I am not sure of how much into the wild we really get. Its relative, as most things are.. And some people with experience definitely go further.. But we are off the grid for sure, in the surroundings of small undisturbed islands of skærgården, Sweden, the baltic sea and the few people living at the bigger islands.
We go off with what we can have in a kayak, we set up our shelter with tarps and robe or we are sleeping on the cliffs. The kayak requires us to be minimalistic, our nomad form of tripping makes us work together, setting up the camp only to take it down the next day and to move on to a new isolated place. Repeating this pattern, again and again… Adapting to the new and familiar together..
This year, as the years before I combined the trip with a coffee detox.. I have been advancing my coffee intake lately. As this has been the year of my thesis I had gone up to between 4-6 good quality cups of coffee a day… I knew that it would give some effects, but that it would tear my nerves so much was a surprice anyway.. I thought that I got sick from something else.. But i guess it was this.. Mainly.. The second day I found myself sleeping from 16:00 after we found a place to set camp, and woke up at 6:00, not able to contribute to the group in the time space.. The rest of the days was good though, only a few brief coffee attacks.
This retreat that we do with our Wolfpack Group – retreat is inaccurate though, it could more be an advance into nature – makes us be with each other differently than the way we are together in our regular conventional setting and in our training sessions. And more so it is the group that set the frames, there is no strict rules and the things that has to be dealt with before the trip is discussed among the people participating… I like this setup even more now; that people are really engaging, having participated several years in a row… This year I noted down a lot of the subjects that came to my attention during the trip, and I list those here:
The point of life, Sickness, Experiences, Dreams about the future, Near death experiences, Time, Insects – discomfort, Histories, Songs, Ideas, Sleep, Everyday life, Family, One self, Tribe, Dutys and the unnecessarily nessersariites, Orientation, Location, Environment, The other, What is missing, What you like to do, Love, Security, Coaches, Selfindenpendent choices, Personally space, Nakedness, Groupdynamics, Garbage, Architecture, Attachment, Connectedness, Technique, Kayak, Life, Solitude, Trust, Honesty, Exposure.
This advance into the wild created a situation that made us reflect on subjects as mentioned above and it created thoughts that turned into open dialogues. I mean, that the very practical and concrete circumstances that we act upon can reveal existential needs or questions in relation to our selfs. It can potential open one up to see one self from a different perspective and to experience new abilities, opportunities, world views and positions. The practical and concrete circumstances is really not more than what I saw Joseph Bartz earlier refer to as; do, talk, eat – and what follows that line, for example. sleep, wash the dishes and cleaning (yourself) up.
I want to highligt three experiences I had during the advance with the group:
#The hike and swim
We where six people for the first half of the trip and one day we stayed in a space for two nights. This gave us some room for exploring on land. We hiked from our camp, through the woods to the sea. Here we met with the rest of the group who met us in kayaks, we swam across the sea to the other island, about 500 meters, and then we searched for a Bastu that we had heard about. After getting lost on the island we finally arrived, receiving the pleasure of a treat, water and three heats of sauna gus with our very own gusmaster.. I combined it with some deep breathing as I felt a bit attacked by the coffee. I think we all did though, felt attacked in some way, after getting lost.. It was nice.. After the pleasure, we had to get back to camp.. And because we got lost earlier, we had to find our way in the dark for the last hour or so.. A late meal and a good sleep afterwards.. So rewarding! Seeing so much, getting out of the comfort zone, working together, stepping on the ground, heat and cold…
#The loss of location and direction
At the time when we where only three people left, we went back to the starting point to fill up water for the rest of the trip. We wanted to go north, but we also wanted a two night stay at an Island. We where a bit behind schedule and a bit tired from the hike the day before so we wanted to go. We came from a good group dynamic, but had not found our own yet.. Even though we thought we had… The situation was new as we where only three, and we suddenly found ourselves with only one map. I made a line of mistakes.. Maybe because I felt obliged to take responsibility on my own shoulders, and also because I wanted to pursue the goal… Mistake 1: I got noticed about the map thing but ignored it, rushed away, certain that I could find the way.. Mistake 2: Ignoring that finding the directions is a problem for me, even though I had been attentive towards this on the trip, and paired up with our master navigator.. Which went good, but the goodness lacked when I was the only one with the responsibility, I quickly got us lost…Mistake 3: Forgetting my lifewest.
