Monday, 14 January 2013


Gold Nuggets,
Readings for Experiential Education,
edited by Jim Schoel and Mike Stratton.                                                                                                             

Gold Nuggets is the title of a spiral bound book I acquired while attending an Outward Bound Course, at Anakiwa in New Zealand’s beautiful Marlborough Sounds.  Outward Bound is an adventure programme designed to bring a group of diverse individuals into the outdoors to experience activities that challenge them physically, mentally and spiritually. Tramping, sailing, kayaking, a couple of nights solo in the bush, community service, abseiling and fitness training are all components of the course. You begin as an idealistic half fit individual, and turn into a team ‘mate’ who learns one way or another, that having compassion for others is the all-important quality that gets everybody through some pretty gruelling days and nights. You learn that just when you think you can’t possibly go on, you can reach inside yourself to find that little bit more; and this is helped by the support and encouragement of other members of your ‘watch.’  The 21 day course culminates in a half marathon which everyone competes in … something I would never have dreamed of doing prior to the course, but ran successfully and felt very proud when I crossed the line to be cheered by the rest of my ‘watch’ (who somehow got there before me!)

The instructors at Outward Bound are amazing … they teach you, inspire you, and challenge you to think for yourselves. Ultimately they try and leave you alone as a group to work things out together and so be responsible for your own successes and sometimes failures. Fortunately they don’t allow you to remain for ever on a sodden mountain range, if for some inexplicable reason, when it is your turn to lead the way with the compass and map, you somehow manage to get lost!

Anyway, ‘Gold Nuggets’ is a collection of stories, sayings, proverbs, songs and so on, that instructors often pull out to add to the experience of an activity … something maybe philosophical that your group can reflect upon and learn something beyond the actual experience itself … how it applies to life. The editors of the publication, encourage the reader to ‘collect your own gold nuggets,’ ones that have particular meaning for you.  Here is one from the book, I would like to share with you.

 

What Are the Qualities of life?

What are the qualities of Life?

 It can be shared forever, but cannot be kept forever.

 When given to another, it brings great joy to all; when taken, the anguish for many is great.

It is sometimes maintained by less than the thread of a string and sometimes lost despite the hope of millions.

Its frailty and end are obvious but its strength and limits endless.

So share your life with me while we are together so we can create that which will bring joy to others.

When this life is over, let the meaning of our lives be found not on a list of accomplishments, but in the hearts and souls of the people with whom we shared our fragile existence.

Let our lives not be measured so much by what we did for others, but by what we helped people do for themselves.

Mike Gass