How I came to Wild Resiliency
“Until the human is understood as a dimension of the earth, we have no secure basis for understanding any aspect of the human. We can understand the human only through the earth.” — Thomas Berry, The Dream of the Earth
I found myself, in the mid 1990’s, in one of the crux positions of my life. My success in the world of business was beyond anything I imagined I might ever achieve. I worked with international clients of prestige on issues of leadership and executive development and organizational intelligence in support of change and transformation. I was only a small time consultant, in the scheme of things, but I was making more money than I ever thought possible and having fun; yet there was something missing for me in this work.
The personal rewards of the work were enormous. I found it deep and soulful, to work at the levels of identity and vision and mission and values with people, holding out such questions as, “Who am I?”, and “What is my work in the world?” Yet I often woke in the dark of the night haunted by a feeling that I was also not getting the results of deep change and transformation that I believed our world required(s) of us.
I sometimes felt I was supporting an organization’s spirit and capacity for creativity, only to watch the resulting resilience be applied toward efforts I considered lacking in reference for their larger impact in the world. I too often felt the newly released spirits of creativity and empowerment were ultimately used by a larger organism to bolster an economic and social system that was out of balance with the future world I wished to help birth.
“Am I supporting an accelerating pace of insensitive globalization, and so also supporting the destruction of the very world of nature I hold dear? Am I contributing to the economic and social injustices unintentionally fostered upon third world peoples by a privileged few?”
The people I worked with were good people, even great. They inspired me with their beauty. But I was haunted, so I committed to take a year out of my consulting practice and keep an old promise that I made to myself as a fourteen or fifteen year old suicidal runaway adolescent: that if I ever lived to a place where I could celebrate life, to where it somehow made sense to me, that I would track that journey and write about it. My youthful heroic dream was to share what I had learned—so others would perhaps not have to feel the pain I did.
In this soupy mix of keeping an old promise to a younger self, and of trying to gain perspective on the work of human change and transformation that I had been engaged in for some twenty years, I took that year, and more, out of my consulting practice to write a book: a memoir.
Ten years later now, and with three memoir manuscript book drafts scattered throughout my life, I am presently working on the book that is perhaps the one I originally dreamed of writing: Call of the Wild Resiliency Within is the book that could not be seen without my first going through the requisite processes of so much complexly intermingled birthing and dying, rebirthing and propagation, again and again.
I intuitively turned to the world of nature as I sought to plumb the depths of my professional disillusionment, and of my simultaneous attraction to the beauty of the work. And also as I attempted to track, through story, how I have come from a place of suicidal ideation, as early as the third grade, to where I was: to a place wherein, in my best moments, of celebrating life, of looking both out upon the world and in upon my soul with what Alan Moore calls “butterfly eyes;” i.e. “Seeing beauty and potentiality everywhere in the world.” www.butterflyspirit.org
Like the Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung, who returned to a childhood love of playing with rocks when he came to a difficult place in his own life, when he realized he did not consciously know the myths by which his life organized itself, I too fell back into doing what I loved to do as a child, into what I now think of as wild joy. I took the luxury of spending yet more time in Nature.
Commingled careers as a forest fire fighter with the US Forest Service, and as a wilderness therapist and guide and river runner, leading wilderness expeditions with clients as varied as youth-at-risk to transitioning millionaire entrepreneurs, native elders and corporate executives, gave me a professional grounding in ‘the out of doors.’ But now I took more time for myself to again wander aimlessly like a child through deserts and mountains, following faint game trails and rocky paths and rivers smooth and knuckle gripping white. So it was that an awareness dawned within. It grew within as I increasingly allowed the shedding and consuming and digesting and dying of the structures of who I thought I was, as I let go of the demands of proving myself in the world and as I let go of trying to be good enough.
The awareness that came upon me is this: resiliency in nature is the capacity to be loyal to one’s deep nature.
It was a knowing: resiliency is innate to Life. Therefore, to enhance my own resilience was and is a matter of sourcing and accessing the deep Self within, the Breath-of-Life.
It is not and can never be Larry Glover who is wildly resilient; but the Life Force within me is innately so.
Thus Wild Resiliency, as a conceptual living systems and ecological model of Wellness, Hardiness and Wholeness, informed also by the world’s mythologies, resilience psychology and the Indigenous Sciences, grew within me as a gift. The gift I will share in this blog however, is a meme, a way of thinking and perceiving and being in the world, that grants access to greater creativity, choice, and response-ability. It is a way of strengthening the power of our own arrival in the world.
