On Hiking...Or Walking in Clouds
This year I opened my eyes a bit more on Thanksgiving. I was awake to the reality of what the Holiday was built on, the reality of the world we live in now (Where Native people are being once again violently told go away) and how it mirrors then, meaning the first "Thanksgiving".
I worked hard to balance both that, and the happiness I feel being with family and friends. Spending time enjoying bounty. Spending time together enjoying good company and time away from the grind of daily life.
I donated often over the long weekend to Standing Rock and the Water Protectors. But I kept feeling the desire to do more than send money or practice armchair activism by posting and sharing on Facebook or Instagram.
On Saturday, we went for a walk in the woods, taking a short (for me) hike to the peak of a small mountain I grew up climbing on foot and skis.
Emilio and I walked together for much of it, walking and talking and often motivating him to keep on going.
At one point he asked me, "What's a Chief?"
I'm sure it was because of a Sports Team that he'd heard this name or term. He's pretty in to Sports.
I saw my opportunity to do something more. To pass on some knowledge to Emilio, to ensure I was sharing with him a framework for looking at the world.
I explained what a Chief's role often is, and then shared what was happening at Standing Rock in very simple and basic terms. I didn't color it with my emotion and passion, as I wanted him to take it and digest it and figure that out for himself.
His response? "If they poison water, no one can drink it. Why is money more important than death?"
At nearly 6 he gets what so many don't.
"Yes," I responded, "That's the question."
We walked on.
As we reached the summit Emilio, who had run ahead, turned and shouted out to me, "We're walking in a cloud Mama!"
He was thrilled, and I loved to watch his excitement.
Later, after marveling at reaching the top, building some cairn towers and discussing being in a cloud, we walked down.
I held his hand and helped him navigate the slick rock faces, the piles of leaves hiding tangled tree roots.
As we descended he turned to me and said, "We're definitely out of the cloud now."
Looking back it feels like a metaphor, for where I am at. Where we are all at right now. A cloud surrounds us, we see what the outside of the cloud looks like. It stares us in the face daily as nomination announcements come in, as news continues to spread about the forceful taking of sacred land.
And yet we are in this cloud like place. Where there is hope, and wonderment and fantasy that can take hold.
As we navigated the descent Emilio said to me, "Ugh, this is so boring. We just have to keep walking!"
And I responded, "I know, I hear you. But look at this beautiful rock you get to stand on and see."
And he declared, "I don't like beautiful things. I like cool things." And then he approached a pile of yellow late Fall leaves and he said, "Now these are cool. I like these."
Which reminds me to keep perspective, to continue to open myself up to others and how they see the world.
But holding tightly to what matters to me all the while.
For that I'm thankful.