By now, we should be in email contact. If you are working through the pages of part 3, Fire & Ice, I should have sent you a copy of the instructions for the Relationship path when I sent you the url that brought you here. Please use those instructions to find a relative with whom you’ll begin to form relationship.

I want you to know that if you feel awkward or uncertain about doing this, you’re not alone. Most people in Western culture experience so much uncertainty about doing what I’ve asked you to do in the Relationship exercise that, even when they are physically in the same place I am, and on Land I know is waiting to teach them, they wind up immobilized by doubt and fear. If this has happened to you, I will tell you what I tell them: the first step is the smallest but it’s also the hardest. Do you know what that first step is? Can you feel it inside you, like a big barrier across your path?

For most people, it’s facing the fear that if they go out and do the things described in the exercise, they will either make a fool of themselves (because, you know, talking to a rock) or they will come to serious harm (because a hungry animal or human predator is hiding behind said rock waiting to pounce on them). The fear and anguish people feel is genuine. And the only thing that can overcome it is taking the first step on the path — quite literally. Just take the first step: get in your car or on your bike or start walking, and go to a place where you might reasonably find a big stone or tree that wasn’t put there by human hands. That’s it. Just that much. Just pick yourself up and go there.

You don’t have to find a relative on the first day. You don’t have to introduce yourself to anyone on the first day. You certainly don’t have to have an experience you write about in your journal the first day. Some of these things might happen, but they might not happen until the second time you go out, or the third. ALL YOU HAVE TO DO RIGHT NOW IS START. Take one step of conscious intent to get you past the barrier between humans and the natural world that Western culture put up so long ago. After all, isn’t that the precise barrier you’ve been wanting to breach? Well, here it is. To breach it, just find a place to begin your search. That’s all. You can do that much. I am sure of it. I believe in you.

Every step after the first one is a whole lot easier. It’s the first step of simply having the intent to form relationship with the natural world again that feels this scary. There’s a lot of baggage there, a lot of genetic memory. So it’s ok to feel it, and wise to respect it. But now it’s time to stop letting it control your life.

Because that particular barrier isn’t a small thing, is it. Not in a global impact sense, it’s not. So pull its plug. Take the step.

And email me if you need some encouragement. I’m certainly not going to make fun of you. What you’re dealing with isn’t funny at all.