TRAVELER • WRITER • PHOTOGRAPHER • MINDFULNESS “TEACHER”
ENGINEER • HUMANIST • AND ALL THINGS NATURE
How does one define themselves when they’ve worked within a variety of disciplines and made impact within multiple fields?
I find a collection of experiences best explains my person.
Since a young age, I have had an inquisitive nature. One of my earliest memories is the frustration I felt upon realizing that I would always have more questions and I would never be able to answer them all. Later on, in my adolescence, one of the main questions continually arising was: Could I help others, enjoy my work, and support myself at the same time? I dreamt of one day finding an intersection. I knew I wanted to work toward a greater good, but sitting at a desk never felt fitting.
In the beginning of my collegiate years, I studied neuroscience at the University of Michigan; I thought I would become a doctor. Yet, uncertainty lingered. I excelled in business competitions and wasn’t ready to close the door on entrepreneurship. I told myself I could be a practicing doctor and maintain a business mind.
Early in my undergraduate years I worked on ambulances in Israel, the experience included failing to resuscitate a patient with CPR. Feeling a reduced hope in Western medicine I made a pivotal decision: I moved away from pre-med and decided instead to place my energy into biomedical engineering and entrepreneurship. I wanted to innovate the tools healthcare professionals used, rather than be a practitioner. In April 2016, I completed my Masters degree in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Michigan. My graduate team and I constructed a product, which was distinguished as the 2nd place winner in the National Medical Design Excellence Awards. I also founded and led various student organizations and entrepreneurial endeavors, including: a youth health literacy program in Detroit Public Schools, a smart smoke alarm interfaced to gas and electric stoves, an entrepreneurial ecosystem, and a multi-faceted organization working to bridge the resource gap occurring between Detroit and the University of Michigan.
Though I was on a path to help others, I was doing the opposite for myself. I was drowning in the stress of academic work and entrepreneurial demands, placing unrealistic pressures upon myself. Resultantly, 2013 and 2014 were some of the hardest years of my life to date.
In the Fall of 2013, I stumbled into a course on meditation. Upon realizing the importance of my wellbeing and meditations’ influence on such, I began absorbing all I could to support my internal journey. I took several more classes with my teacher, a Quechua medicine women, on mindfulness, nature-based spirituality, shamanism, and spiritual development. In December 2014, I sustained a life-threatening brain injury, which ironically allowed me to live more fully instead; it was then that my wellbeing and perception began to transform. I started to share what I had learnt through teaching meditation, yoga, nature-based mindfulness and fitness, and leading a large student wellness collective focused on helping students to destress and find more purpose.
As my university years came to a close, it would’ve seem the path was laid out for me with biomedical engineer and entrepreneurship. Though, as I continued with my meditation and nature-based practice, I was finding deeper and deeper meaning in things, which seemed so opposed to my degree: helping others through teaching mindfulness, being in nature, and having deep philosophical conversations. For once, not only was I helping others, but I was also helping myself; not only was I doing work to serve a greater good, I was also enjoying it.
Leaving university, I knew that I wanted to continue learning though outside of the rigid bounds of Western academia. Thus, I decided that I would travel alone after I completed my degree. I didn’t know how, or where, but I knew I would. In my last year of school, I heard of the Bonderman Fellowship, a grant given to four graduating undergrad students to travel individually to and immerse in non-Westernized cultures, with little structure, for 8 consecutive months, in return for them to write about their experiences. Crazy enough, I was only eligible to apply for the fellowship due to my brain-injury delaying the completion of my undergraduate studies ( I ended up finishing my undergraduate and graduate studies at the same time. This was unknown to me, until I went to apply to the fellowship).
I applied to the fellowship desiring to learn from the roots of my meditation teachers’ knowledge and to further see how a spiritual understanding can be blended with a Western, scientific mindset; I applied hoping to learn from how traditional nature-based cultures lived with the natural world; I applied hoping to find and further my capacity to serve the collective whole.
As a Bonderman fellow I solo-traveled to 10 different countries from August 2016 – August 2017 and lived with traditional cultures across Borneo, the Himalayas, Andes and Amazon (and learned 4 new languages!) Traveling alone for a year, slowly answered the questions I had regarding my path (and gave rise to a host of new questions). The intersection I always dreamt of finding came to me in the most unexpected of places: storytelling and many of the forms it comes in such as writing, photography, poetry and speaking. While this may seem like a far deviation from my previous path, I always have been a storyteller. Pitching, teaching, and organizing all require the telling of stories. Only when I had the space to write from a place of deeper intrinsic interest – not only for grades – did I really come to enjoy the written form of storytelling. The Bonderman Fellowship gave me both the freedom and accountability to develop an intrinsic world view and to hone my capacity to articulate it to others.
If you wish to see previous work I have published you can find some of it on this website or in other places such as: International Tribe Design, Perspectives Magazine, MeditationWorks.com, NatureWriting.com, WiseMindGentleSoul.com, Everyday-Mindfulness.org, Acumen-Poetry.co.uk, Breathe With B, or my Instagram:@HaberScott.
Notably, the essay I submitted titled “A Voice In Nature’s Choir” was awarded an honorable mention in the International Essay Competition for Young People, one of only 64 essays to place or receive mention out of over 15,000 applications from over 150 countries: http://scotthaber.com/2017/10/30/voice-natures-choir/.
Currently, the fall of 2018, I am working as an editorial produce for Summit (Summit.co), a global collective of positive change makers. I am working as an investigative journalist, storyteller, and photographer for International Tribe Design (InternationalTribeDesign.com). I write and advise for Princetonow (www.Princetonow.com), a Chinese education service helping students with their applications to American universities. I teach nature-based mindfulness and meditation at studios, schools, and offer retreats in the Ann Arbor and Metro Detroit area. I am working on my first book which examines how cultural narratives and external environments influence wellbeing, behavior and psychology, using the stories I have witnessed throughout my travels to illustrate these concepts. I work as a free-lance photographer, mostly doing commercial and lifestyle shoots. Last, I am involved in a host of early stage storytelling projects and activism work, which center around humans relationship to the natural world. With all this work, I hope that I can help further the creation and emergence of new stories and systems, which are omni-considerate towards all forms of life.
While my days in academia have ended, I remain a permanent student of life. My primary interests are: the intersections between ecology and economy, nature and its relation to well-being and human/cultural conditioning.
What continues to be one of the most important constructs in my life is a connection to nature. For the past several years, on a daily basis, I have had the fortune to be immersed in the natural world, usually for a few hours, and without other people. With me I bring the intention of pausing, listening, and connecting. As a storyteller with a visceral love for the outdoors, nature isn’t only where I go to recharge, it’s a source of inspiration – the foundation for these words.
I hesitate to call any of this “my” work; it isn’t mine. It is constituted through a collage of experiences: interactions, observations, books, and those who sustain my inspiration to continue doing such.
I believe the forces and characteristics, which separate us in life are superficial compared to the deep, collective sentience intertwined among, and embedded within all of us. I hope this work – our work – can you leave you feeling a little more connected to those we walk among.