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Collaboration is Key

Wishing a Vibrant Summer to All!

Where I live, Summer means activity. It comes with long days of sunshine (when it's not overcast, at least), outdoor adventures, and flourishing vegetation blossoming in a myriad of colors. Activity abounds. Fittingly, Summer is known as the season of Action at the LightSong school.

Speaking of action, I'll take this opportunity to explain why I sent no newsletter for the month of June: I was too busy having my own action-packed time. It wasn't the most pleasant action-packed time, but the story of my experience does illustrate the power that we each hold individually, and — most of all — how critical it is that we as people embrace the power of collaboration, even when it's not fun to do so.

In late May, I set out on the road for a month, three weeks of which were without any and all technological connections to the outside world because they were spent whitewater rafting the Colorado River and hiking throughout the Grand Canyon (pictured above). Needless to say, the Grand Canyon is beautiful and majestic. The words stunning and gorgeous don't even begin to do justice to Havasu Creek in particular, with its multiple stair-stepped layers of vibrantly glowing teal pools, in which folks of all ages can be found swimming . . . showering in the waterfalls that feed the pools . . . swan-diving off the pinnacles of rock that jut out and over the pools like diving boards . . . and sliding down the slippery rocks that have been smoothed from centuries of erosion, as if built for that very purpose. It's like Mother Nature took it upon herself to design a waterpark.

However, even in spite of such breathtaking beauty, the trip averaged out to be a mediocre experience overall. My folly was in that I entered the deal as the plus-one of a good friend, without knowing any other rafters, and therefore being completely ignorant as to how the group dynamics might play out within the crew.

And . . . it turns out that there's truth in that saying about one bad apple.

To offer some idea of how rotten the apple barrel got: Sour Granny Smith provoked Gala to put on his backpack and almost hike out alone into the desert to escape the trip altogether one day. Sour Granny was the organizer of the trip who (micro-)managed our daily doings, and described himself as an "easily-annoyed curmudgeon". (By the end of the trip, Sour Granny had managed to get into more than one shouting match with every other apple along the way, perhaps save for one notably mild Honeycrisp). And, tensions that originated from dealings with Sour Granny Smith impacted the overall group experience.

And, while I'm sure that the physical roughness of rafting and hiking the Grand Canyon can manifest as a celebratory reconnection with one's primal skills of survival, that particular social atmosphere in which I found myself didn't blend well with: daily high temperatures topping 100° F; sore muscles that I wasn't aware I possessed, as a total newbie to paddling (against the headwinds of the Colorado River!); and dust-grade sand infiltrating every crevice of everything and everyone (yes, probably including this Fuji's vagina).

So, it was a rough trip.

But, you see that I did make it back to my laptop. Everyone in our crew did survive the trip and make it home. And that's something we could not have done individually, given the harsh environment. (On one hike, we actually encountered two men whose friend had died on the trail earlier that day. It does happen in the Canyon.)

While it may not always have been pleasant, collaboration was especially important within our crew because it was small crew. We began with nine people, but had lost three by the end of the first week; and, six people wasn't that many to have managing three 18-foot rafts for the majority of the trip. There was no room for whomever was most pissed off on any given day to sit out from duties and hide behind the nearest rock. For example, we had to collaborate: every morning, to properly rig our equipment onto three 18-foot rafts in preparation for potential flipping; every evening, to unrig that same equipment to rebuild the kitchen, water filtration station, and toilet at our newly claimed campsite; to turn these heavy equipment-laden rafts upright again whenever one was flipped by a rapid; and, to help each other out of the river when we fell in!

Only because our rafting crew's survival — and ultimate escape from our "vacation" — depended on collaboration, did we collaborate. Unfortunately, I doubt that our crew would have stuck together under different circumstances, had we been working on any other type of project in our ordinary lives.

Each of us holds the power to affect the atmosphere of the apple barrel in which we find ourselves. And, for better or worse, that can determine whether or not progress is made, depending on the conviction of the crew of apples sharing that same barrel.

I'll readily admit that collaboration doesn't always occur first to me (and, maybe that's why I don't see myself working with our rafting crew in real life). I'm used to figuring things out and acting on my own. As an only child, that's just how I developed. But, I know that I'm not alone in that way. In our current age of rapidly advancing technology, in which sundry tasks can be completed at the click of a button, it becomes increasingly common to work alone, and so becomes all the easier to opt for going solo when and if possible. And so, I write this as a friendly reminder to all of us (myself included!) that collaboration is key.

Had communications gone more smoothly among our rafting crew, I'm sure I would believe differently about our potential to work together under different circumstances. Smooth communications require open hearts, open minds, and a willingness to approach situations as they arise without bias. Communication is key to collaboration.

Collaboration is one cornerstone of the pyramid of ascension at the LightSong school. Collaboration is constantly happening within and around us, everywhere from on the molecular to the multiversal levels. It's how shit gets done.

And, we have shit to do, people. Are we going to let one Sour Granny determine whether or not it does get done?

Even though our rafting crew collaborated only because we had no choice in the matter, it is nonetheless much worth noting that our success in finally making it to our destination port — our gateway to get back home — was achieved only through collaboration, and shows that it is possible to power through to the end through trying conditions, if that end goal is worth it to us.

What's worth it to you right now to achieve? Who do you want to collaborate with?

NOW is the time to take action! Ask yourself what your heart feels called to do, and don't be afraid to reach out and call a group together to make it happen. Ask your community for support. Ourstory shows time and time again that the things we cannot do alone can get done, when we opt to work together.

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