Brian LaFountain on knitting us back together with the natural world

When we create our stories each week, one of the most agonizing decisions is what to call people. How do you distill a life—in the case of our storytellers, an otherworldly life—into the three or four words of a title scroll?

BRIAN LA FOUNTAIN has found his ministry. Every day he gives voice to the voiceless. As a young boy growing up in the Adirondack mountains, he learned from his father’s Mohawk Indian tradition and from his grandmother about the beauty and importance of Nature. At an early age, he was gifted and infused with the life-giving, life affirming, life-saving support that plants and animals provide to humans.

In our era of ecological destruction, Brian reminds us of our inextricable link to our mother earth. This is urgent, passionate work, but he brings a playful, humorous, light touch to his advocacy as a naturalist and guide for The Omni Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, Virginia.

Spending time with Brian is an invitation to remember that our bodies are made of and tethered to the same elements and compounds that we so readily destroy. It takes courage to open to that heartbreak of humankind separating itself from the world that sustains and supports us. But the light Brian shines awakens a joyful essence deep inside us to remember that this tree bark, this tiny flower, this berry, this moss, are the sources of every modern medicine that exists.

He’s equal parts stand-up comic, Hollywood agent, professor, and shaman. Our time together left me so grateful that despite being offered more glamorous, better paying career offers, Brian has embraced and come to terms with his mission. Serving humanity by reminding us that we are deeply cared for and held by creation: I can think of no higher calling.

Part Two: Brian LaFoutain on the beauty of finding your purpose

Like most of our storytellers, I’d never met Brian La Fountain prior to our recorded conversation at The Omni Homestead Resort. Moments into our meeting, we were both tearful, and I was breathlessly expanded. It’s that thing when you can’t believe (what you think is) your unique world view is shared and understood by a person who was a stranger minutes ago.

Because Brian tenderly offered the gift of an open heart, we captured the essence of the art form that has sustained civilization since the dawn of man: storytelling as empathy in action. And we keep learning this lesson over and over: storytelling can become the unifying lens to understand the world and our place in it.

Harnessing the power of manifestation is Brian La Fountain’s superpower: one that he owns like a boss. He honors the distinctive ecosystem that each tour group creates, with its irreplaceable dynamics of individuals in that special space and time. And fittingly, in this second part of our talk, Brian shares the gripping story of a cancer survivor and the tree that saved his life.

The gift Brian received in return during that tour speaks to the circular nature of manifesting. What he shared off camera is that just as he was about to leave this job to pursue a more glamorous one, this survivor’s story reminded Brian how purposeful his work is.

To drown out the clamoring pull of more takes courageous devotion to ourselves. This commitment to himself allows Brian to stand as tall and proud as the oaks that grow in the Virginia forest that is his office.

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