Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Quileute Canoe Rules

(photo by Harvey Anderson)

Canoe Rules

Keep going! Even against the most relentless wind or retrograde tide, somehow a canoe moves forward. This mystery can only be explained by the fact that each pull forward is a real movement and not a delusion.
Respect and trust cannot exist in anger. It has to be thrown overboard, so the sea can cleanse it. It has to be washed off the hands and cast into the air, so the stars can take care of it. We always look back at the shallows we pulled through, amazed at how powerful we thought those dangers were.
The adaptable animal survives. If you get tired, ship your paddle and rest. If you get hungry, put in on the beach and eat a few oysters. If you can't figure one way to make it, do something new. When the wind confronts you, sometimes you're supposed to go the other way.
Every story is important. The bow, the stern, the skipper, the power puller in the middle ‑everyone is part of the movement. The elder sits in her cedar at the front, singing her paddle song, praying for us all. The weary paddler resting is still ballast. And there is always that time when the crew needs some joke, some remark, some silence to keep going, and the least likely person provides.
Nothing occurs in isolation. When we aren't in the family of a canoe, we are not ready for whatever comes. The family can argue, mock, ignore each other at its worst, but that family will never let itself sink. A canoe that lets itself sink is certainly wiser never to leave the beach. When we know that we are not alone in our actions, we also know we are lifted up by everyone else.
Always nourish yourself. The bitter person, thinking that sacrifice means self‑destruction, shares mostly anger. A paddler who doesn't eat at the feasts doesn't have enough strength to paddle in the morning. Take that sandwich they throw at you at 2.00 AM.! The gift of who you are only enters the world when you are strong enough to own it.
Who we are, how we are, what we do, why we continue, flourish with tolerance. The canoe fellows who are grim go one way. The men and women who find the lightest flow may sometimes go slow, but when they arrive they can still sing. And they have gone all over the sea, into the air with the seagulls, under the curve of the wave with the dolphin and down to the whispering shells, under the continental shelf. Withdrawing the blame acknowledges how wonderful a part if it all every one of us really is.
Although the start is exciting and the conclusion gratefully achieved, it is the long, steady process we remember. Being part of the journey requires great preparation; being done with a journey requires great awareness; being on the journey, we are much more than ourselves. We are part of the movement of life. We have a destination, and for once our will is pure, our goal is to go on.
We can berate each other, try to force each other to understand, or we can allow each paddler to gain awareness through the ongoing journey. Nothing sustains us like that sense of potential that we can deal with things. Each paddler learns to deal with the person in front, the person behind, the water, the air, the energy; the blessing of the eagle.
The Ten Rules of the Canoe were developed by the Quileute Canoe contingent for a Northwest Experimental Education Conference in 1990.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Bob Dylan, Wilco, and My Morning Jacket singing "The Weight"

Bob sounds good to me!  They all sound good.  This song has lasting power.

Friday, July 26, 2013

"Gracias a la vida" / Summer sky near the Salish Sea

"When you look back on a lifetime and think of what has been given to the world by your presence, your fugitive presence, inevitably you think of your art, whatever it may be, as the gift you have made to the world in acknowledgment of the gift you have been given, which is the life itself. That work is not an expression of the desire for praise or recognition, or prizes, but the deepest manifestation of your gratitude for the gift of life."
 - Stanley Kunitz

Thanks so much to whiskey river for the quote for today.

It has occurred to me that my blog is nothing if not an ongoing expression of gratitude.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Sacred Journey / Paddle to Quinault 2013

Watch a short video here about the Paddle to Quinault 2013.

Take a look at the map of the Canoe Journey route here.  Look for Cowichan Bay on the eastern side of lower Vancouver Island. Bellingham and the Lummi Nation are almost directly east of the Cowichan First Nation.

Here's some footage from the Paddle to Lummi Canoe Journey in 2007:

Monday, July 22, 2013

Creation Story Told By Tom Sampson Of Tsartlip First Nation

"Tom Sampson shares the Creation Story with 800 people at the "What About Those Promises?" stage play premier on Saturday, June 1, 2013, Bellingham High School Auditorium." (from the Lummi Nation YouTube channel)

Listen through to the English translation at 4:40.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Things We Carried

Ever since I heard that there was going to be a showing of a movie of a fairly recent book talk by Tim O'Brien on The Things They Carried (first published in 1990), I considered whether I should go see the 1-hour movie with a discussion afterward.  The movie was part of a series called "Writers in the Limelight," presented by Village Books (Bellingham's independent book store) at the tiny Limelight Cinema in downtown Bellingham.

Since 2006 when I began this blog, I've come a long way with the things I've carried in the wake of the Vietnam War, and I questioned the wisdom of visiting those memories today.  After a walk with a friend down by Bellingham Bay this morning and meeting with a group of friends afterward, I decided to risk opening old wounds in the hope of finding some healing for those old wounds.

Outside the theater, I recognized a Vietnam veteran who speaks in the local schools as a member of Veterans for Peace.  There were two other men of similar age along with a few women who looked to be in their 60s.  The event was sparsely attended.  There may have been a few younger people, but most of the men and woman appeared to be in their 60s or older.  After the movie, there was a short discussion facilitated by one of the booksellers from Village Books.

It was a wise decision for me to be there today.  I can look back, look at the present, and also look forward without the haunted feeling that I lived with for so long.

