• Josh Bulpin

Best Friends; Anticipation + Anxiety

Some thoughts on the coming re-connection…

For the last couple of months my main-man Cormac and I have been excitedly preparing for our creative dream to spring to life as society begins to safely re-connect more wholly with each other. We’ve been mining patience for a long time, and now the reality of what we’ve created is tantalisingly close to existence.

Interestingly this excited anticipation has been mixed with an anxiety of what that might look and feel like both for us in our facilitation with people, and also for the people of all ages we’re soon to be meeting and working with. How will they be?

Our whole approach at The Living Project is based on a simple passion; our love of working with people in wild places, facilitating powerful journeys of self, compassion for others, and building connection with the wild. It’s what we’ve been doing for a long time both separately and together, listening and learning as we go. We also have a deliberate desire to provide opportunities in this space for people to consider the impact of this whole-world, and wholly individual pandemic which has created disconnection, trauma, challenge and potentially, opportunity for people in some way. To provide a space for presence in the now, and for setting light to new dreams.

Alongside the pandemic, and with its impact a partial catalyst, people and society as a whole are being rightly and bravely challenged in a number of areas which have needed mass engagement for some time, namely; racism, the abuse of women by men, and mental health. These are the big-ticket ones. We’ve also seen a lack of care for any form of learning other than prescriptive formal education, a highlighting of societal attitudes to older people, Brexit (MS Word actually capitalised this created term!), home-schooling, zoom fatigue, oh and just that little back-seat driver, the climate crisis.

There’s also some big questions we’re passionate about exploring being asked in our chosen sphere, the outdoors. Questions around inclusion, diversity and climate emergency responsibility.

It’s a lot.

And through all these confronting societal issues (and loads I haven’t found on the top of my head), each individual has been living their own journey of isolation. Our individualistic societal structures should have prepared us better for this lonely life right? And yet the value and importance of human connection has never been more felt, in my lifetime and in my experience so far anyway.

And so, while we can’t wait to re-connect with people, both in our school work and with adult groups, to provide a safe and supportive space for reflection, re-connection and refreshment in wild places that have been largely out of reach for so long, I’m also feeling anxious about how we, and they might feel. Each persons’ experience has been so different (I refuse to use the boat/storm analogy).

My last work with humans in this space was leading an expedition in Northern India in 2019. Interestingly the focus of that expedition became love. What is love? How do we do love? What does love look like in a group of people? Perhaps an unknowing omen of preparation for what was to come….

But I wonder, will I be a different facilitator and coach after all this time not doing this thing I love, after this bit of my human journey?

I question, where will the people I meet be at? How will they be feeling? What will the thought of re-connecting with others and a wild adventure feel like for them? How will people’s experience manifest? Will I hear what it is that needs to be heard?

I firmly believe in our human need to connect with the wild, that it’s good for our mental health and wellbeing. That it’s mana for our soul. And I’m curious to see what this looks like when we get out in the wild with humans again. And so the anticipation of starting work I am passionate about has, at the moment, a very close friend; anxiety. I wonder how many others are finding this friendship when we consider what is to come?


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