~This blog entry is brought to you from the electronic portfolio of CS5 student Maeve Daw. Conserve School electronic portfolios connect student experiences to the school’s 17 learning goals. Maeve is from Grayslake, Illinois where she attends Carmel Catholic High School.~
“There’s not a word yet, for old friends who’ve just met.” ~Jim Henson
“A goal I have for Conserve School this year is to have an adventure. There are other things as well, such as getting an idea as to what I want to do with my life, making friends, and overcoming obstacles, but having an adventure was the main reason I came and it makes sense that the reason I came should be the result I hope to get out of the experience. So many people are so concerned with what they do every day, and I was starting to become that person. So I hope that I will have adventures that will help me look beyond to the bigger picture.” (From Maeve’s first e-portfolio entry.)
I once knew a man who said that every time you left a place, that version of you died. I always had a problem with that statement, but I never could figure out what it was until a few weeks ago. He makes it sound like each place you go you invent a new life for yourself, building from the ground up. And when you leave, you leave everything you experienced and learned behind. But people are not that simple. We don’t simply adapt to every new place and situation we come to – we bring ourselves to the table. We carry our pasts and futures and dreams when we leave. We change, sometimes dramatically, but nothing ever completely changes – we have the same core as we did when we started.
Looking back on the girl who wrote her goals in Entry 1 of this e-portfolio, I see how different we are. But I also see how she was always looking for the same thing I look for now – an adventure. A way to leave the prison of the rat-race and experience and discover and feel – I am, and was, looking for a way to do what I loved immensely, and get extreme satisfaction from it. So her goal was to come to Conserve School to have an adventure. I have lived sixteen wonderful years since I arrived here, aged in so many different ways, ran through so many adventures.
Adventures come in lots of different packages. There is the adventure of approaching a girl on the first day of school and asking a question to start a conversation. There is the adventure of trusting your instinct and the adventure of relying totally on yourself. There is also the adventure of sharing some of your biggest weaknesses and pain with another person, the adventure of trust so complete that all there is to telling anything is finding the right words. Listening and tasting and feeling the life around you.
One of my goals was to discover what I wanted to do in life. That, to me, is amusing because at that point in time I was pretty sure what I wanted to do in life. Conserve changed all of that. I used to be worried about the future, if I was capable enough to do what I wanted to do, if I would make the right decisions. Now I have no plan, except for a desire to spend my life in a place of beauty. I am confident that I could do what was needed, and confident that if I make the wrong decisions, there are second chances. There are always other paths.
I don’t think I ever really pursue goals in life. I have an idea of what I want to do, and if it’s something I truly want to do, it will float into my subconscious and stick there. Maybe, if conditions are right, it will grow. But I never said to myself during the semester, “Maeve, let’s go have an adventure!” But it was a seed that had been planted when I was young and undergone many different growing cycles. Sometimes I would be in an amazing place, or with brilliant people, and it would blossom. Sometimes I would be overwhelmed with work I gained nothing out of, doing hours of homework each night to learn how to watch months disappear like empty windows on a highway, with no light behind them.
Whenever I make plans for the future, I feel trapped within them. So instead of plans, or goals, I am going to call my ideas for my life “My Ideas for My Life.” If you require an acronym, let’s go with FUN.
Some of my FUNs for the future are things I learned directly from Conserve School. I am interested in learning more about arctic exploration and Alaskan history, because I find that landscape very beautiful and surreal. I also am interested in doing more bird watching and recording, plant and animal identification, and backpacking. Robert’s class also introduced me to the art of figuring out what the history of a forest was by looking at its trees in a book called Reading the Forested Landscape. Stefan introduced me to Ishmael, for which I will be forever indebted, and which changed my perception on all life dramatically.
On my own, at Conserve School, I was also introduced to a number of other things that will become FUNs for the future. My close friends here showed me how to love poetry and literature with a passion I had never felt in myself before. I also have been told that I need to learn how to cook, something that I agree with. Interactions with others have lead me to pursue, and want to keep pursuing, research into Native peoples interactions with nature and their lifestyles and how to replicate them. These are some of the things I hope to delve more deeply into after Conserve School.
I hope to start to rely as much as possible on what is available in my area for food and energy and everything that I need. I want to be independent of my parents for food in the next few years, and hopefully independent of their transportation. I want to learn bike routes to my school and wherever else I have to go.
I am considering the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), Student Conservation Association (SCA), World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF), and independent backpacking trips in the upcoming years and the upcoming semester. I need to get outside and camp and backpack next semester, for last year almost killed me. Luke and Ellie live close to me and have expressed interest in coming along on perhaps a backpacking or camping trip. Hopefully, I can get in camping as often as possible.
There are so many outdoor skills I would like to learn – but they all amount to the same end goal. I want to be able to live on my own if I chose to, without a connection to society. I want to be able to pack up and leave, live off the land, whatever land I chose to go to. Then, I will be truly free. That, I think, is the “goal” I have set myself after this semester and in later years. Freedom is sweet and addicting, and freedom has become my end goal.
Will I miss everything? Yes. I don’t believe in saying goodbye, and I will do anything to see some of the friends I made here again. I will miss the land, this beautiful place I became part of so quickly, that I began to know almost at once. And yet, I still feel like a stranger, and wish that I could have more time here to put down roots.
“You don’t need to leave your room.
Remain sitting at your table and listen.
Don’t even listen, simply wait.
Don’t even wait.
Be quite still and solitary.
The world will freely offer itself to you.
To be unmasked, it has no choice.
It will roll in ecstasy at your feet.”
~Maeve Daw, Conserve School Semester 5
More photos from Maeve’s semester at Conserve School.