I am a designer-builder, an outdoorsman, an experiential educator, a wilderness guide, a rites-of-passage and Vision Quest facilitator, an initiated elder in the Men’s Mythopeotic Movement, a Boys-2-Men ritual mentor, a non-violent social change activist, a writer, philosopher, healer, and minister of the Universal Life Church.
I have been an auto mechanic, a farmhand, a social science research data analyst, a media specialist, a grass-roots political organizer, a student, a teacher, a designer and builder of super-efficient healthy and affordable homes, an Outward Bound and Conservation Corps group leader, a wilderness EMT and wilderness search & rescue specialist and instructor, a municipal emergency management coordinator and critical incident stress counselor, a Vietnam War draft resister and war-tax resister for 35 years, and an unabashed curmudgeon.
On a 1990 winter dog-sled expedition for “Adults in Transition” in the Boundary Waters Wilderness Area of the Minnesota-Canada border country, I was given – by my adult students – the name “Singing River” in a two-day-long re-naming ritual for all participants.
I sat with that gift for eight years before accepting it from a generous and responsive Universe. When I entered into a ritual commitment with another soul who had undergone a Kundalini awakening and taken on a new identity with the surname Clearwater, I gratefully received the gift and made my surname Riversong.
We are not simply born as the people we are meant to be on this Earth, but must be perceptive and open to receiving signs, signals and visions from a spiritually alive Universe that guides those who are able and willing to follow their destiny.
Saying “YES” to those gifts is often the most challenging and rewarding act of life.
In 1992, my NH Conservation Corps students and I built this portage staircase from trees felled on site, so that voyageurs could find a path around the obstacle of a small hydroelectric dam.
There will always be obstacles to our life journey, some small and manageable and some apparently daunting and insurmountable. But we are never given a challenge that we do not have the resources and strength to meet, if only we accept the problem as a learning opportunity and allow ourselves to “think outside the box” for creative responses (there aren’t always solutions, but there are always responses).
It is the purpose of life to discover our gifts and to find ways to use them to leave behind a better world for the next seven generations. For a gift is not a gift just because it was given to you – if you hoard it, it is only property – but it remains a true gift only if it is given back, or onward (as in “pay it forward”), in an act of unselfish reciprocity.