March 2013 Bush Report – Davies
What kind of bravery, nerve, daring, mettle, guts or audacity did it take for a party known as the Lewis and Clark Expedition to set off in May of 1804 to chart a vast wilderness never before seen by white men? President Thomas Jefferson sanctioned this journey to explore the new wilderness area known as the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark accompanied by a band of skilled hunters, woodsmen and soldiers, all experienced and well equipped for life in the wilderness, set sail from St. Louis up the Missouri River heading for the vast Pacific Ocean. For the next two years this team including an Indian maiden, Sacagawea, and her new born son along with Seaman, a one hundred and fifty pound Newfoundland dog battled insect and snake infested waters, crossed scorching plains, climbed frigid mountain passes, fought hostile Indians and faced near starvation all while charting a vast wilderness. As they proceeded they made friends and traded with the Indians through whose land they passed. They took notes, gathered scientific specimens and drew maps allowing others to follow. They reached the Pacific Ocean in early November of 1805. After spending four winter months at Fort Clatsop, they returned cross-continent to St. Louis in September of 1806 ending an eight thousand mile trip and one of the most difficult experiences of exploration ever undertaken. Without the help of the friendly Indians along the way, the expedition may have certainly met with failure.
Where did this come from and what does it have to do with my Bush Fellowship? The first two weeks in March 2013 my husband and I spent traveling up the west coast visiting friends and relatives along the way! Our first introduction on our trip to Lewis and Clark came at the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon where we watched an Imax production featuring the expedition. As we continued north, we became more and more intrigued by this famous trek of these explorers. We spent a rainy afternoon wandering through Fort Clatsop at the mouth of the Columbia River in Oregon where the Lewis and Clark party spent four months passing the winter of 1805-06. The group arrived sick and exhausted at this spot and only had six days of sunshine out of the one hundred and six days they were there. Our cold and rainy afternoon seemed only fitting. Captivated, we viewed DVDs in the Visitor’s Center depicting the epic journey as well as hearing the story from the Indian point of view before finally moving on. I’m not sure where I was the day we covered this expedition in school but I now found myself gaining an understanding of the leadership challenges and trials this group faced.
Preparing and heading into the great unknown, putting your reputation and even your life on the line for a cause or passion is the stuff of courageous leaders now and throughout history and well into the future of our society. The job of the courageous leader is never complete without the help of the courageous followers and even the courageous bystanders along the way. Lewis and Clark would not have accomplished the opening of the vast western wilderness without their party of expert woodsmen and soldiers armed with brut strength and determination. They would not have been successful without the aid of the tribes of Indians they encountered that provided food and shelter, as well as information and advice regarding how to proceed forward to the great Pacific Ocean.
The parallels between Lewis & Clark and the Davies Expedition into the community of breast cancer survivors or any other Bush Fellow into their own defined community where change is sought are many. It still takes leaders, followers, and bystanders who are open to new ideas, new views, and new systems of operations to move the elephant forward into the wilderness of change resulting in progress. It takes the bravery of someone willing to say, “Hey, I’m wrong. Let’s step back and try again, what do you think?” As I have learned over and over throughout my life, it is truly through my mistakes that I learn, grow and move forward. The undaunted leader takes into consideration all of the information at hand from multiple sources, makes an informed decision and then moves ahead bringing along the followers and the bystanders with their permission. It is not an expedition of one but of many moving forward relying on the gifts of each individual whatever they may be to move the party forward. Any of this sound familiar?