To loose direction and location created anxiety, I found our group with a lot of islands around us, and two open horizons and i did not know where we where… I did not panic, only because I knew the way back. We guessed on a point and went for a shore.. On the way to the shore I was made aware that I had forgot my lifewest.. A clear symptom on the bad situation, with one map.. To stressed… I overruled the information.. The weather was with us, we could continue.. So stupid… One member of the group told me to think about this situation again.. Of course, I knew we had to go back.. We did. We went back, got maps, life west, shared responsibility and went on again.. In doubt at times, but from that point all aware of location, direction and shared responsibility..
Inferior and superior. This is often something I see in the dynamic of groups and partners.. When one gains energy it is often because another one looses energy.. Like in a fight.. If someone is inferior the whole fight, he can quickly gain energy and become superior if his opponents shows mistakes.. We experienced this in the group as well to Northcoast Ultra two years ago. I think a way to deal with this negative way of being together is to cultivate trust and honesty… You should be able to be honest and trust that the group or the partner is not judging you… In this way, you are not fighting subconsciously about positions, and even when you attain inferior or superior positions, it is in a good way, where people gain of the situation.. For example when i set myself in an inferior position to the navigator, by telling that I need to learn this thing.. I am honest, not trying to be more than I am, and the navigator tries to make me the best that she can make me in navigating.. By best, making me exceed her own level.. If possible…. Not at this moment, with this time though..
When we lost half of the group our dynamic changed, we where growing in front of each other, and had to act, talk and discuss in order to find our way.. After a time, we settled again, found each other in the new form, but it was completely different..
Another note how to make the group more sustainable is to remember that everyone should be able to fulfil all functions of the group… We quickly sat up rigid patterns in relation to each other.. I think that to be more concusses about changning up and educating each other would make the group more calm and confident.. Not letting one person stand out with too much responsibility or unnecessary nessesarities, that catches this person in a fixed pattern.
The wild in everyday life
I think that the experiences from the hiking, the location and direction and the group dynamic can easily be transferred to areas of our daily life..
The hiking; in order to go for a task in nature, we dont have to go that far to get off the grid, and to remember to cheer and to reward oneself to the tasks and also the tasks of our everyday life.
The location and direction thing; can relate to our constant effort to position people in our own horizon and ourself in relation to our view. We need to know where we are going ourselves, where our group are going. When we experience a loss in understanding, we tend to feel anxious.. I think this can relate to this very primal form of anxious about being lost at see, or lost in the wild..
The group dynamic thing; we all do what we do in relation to the group that we are in.. It is said that we are the sum of the five people we are with the most.. We might be in different groups also.. To cultivate oneself in relation to these main people or groups, making one more valuable to the group as a whole might be better than only fulfilling one rigid position… And when people fall away, everything changes… Maybe less, maybe more…
No hiding in the wild..
When we are on the go, it is impossible to hide away. We share all the time. We eat, talk, do, wash, sleep, clean, repeat.. There is no four walls to hide away, claiming constructiveness for something alone in yourself.. You share with your gestures, your actions, your talk, your silence, your sickness, whatever… You share who you are, who you want to be, your experiences, temperament, compassion, and so on… It opens you up, from this simple perspective, it is a bit more difficult to lie, and you might become aware of some things in your everyday life.. Ideologies become more vague as we instead are together, reacting upon each other.. And maybe in this process, we see a way, a dilemma, a different perspective, something necessary or something new..