Scout–how to reinvent in the face of crumbling systems

In response to Becky’s question:  “How may I too become a Scout for EarthWideTribe? I’d like to perform that function formally and add it to my resume.”

You make me smile! I love your earnestness & sincerity. Or if you mean it as a joke, I like your sense of humor! I made up my job title as Scout after I realized recently that the former one I had given myself–Creatrix–wasn’t actually true. I didn’t create anything. The EarthWideTribe exists, though I did put a name to it. Yet in working out what I’m doing in this life these days, I realized that I am connecting the folks in it–passing on bits & pieces picked up on this part of the planet to folks on another part, as I travel. So I changed the title to Messenger, which also fits with this practice of writing on the blog–passing on what I’ve experienced, as best I can, & seeing how some bits of story cross-pollinate others. The Messenger doesn’t create the story, only relays it, thus the phrase, “don’t kill the messenger!”

But then Scout came into view because a lot of times I feel like I’m following a hunch that isn’t even fully or formally formed into a hunch yet–an inkling maybe–& only later down the track do I see how guided I was by something beyond my own ordinary vision. Scouts learn to see in the dark, to listen with heightened acuity, to bravely step on ahead into the seeming unknown, with the intention of holding a protective space for all that they love, all that they belong to. (I’m just understanding this now as I reply to you, so thank you for giving me the opportunity to clarify!)

When I joked that PocaHAUNTus (& also my online yoga school) is like the PhD thesis that no university is giving me credit for, you felt I should submit it somewhere, get university recognition for it. I considered your suggestion, but what I’ve realized is that, similar to how I understand First Nation folks to operate, I don’t need anyone’s stamp of approval to follow what makes sense to me, & to share it. In fact, it might get in the way or be a distraction.

And this thought leads me into a growing awareness I’ve had in scouting around, which is that there’s a great disheartenment going on among young folks. I know we read about it, but I prefer to touch down on the ground of experience with live humans & their situations than to read about it–I understand things better with my own senses than with my mind alone. And what I’ve seen in cousins coming out of university, in students going into university, in adults afraid to change tack in their work, is that we’ve systematized most everything. Which is fine when everything’s running smoothly & people can slide into & through the systems, grateful to simply go along with what’s already in place. I mean who wants to build the world from the ground up? Who wants to pick through rubble for usable parts & recreate something that will hold together & be purposeful?

When I was growing up, billboards didn’t advertise universities. When did this happen? When did universities need to start advertising to draw in prospects? The universities I applied to were so competitive that even though I was near the top of my class & had all sorts of accolades in high school, I still didn’t get in to my top choice university. It feels like a façade has fallen. And that’s the one that looks like it’s a privilege to have a higher education. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love learning & I love the university I did eventually go to, and I really worked for it & earned it, at least by the standards of the systems I was operating under. And it is, & was, a privilege to be able to take that education, no doubt.

Yet, to me, what’s an even greater privilege is having internal systems that work–eyes to see, ears that hear well enough, acute touch sensitivity, a clear mind to decipher the codes, a strong body to express it all through. And I feel more & more that the things we really need to know are not being taught in schools. Our avocado green refrigerator at home had two things on it that I found helpful when I was in middle & high school–The Desiderata & a list of what a human being should be capable of doing which included things like changing a diaper & conning a ship…

31nj58iI found that very comforting since my curiosity led me into such seemingly diverse tracks as biology, drama, languages, textiles, sports of all sorts. I wanted to learn everything. So when I transferred to Cornell I applied for an independent major & titled it the Semiotics of Dress because I wanted to combine Anthropology, Art History, Textile Science, Costume Design & Construction into one stream of consideration that asked the basic question, “why do people wear what they wear?” They looked at it & made me re-hash it several times over the course of a year & eventually I decided that trying to get their approval for what I wanted to do was getting in the way of actually doing what I wanted to do. So I took all the classes I had proposed taking but instead of creating my own major & writing a thesis, I settled into their already-established track of Theatre Arts. I didn’t want to waste any more time trying to convince them.

