Life’s a mythic journey, I’ve always felt—full of monsters to fight, unexpected allies to support you, obstacles to negotiate, griefs that grab you, and alluring but impossible lovers who beckon you into some mystery you’re both drawn to and terrified of.

What I know is that when we dare to plunge into this journey with curiosity, imagination, and a sense of adventure and explore what it has to teach us, we become co-creators of the myth, engaged contributors to the world, and people who act in the ways they do just because they must—whether anyone pays attention or not. We can also get through just about any hardship.

I’ve been a writer since I was eight years old. My books, articles, and essays tend to explore the relationship between people, nature, and myth. Since 1995, I’ve lead vision quests and other programs that combine the search for meaning and the discovery of wisdom and insight in nature.

My deepest sorrow is for the degradation of the natural world and the corresponding grief that people feel when they lose the places they love. I founded the non-profit Radical Joy for Hard Times in 2009, and it is now a global community of people dedicated to finding and making beauty for the Earth’s wounded places.

Over the years, I’ve struggled through my own dark times with addiction, heartbreak, and the deaths of lovers, family members, and friends. Personal darkness—my own or that of others—grieves me but does not throw me off balance, because I know that, no matter what’s going on in life, astonishing acts of beauty, compassion, and even joy are waiting to be given and received.