True North Blog

Thoughts for a New Year

Heart, be brave.  If you cannot be brave, just go.

Persian jurist and poet, Jalil ad-Din Muhammed Rumi, penned these words in the 13th century.  They are as true today as they were then.

Whether it is sudden emergency situation in the mountains, or a more mundane aspect of our lives, all of us will, at one time or another, become indecisive with, even paralyzed by, fear.  This isn’t simply an expression, but in fact a natural truth.  This is part of your brain’s defense mechanism which has evolved over the eons to keep you safe (just as it has in all land mammals) by gambling that when you spot an approaching predator it won’t notice you standing there frozen so instead passes on or even chases after someone else running away in a panic.  However, sometimes doing nothing can be worse — Just like it doesn’t help the possum or deer in your headlights.  We may need, then, just a little courage to give us that needed push.

After all, courage is defined by fear.  That’s because courage only occurs in the presence of fear.  Fear, then, helps to motivate each of us to aspire to be a part of, and to do, something bigger than ourselves.  This, though, is not always clear, or easy, and we may even still be terrified.  This is when, as Rumi writes, we must trust our instincts and “just go.”

Sun RiseIf in 2013 you wish to ask the folks at True North to help you in this process, please don’t hesitate to contact us.  Whether it is a survival course, wilderness first aid training, or a paddling trip down the Allegheny River, our overarching goal is to help prepare you for the unexpected, even to embrace it.  Yes, this may mean reaching beyond your comfort zone, but this is what makes Life joyful.  Right?

However, before we start this new year, True North has many people to first thank for helping us to make 2012 so terrific: Fred and his crew at Exkursion; Ed and Don of the Pennsylvania DCNR ranger station in the Laughlintown; Dave at Paddle without Pollution; Lora and Janée and the rest of the staff at Venture Outdoors; Peter at REI Pittsburgh; Damon at Branded Clever with his technical expertise and great suggestions; the helpful folks at the Allegheny County Parks Department; Jim at Western Pennsylvania Orienteering Club; Ken of the Westmoreland-Fayette Council of the Boy Scouts of America; Jake at SOWMAS who we owe big time; Brooks who has been a great sounding board; and, most of all, Byron at Byron Kerns Survival who we will be continuing to thank for many years to come.

But most of all, we want to thank YOU, the participants and students who have made all of this possible and so personally rewarding.  We wouldn’t be able to do it without you.

So, to all of you, a safe and prosperous New Year!

Erik Kulick leaning aginst wall with True North badge on blue shirt

About the Author

Erik is the founder of True North Wilderness Survival School. He is a police officer, EMS provider, a Wilderness EMT, and a Fellow of the Academy of Wilderness Medicine. He has been featured in national and international media, including CNN, the Associated Press, and Backpacker. To learn more about Erik, visit him on LinkedIn and be sure to follow him on Facebook and YouTube.

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