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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Who do you think you are?

I just returned from a weekend of living a primitive life deep in the wood. I’m part of a group that gets together a couple of times a year, shoots muzzle loading black powder guns and recreates a pre-1840 rendezvous – American pioneer and mountain man camp life.

The weekend included a lot of skill competitions including, shooting matches, tomahawk and knife throwing, open fire cooking, and a unique woodwalk shooting match along a "dark path" in the wood.

Under a blanket of stars, the evening was spent sitting around the camp fire, telling lies, drinking porter, and even sipping on Kentucky moonshine from a mason jar.

I’m new to the hobby, but one thing that I’ve noticed is that re- enactors spend a lot of time talking about their “persona”: What is the time period? Where did you come from and how did you get here? What style of clothing, guns, and tools do you use? What knowledge do have a world events?

Basically, “Who do you think you are?”

That's a question I used to get a lot when I was a kid. I remember the nuns from grade school scalding me with it when they were especially pissed off at me: “Mr. Kuhn, who do you think you are (saying or doing) that!?”

Barbara Sher’s book Wishcraft talks about this:

“Who do you think you are? Does this sound familiar? Most of us heard that question at some time during our growing up – usually at the vulnerable moment when we ventured some dream, ambition, or opinion close to our hearts.

The premise of her book is to imagine those words being spoken in a curious, open, wondering tone of voice, for once.

The first exercise is to ask the question, but don’t answer it with the customary: age, sex, race, occupation, marital status, parental / child / sibling, income, social status…

Who do you think you are? Don’t list your demographics, list your talents and gifts. List what you love to do and be! What do you do with energy and joy? That is your identity, your core.

“It’s your vital design that needs to unfold and express itself through the medium of your whole life. And so the unique pattern of talents and gifts that lies hidden in the things you love is also the map of your own life path.”

So, there I was this weekend walking dark paths and camping. This solitary “pioneer” had a lot to think about while shivering in his primitive tent, too uneasy and uncomfortable to go to sleep (after all, it was my first attempt at this and the temp dropped to 41 degrees). Somewhere along the line I found myself asking, Mr. Kuhn, who do you think you are… playing silly pioneer games in the middle of the wood?

I think I was striving to be alive in the moment. I realized that I do enjoy re-enacting pioneer life, but that I don’t need to do it every weekend or every month. Still, it is an important reminder to myself to continually, as one song I heard on a CD on the drive up to camp, “to live in the moment and make every moment last.”

Thank all of you out there who have walked along with me through dark wood, given me special moments, helped me grow and see myself through different eyes, and changed me for the better… for good.

“Who do you think you are?” Perhaps that’s a question that we should never stop asking on our woodwalk path (sometimes dark) of life.

Sir Bowie “Trying to make every moment last” of Greenbriar


  1. Who do you think you are writing such a thought provoking and wonderful blog this morning? (Said in an encouraging voice)

    My previous "Very Short" blog, "It's not what you drink, but what you think!" was a very basic attempt at this same question. (Though sometimes what you drink is a reflection on what you think.)

    That's why I love walking in the woods, building fires, and slowing down just enough to reconnect with myself and nature.

    Drinking Porter and Moonshine in the dark wood would certainly do the trick for me! Some men go on such trips to run away from who they are, trying to live life in a "more simply time", being who they will never be. Other's, such as yourself, make such trips to discover who you are and to reconnect with the creative energy that surrounds us all, if we only take a moment to listen, to be, to endeavor to engage life.

    Remember, "Songs from the wood make you feel much better!"

    Sir Hook I Know Who I Think I Am of Warrick

  2. .......Great Blog..

    and thats the point... living under canvas, all your senses were awake and working overtime... you were ALIVE!.

    Thats why, Outdoor Pursuits are one of THE best ways to feel totally liberated and refreshed...

    Humans are primal outdoor beings... and going soft and urban is not mentally good for us.
    Comfy....but not good.

    Sir Dayvd ( you can't buy time, but you can sell your soul, and the next best thing to heaven is to Rock and Roll ) of Oxfordshire.

  3. I know who parts of me are...very similar to who I was at 8 years old (psychologists say we're usually molded by then)

    I love the smells and sounds of a school when I walk in the door

    the sounds and sights of church

    seeing old and new "book-friends" at a library

    and my dollhouses
    -there I can research history as each one is from a different decade
    -create decorations out of "found objects" an old bit of lace from a towel becomes a crib blanket
    -rearrange furniture and decorate for the holidays
    -each house has at least one person and one cat or dog who lives in it and I can tell you all about them as they live in my mind

    not a true outdoorsy pioneer spirit like Sir Bowie, but a lover of the time periods

    We live in a Williamsburg style house with colonial furnishings

    I have the set of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books - "Little House on the Prairie" and we used to make the couch bed for us, sleeping bags for our daughters and "camp" out in the family room with a fire lit and all of us tucked away in our little "cabin" as we told stories

    *though I did actually offer to accompany Sir Bowie on his camping trip last weekend-he loves me enough to know that I wouldn't have really enjoyed the sleeping on the ground and I love him enough to let him!

    Lady Suzanne of Greenbriar

  4. Lady Suzanne, we at the Warrick Castle are glad that you love Sir Bowie so much!