Thursday, August 04, 2016

"A Whole Different Kind Of Responsibility..."

I remember, there was this one Instructor from my first Outward Bound course, who was something of a wandering enigma.
It was a challenging course, with much inclement weather of cold, wind, and rain.
Long days out, among people who were slow to connect.
We didn't make our first summit attempt either.
This Outward Bound mentor had a unique style. One of quiet confidence. A person who chose their words carefully, and often unexpectedly laughed loudly.
One comment in particular sparked a mystery that lasted throughout the course and lingers still.
During a day of rock climbing, one phrase was quietly said a number of times, almost so quietly as to see if we were really listening.
One of us in the patrol was having real difficulty, then real success, with the climbing. After each experience, and the resulting group feedback, all this Instructor said was 'Mea Culpa'.
That simple comment prompted much discussion, both then, later over meals, and at night under the stars.
That Outward Bound mentor whispered that same phrase a few dozen more times throughout our course.
What was also espoused as many times were comments about 'not telling us, but showing'. Then 'not showing', but 'letting us do'. 'Not explaining' but 'allowing us to experience'. 'Not giving us meaning' but ensuring that the circumstances let us 'create our own'.
During each further such experience we would again hear that quiet comment as well; 'Mea Culpa', and would also come to expect it, even while we didn't know exactly what was meant.
I have since come to understand a bit more about experiential learning within the wild places.
During that course and in communications after with my course mates, we would discuss, even research, those two softly spoken words.
The popular Latin meaning typically reflects implied aspects about personal 'fault'; much other literature emphasizes the nature of individual responsibility instead of fault.
Our Outward Bound Instructor's meaning was demonstrated by the many teachings passed forward to us.
This was a gentler 'Mea Culpa'. One of lessons reflecting a more useful personal accountability, and not one just of blame.
Those experiential Outward Bound learnings taught us about such responsibility without criticism; about natural consequences; about creating one's own enthusiasms and motivation; and how to then personally integrate such wild place adventure experiences back within each of our everyday lives.
Over the course of my life I have mused over these two words, that simple phrase, and realized how profound it is.
That Outward Bound mentor never did define what Mea Culpa meant, instead the intention was to let each of us be responsible for creating our own personal meanings, memories, images, and values to live by.
I have always been grateful for that...
So on your next summit day; during your own kayak trip; or when the sun is setting on that canyon., ponder, then say it aloud - and discover a "Mea Culpa' moment for yourself...  DSD 

Dedicated this adventure day to those wonderful 'Partners In Placing'who share in the smiles all along the way.  

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