by Tom Anderson
According to a new CNN poll, seventy-three percent of Americans said that they were somewhat or very scared about the way things were going in the United States, even though they also said that things were going fine for themselves personally. Think about that for a moment: Seventy-three percent of Americans are frightened, even though most of them aren’t quite sure why.
This reminds me of the first time I vision quested with Rites of Passage. Starting about a month before my trip, I started thinking about bears – and not in a good way. Even though I grew up camping and hiking in bear country in western North Carolina without ever seeing a bear, let alone being frightened of them, I started worrying that I might have to deal with a bear on my vision quest. I would fall asleep at night with them on my mind and sometimes they would show up in my dreams. But, I did my best to put the fear aside and I didn’t let it stop me from making the journey. You can imagine my relief when I found out that there aren’t any bears in the White Mountains of California where my group quested.
I talked about my bear fear in one of our opening councils on my quest and Mike Bodkin, who was leading that trip, showed me the bear totem he wore around his neck. We talked about bear energy and how it represents the “go within place” of the West. If I wanted to find out why I was afraid of bears, I was going to have to look inside. What was the thing that I was really afraid of? What are we all really afraid of? Is it the bears on Wall Street or the ones that call us to look within and find our true vision for the world, the true purpose of our being?
If we let our fears control us, then we let the fear win. Instead, we can use fear to teach us something about ourselves. It is precisely in these times of deep transition that we are ripe for the deep inner work. We can use the fear of what is going on in the economy to lead us to a deeper understanding about the fears we hold inside. I can imagine no better place to do that kind of inner work than on a vision quest.
These are rich times we are living in…rich in opportunity for growth and healing, for ourselves and for the planet. While most of us will run and hide our heads under the covers, it is the true hero that will seize this moment in time and create something of lasting value from it. It is in the goo of metamorphosis that the caterpillar changes to a butterfly. Lasting change, personal growth, and soul healing will always require a bit of the goo, so don’t miss this chance to roll around in it.
Remember, there are no bears out there – only the ones in our minds.