I guess three months is not a very long time in the grand scheme of things but when every day is a new day in the pursuit of a new identity it definitely counts for much more than the average few months. For quite awhile now I have had some big ideas about how I want to live and person I want to be but I've realized it took spending this summer at Windward for those ideas to no longer feel like a fantasy. Maybe some people can come of age and assert themselves independent of all the cultural pressure pushing them back down but I had to get away and I don't know that I could have found a better place to go.
my sister Sarah
My internship at Windward came to be under some unique circumstances. I was visiting Sarah (my sister), just traveling, wandering and not intending on staying more than a few days but I cant say that I hadn't thought about spending time at Windward in the past. Only now have I really acknowledged that the reason I hadn't yet pursued an internship was fear.
I knew that Windward was something along the lines of what I was searching for and what I needed but I didn't feel ready and just wanted to pass through and observe no risks involved. After a few days though I knew it was time to step up and declare my intentions, which in itself was a big step forward me being so used to sliding in and out things commitment free never really putting myself out on a limb.
Sarah and I hiking the canyon
Almost everything about life at Windward was new to me from using a chop saw to shoveling goat poop but the emphasis on communication and personal growth were the most foreign and exciting. Unlike conventional life where friends and family often assume you will always be the same or refuse to see and accept change, growth is expected at Windward. Stagnation is not an option and if you don't think you have anything to work on it will quickly become highlighted by the stresses of living, working and playing in community.
In my experience most people are reluctant to ever acknowledge their personal problems or are eager to project them onto outside forces, most likely because if they were to admit the extent of these problems then they would be forced to reevaluate their lives and that is usually very uncomfortable. In coming to Windward though most everyone is forced to go through that first step. Everyone at Windward has at least for some time decided that conventional paths to conventional ideas of success are not working out. Most have gone through the uncomfortable process of reevaluating their lives, found them lacking and now they are doing something about it.
that's me with the shovel helping to plant bare root fruit trees
If for no other reason my internship at Windward was priceless for allowing me the time and place to assert myself as a sober, self-confident and driven person. While I've had to discover my own healthy and effective ways for dealing with my own struggles I will forever be indebted to Windward for providing me with an environment where I could establish my new identity and for the opportunity to work on projects and build relationships that I would stand before anyone and be proud of.
My time at Windward has also helped me to know in my bones the incredible connectedness and peace that can come from living in a natural setting, mindfully interacting with animals and plants on a daily basis and building healthy honest human relationships. Things that I was always aware were positive and enjoyable but that I now know are necessities for building a satisfying and fulfilling life for myself.