I picked this book up and read it in one sitting after dropping the kids off at school. It actually brought me to tears at its close. It’s a wonderful call-to-action to live more authentically.
While Boyd Varty doesn’t offer much guidance on the “how” (as I suspect is intentional), the message is clear: modern consumer culture leads to an unfulfilling, inauthentic husk of a life.
Let’s each explore our curiosities wherever they may lead us and be more authentic on a path toward mastery and service to others.
Varty communicates this message while recounting one tracking excursion with his mentors, the realizations he had, and the connections he drew between coaching and tracking.
We have forgotten that life isn’t screens, social networks, and consumer culture. We don’t have to stay on the treadmill, we can seek what is uniquely ours to contribute to the world.
A master is someone who can be themselves in any situation. It’s an easy confidence, humility, and comfort being authentic. Masters don’t concern themselves with who they “should” be.
We all get lost. Understanding and anticipating that it will happen makes it less of an emergency. When we get lost, we just have to look for the next first track. (What’s the thing that pulls on our curiosity?)
True mentors are made through actions, not words. Be, don’t preach.
Cultivate the beginner’s mind. Keep being curious.
Pay attention to everything around you and your body’s response to the things around you. What brings you joy? What fills you with dread? Being in touch with your feelings toward the people, places, and things that you surround yourself will can tell you a lot about what you actually value.
Learn to follow your curiosities and you’ll teach yourself how to see what is important to you.
Don’t do things because you “should.” An animal has never followed a “should.” Nothing else in nature does. A leopard is simply a leopard, a tree is a tree, etc. Learn to avoid doing as you fall into “being.” Be yourself.
On that note — don’t try to “be” someone else. Find the things that help you forget yourself.
Very Zen Existentiallist. With a heavy dose of Flow.
Look for the feelings. If you feel a love for something you do, follow the feeling.
“I don’t know where we are going but I know exactly how to get there.” Embrace uncertainty, but look for the next step no matter what you’re doing. Have a direction, but live in the present.
Joseph Campbell said, “If you can see your whole life’s path laid out then it’s not your life’s path.”
- Personal note: Plans are good for a direction, but they will inevitably change. Let them.
Always be transforming, never transformed. Dynamically growing. Know that you’re doing enough, even if you feel like you’re lost.
Once you’ve made a choice, don’t worry about if it was the wrong one. Live with the choices you’ve made and move forward, don’t be anxious about the choices you made in the past.
- Personal note: In the end, it’s all about best guesses. We can’t tell the future (which is why plans have to change), so make your best guess and take action. No action is usually one of the worst options. Use your curiosity, take an action, and gather data. It’s always a process of discovery.
Sometimes the track will disappear. As much as I believe in personal responsibility, life does happen TO us sometimes. Take responsibility from that point.
- Losing your track is a part of the process. (Life happens, accept it.)
- Go back to the last clear track (Find out when you last had clarity)
- Walk ahead and check open terrain. (Explore your current options)
- Open your focus. (Be open to possibilities and options you wouldn’t normally consider.)
- Don’t worry about wasting your time. It’s not a waste, just refining where to look. (No wasted effort in following curiosities. You’re learning where NOT to look, which helps narrow where you’ll eventually go).
- Flow for a while on your best guess. (Take action instead of freezing. Just make a guess, go, and discover where life takes you).
Let life unfold like an experiment. It’s not about KNOWING what will happen, it’s about being DISCOVERING what will happen. There’s no wasted effort in an experiment.
We’ve crossed the threshold from needing to be accepted by the tribe for survival to the opposite — we need to reject the values of our culture to live to our fullest potential.
Joseph Campbell: “People are not looking for the meaning of life, they are looking for the feeling of being alive.”
An entire chapter on flow. “Entering the Zone”
People who have merged “work,” “mission,” and “meaning” have an energy about them that makes them almost superhuman. Not through grit — but because they have found something that gives them pure pleasure and meaning.
- Personal Note: Reminds me of Stephen King’s definition of talent — finding JOY in something that other people find difficult. It’s not work if you love it, which means you’ll “work harder” than anyone else.
“There is nothing more healing than finding your gifts and sharing them.”
“[A ]call to the tribe of forgotten trackers. Maybe you are one of us. It’s time for us to track from a different center. As our first act of activism, we should track down outer lives that more closely reflect our inner values. We should reimagine our own lives into more meaningful expressions. This is a part of the great restoration that will begin in the life of individuals. To live as a tracker is how we take responsibility for transforming the planet. Imagine the effect that millions of people tracking from a different center could have on our dominant cultural story. The magic of the wild self is that each of us is guided in our own unique way, and yet together the process charts a new way of living for us all.”
“I remain deeply convinced that a person who tracks down an authentic life opens up possibilities for themselves, their family, and their larger community. In these times, as the planet screams at us to reimagine our way of life, these new possibilities are deeply important.
“Meaning doesn’t want more; when you’re in deep touch with your wild self, you know you have enough and are enough. From that place of enough, you act in service, because that’s what feeds you.
“Amidst all of the information that surrounds us, learn to see what is deeply important to you. Use the feelings in your body as a guide. Live on first tracks.
“Anything that puts you into your essence, no matter how small, is valuable. Even if you don’t know where it’s going, play with it. Find friends to track with, lose the track, keep trying things, get feedback. Find your flow and remember to see how many unexpected things come into your life by living this way. It will be scary at times. Let the fear bring you to life. I suspect that if you give yourself the room to live each day as a tracker, a deep calling to serve will emerge.
“So my friend, as you read this, let this be a call to you. It’s time.