And I’d say that’s still the way with me. Perhaps it doesn’t make me terribly employable, but somehow I’ve survived & even thrived. When I decided to create a program to teach people to teach yoga, a step beyond just teaching them to do yoga by now teaching them how to teach others, I purposefully called it MYOGA Apprentice Programme to emphasize that old-school way of learning whereby you apprentice with someone who has more experience than you have. And you learn by doing, more than by taking notes. I wanted to give students what I didn’t have when I did my 200 hour teacher training, which was an on-going sense of mentorship. The teacher training doesn’t make you a teacher! It’s the beginning of a long path & when I was on an island with only one other qualified yoga teacher, I sorely missed having a sense of mentorship. All the little things that come up as you step onto a professional path & start taking people’s spiritual lives in hand! I didn’t feel I could contact the institution that handed down my degree & ask them how to handle issues like when someone pulls attention in class, or when someone can’t bend their knees, or how to balance the accounts.

I also wanted to give my students some training in things I hadn’t been trained in, but because I didn’t have specific trainings to fall back on, I had to make it up. I created the Sherlock Charade to develop intuition & sound games to develop Speaking Truth. I created a game to cultivate their ability to choose quickly from a whole group of students the one person who needed the most assistance. We went out to the park to watch people’s gaits & speculate on what their intrinsic imbalances might be & how to address them on the mat.

Before this, I was considering getting an MBA because I had a great uncle who was offering me one in France (not that I had any clue what I’d do with an MBA, but it was certainly worth considering!) & I asked my new partner, a finance director for a multinational company, what he would do. He said, it’s a waste of money. Learn by doing. You might end up spending that amount of money getting there anyway, in other ways than on the higher learning fees, but you will have on-the-ground experience. So I didn’t get that MBA at Insead. Instead, I have spent just as much money in the past two years building my website, which has been on-the-job learning with real-world stakes. And even if it doesn’t end up making me any money (which it has yet to), instead of paying someone else to learn how to do what I will then need to go out & do, I’ve skipped a step & put all that money into doing it directly. Making mistakes for sure, but from necessity learning more quickly from them in order to keep it all afloat.

The short answer to your question Becky?

If you feel drawn to it, do it!

I’m happy to mentor, to discuss along the way as needed or desired. This image sums it up:13494987_10153660587937405_8320152377728539586_n

Please feel free to follow, like & share!

5 thoughts on “Scout–how to reinvent in the face of crumbling systems

  1. Thanks Melissa. I’ll get right to work on that. While I hear what your saying about higher education, I must disagree with you. Your work needs to be recognized and brought into curriculums for so many reasons. I see you as a pioneer a beacon to channel hetstory. While universities are more commercial these days they are also an Avenue for societal change. I think they would afford you more freedom to get your message out there. This is coming from a graduate of San Francisco State where more freedom of thought and expression were revered. Think of the song Imagine and realize how much more you could contribute by having a wider interest-base. Just my thoughts…

      1. I’m sorry that I am not so eloquent in stating my case for you. You need to be academically recognized for so many reasons. I am reminded of a conversation I once had with Angela Davis when she was finally talked into ‘ professing ‘ for the department of African American Studies at SFSU. In order to take the job with the State she had to renounce communism on her employment papers. I was one of the very few people who knew this. After years of antidisestablishmentarianism, she frankly confided that she was getting older and needed to pay the rent. But look how fortunate her students were to practally palpate an engine of social change…It was a small sacrifice for the greater good. Don’t worry. I’ll keep chipping away. Go Herstory!!

        1. So I’m still trying…Imagine having your Yoga curriculum adopted as required supplemental materials for Yoga classes in schools all over the country. I know there are professors far and wide wishing they had a resource like yours to use while teaching; they just don’t know its available. Use the resources you have to purchase more freedom and less worry for your future.

          The ageing population in this country is growing exponentially. And people 62 and older have the largest amount of disposable income available. Lobby the AARP to advertise your course in their publications and websites. And most importantly, have your program made accessible through an app.
          You have so much potential to make the world a better place.
          I know a guy who writes very complicated apps for Apple products. I’m hoping to work with him on an idea I have for a fun but serious communication tool. Maybe I’ll make something of myself yet…but for you, even the top of the sky is not a limit.
          In closing (this time) I really enjoyed the refrigerator poster that you shared. Although I think people should know how to tear down walls rather than build them and learn to Love fiercely rather than fight efficiently.
          Okay. ‘Nuff said for now.
          Have a groovy day.

          1. Thanks so much for championing my cause Becky–it does make me stop in both gratitude & consideration for what more I could be doing. Your ideas are helping me to stir out of the “sabbatical” I’ve been in, where I’ve been only doing the minimal & haven’t had a strong goal to move towards. Probably better to continue this conversation via email, so I’ll contact you there! Mox

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