putting away the books…for now

I’m not feeling well, so I may be able to, one day in the future, chalk this decision up to a momentary madness brought on by illness.

This morning, I put away my research books. I haven’t been able to gain any ground with my ‘research’ activities. I haven’t been able to develop a thesis or a compelling research question. All my ‘research’ so far has amounted to is half-assed reading of a bunch of books whose titles seem to fulfill the promise of helping me refine my research methodology, but whose content leave me wanting. Not that it’s the fault of the books. It is my own failing that I can’t decide who my audience is and I haven’t yet found my voice. So, I’m putting away the books. For now.

The recent earthquake that affected Tibet, Nepal and India also has me questioning the value of this proposed research project I have been mulling: a shared land ethic. Mother Nature ultimately has the last say. No matter what we do as humans, whether we work together with the principles and order of nature and our relatives, or we continue to work against them – she will always, ultimately, have the last say. I can not wrap my mind around the devastation, but my heart understands the deep loss humanity is facing.

We live in a world that is in constant change, even though we may not see it. The subtle and the gross are equally important aspects of a deep relationship with our relatives. If we can stop long enough to listen, see and feel the subtle, instead of ignoring it, we might be better prepared for when the subtle becomes the gross. We might find our way to a more reciprocal relationship with our relatives.

I have written before about taking the time to listen, see and feel. And yet, I have not walked my talk. This is one of the reasons I am putting away the books, for now. There is only so much that I will be able to do with only book knowledge. If I am going to find my voice, I must train myself to listen to the subtle.

I recently pulled out “Principles of Tsa’walk: An Indigenous Approach to Global Crisis” (Umeek – E. Richard Atleo) because a friend and I were discussing Indigenous psychology. Before I put it away this morning, I landed on some wisdom I think will help keep me on track while I pursue the wisdom of the subtle.

“The Nuu-chah-nulth word for ‘completed person’ may also be translated as ‘shaman.’ There are many kinds of completed persons, just as there are many accomplishments in many different fields. The major difference between training of the ancient Nuu-chah-nulth ‘completed people’ and the formal training of accomplished contemporary people is that the former integrated the physical and non-physical aspects of the person whereas the latter does not. Moreover, since the Nuu-chah-nulth view of reality is never fixed, frozen, or objectified, the phrase ‘completed person’ must be understood within the context of a dynamic reality.” (Atleo, p. 157-158)

I’m not a fan of the word shaman as it has been co-opted to mean something shallow. However, reclaiming the depth and wisdom of the word by viewing it through the lens of being a ‘completed person’ helps me to feel at peace with putting away my books. For now.

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Twylia (the 'i' is silent)

~ I am Anishinaabe-kwe with Scottish heritage and Sami DNA. I speak on the behalf of no one but myself. My ancestors inform and guide me. My voice is but one of many who are calling for change. We have much work to do to create a good space for the real human beings who are waiting to be born.

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