When a great tracker loses the trail of an animal, he may learn where it has gone by discovering all the places it has not gone.
In the moment the tracker loses the track he meets the full 360-degree dimension of possibility. The animal could have gone in any direction and so each path of blank, trackless soil is talking to him.
“Not this path”, “not this path”
As he walks he is eliminating wedges of the full degree of that rotation. Refining where the trail may run by learning where it does not run. In this way, a tracker …
When you look at the image above, what do you see?
Perhaps you see a man standing in an odd position (I’m hiding a beer behind my back). Maybe you see the tree on the left of the frame that has had its head cut off or the odd shadow below it.
When I showed this image to my tracker friends and asked them what they saw they all answered as if I was asking a stupid question.
“The elephant track”
One of the simplest and most powerful ways to break out of social constraints and be wilder is to find a genuine yes and a genuine no.
It’s so simple and yet it will break you out of all sorts of compliance and obligation.
There is a reason why, in courtroom dramas, the lawyer always says, “it’s a yes or no question.” There is simplicity to these two words that establish a direction without the spinning of elaborate stories. Saying no when you mean no will bring you to your integrity. Saying yes from deep within, before all the reasons …
The way of discovery is fluid. The way of knowing is rigid.
The way of discovery invites. The way of knowing tells.
A tracker lives in immediate feedback loops of discovery. Often when tracking fast they will simply walk rapidly on the line of the animal in small zigzagging patterns. A track here: warmer… Nothing here: colder…
They respond to the signs on the earth (or the absence of signs) making quick course adjustments as they move in pursuit of their quarry.
They are learning as they go. Giving themselves the space to try things and work through a process …
To be a tracker is to develop a relationship with the unknown. Every time you come across a trail left by some elusive wild creature a question forms in the space between your eyes and the track, a question that is innate to every trail. The scope of unknown that lies ahead is unfathomable. The terrain is unknown, the animal’s movement, mood and whereabouts. Its presence on a vast landscape brings one to thoughts of needles and haystacks.
And yet, the tracker is inclined towards this. He is attracted by all the things he can’t know for within that evolution …
Trackers are adept at creating psychological states. On the trail of an elusive creature they enter a paradoxical place. They are obsessively determined to find the animal but the desire to find it has not been allowed to become a crippling attachment to outcome. What they commit to in order to generate the outcome is simply the next track, then the next track, then the next.
To me, what it looks like, is the dynamic nature of play. They are relaxed; they allow the moment to evolve. They lose the track and check the trail up ahead the go back …