, not the norm. In moments like these, safety takes on an entire new meaning. In moments like these, it is better to be safe than sorry. It is better to overreact on the careful side than regret later. And that honestly is a struggle for me. Anyhow, those are challenging times for everyone and while I have a different relationship with risks and dangers, and while stress and uncertainty are the waters I swim in, I will focus on compassion, humility, and putting my skillset at the service of the community.

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