infinite possibilities

Like many movies, shows, and stories talk about, there are an infinite number of possibilities in the Universe.

For the mundane, routine, normal things, life can be quite predictable. Typically we can rely on certain outcomes based on the opening or set-up.

For most of us, our expectations and plans are limited in scope. But for anything beyond the basics, we quickly see the possibilities unfold.

Reality is made up of infinite instances of individual moments that gather into the totality of existence.

Branching out like tree limbs and leaves, water ways and veins, possibilities bloom endlessly and wither forever as time crawls on ad infinitum.

Choices in the seas of experience cause eddies and ripples, proof of their existence in an otherwise mercurial environment.

Every look and phrase, every longing gaze has its own special Universe.

Reality divides in an ever wider ride along the various forking roads of entropy.

Descent into chaos is seen as scary, yet could be the best part of inevitability.

Natural order is a fallacy that pins hopes on imaginary structuring when the reality is that there is no grand plan.

Truly free will and unfettered existence terrify average men and women.

Double edged sword walking in a kaleidoscope world

At 14 years old my mom secured a scholarship for me to attend a private school in an affluent neighborhood. Being Alaska Native probably helped secure that opportunity. Whatever it was, it was also an opportunity I would have never have had otherwise; we certainly couldn’t afford it. Tuition for my 8th grade year cost the same as a UW undergraduate’s tuition for that same year. Other kids were driven to school in BMW’s and Mercedes.

It took 2 buses and over an hour each way to get there. I had always had free lunch before that, because we had qualified for state assistance programs. When I got through the lunch line the first day and they asked for money I didn’t have any and the lunch lady quickly said “it’s ok, we’ll put it on your account”… only when I got home my mom explained that an account was still something she had to pay for and we couldn’t afford it.

That first day I didn’t know they had a mid-morning break about 10:15am. They all ran out of class, dumped their bags in a pile on the lawn and grabbed a snack in the cafeteria. I looked around and asked who was watching their bags and they looked at me funny. Half-way through saying it I trailed off as I asked “you’re not worried that someone will steal your bag?”. Who would steal bags at a private school filled with kids who had never known want? It never occurred to them because no one they knew had ever been remotely close to poor.

People asked me why I had a bad attitude, but I couldn’t relate with them. I didn’t have a dad, we didn’t own a house, and we rode public transportation. I had never felt as safe and secure as these people did everyday. I had grown up in a world where nothing was like this, and even that place was a cake walk compared to metropolitan inner cities.  But it wasn’t just poverty that separated me from them, it was my cultural heritage.

Sometimes I really hated being Alaskan Native. It is such a pain in the ass to explain. As much as I deeply and fully respect that being black is something no one can hide or take off, looking white can make things very difficult for me. I’ve been told I am not Native because I don’t look brown, but I’ve come to expect that over the years. The aggravating part is explaining myself every time my cultural heritage comes up. A black person doesn’t have to explain blackness to the outsider, and if they’re light skinned enough they may have to say they’re black, but that definition itself is typically good enough.

When I say I’m Native it gets confusing right off the bat. I’ve tried starting with “Alaskan Native” but it doesn’t register and they ask me to repeat myself. I start with Native American and they immediately assume they know what I mean, and for them that includes buffalo and tipis. So then I have to explain my people came from Alaska, and now they’re sure they’ve got it. Igloos and dog sleds and snow as far as the eye can see! Then I explain no, my tribe’s not from there either, we’re from the coast and our land overlooks the sea.

So then they realize they don’t know much about me, and are by then either fascinated or bored stiff. At bored stiff I’m relieved because now I can stop talking, but not so much with the other way around. When they’re fascinated I must then go on to give them some context to the people I’ve named and attempted to describe. Luckily I live in a place quite similar in terms of environment, enough to draw some comparisons.

