I've been thinking a lot about the importance of culture, especially as my husband and I have been running Hawk Circle for over 26 years. We are fortunate to have had our own culture here that gives our summer campers, our class trip students, our instructors and our apprentices a great deal of value. Lately I've felt the need to protect our culture here. We've never had cell phone service at Hawk Circle and according to Verizon we've been in a dead zone. Where this may have upset many, I was always relieved. Without the distraction of cell phones, I've seen people connecting more and being able to be much more present with one another. And, we don't have internet service down at the farmhouse where our students and staff stay. This is intentional. I've wanted to keep it this way because I love seeing everyone sitting around talking and playing games or even getting together at the pizza place in town to check their email together. These activities are such a significant part of our Hawk Circle culture and I'm pretty sure that would be greatly diminished if we had internet service. But, society has a way of creeping in even in the most out in the wilderness types of places. About two years ago, people began getting cell service here. Not great service, but enough to be able to send text messages. So this has led me to think deeply about the importance of maintaining our culture and just how to do that.
My thoughts with this as I have pondered this and meditated on it often, is that our outer world has truly picked up speed. It's not uncommon to visit an area one year, come back the next and find a new mall or a new hotel in the place that was once a vacant lot. The advances in technology are growing and changing at super fast speeds. Just when I think I've learned how to use some new device, it changes and I have to start all over. This isn't going to change. This rapid growth in our outer world is not going to stop or slow down, in fact, it will most likely continue to accelerate.
The issue that I see, is that our inner world has yet to catch up, as a whole. As a human race, we've put much more energy and focus on our outer world growth and advancement then we have on our inner world advancement. And to compound this, our movement towards a global community is watered down and I imagine at some point, will completely diminish any sense of culture. We have so many choices. We can listen to Irish music, African drumming, eat Chinese food, Indian food, Middle eastern food, travel and meet people from all over the world. Having culture has provided groups of people, tribes and communities and even countries with a sense of order and rituals and practices that offered an anchor as well as a common focus on our inner world well-being. Culture has provided people with a constant in their lives, something they could count on. We're losing this quite quickly as we are letting go of organized religion, separation of races and are blurring the borders of countries and traditions. We're asking ourselves independently, "who am I?" as opposed to being a part of our cultural collective. This is all great and awesome and a necessary component of our evolution, but what my question is, what is the new world culture? What new model will serve us to help us to cultivate our inner world being and not get lost in the chaos?
Our inner selves crave something much different than our outer world selves that enjoy the advancement of technology and the many comforts and ease of life that it has brought. Our inner selves crave peace and simplicity which is quite different than what our outer world is presenting to us. And because the outer world is changing so rapidly, we truly can't escape from it. Just like here at Hawk Circle. We have 200 acres of woods and fields, but even here, we can't escape being in society and/or having society and the outer world begin to influence us like with our current availability of cell phone service. We can't stop this advancement, BUT we can begin to look at ways to create a new world culture that will provide us with a remedy and a constant to this ever changing world. A culture that will support our inner selves to "catch up" to our outer world. It's like a tree. If a tree rapidly grows its branches and leaves without the same growth of roots penetrating deeply into the earth for nourishment and anchoring, it will eventually topple over.
So here's where nature comes in. Unless we as humans intervene, nature is a constant. While there are many changes that take place within nature, it's always there. We can count on the sun rising every morning and setting each evening. We can count on the moon going through her phases each month. There are trees that have been here for hundreds of years and rocks that have been here for thousands and thousands of years. Having a tree in your backyard that you spend time with as a child will most likely be there when you return home from college or even return home someday with children of your own. The scent of lilacs that you remember as a child in the spring will stay the same and is a scent you can return to year after year.
Turning to nature and fostering a connection to the natural world seems vitally important in my opinion. Not just because it's where we live and it's where our food comes from, but because we can count on it. It helps ground us, let go of stress, and nurture us in a time when everything else is rapidly changing and it's difficult to find solid footing. I think it's particularly important for children. The world can feel so huge and just a year can seem like forever to a child. But with a connection to the natural world, it can feel much safer. There's an intimate relationship that happens between a child and their favorite back yard tree. And honoring or celebrating the seasonal changes provide "markers" through out the year providing a child with an awareness of the changes taking place in nature and also themselves.
I don't know the answers to creating a new world culture, but I do believe that having nature as an integral part of our experience is a remedy that counteracts many of the other aspects of life that pulls us away from creating a life with soulful connection and an inherent trust.