Bird Droppings July 26, 2010
Every day is a good day
Recently I had the great privilege of spending some time with three friends. People I have known for many years. Just a few weekends back I drove nearly 800 miles on various assundery excursions. There was a trip to Georgia Southern University for graduate classes, a trip to Macon Georgia and back to stop at the Indian Mounds and go by Towiligia Plants, a native plant nursery just outside Macon. Much of this time I was alone driving and most of that time listening to an old new Neil Young CD, Live at Massey Hall, recorded in 1971.
In my travels many things pass through my mind, ideas for my dissertation and my graduate studies, thoughts back to my meetings with my dear friends. But in the midst of this all was a passing thought my wife mentioned as I was sitting reading an email from one of my friends. She told me we all have kind hearts. I thought back to conversations we were having as friends a few days back that would have provided her with this insight.
”I tell my students that teaching is a lifelong moral quest. You never have it exactly right, and you keep trying to get better at it. You keep learning from your students and what you they’re going through, how you can do things better.” Dr. Nel Noddings, interview with Sara Day Hatton, Teaching By Heart: The Foxfire Interviews
An idea crossed my mind as I was driving. The medicine circle composed of four points of the compass. The points are as on most manmade compasses yet far more in terms of meaning in the medicine circle. The North, symbolizing earth and wisdom, The South, symbolized by fire and passion, The West, symbolized by water and emotions, and the East, symbolized by air and flight are what make the medicine circle meanings. I thought of four friends drawn together yet apart. Each knows of the other and by chance I had words with each recently. Each of my friends had passion in their lives. There was a passion I could see and feel for their work, family and those around them. I even at one point was sitting jotting notes to myself as to who fit each of the points. Who was the north or south, east or west of this medicine wheel?
So often my train of thought then wanders off and I find myself postulating over other ideas and pondering this or that. I found my way to Borders yesterday. Somehow I can do that probably in my sleep. Someday I might like to have my ashes sprinkled through a Borders or Barnes and Noble even though they will get swept up by the nightly cleaning crew or maybe haunt a Borders in the afterlife. I went looking as I do to favorite sections only to find they were all shifted about. I finally found the Education rows of books and a bit later the Native American shelves.
As I looked always seemingly drawn to known authors I found a title that intrigued me. The book was Every day is a good day, by Wilma Mankiller. I had not seen this book in all of my travels and searching’s at Borders, Barnes and Noble and many other stores. It consists of dialogue between nineteen indigenous women on various topics. The book has many powerful words from these women. I borrowed today from the foreword written by Native American author Vine Deloria.
“The old Indian war cry, it’s a good day to die, bespoke of the courage and fearlessness of men in battle and indicated that life was not worth living if one approached it with too much caution. Freedom demanded the willingness to sacrifice everything to ensure personal integrity. But what of the long periods between wars and crises? What about the daily lives we seek to fill with substance?” Vine Deloria
The late Wilma Mankiller nationally known as former chief of the Cherokee Nation and author, teacher, lecturer and advocate for Native American affairs in her book proceeds to explore this through the thoughts and understandings of nineteen indigenous women from all walks of life. In a recent class we discussed the concept of multitasking and how women have been multitasking for thousands of years while men focus on generally one thing at a time. I look at women running for vice president, state governors, congress, Senate and our current Secretary of state in our own country. Wilma Mankiller was chief of the Cherokee nation for ten years until her health took the best of her.
“A nation is not conquered until the hearts of its women on the ground. Then it is done, no matter how brave its warriors or strong its weapons.” Cheyenne proverb
My thinking has wandered today from four friends and an observation by my wife to the multitasking ability of women. Yet intertwined is a common thread a piece of the tapestry of our lives. My wife saw a common element in each of us as we talked and joked and retold old tales of childhood. Perhaps we are each part of the medicine wheel of life. A thought crossed my mind as each of my friends in different places we are each leading separate yet connected lives. I thought back to Wilma’s book title and how I was drawn to that Every day is a good day. I thought to multitasking and how so often we take for granted those who truly do keep the world in line and in order. I thought of my wife who so often is the guiding force in our family and always ready to hug one needing hugging.
Every day is a good day when we accept the premise that we are integral to that day and we each are only a portion of the day and so many more too are there interconnected and interwoven. I do think it is when we get focused to into our own that we loose sight of the good day. I do wish we each could hold all in harms way on our minds and in our hearts.