Wild Resiliency provides both the frame that I found previously missing in my work with organizations, and it helps me understand the journey of my own life and that of others; specifically, thinking in terms of wild resiliency places the concept of resilience within the frame and context of nature, where it rightly belongs, and it helps me frame how it is some thrive under ‘stress’ and adversity while others are consumed by the same.
Dr Peter Doran08/11/2009 at 11:59 am
I am embarking on some research that seeks to identify ways in which contemporary forms of askesis (mind-body-knowledge: care of the self), as described in Michel Foucault’s work on ‘care of the self’ in Greek and Christian philosophical practices, might underpin a restoration of resilience in modern citizen-consumers. Your inspirations for wild resiliency echo many of the sources and inspirations for my own work; indeed the language of wild resilience may be precisely the direction that I need to take up in order to give a home to my own thought.
My guiding question was uttered by Saul Alinsky:
Most people are eagerly groping for some medium, some way in which they can bridge the gap between their morals and their practices.
rosa sinensis11/24/2009 at 5:57 am
You truly make it seem so easy with your presentation, but I find this topic to be really something which I think I would never understand. It seems too rarified and very broad for me. I am looking ahead for your next post; I will try to get the knack of it.
Ms Pintueli Gajjar12/05/2010 at 12:08 pm
I’m hooked! Since I am, at this moment in my life, going through a similar metamorphosis, I find much meaning and value to your thoughts. I agree with you on the fact that without inner resiliency, nothing outside makes sense. It’s going to take me sometime to go through all your posts and yes, look forward to more. Thanks!
Judy Hall08/08/2011 at 9:10 pm
WOW WOW I am a graduate of Bill Plotkin’s Underworld Guide Training/ Soulcraft Apprenticeship Intensive Program https://www.animas.org/ and am now at Genesis Farm http://www.genesisfarm.org/ as the Transiton Project Coordinator. Is it possibe we could be dopplegangers, or twins in a time warp? You are certainly a soul-brother. Your words, your musings, your thoughts are rich food for body and soul. Thank you Larry. It is good to be on the planet with someone who recognizes the depth of what is being asked of us humans (homo imagens) at this time.
By depth I primarily mean our personal shadow work. This underworld journey whether it is taken on vision quests, rites of passage, Jungian analysis, transpersonal work, nature-based soulwork or other spiritual practices, see Bill Plotkin’s books, is essential so we can open our hearts and bring our unique gift to our people. Thank you for bringing yours.
Larry Glover08/15/2011 at 3:41 pm
I am touched and honored by your comments Judy. I have great respect for Bill’s work…and Genesis Farm is a great example of envisioning a future of thrive-ability. Thank you.
Sara Papathakis04/02/2013 at 10:35 pm
As someone who has covered his work previous, I am writing to see if you would be interested in receiving a review copy of Bill Plotkin’s new book Wild Mind: A Field Guide to the Human Psyche which we will be publishing this April for consideration. If so I would be happy to ask his publicist at New World Library to send you either the PDF or the physical book in March when we get them hot off the press. If this is of interest, please reply to this email with your mailing address, a direct link to your blog, and the format you prefer!
Here’s more information about this ground-breaking book…
What do we need to know and understand to help facilitate lasting positive change in our individual lives and communities? How can we revolutionize our understanding of what it means to be human and revive our abilities to realize our potential and transform our contemporary cultures?
The enclosed advance reading copy of Wild Mind: A Field Guide to the Human Psyche (New World Library, April 15, 2013) by cultural visionary, author, and wilderness guide Bill Plotkin addresses and answers these key questions of our time.
“We’re being summoned by the world itself to make many urgent changes to the human project, but most central is a fundamental re-visioning and reshaping of ourselves, a shift in consciousness,” writes Plotkin. “We must reclaim and embody our original wholeness, our indigenous human nature granted to us by nature itself. And the key to reclaiming our original wholeness is not merely to suppress psychological symptoms, recover from addictions and trauma, manage stress, or refurbish dysfunctional relationships, but rather to fully flesh out our multifaceted, wild psyches, committing ourselves to the largest story we’re capable of living, serving something bigger than ourselves.”
In Wild Mind, Plotkin introduces a map of psychological wholeness that is rooted in nature’s own map of wholeness. The book offers an elaborate field guide to becoming fully human by cultivating the four facets of the Self and discovering both the limitations and gifts of our wounded, fragmented, and shadowed subpersonalities.
I look forward to hearing from you about this possibility! Please don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions.
Larry Glover04/03/2013 at 5:16 pm
I am an appreciative fan of Bill’s writing and work and will be delighted and honored to receive a review copy and write a review. Thanks.