But then I have to battle the age-old examples of persistent stereotypes. The fact that I’m Native does not give me any more connection to Mother Earth than white people should feel. Even if it did, they all seem to think that I worship the Earth as a personified deity. Just because I have Native ancestry does not mean I can see spirits in trees. The image people have doesn’t add up and I hate to be the one to disillusion them.  But it comes with the territory of having informed them of my cultural identity.

They sometimes think I have access to mysterious sources of income, which is based on rumors of a stipend provided by the state of Alaska, which is partially true, but other residents also get compensated because it’s not easy to make money in the state, there is almost no business development all told there. In both cases it is more of a token as it is not enough to really supplement living costs. My tribe has no casinos, and largely our holdings make no money; we are trying to maintain our ancestral lands which costs more than earning the tribe any income.

Some people assume that I know everything about every tribe in all of North America. And that we’re all related, which I just can’t fathom. Because my family wanted me to be a world citizen they taught me about many other cultures – including those of other continents as well as the denizens of our own. So although I know more than most, its just as feasible, likely, and reasonable that whites or blacks or latinos or asians would know as much as I would about tribes in the southwest, or the northeast, or anywhere else. They are nothing like my tribe, any more than any other cultural group is.

Invariably, teachers found out that I’m Native and that’s when it really got hairy. I knew that look when their eyes lit up, almost like seeing dollar signs. But it wasn’t greed that motivated them, they just wanted a free lesson for the class. They would ask me to make some sort of presentation or answer questions or get interviewed. At quite a young age I was asked my take on race relations and modernization. How crazy is it to be asked your opinion when you’re still too young to have formed one? They seemed to want some social treatise like I knew politics and current events at 12 years old. I sat on panels next to black and brown kids looking just as uncomfortable as they were.

And yet we actually had stored up a fair amount of experiences at our tender young age. Many times over I did have something to say in interviews, on panels, with group discussions or in presentations. Because I wasn’t “normal”, I was Native American. I got used to working with adults at an early age, helping develop material for curricula and rehearsing speeches or demonstrations. I was placed in front of classes or a whole school sometimes, or mixed audiences at public events.

The visions of hippies and freedom seekers of the ’60’s and 70’s was refined as they matured, had children to raise and wanted a lasting way to make the world the beautifully free and fair world they dreamed of. They pumped their dreams and hopes into their offspring, reshaping the world in a peaceful, respectful vision. It was great to be a part of these monumental changes to society and social interactions. But we had never experienced much real racism or bigotry in my little bubble and all of my experience and opinions were theoretical; it was in principle. I understood these things as they had been taught to me and my experience was limited to a layer away from the social ills my elders wished to combat.

I had essentially grown up in the world my elders had dreamed of for me, and as such participating in a change that had been made before my time was a little confusing. I hadn’t done any real combat; I was the product of those who had. My struggle was being dragged from meeting to event to convention to retreat, workshops and panels and meet-and-greets.

As the model of the evolved Native American, I am urban, know my heritage, and have participated in what feels like everything. I showed wisdom, moderation and poise on my public face before I hit puberty. I was an educator and facilitator, a volunteer coordinator.

It’s great that I learned all kinds of skills and had all kinds of experiences. It’s been a difficult journey to realize that this kaleidoscopic world I walked in was one made from combined efforts. Stepping outside of that climate and culture is a shift that bears no mention. The rest of the world lives in a dream of its own creation. If you don’t go to those seminars, panels, conventions, or meetings you don’t necessarily see the world of multi-cultural harmony.

This planet is full of people who float on the currents of popular culture, ancient culture, and everything in-between. Living life in the slivers where the circles in venn diagrams meet, walking in two worlds or three… it may seem to be a boon to me, but it turns out to be too much to ask of most anybody.

 

 

Mourning is for ourselves

They come to funerals with suitcases packed full of regret
that they think they can leave on the doorstep of fate, or entropy;
indifferent masters at best.

The dead are gone, to nothing or beyond.
They do not cry for the life they leave.

Our tears bless our sins of self-centered sorrow.
It is our own loss that they leave us with; their losses are all gone now.

