Bow Drilling and Bravery
In January, I got an email from my friend Brad, inviting me to come and see his awesome Wilderness Program in Utah, Evoke Therapy Programs. "What a fun opportunity!" I thought to myself, and quickly, and rather impulsively, said yes.
You can imagine my surprise when, after I bought my ticket, I found out I was not only going to visit Brad's program, I was going to be participating in it for two days and one night sleeping out among the stars. Cue my fear, cue my uncertainty, with a small dosing of, "WTF did I get myself into!"
And cue that I try my very hardest to subscribe to a great quote by Neale Donald Walsch: "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone." At least, I'd have a great Buzz for you guys, right? Cue me jumping in with both feet. Yikes!
My insecurity about this trip was at an all time high - what would I wear? It's cold in Utah in March. Would everyone be major wilderness experts and I would be slowly and embarrassingly trekking behind the group triggering the insecurities of my youth? Where would I go to the bathroom? Would there be coffee?
Short story - I was better than fine - a great reminder that reality is usually waaaaaaaaaay better than the things we make up in our head. The program outfitted us with lots of clothing and gear, the colleagues on the trip couldn't have been nicer and more generous, and yes, they provided coffee (phew!).
We had the privilege of meeting with participants in the program, who, with great openness and vulnerability shared parts of their stories with us. Then, they showed us one of the skills they were taught in their program: bow drilling. Shorthand, bow drilling is the old fashioned way of creating fire - using friction, sticks, and rocks.
My partner, an awesome 17-year-old boy, showed me, with great muscle, willingness, and perseverance how to bow drill. He didn't get it on his first turn, he looked like he wanted to give up a bunch of times, and in the end, he made fire from friction, sticks, and rocks. I had tears in my eyes. Then he looked at me and said, "okay, your turn".
Hold on, wait a minute. My internal danger sirens were screaming! Um....no. I did NOT sign up for this. It's one thing to watch and cheer on someone taking a risk, it's entirely another to have to be this vulnerable in front of a stranger. Isn't this what it's all about - vulnerability, bravery, and courage? Isn't that what my partner had shown me that moved me to tears? Didn't I owe that to him in return? Didn't I owe that to myself?
My resistance meant only one thing: I was going to have to try to bow drill. And I did. And it was really, really hard - physically and emotionally. And it was eye opening and heart opening.
Brene Brown says, "Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen." and that, "Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path."
Dealing with your issues with food and weight takes more than a dose of vulnerability, bravery, and courage – we all know that. And, we didn't decide to find solutions to these problems only to sit on our couches and live boring lives, did we? We decided to do this to unlock and live these big beautiful lives that await us at every turn of bravery.
While I wasn't able to make fire in my first attempt at bow drilling, I was able to make a different kind of fire inside of me: a commitment to myself to live a more vulnerable and braver life, take more risks, be willing to try new things and live in a greater truth.
I encourage you to think about doing the same. Are there places in your life that could use a little stretch? A dose of vulnerability? A spoonful of courage? A prescription for bravery? Are there things you wish you were doing, saying, ways you wish you were acting and aren't? What's getting in the way?
As we like to say at Beacon, that's a problem to be solved. The cool thing about vulnerability, bravery, and courage is that it's a practice and a skill - one that can be cultivated over time. So if you feel like you are at an all time low, you can do one thing today in the name of bravery and be closer to your ultimate goals. #littlestepsmakebiggersteps
Having more vulnerability, bravery and courage is like buying an insurance plan for your long-term success with your issues with food and weight – and who doesn't want that? Not me, that's for sure.
Molly Carmel is the Founder and Director of The Beacon Programs in New York City, an outpatient and digital program helping people find permanent solutions to their issues with compulsive overeating, food addiction, and eating disorders.