Alumni Spotlight on Micah Springer ’90

by Genevieve Villamizar

I closed the book, closed my eyes, and took a deep breath. Stillness…Crickets filled the air as stars fill the night sky. The sibilance of aspen leaves danced over me, waves of Self rolling through me. I’d been living in her close, parched African world for days, reading for hours in a hungry push to discover where her journey would land.

Hand on the book, I was rocked by the ending. I felt love, pain, loss, discovery. I felt seen. I felt connection. I felt my Sister through the pages of this story. As a writer myself, I recognized her gift and power!

I opened my laptop and tapped out another email, in our ongoing thread, profusely thanking her for self-publishing. I complimented her courage, opening her life to us, shining a soft yet piercing light onto our collective human experience, through her own rawness, own vulnerability, grit and passion.

Class of ’90 alumna Micah Springer began saving money for a one-year backpack trip throughout Africa with best friend and running partner, Kas Hilberman while still attending the Colorado Rocky Mountain School. They saved for three years and researched the continent before springing the surprise on their parents.

“Keepers of the Story,” is a memoir of Springer’s journey.

What propels one, so young, into such questionable, adverse adventure?

“[The] desire to experience freedom,” she says, “freedom from parents, religion, white-world institutions, social conditioning, expectations of myself. I had to know sustaining freedom-not the fleeting kind that drugs, sex or exercise could provide. I already had that. I wanted the enduring knowledge of self that was as expansive as I imagined the continent to be. I wanted wild, awakened Africa. I wanted God – to make sure God was free.”

That trip would break Springer wide open.

“I was too young to understand that to experience existential freedom, something or someone had to unfasten the stricture of my cultural/religious/gender-biased conditioning. And this was gonna hurt.”

In their travels throughout Africa, Springer fell in love so deeply, it would unseat her for the next decade of her life. He was a nomad shepherd and warrior, so utterly otherworldly, that in coming to know him, his family, and their way of life-life as she had known it was dismantled. Returning to Colorado University, Boulder, she had nothing to fall back on. The dissonance formed who Springer is today.

In 1988, Hal Langfor, Springer’s CRMS lit teacher at the time, assigned writing a short story. The outcome among the students? Most were exceptional; these were CRMS students, after all. But to Springer, he said, “You have a gift.”

“Keepers of the Story,” puts Micah Springer’s gifts into play. Exploring archetypes and themes so universal, Springer hopes readers will find themselves in the pages.

“It is a big, big love and he was a big, big man. It took me fumbling my way through this book and my heart to set it – us – totally free. I suppose many women, hopefully men, will be able to do the same, reading it. That’s my prayer – for us to be broken apart until we fall in love with life in the truest, the only lasting fashion. Heart break,” feels Springer, “if we follow it deeply enough, it always leads to this bigger expression of us. It is from the heartbreak that we’re able to find our true self.”

In staying true to herself, publication of “Keepers of the Story” became its own a journey. A 250 page book selling one million copies takes 12,000 virgin trees. After her time of living so purely on the planet, “I needed this story to be as earth friendly as my nomadic village,” she says, “placing the earth before our stories.” and honoring values which “took root while I was at CRMS and has remained present in my life ever since being a student.”

“Keepers of the Story” was released July 25, by Seattle Books, on 100% recycled, using veggie ink, for $15.95, paperback.

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