 

The strength of water is in fluidity and polarity

I have never wanted to retreat before. I never needed to back down.

I don’t understand what this feeling is, or where it comes from.

I have always wanted to work things out, despite the difficulties. I seek resolution and closure, so leaving doesn’t help me much.

Somehow I have come around to the idea that not everything can be dealt with, because not everyone is ready to deal, and no amount of my  desire can change that.

I want to force people to admit that they made a decision and the consequence is before them, but I need to let the consequence speak for itself.

I find though, that some consequences extend to me, and when it affects me in a bad way, the consequence is my emotional reaction to feeling violated or disrespected. Of course I’m not going to deliver that well. I suck at delivery anyway, but especially when I feel hurt…

 

[TA][APP]

 

 

Wandering words

I have always been happy alone. 

I would think my thoughts and arrange things just so.

Read my books and took long baths… Wandered in the woods.

I have made countless crafts halfway, but finished quite a few.

Lost track of time along the way.

My solitude has never been a burden I couldn’t bear.

In fact, I miss it so right now…
When I have been alone, I come back refreshed. 

When I have had time to reflect, and consider my decisions, they generally are the better for it.

When I can bring something back it’s somehow easier.

When we have had time to miss each other the meeting’s all the sweeter.
I love you so, day and night… but there’s more to it than that.

I need to be me without influence to remember who I am.

I love you so much, I can’t help but try to please you and then me and then suddenly, nobody.

It’s just all too much when exchange is so fast. 

I can’t seem to keep up and I trip on ground that should be flat.
More time and I could measure my response.

Just a little more leeway in the interplay would go a long way in reducing dismay.

I’m sorry my body overreacts like my sinuses do with flowers and cats.

I can’t help that part but my intellect knows, that it’s just like having a runny nose.
I wish I could reassure you more but I’m not very good at that.

Can’t you see, it’s just me, a flawed human being.

c’mon, i’m a fun-gi!

I’m a mushroom.

Alone and unmolested I flourish in darkness and shit.

But it’s ok, because I take from that place what goodness is there and I store it up, growing up, for later.

When it’s time for a dose of me watch yourself because I make you sick.

But your mind starts to swirl, your eyes can’t sit still, and your body is buzzing with life.

I break open your heart and mind to see truth so raw and bare you cry big buckets of tears as you laugh and cry again.

You never knew and now you do and you realize this whole time how little and big you have always been

in the same breath

Your ride with me will leave you never the same

broken down hollow and tame

You awake with fragments of me fluttering down

wispy tattered rags in the breeze of the wind tunnel inside you

Forever more than you were before, you gingerly walk like a cat on glass

testing your sanity for cracks

It’s too late

now you know there is no line in the sand but what we draw to be blown away when the mood strikes the wind

You see that there never was much of a line anyway

between you and me, sane and crazy

 

 

3 me’s

I wish I could get away from I.

I go on about I and

I see how I be in this great mystery

as if I could be the eye in this storm.

who am I? to leave this unwritten, unspoken, unsaid?

how can i I stand up high and take up all this space with my I and my me and my my?

this space once mine, all mine, becomes some empty vacuum.

sucking the me with it, away

sometimes I think that humanity’s self absorption is so strong, it should have caused a black hole by now.

can’t hear

Because you see, and what you see you believe

more than all the words, all the explanations, all the reasons and justifications.

I get that you think that those are all just hot air.

but those things are the meaning, the basis of my dreams.

I never take a step without knowing its right,

and I cant make a decision without boiling it down.

This paragraph is no exception.

My weirdo tribe

I look for you looking for me
Like Frieda Kahlo I know you are out there
As weirdly gloriously fabulously poignantly painfully raw
As I and I

You dance with your foil hat at midnight laughing away your life
As you watch the real nut jobs go by caught by invisible webs of self deceit
The huddled masses more sane or less than what

And us
We watch and learn
Dabble and depart