Wincing and Walking On, with Thanks

[imgbelt img=macandeskaend530.jpg]It’s a long wondrous way from fake feathers to real gratitude. Let’s go there together.


“Is There an Ecological Unconscious?” The author spoke of a newly discovered psychological condition called solastalgia to describe the “pain experienced when there is recognition that the place where one resides and that one loves is under immediate assault.” The author noted that this condition is well known among indigenous communities that have been displaced from their lands. He expressed surprise that this “place pathology” might not be limited to native peoples. Non-Indians, e.g. modern middle and upper class white folks might actually feel it too! I immediately sensed that all the Indians reading this had to be doing a collective eye roll while voicing an exasperated, “duh, ya think?”

Amazon Awakening,” writer Andy Isaacson relates his recent cultural tourism experience among the Achuar tribe of Ecuador. During this spendy, exclusive vacation he hung out with indigenous people who still live on their traditional land and practice their ways, culture and language. A shaman invited him to participate in a ceremony in which he drank brew made from ayahuasca, a hallucinogenic plant that the Achuar call, “vine of the soul.”

Andy cried, barfed his guts out and had his dreams interpreted by the shaman who in the end simply told him, “You came here to learn about the culture, the rain forest and the reality of the Achuar people. Now you’ve done that.”

Isaacson could only hear this simple message in the form of a purchase from a preconceived notion of suitably exotic and “authentic” indigenous peoples. He could have saved himself a lot of money and gained similar insight by simply turning his phone off and going for a walk in the woods. The great and exciting news, however, is that even writers for fancy publications like the New York Times are seeking this simple message.

I recall how watching the footage of the BP oil spill and those great plumes of junk spewing into the ocean made me queasy and sick at the stomach. All the Indians I spoke to felt the same. There were many ceremonies and gatherings throughout Indian country recognizing that we felt sick at heart for our earth and needed to pray. I can’t believe that the rest of you humans out there didn’t feel the same.

tar sand mines of Alberta and we develop a mindset that will not tolerate these disasters.

On Thanksgiving Day, go outside and breathe in the great gift of air. Walk on the earth. This time of year, it is fairly humming as it prepares itself for winter and its great period of rejuvenation. Poignantly full of death, it also promises rebirth. Hereabouts, I visit the waters, the Ohio River and the Little Miami River. Watching these waters fills me with awe at the great flow and force of life. I am reminded and renewed. In the Ojibwe tradition, women care for the water. Although Southern Ohio is not my Ojibwe homeland, I feed the waters of my new home. I feed them and give thanks and I am fed. Abandoning the illusion of control and separation from this process, I step into the flow.