Tim

(medical services professional)

My name is Boy. My older brother Drew provided this nomenclature for me when I was ten years old, and it has stuck since then. It was intended to be derogatory 20 years ago when he named me, but over the years we’ve grown to become best friends, and it has most certainly become a term of endearment for all of my adult life.

I found an immense amount of value in being able to attend a ThyPower camp for five days with him, both to learn and grow and to strengthen our own bond together. We both work in the same office setting, spending our days at computers and on phones. We both exercise and work out regularly, and almost daily we take half an hour out of our day to go walk a few laps around the office campus and be outside away from the fluorescent lights. We both long to be closer to nature, to understand nature better, and to be a part of it. Urban living creates such separation from Mother Earth that is often depressing.

I live in a densely-populated, sprawling suburbia just north of Dallas. I have to drive at least 30 minutes in any direction to be able to find any genuinely open space. I’m surrounded daily by concrete, neon signs, billboards, busy streets, loud cars, and a constant hum of noise. Even in the dead of night, it is never truly quiet, as you can hear the A/C units kicking on and off, the faint electric hum of the power lines, and the parade of cars that slows at night but never, ever stops completely.

Everything I do is dictated by technology that I don’t truly understand, from the thousand-dollar computer I carry in my pocket everywhere I go, to the start button on my car, to the microwave that heats up my food. I am entirely dependent upon this technology for my existence. Specifically when it comes to food, I am completely beholden to a vast corporate network to produce, deliver, and store my food so I can eat. Were that system to leave me stranded, I lack the knowledge and skills to fend for myself. ThyPower has certainly stepped in to help remedy that, and a strong personal desire to pull myself out of that dependency is a big reason that I was compelled to attend a ThyPower camp.

I find that there is a profound empowerment in stepping outside of the technology-induced coma that our entire culture has found itself in over the past couple decades. More increasingly with every year, technologies that we take for granted control more and more of our lives, and we surrender to them as willing slaves in the name of convenience. We are taught how to take tests instead of how to find food, given mindless busy work in class rather than how to navigate, find shelter, or do anything to assist in our own survival. We are made into worker drones who cannot fend for ourselves.

As a recovered heroin addict, I understand very well what it means to enslave oneself. I have battled for over a decade with heavy addiction. As of this writing, I have been clean for two years, six months, and six days. I cost my family and loved ones immense amounts of money in hospitalizations, overdoses, rehab programs, and bail money to get me out of jail again, not to mention the intense emotional and psychological turmoil I put them through.

Through it all I was supported by a big brother who hasn’t ever genuinely understood addiction for himself (for only an addict can truly understand the mind of an addict), but has gone above and beyond his responsibilities as my big brother to try to understand ME.

12 days before I was to be his Best Man at his wedding, I attempted, and succeeded, in killing myself with a massive overdose and sliced wrists. I was found in a bloody bathtub not breathing and without a pulse, and resuscitated by my father. I spent the next seven days in intensive care fighting for my life, and another three in the psych ward being “treated.” In the end, I was released in time to make it to Drew’s wedding. Still weak from blood loss and weighing in at about 130 pounds, I had to have a chair on the stage in the church. But I was able to sing for Drew and his wife during the ceremony, and carried out my Best Man responsibilities.

This was just one of many times when I took my brother for granted, and when he loved me unconditionally, nonetheless. We’ve developed intense bonds over the past ten years as he has helped me to crawl out from under addiction. He’s helped me learn how to eat better, how to exercise and heal my body. And now two and a half years sober, I’m weighing in at a healthy 175 lbs, and I’m constantly chasing Drew in the weight room, trying to catch up. My scars have been written over with Love, and every day I heal and grow.

Enter ThyPower.  I’ve always been fond of camping and being out in nature, but it gets more difficult to find time as life gets busier with a wife, a child, a job, and a seemingly endless list of chores and responsibilities.  Just entering the land so far outside of the city was a delightful weight off my back.  The air is cleaner, and it is SO much quieter!

And from the first day, I began to grow and enhance skills that would be necessary for surviving outside the system.  I had experience building fires from previous camping trips with friends, but learned a great deal about some simple life hacks that could make building one much easier in a pinch.  Learning to tie versatile knots that could assist in a number of things, including how to build a structure that would protect me when out in the open, seems invaluable information in countless, potentially difficult situations.

I’ve always been fascinated by navigation because my father drove ships in the Navy and instilled in me an impression of its importance. And if you put me in a city, I will figure out the street grid and navigate anywhere in the city within a week. But learning out to navigate in the wild using just a compass and a map is a skill that I am incredibly happy to now have. I got my own compass as soon as I returned from camp, and have been practicing with it to be ready in case I find myself needing it.

I’m working towards building my own bug-out bag modeled after that which we used at camp, so that I can be prepared to protect my family in the event of an emergency. I think navigation is a big example of how technology has dumbed us down, because no one navigates anywhere anymore. Just put an address in your phone and auto-pilot to your destination, rarely even paying attention to where you’re going. I know people who wouldn’t be able to drive to places that they’ve been driving to for years if all of a sudden they didn’t have Google Maps anymore. This skill is one of the most vital that ThyPower teaches, and I’m very grateful!

All in all, one of the things I enjoyed the most about ThyPower was the camaraderie that was developed with the other campers. I made new friends and heard fascinating stories about what it means to be a human. From the instructors to the other campers, there was an atmosphere of brotherhood and friendship, and of trust. Trusting others with intimate details about your life or yourself, trusting an instructor to protect you while you’re in a river, trusting in yourself to get that shelter built so that you have somewhere to sleep when you’re out in the woods by yourself. There is a very satisfying self-reliance found in being able to spend a night alone in the woods, and also a very peaceful time for introspection and meditation. This was certainly one of the most empowering trips of my life!