Not that long ago, I made mention of how I am not great in groups – particularly as a leader. Well Rebecca E. grabbed that little point, and asked if I could “dive deeper” on that point. Sure, let’s give it a shot and see where we re-surface at.
Most folks know, I am rather reticent about being referred to as a leader of any sort. Truth be told, I have been trained to be exactly that. The United States Air Force has schools that teach the concept of leadership to its lower enlisted. I was selected for, and sent to Airman Leadership School, and Non-Commissioned Officer’s Preparatory School. Both schools taught me the importance of HOW one leads. There was plenty of training material on the history of the ranks within the Air Force, as well as the history of the Service itself; however, the core of each was lessons in selflessness, concerning yourself with the well-being and needs of those who serve at your command. Much of these concepts have continued with me throughout my life and I have had many opportunities to apply those lessons in real-life situations in my career. However, I still have a reluctance to be the individual that steps up to take charge within my own Spiritual community.
I came into Paganism, or at least into a more formal understand of it, when I was in the Air Force. I was a part of two covens, one during my time in the military and one shortly after I left military service. Military life demands a lot of moving around for duty assignments and the such, which means that one’s Pagan life can have a lot of individual aspects to it. I learned fairly quickly that it was far easier to handle the primary aspects of my Spiritual Life on my own, and spend my time with others as more like a Pagan Meet-and-Greet. Much of that perspective has continued with me from my time in the military to where I am now.
So why join an organization like OBOD? Well, its not so that I can climb up to the point of being the Chosen Chief, that’s for sure. Philip Carr-Gomm, and his successor Eimear Burke, do a wonderful job with that position – far better than I could ever imagine myself doing, if I had that kind of ambition. I joined OBOD to learn about my own Druidry from a much deeper perspective. OBOD does not try and strip away who I am, and rebuild me in an image of what they believe a Druid to be. They help me to understand who I am, what I believe, and how aspects of Druidry can be added to that – as well as what I can do to change perspectives that might not have good foundations attached. OBOD allows me to be an individual practicing my own Spirituality, able to reach out to where I intend to be rather than fit round me into a square opening. For me, that’s important.
There are two points I will dig further into – ambition and my desire to remain an individual. I believe both of these are important to understanding why I remain where I am – a Solitaire – if you’ll forgive the chosen Wiccan narrative there.
I’ll start with ambition. I do not enjoy getting titles or awards bestowed upon me. I know that some of this is a necessary thing. I am just not super comfortable being in the spotlight. When I was teaching collegiate classes, it was easier to handle because my classes were fairly small. At most, I had twenty-five students in a class. While it was unnerving to have the attention of twenty-five people, it was far easier to adjust than if the room had more. There were plenty of times I wanted to run out the classroom door and find an office to hide in. As I said, I am not comfortable in the spotlight. And yet here I am, writing a fucking blog. Read by tens of people. With writing its a little different. You don’t have the people right there. Plus, in an online environment, its far easier to hide my terrified blushing.
Much of this plays into my desire to remain an individual. Its far easier for me to be in control of what I learn, how I learn it, and when I learn it. I spent eight years of my life in the US military, dressing exactly like everyone else, having the same haircut as everyone else, and blindly following the instructions I was given. The same instructions everyone else is given. The military is designed to tear you down as an individual, and then to build you back up in the same image as everyone else. All of that strikes a very dissonant chord within my very being. I have a strong desire to be myself, dress how I feel comfortable, and be who I feel I am. Its not for attention. Remember, I hate attention. Its not to be different either – that draws attention to yourself. Its so that I am comfortable with who I am. I am a Druid – I hate the color white. Currently, my cloak is a green color. I have conversed with Shadow about the idea of a tunic or shirt of another color…blue, red, black, maybe even green. Anything except white. I am not trying to stand out in the very white robed world of Druidry, I prefer other colors. I will dress in a manner that is comfortable to me. I typically wear concert tshirts and jeans under my cloak. Why? Because its comfortable to me. And because I feel that there should not be an “official uniform” to what does or does not make a Druid. A Druid is a Druid, in my book.
So, where does all this bring me? Well, Rebecca asked about my perspective on my desire to shy away from groups and leadership. Well, I do not see myself as a leader type. I see myself as me. As an individual, capable of making his own choices in life. I choose to follow a Path of Druidry. I choose to dress comfortably. I choose to be me. Certainly, there will be those that completely disagree with me on parts or even all of this. I can respect that because everyone has a right to the ground they choose to defend. All I ever ask, is for the same respect when it comes to the ground I have outlined and defend here. Surely, we don’t have to walk in lock-step to be Pagans, Witches and Druids? I will walk beside ANY Pagan, proud to be their friend and ready to defend what they believe – even if it is completely opposed to what I believe because I believe they have the right to do so. But defending rights is not about defending people who think exactly like you do – its about defending people so they can think exactly like they do.
Hope that answers the question a little more and a bit deeper for you Rebecca. It was a lot of fun writing this out, and it made me sit back and examine my own perspective in a manner I’ve not done in quite some time. Thanks for pushing me towards this.