HEED THE CALL- SO SAYS THE WHITE STAG.
What would it be like to stop driving yourself so hard and simply allow yourself to be drawn forward?
It can be hard to differentiate between the two ideas. For me, life changed drastically when I realized that being drawn is fundamentally different from being driven. I don’t work any less hard. I just work…better… and in greater alignment with my gifts, my deep values, and the needs of the world. I also tend more often to do the right things at the right time.
Being driven is not the same as being drawn. The distinction between the two for me comes down to whose voice I listen to. I used to exclusively hear and heed the internalized, shouty “shoulds” of society that said, “do it, or else.” There was a meanness to them, a pressure in the way they drove me forward, prodding me from behind even (and especially) as I was flagging, exhausted, cold, and scared. More recently, I’ve been able to tune that voice out in favour of something more true. With the “shouty shoulds” at bay, I can tune in to my own quiet, calm, inner wisdom that says, “I love this. It’s important,” and, “Now this.”
It’s just a slight shift from being pushed from behind to gently allowing myself to be pulled forward (and I don’t mean in the yanky, dramatic way of a water-skier taking off). I can tell you that for me, this distinction has made all the difference. There’s still discipline. There are still things I need to do, but the difference is that I check in with myself first on what I’m doing, and why, and how.
At True Nature Wilderness Therapy, we have intentionally used the symbol of the white stag in our logo. This matters, because to me, the white stag is symbolic of what draws me forward.
In the Celtic tradition of my ancestors the white stag was considered to be a messenger from the otherworld — the realm of the deities and the dead. Arthurian legend would say the creature has an uncanny ability to evade capture, and that the pursuit of the animal represents spiritual quest. The white stag plays prominently across the mythology of many cultures. Its role often lies in leading lost travellers, hunters and seekers to new beginnings, new places, new insights and new knowledge. As the white stag could never be captured, it kept just a little bit ahead of the hunters drawing them ever onwards to new places, leading to a new land, or as with David, King of Scots, to spiritual awakening.
I followed my own white stag both to and through Naropa University’s Wilderness Therapy program, and from there on to Squamish, British Columbia, and the founding of True Nature Wilderness Therapy.
Where might the white stag lead you?
What happens when you stop driving for a moment and let yourself be drawn?
I would offer that much can be illuminated in heeding the call.