As you might note from the title of this post, this is not the first time I have written about following the signs and symbols around me. It is a big part of my decision making process. This one is about my experiences over the past week.
I have been working on a manuscript of both poetry and prose. A memoir to be precise. It’s taken me well over two years of on again, off again, moments that included moving my entire household, writing, exploring a plethora of files, art work, helping my oldest daughter relocate her home to one in Massachusetts, dealing with the reality of her diagnosis of MS, and my own severe spinal condition, and all the everyday chores and unexpected happenings between all of those realities.
I am not a spring chicken. I am a seventy year-old chicken. Sometimes, still side-tracked by the doubts and fears we all encounter. Oh, and by the way, I am also teaching an ongoing online course concerning the twelve stages of the Heroic Journey . We do one stage a month. And because I do the assignments that I hand out to my students, I am also dealing with those current stages in my own life. We are, at the present moment, dealing with the third stage of the Journey which is Refusing the Call to the Adventure of our own life. That deals with the doubts and distractions which can, and do, keep us from fully living said life.
I spend a great deal of my time on this computer. And, because it is important to me as a writer, as well as an intelligent human being, I attempt to stay at least cognizant of what is going on in the world around me. Which means I have been following the shenanigans of the current election. Although I am not an overtly political individual, I have been shaken to the core by that particular reality. But, I also have Native American ancestry through my maternal grandmother, and have been following the far less publicized pipeline protest at Standing Rock. All of which has drawn me away from writing my memoir. Shouldn’t I, as a writer, be speaking into these two obviously violent and world altering situations? But, if I do choose to entangle myself, what happens to my personal and almost completed memoir project?
I’ve been colliding with two of the most pertinent realities of my existence. I am a former physical, emotional, psychological, and sexual abuse victim. Yet, I have learned how to follow the signs and symbols by deeply exploring Native American belief systems. What follows is a list of incidents that can only be defined as synchronicity.
1. On Friday of last week, I was deeply moved by a video of a herd of wild bison (buffalo) entering the scene of the pipeline protest. Watched as the protestors whooped and danced in celebration of their appearance.
2. Buffalo are a symbol of both sacrifice (they gave their entire beings so that the People might flourish), and heartfelt thanksgiving.
3. On Sunday, while reading and responding to another poet’s response to a prompt, I was reminded of the final verse of an old John Denver song; Reach for the heavens and hope for the future, all that we can be, not just what we are. I used it to make a comment on that other poet’s poem.
4. On Monday, the song was still peculating through my thoughts. It’s title is The Eagle and The Hawk. I posted it to Facebook.
5. Four hours later, I went back to Facebook, only to find another video by the same individual that had captured the entrance of the buffalo. Still at Standing Rock, he had encountered an eagle perched on a fence and it stayed there for about an hour, allowing people to reach out and touch it. The video continued as the man panned the surrounding landscape, finding two hawks in the upper branches of a tree.
6. Birds are seen as spiritual messengers because they spend their time in the air and on the earth. The message of the eagle, especially here in the States, is that of Freedom. And freedom always entails responsibility. The message of the hawk (to me on a personal level) is to remember who I truly am.
7. On Tuesday I posted my current refusal issue. I was hesitant to finish the memoir because I feared its effect on those I hold most dear. In the course of writing down that reality I realized several things: a. I have sacrificed a great deal to become a good writer, and most of my writing is personal. b. I am utterly grateful to have had the ongoing experience of learning how to express myself clearly. c. I am also grateful for the places that writing has taken me (allowing me to teach others to do the same.) d. Being able to express myself has been an incredible freedom, as well as a healing experience. e. I take the freedom seriously and attempt it with a sense of responsibility. f. I am truly a writer and express that best by telling my own story, and the truths I have found in doing so.
This post is me, following the signs and symbols. I worked on the memoir for two hours before coming here today. I will continue to do the same until it is finished.