When it comes to living in a way that is true to who we are I immediately thought about my friend and Territory Run ambassador Ian Ramsey. Over the years we have mostly spoken over the phone but I hear great passion in his voice when he talks of the wildness of Alaska or teaching high school students.
It left me wanting to know more.
I reached out to Ian to pick his brain about his journey and how he has landed in life as a badass runner, writer, teacher and world traveler. And after speaking with him it turns out Ian is not only living out his dreams but he has made it his life’s work to help others do the same.
We will be doing a video about Ian, but for now I want to share some key takeaways from our conversation that can help anyone live a more wild-hearted life.
“The terminology I often use is, how to live a wild-hearted life. It is about creating a life where you have the room and ability to express your full humanity.”
When I asked Ian about becoming the person he is today he said it had a lot to do with mentors.
“I spent a lot of my 20’s seeking out my heroes. A lot of them were environmental writers and a lot of them were people in Alaska. I was learning from how they lived their lives and then bringing that home and putting it into practice.”
One of those mentors for Ian was environmental writer and anthropologist, Richard Nelson who lives on an island in Alaska. Ian stated, “he is the most joyous and vibrant person I have ever known."
Both Nelson and Ian studied Alaskan Native people and the relationship between native people and nature. This also had a great impact on the way Ian chose to live his life.
"Native people are tied to a deeper, quieter existence where they are connected to the natural world and one another. They are less likely to get in line behind institutions," Ian told me.
Ian became a believer in the power of mentorship and is passing on the knowledge he has received from others by teaching students at a private school in Maine. He has developed music and environmental writing programs and even went as far as taking his students to Alaska to study conservation and climate change.
It is clear that Ian makes it a top priority to help his students discover their interests, explore them, and learn to have confidence to pursue them with passion. “I want to help them discover their creative expression and push through comfort zones, whether it is in musical performances, taking them to Alaska or going on backpacking trips.
I see them push up against their own discomfort and learn who they are.”
Ian's daily life is filled with the practices that help him to keep discovering who he is. He tries to run, write, read and practice meditation as often as possible.
"Running for me was born out of a time of challenge and transformation. All of a sudden I had this calling to run and move through the forest and that is where I took off with it. It is my place to simplify, come back to myself, to plug in to much larger energy source of the wild. It is also a way for me to connect to community and people who share these values and beliefs."
"Writing helps me discover what I’m thinking and puts me in a lineage. I stand on the shoulders of writers that came before me and they stood on the shoulders of the people before them. It connects me to a deeper longer lineage."
Ian is most proud of passing on the values he finds to be important and it shows in all of his creative expressions. We will have Ian's story more in depth in the next month.
Ian's Book Recommendations
Gary Snyder- Axe Handles (Ian said, "the way Gary Snyder has lived his life has been more influential for me than anyone else.")
Jack Turner - The Abstract Wild
Ian's Writing for Territory Run
The Wildest Thing - Ian's story of taking his students to Alaska
Written by Brett Farrell