February 16, 2017

Ancient Memories

We are well aware of the world outside. It bustles, hums and swirls around us every day. But there’s another world, a little more secret, a little more hidden, within each one of us. A world that’s alive with our breath and blood, but also with our thoughts, our spirit and our soul.

Buried deep inside of us lies a true wonder. We are discovering that our cells, the very fabric of our beings, are coded, like an immense library describing what we are (living beings, animals, mammals of the human type), who we are (genes, biometrics) and where we came from (DNA). I believe this library holds much, much more.

There’s a reason why there are things we instinctively know. There’s an explanation for reflexes, for innate talents and for instant connections with unknown places or people. Science calls it evolution. I say it’s cellular memory.

No matter how you look at it, it seems that each individual in a lineage, over the course of time, changes and adapts. This is true for humans, as it is for plants, animals and all living beings. In order to do this, two things are required; the ability to modify one’s self and memory of what was before and of what is being carried on. If not, evolution would be nothing but an infinity of very short dead ends.

So what does that tell us? That we carry a treasure. That we contain not only organs and a spirit, but also knowledge of all that has happened before until this point. This, by the way, also means that we know a little less than our children and those who come after us.

This knowledge is written within for us to discover and explore, as we do with the outside world. Every time we go somewhere, meet someone or perform something and get that instantaneous feeling that all things are right and in order, that we are “in the zone”, that we follow the flow, we’re actually receiving a message from our own selves.

Then, since we have the ability to change, we make choices. We take action. We trigger things inside of us that influence our own body, our mind and, ultimately, our destiny. We are the vectors of our own evolution and of that of others as well. In the end, each and every one of us is a vector for the evolution of the world.

Discovering this great truth leads to a very important realization; we are all connected. From the pebble to the insect to the stars in the sky and everything in between, nothing is alone. Everything is together. We are a part of a complete, connected Whole, whose ancient memory is written within ourselves. And it is our goal to act as a part of this whole, in a humble, respectful, responsible, and constructive manner.

Each time my feet meet the ground and I feel the drum of my own rhythm inside my body as I run, I am reminded of this great, amazing truth and I am drawn ever more to open myself to Ancient Memory, to connect to others and to feel from every fiber of my being the most important thing there is to know in this world.

We Are One.






January 31, 2017

Why I Stand With Standing Rock

“Water is life”. I came in contact with this crucial concept when I ran the highly symbolic race with our Hopi brothers and sisters some years ago. Aside from the obvious first-degree meaning, this expression serves as a powerful reminder that water is Nature’s blood, and without it, nothing else can exist.

As Westerners, we have done the worst, the unforgivable, to the water of the Earth. We have used it without measure, drained it from millennial reserves, soiled it beyond salvation and polluted it with the waste of our unsustainable lifestyle.

We have wronged our Mother, and we have wronged her People. I saw the corrupted wells at First Mesa, with their crystalline waters changed into chemical waste toxic to any life. I witnessed the devastation caused by mining and the complete disrespect for the value of Nature. I met fellow Humans who cannot access any water unless it’s trucked in from afar, because they are surrounded with tainted wells and wasted aquifers.

Almost two centuries of Western industry has proven beyond doubt that companies cannot be trusted to preserve and protect the environment. They are designed to generate profit in dollars, nothing else. They will do that at the expense of anything; surrounding communities, their workers and even the Planet that sustains our life.

Whether these companies are mining, fracking for fuel or carrying dangerous chemicals like petroleum, they have proven time and again that they will not only neglect the safety and well-being of the Earth and its People; they will also lie and slither in the back scenes to avoid any responsibilities, financial or other, for the terrible harm that they cause.

So when we are told that the DAPL (Dakota Access Pipeline) represents no harm to the environment or the people, that it is in the best interest of the American economy, that it will generate work and revenue and that it is a lawful project only opposed by a small group of rogue “extremists”, I instantaneously recognize the same corporate propaganda used by Exxon, Union Carbide, British Petroleum (BP), TEPCO and too many others, and I know what’s to follow. A year, five years or maybe a decade or two from now, someone will uncover a horrible toxic spill of millions of gallons of pure chemical poison injected directly inside the ground through a pipeline break or a maintenance oversight. The company, Energy Transfer Partners, will first deny it, then find some other possible cause to blame until it’s proven beyond any doubt that they are directly responsible. They will apologize, fire an executive or two and promise a thorough cleaning, then drag their case in courts for decades until they either shut down, get a bargain deal or coerce governments into paying the astronomical costs of their greed and negligence.

