“Remember, never to fly very low or very high, for the fogs about the earth would weigh you down, and the blaze of the sun will surely cause your feathers to come apart if you go too near.”~ Daedalus, from the myth of Icarus
“The independent creation of art doesn’t happen overnight. You don’t win the art lottery and get picked and suddenly find all doors open, and reception to your vision and generosity and talent. No, the commitment to art is the return of an ancient habit, one that was relentlessly extinguished for a long time.”~ Seth Godin
Dear Springhouse community,
Last spring, we kayaked as a learning community for three days on the James River in the Shenandoah Valley. In the middle of the trip, I noticed there was one teen learner who would hang out toward the back of the pack for a while, then expend all of his energy to get to the front, and then, exasperated, would fall to the back again. He eventually found his way to the middle of the pack – still occasionally visiting the extremes as we made our way along the river. To know the middle (or what was sustainable), this learner had to push the limits both ways.
We all learn what we are capable of by playing around with the parameters of our comfort zones. We need places, and permission, to explore what middle ground is for us. Sometimes we fly too high, get burned, and usually are humbled. Other times, we set our sights way too low and find that that doesn’t work either. Daedalus shows his son Icarus how to take the middle path by crafting his own wings, taking flight himself, and giving his son parameters that guide him toward what is sustainable. He teaches Icarus that to live well you must know your limits without being taken down by them.
A learning community can be like a flight school where we learn to fly and to fly sustainably. When we commit to a place over time, we can learn how to fly in ways that take care of ourselves, each other, and this Earth. Sarah Merfeld, Springhouse Ecological Design Lead writes:
“We cannot turn our backs on the people and the land of a given place when it gets challenging or we get bored. We must cultivate the discipline to commit to a place, which is arguably harder than ever before. Most of us have endless opportunities to disconnect from our place, forgetting our inherent interconnectedness with it. Schools can serve as community hubs for re-cultivating the skills to commit to a place and to one another over the long haul.”
In other words, learning communities can be a place for learners of all ages to experiment with building and flapping our wings.
Springhouse has frameworks to guide us as we take flight and a long-term community to support us as we practice. The framework outlines skills that we practice to build stronger wings as we serve our vision of building regenerative culture. The Springhouse cultural ways, like mentoring and reflection circles, allow us to consciously learn and grow together. A steadfast commitment to place, and to each other, gives us the opportunity to trust and to really practice. Maps, community practices, and place allow us to further craft our wings and practice flying with them in ways that are sustainable, not only for ourselves, but for this culture.
The myth of Icarus teaches us something ancient but not well practiced. It is the art Seth Godin mentions in the quote above – the art of being ourselves in ways that strengthen the collective and include the Earth. To do this, we need the courage to continue to craft our wings and the commitment to be in a place where others are committed to doing the same. These places are wellsprings of the ancient regenerative life source that like Godin says was “relentlessly extinguished for a long time.” It is up to us to flap our wings and let the river flow.
Thank you for flapping your wings along with us. We are very grateful.