What I've posted below is a similar recent book talk on The Things They Carried.  It's worth listening to.  After an introduction, Tim O'Brien begins speaking at about 3:40:

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Twelve Gates to the City / AmericanaramA

Bob Dylan sounds to be in fine fettle for the AmericanaramA Festival of Music:

Earlier versions of "Twelve Gates to the City":

and a Dave van Ronk version which slips into "In My Time of Dying":

and a Joan Baez version:

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A Conversation with Saginaw Grant / Another Self-Portrait by Bob Dylan

Saginaw Grant (Chief Big Bear in "Lone Ranger") said, "I would suggest to the people who will read this that they go see The Lone Ranger.  It's not what we've seen in the past.  It's going to be completely different. That's what's going to make it different. It's not the way we were portrayed in the past episodes of the old Lone Ranger.  You have to see it to understand it, and to really see what we've done.  I encourage especially our Native people to come and watch it."

It has just occurred to me that Gore Verbinski's "Lone Ranger" reminds me of all those years of songs by Bob Dylan that have been in my mind and heart since I was 14 years old, fifty years ago.  No wonder I keep thinking about the movie.  No wonder most movie critics are giving it terrible reviews.  It's a movie that either speaks to you or it doesn't.

Well, the Lone Ranger and Tonto
They are ridin' down the line
Fixin' ev'rybody's troubles
Ev'rybody's 'cept mine
Somebody musta tol' 'em
That I was doin' fine
(Bob Dylan's Blues, 1963)

Just heard about "Bob Dylan: The Bootleg Series Vol. 10 (1969-1971)" which will be released on August 27:

Monday, July 15, 2013

407 years old today / Rembrandt van Rijn

About "The Night Watch."

One of Rembrandt's many self-portraits:

View from my porch before 7 a.m. this morning:

Two of the three Amaryllis flowers are blooming today:

Friday, July 12, 2013

With gratitude to Toshi and Pete Seeger

Listen for Toshi's five extra verses to "Turn, Turn, Turn."

Toshi Seeger (1922-2013)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Wild Blue Sky of Day Meditation

Rebecca Solnit

In reading The Faraway Nearby,  I learned about the Library of Water where Rebecca Solnit was a Writer in Residence in 2008.  If you have time, read three of her essays that can be found at the Library of Water website.

Ever since I changed this blog's URL recently, the traffic to my blog is now pretty much limited to people whose blogs I read.  There are a few mysterious readers whose locations still show up regularly on my ClusterMap.  Thank you, mysterious readers, for continuing to stop by.  It's just like starting over, as John Lennon once remarked.  Things are pretty quiet around here.  The Amaryllis on my porch is about to bloom.

("The Wild Blue Sky of Day" is a pastel drawing on paper from the early 1980s by am)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Listening in on Native conversation about "Lone Ranger"

(photograph of Long Otter by Richard Throssel, early 20th century Cree photographer who documented life on the Crow reservation)

Read what Chris Eyre, James Lujan, LaDonna Harris, Laura Harris, Sterlin Harjo had to say.

"For me, it's about making your own work in your own artistic voice," Eyre said.  "One of the great qualities to come out of this is that people are talking about this, which is more than we had last week or the week before.  The fact that it is engaging Native people on both sides of the conversation is an incredible thing." (Chris Eyre, director of "Smoke Signals," with its screenplay by Sherman Alexie)

I've seen "Lone Ranger" twice now because I couldn't catch it all in a single viewing and was not clear about some of the details of the story. I rarely go to movies anymore, but something prompted me to go see this one despite the nearly universal negative reviews.  Both times there were fewer than 10 people in the theater. As I watched the movie credits on my second viewing a few days later, I was struck by the way the long lists of names (scrolling over a view of Monument Valley and a solitary Tonto walking into that landscape) were formatted like the names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., and I suddenly pictured a vast wall with the names of all the Native people who died in the United States of America since the arrival of the Europeans in 1492. Despite all the joking and silliness in the movie, reminding me at times of "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" and Martin Scorsese's "Last Temptation of Christ," as well as "Smoke Signals," its story struck me as pensive in nature.  I recommend the movie.  It moved me to laughter and to tears and something that transcends both and is murky and unsettling.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Independence Day 2013 / "True Independence of The Spirit"

"I started out in silence, writing as quietly as I had read, and then eventually people read some of what I had written, and some of the readers entered my world or drew me into theirs. I started out in silence and traveled until I arrived at a voice that was heard far away –first the silent voice that can only be read, and then I was asked to speak aloud and to read aloud.  When I began to read aloud, another voice, one I hardly recognized, emerged from my mouth. Maybe it was more relaxed, because writing is speaking to no one and even when you’re reading to a crowd, you’re still in that conversation with the absent, the faraway, the not yet born, the unknown, and the long gone for whom writers write, the crowd of the absent who hover all around the desk.

Sometime in the late nineteenth century, a poor rural English girl who would grow up to be a writer was told by a gypsy, “You will be loved by people you’ve never met.”  This is the odd compact with strangers who will lose themselves in your words and the partial recompense for the solitude that makes writers and writing.  You have an intimacy with the faraway and distance from the near at hand.  Like digging a hole to China and actually coming out the other side, the depth of that solitude of reading and then writing took me all the way through to connect with people again in an unexpected way.  It was astonishing wealth for one who had once been so poor."

(p. 64-65,  The Faraway Nearby, Rebecca Solnit, 2013)