Updated: Apr 7
A few years ago I began working on improving my primitive skills and these days it's a big part of my life. It's not about practicing and preparing for the zombie apocalypse but allowing myself the opportunity to step back from a fast-paced digital life and reconnect with simpler things.
One of my initial projects was making fire by rubbing two sticks together, something I’d been wanting to learn for a while, and something a lot of people also want to learn but think is out of their reach.
Over the course of the first week attempting this new skill, struggling to achieve this goal, I was lucky enough to learn some things about the process that could easily relate to many aspects of my life, and other people’s also.
Here are the top 5 things I learned about rubbing two sticks together:
1. Patience is essential
When first learning how to make fire, it’s extremely important to have patience! Since it is such a new, yet simple, skill to learn you need to take the time to prepare your body for it.
Realistically you should give yourself at least 2 weeks of practice to allow for your body to adapt to the physical changes. I did not do this! I was stubborn, impatient and went hard into it. And, a result I suffered large blisters on my palms and bruised fingers.
No matter what skill or challenge you’re learning it’s vitally important to be patient with the whole process and not rush it. In this modern time with so much available at our finger tips as soon as we decide we want them, patience is lacking for a lot of us. Activities like this that build patience are really handy to partake in.
2. Teamwork is valuable
As much as I love to be competent and skilful enough to achieve tasks by myself, it’s sometimes great to work as a team. The first time I managed to succeed at the whole process (rubbing sticks together -> ember-> Fire!!) I didn’t have enough stamina to achieve it by myself. Lucky enough I had Aimee to work with. She was there to take the slack and allow me the recovery time that I needed to keep going.
She was proud of her inclusion in the process and the outcome we reached. She may have squealed when we eventually created flames!
Teamwork is something you can easily apply to everyday life. Remember that it’s ok to ask for help to achieve something. Working together is often far more efficient and effective than being too stubborn and proud to ask for help. Our ancestors mostly lived in tribes and worked together to carry out all the necessary tasks required to survive.
Now it's something I incorporate into my Private Kids Camps with clients and into nature events we run. Watching two children make a fire together is nothing short of magical.
3. Once you have an ember, you need to nurture it
Generating an ember from the dust made from the friction is the first step and it’s hard work, but the hard work is far from over at this point. You need to gently nurture it till it catches fire on to fine materials to then become bigger and eventually into flame. If you don’t nurture it well it will die! Trust me, I know!
Much like a friendship, a business or yourself, you need to spend time nurturing it; if you don’t give what is needed you will achieve substandard results or no results all.
4. Frustration and joy are not far from each other
While working hard to generate the heat to make an ember it’s so easy to get frustrated and give up.
Many times I felt like giving up because it was too hard or I was too tired and sore, only to push on and a second later develop an ember, then feeling relieved and happy I didn’t end up quitting.
Much like life, it’s sometimes easier to give up on something that seems hard or impossible, when in reality success is so close. You just need to push a little further through the discomfort to achieve your goal. This has been a big realisation for me, and as a result, I’m more determined to work harder and longer in achieving my goals.
5. Simple things can bring immense joy
I never imagined that something as simple as making a fire with two sticks would bring so much joy to my life.
I can’t really explain the feelings I had after successfully making fire for the first time. It was a mix of joy, success, power and pride and a whole lot of other emotions thrown in.
I enjoyed that project so much that I practiced it every chance I got – outside during the day and in the garage at night time… just whenever and wherever I could!
I think often we’re striving to achieve massive feats, but I also think it’s equally important (if not more so) to celebrate and find joy in the simple things as well. By finding joy in the simplest things you are opening your life up to a whole lot of joy. It’s not something I can properly explain in words, but you’ll know what I mean when you do this yourself.
These are only five of the things I have learned from that process but really there are actually many more things I’ve learned about myself and my world back then and since then.
If you ever get the chance I highly recommend taking a step back in time and trying your hand at some primitive skills. You’ll really be amazed at what you’ll experience and learn!
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