Hello Friends,

The title of today’s post is really just a nifty way of saying “practice”. I read about “skill-building” in a conflict resolution class I took in college, and I have also seen the term used in some communication textbooks Alix used in college. The psychology behind this phrase directs the speaker/actor to be empowered by improving themselves, adding a positive value to the repetition of whatever action is at hand.

I bring up skill-building now because it serves an important function in establishing and maintaining effective Communities. Also, skill-building is necessary to become proficient at the variety of new Tools we will be using together in the Living Revolution. I even have a simple personal anecdote to help make my point a bit more cogent.

Alix and I went out hiking last fall, for the first time without the kids. She and I decided to take a short trip and do a quick overnighter, just to get away from the city for a while. All week, I was looking through our hiking guide, trying to find somewhere to go, but many places were already closed for the season, or they were expecting bad weather. Finally, I found a nice short hike on the south side of Mt. St. Helens, and the weather report showed no signs of inclement weather.

We made plans to leave early Saturday morning, drive up to the trailhead and then hike until we found a good place to set up camp. We followed the June Lake Trail to the Worm Flows, a huge lava field leftover from St. Helen’s 1980 eruption. The hike wasn’t very long, but it was rough, and after about two hours, we were both ready to set down our packs. We found a small gully between two dry creek beds, covered with a bright green moss that was as soft as carpet. It looked like a nice place to chill out for the evening.

This was our second trip together, and like our first trip, we packed entirely too much STUFF! After setting up our tent and gathering wood, it was time to make a fire. This point in the story is where today’s little nugget of knowledge comes from. I, literally, could not start a fire to save my life.

When I was younger, I learned how to build a fire from my dad, and from the Boy Scout Handbook. Over the years, though, I apparently forgot. I forgot to bring anything to use as tinder, and I didn’t have anything but a lighter with which to produce a flame. I didn’t think that was a problem though. I watch “Survivorman” and Bear Grylls enough to know that you just take two sticks and you rub them together REAL FAST and then you have a nice coal that will start anything on fire. I was wrong.

For more than an hour, Alix and I both thrashed about trying any kind of rubbing we could think of to make those two pieces of wood burn. Finally, I decided the blank pages from a book I brought along must be sacrificed, or we were going to die from exposure!! Luckily, I built a textbook “log cabin” and with four small sheets of paper, I was able to build a fire than kept us warm the rest of the night.

My point is that the wind wasn’t even blowing hard. My point is that we were only going to be out there one night. My point is I had no idea at all how to negotiate a simple obstacle without the convenience of modern technology. It will be important to learn new skills, but it will be more important to constantly and consistenly repeat those skills until we can do them without even thinking about it. Remember, practice can be boring, but Skill-Building is empowering!

What skills do you need to brush up on today? When was the last time you learned something new and then practiced with intention until you were proficient? When was the last time you found yourself in a situation where you were forced to adapt and overcome, using little else than your creativity, ingenuity and will to live? If you are having some trouble recalling anwers to any of these questions, it might be time for you to step out of your comfort zone and see what happens….

Until next time…


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