They are what the Sioux call the Black Snake.

I cannot support the destruction of Nature and the utter disregard for the value of Life any longer. I have seen enough of what my culture has done to the World to understand that our ways are wrong. I am ashamed of my ancestors and disconnected from any meaningful roots to Humanity. I am an unwilling cog in a devastation machine that will never stop until nothing is left.

And yet, when I show up in a Native gathering, I am invited into the circle. I am told “Welcome back”. I am greeted by elders and included. And the teachings I hear are all about connection, respect, humility and the stewardship of Nature. I am shown and given access to cultures that have thrived for millennia on and with the Earth, in balance and harmony. I am offered stories, shares of the food and a seat by the fire. I discover wise, ancient ways filled with meaning and sense, where every living thing is connected, among themselves and with the Earth. Where the talk is about balance, cycles and the value of Life.

So who am I going to believe? The Black Snake?

In an era where greed, hatred, fear, self-promotion and entitlement seem to reach their summit, I listen to the voices of peace, respect, humility and preservation. When I see armored forces with pepper spray and high-power hoses on one side, and a peaceful, chanting, praying, united community on the other, I know where I stand.

I stand with Nature. I stand with the Sioux Community and the People of the Earth.

I stand with Standing Rock.

 





January 23, 2017

Aggression


It seems to me that life, much like Nature, has seasons. Some are warm and comfy, others harsher and less hospitable. They come and go in an invisible cycle, making them more elusive to a distracted eye.

The theme of the current season in my life, I’ve come to realize, is aggression.

Over the course of the past several months, almost no day goes by without exposing me to some degree of violence, whether verbal, non-verbal or physical. From terrible images of war and despair blurted out by the screens that constantly surround us (or should I say “have us surrounded”?) to instances of concrete aggression on myself or on loved ones, it feels like the world is an angry, hurtful place full of threats and hatred.

Facebook feeds turn into war zones over politics or religion. Irritated drivers honk and scream and perform dangerous maneuvers on overcrowded roads during rush hours. Violent crimes are committed blindly against strangers for no apparent reason. Hate and bigotry are the all-time stars on the news. Dishonest companies and people are on every corner, trying to steal money. Even some friends have burst into hurtful fits of anger for unknown reasons.

In the midst of all this, I find myself disoriented, destabilized, drained and confused.

Of course, the first reflex would be to try to respond to violence by fighting back. I’ve done it myself in the past, and certainly will not judge someone for reacting this way. But there’s a double problem with this.

First, you end up feeding violence. Aggression is an ever-expanding dichotomy of abuser and victim. If you are made a victim and decide to fight back, you automatically become an abuser.

Second, you are only hurting yourself. Look back into your past, at instances where you let yourself be taken over by anger, frustration and aggressivity. How did you feel, inside? How long did you remain in that state of stormy chaos? How many people did you have to hurt? And how many loved ones became part of the collateral damage of this blind rage?

For quite a while, I felt powerless in the face of aggression because I choose non-violence. I felt like I had no response to offer, no protection, no shelter.

But recently, I’ve taken another approach, and a more active one. I double-down on kindness. I respond to aggression by radiating more love, more openness and more positivity. I remind myself to smile in public places, even when there aren’t any obvious friendly faces. I make small gestures of random kindness. I invite another driver to pass in front of me at a crossroad. I hold the door for someone. I share my food.

I decide to break the cycle of violence by not repeating it. I choose to express my feelings of anger, fear, distress and anxiety instead of clamming up and going to dark places in my mind. I try to find beauty. I hold in my arms those I love most. I go out in Nature and breathe. I reciprocate the goodness offered by others.

So to you, my friend, my reader, I open up my arms and offer a warm hug. I give you a compliment on how nice you look or how well you’ve done. I share some delicious snack at the corner of a corridor. I leave a funny drawing on your keyboard. I send a little TXT message with smiley faces and hearts. I pat you on the shoulder. I flash a stealthy wink.

And for a minute, in the middle of the turmoil, I feel warm, safe and happy.