“Once I was in Victoria, and I saw a very large house. They told me it was a bank and that the white men place their money there to be taken care of, and that by and by they got it back with interest. We are Indians and we have no such bank; but when we have plenty of money or blankets, we give them away to other chiefs and people, and by and by they return them with interest, and our hearts feel good. Our way of giving is our bank.” – Chief Maquinna, Nootka
Today for the first time in I can’t remember when, I have nothing I have to do and I feel so lonely. And I’m not a lonely type of person….I like to be by myself. I remember when I was in kindergarten and my family lived in Hinsdale, Illinois, a commuter village for Chicago. I was playing happily by myself on the playground and my parents drove by and saw me and that night they told me that they felt ashamed and embarrassed because I wasn’t playing with the other children. I hadn’t realized there was anything wrong with playing alone.
So the loneliness I feel today is not that. ..it’s not Aloneness.
Yesterday I met with someone about the loss & grief mini workshops I’m offering. I’ve written about them here so I won’t go into detail except to say I love doing them and I once presented them at large national hospice conferences as well as for church groups, universities, bereavement groups etc…… in cities and towns all around the US.
The woman I met with was very kind and wanting to be helpful, she was asking how much money I needed for presenting the workshops. I explained I wasn’t doing the workshops because I wanted money. Sure it wold be nice to get a donation. I’ve been extremely poor these last couple of years and I believe there should always be some form of equal exchange but I’ve never done anything just for the sake of money….ever.
I spent a lot of time with Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and she often talked about patients she visited at the very end of their lives. They said things like ” Dr. Ross, I made a good living but I never really lived. I wanted to be an artist but my father wanted me to be a doctor so I became a doctor.”
And so I have always lived by this advice:
It is very important that you only do what you love to do. you may be poor, you may go hungry, you may lose your car, you may have to move into a shabby place to live, but you will totally live. And at the end of your days you will bless your life because you have done what you came here to do. Otherwise, you will live your life as a prostitute, you will do things only for a reason, to please other people, and you will never have lived. and you will not have a pleasant death.
The loneliness today is in not being understood, in not being able to connect, in feeling like an alien, the loneliness of looking into people’s eyes and seeing nothing there…When I leave my place here and go into the world, it seems like there’s no one out there…..everyone in a huge hurry…..no time to listen, TVs blaring in the restaurants, people glued to their cell phones. That’s the loneliness.
Maybe I would feel this way anywhere but sometimes I wish I was back with the First Nations People in Canada. We filmed 3 documentaries in Manitoba and in Saskatchewan and we were able to be part of the ceremonies and the communities for a while.
These First Nations people may be poor, they usually are but there’s an understanding, a sense of belonging and sharing that I don’t see much of in the world today.
When I first moved to New Mexico, eight and a half years ago, I often met with an Hispanic Elder from this area. He talked to me about the people in the community I had moved into. He told me that they were the people of the Heart. “If you can’t speak the language of the Heart” he said “You will not be allowed to stay.”
I have heard this same teaching from Native American Elders:
“We are people of the heart. We sit in the direction of the East, of the Rising Sun and of the Beginning. This is where our great Creator had put us.
It takes a lot of courage to listen to your heart and to your Spirit as it’s telling you what to do even when your mind tells you something else..”
~Anishnabe Elder Dave Courchene
So this is the loneliness. The Language of the Heart has been forgotten. It has been replaced by the language of greed, of money, of arrogance, of materialism. In my experience, the language of the heart is not usually understood by very wealthy people, by politicians or bankers, or by celebrities.
Because the Language of the Heart has to do with Generosity, Sharing, Humor, Humility, Simplicity and Appreciation.
I think over again my small adventures, my fears, those small ones that seemed so big, for all the vital things I had to get and to reach.
And yet there is only one great thing, the only thing.
To live to see the great day that dawns and the light that fills the world.
Old Inuit Song
This film clip from Never Cry Wolf is really what I’m trying to say put in visual form—HUMILITY, HUMOR, SIMPLICITY AND APPRECIATION–THE LANGUAGE OF THE HEART
*I used the photo above of Blizzard, a white buffalo perhaps symbolizing the return of the Language of the Heart:
“The arrival of the white buffalo is like the second coming of Christ,” says Floyd Hand Looks For Buffalo, an Oglala Medicine Man from Pine Ridge, South Dakota. “It will bring about purity of mind, body, and spirit and ;unify all nations—black, red, yellow, and white.” He sees the birth of a white calf as an omen because they happen in the most unexpected places and often among the poorest people in the nation. The birth of the sacred white buffalo provides those within the Native American community with a sense of hope and an indication that good times are to come.