Monday, October 5, 2009
You can't be a Prophet in your home town
Living in the Reserve (or any small town for that matter) you may be familiar with almost everyone in the community. It is this familiarity that clouds our vision. We no longer can see the individual as more than the average person. We see them as the everyday individual. We miss the greatness, the wonder, the gifts, the wisdom, the knowledge that they may possess. The mystery of the unknown person is not there. We tend to look at the unknown as that which is greater than what we have to come to know. Not realizing that greatness could be in the room with us.
A Traditional Teacher, Ken (some are called Elders) once said that the "hardest thing is to pick up a Pipe in front of your family". It is because of what the Pipe represents. The symbolism of being a Pipe Carrier is of wonder, Spiritualism, having a connection to the Creator. We expect our Pipe Carriers to be more than the everyday person. The Pipe Carrier is to have qualities that exceed the average individual. But what happens when you grew up with this Pipe Carrier? You know him/her very well and have seen his/her flaws, weaknesses, mistakes, misgivings and shortcomings. Can this person have that sense of awe, sense of wonder, sense of knowledge that you expect a Pipe Carrier should have? I guess it would be the same scenario as growing up with a friend, sibling who is now a Priest, a Doctor or a Leader. Can we see the wonder, the greatness in the people we know?
I believe that greatness is all around us. We overlook it because we tend to see them as everyday. We don't realize that the everyday person from our community could be the great leader, the Spiritual leader, the Healer for the next community. If we see them as a being just like us, then we lose that wonder. If I were a good writer or a good story teller, my community wouldn't see it. It would be the outsider looking at me that would say I was a fine story teller (not saying I am because I see what Native Writers have accomplished and I am just a babbler at this point).
We run to the noted, the famous, the well known or even the unknown before we give the time to the regular folk. Turns out the well known may not be as credible as your Granny or your own Granpa or your cousin.
I read about Joshua Bell, perhaps the greatest violin player in the world. He played the violin in a public place, just like an ordinary busker. He played a $3million dollar violin. In about an hour he made thirty two dollars. No one really paid attention to him. He was dressed like the everyday person. He looked like the everyday person in an everyday setting.
This guy, Bell can command $1000 per minute. People will pay big money to see him play. What happened in the plaza that he played? He played one of the most difficult pieces of music that can be played. He gave it his best. Yet, people didn't see it. Why?
It's the old saying, you can't be a prophet in your home town. We need to look past the ordinary. We need to open our eyes (and ears) and see the possibilities that lay in front of us. That our everyday people can be wondrous and great.
Can it be the familiarity with our own? The saying "familiarity breeds contempt" is another idiom that we know well.
There is Teaching we all may know of the Seven Grandfathers and the message they kept telling the Little Boy who sought answers for his community. The Grandfathers kept telling him to Go Home. That the answers were at home.
That is the same with us Indigenous people, our answers are with us.