A Native American proverb states, “You can’t see the future with tears in your eyes.” I love the poignancy and strength of the phrase. It denotes what, we as Navajo or American Indian people need to remember. We have to understand not only the reality of our present circumstances but also see our future is dependent on our ability to challenge ourselves to seek solutions for a brighter future. We can’t dwell on our past and the darkness of our histories, we have to learn to respect history and continue to move forward.
I was raised, in part, by two people who displayed through their life’s work how change can be made. My late Nalís were a couple dedicated to helping people, Navajo people, American Indians. They worked to foster in community members a sense of passion for retaining Navajo culture through education. The change they created was formed overtime through fight and individual acts.
I am daunted by the wicked problems of society and at times feel hopeless and unsure of the possibility of overcoming. As I write this, my heart aches for those who have been hurt by the events in Boston. As a runner I have always felt part of a family. Words cannot express the power of the moment when running a race you have trained hard for and having a fellow runner, one you have never met, high-five you. Or the point on your journey where you hit “the wall” and feel yourself ready to give up and someone reaches out to cheer you on. Those moments of connectivity are sacred.
It is these moments where the power of understanding we are all connected, can be found. We are all in this race together to seek solutions for our future. It is this belief which propels me forward. The moment when I realize the tools I have available to me which will help me fight to retain our culture and educate ourselves. The Navajo Rosetta Stone, independent Navajo Culture newsletters like Leading the Way, e-zines like Whisper n Thunder‘s. Each tool is an opportunity to seize more and more of the cultural knowledge, not for greed or ego but for survival and Native identity.
Monday would have been my late Nalí Adszaan’s birthday. While I miss her, I continue to find her life and her teachings an inspiration to me. She would always say, “Do it!” every time I’d share an idea with her. She’d note how she never asked for permission, her sense of urgency was one which fuels me in the last year of my twenties. I am continuously compelled to seek answers and help people.
I honor her and the life of my Granddad with my practice of random acts of kindness, with the projects not just launched but maintained. It is true you can’t see the future with tears in your eyes but sometimes the tears of reflection and longing encourage us to reach beyond what we think we can bear so we can continue to shape our visions for service beyond our own gratification.
Full disclosure: I am on the board of directors of Whisper n Thunder.