Friday, September 18, 2009
Perceptions and Obscurations
When I was eight years old, and for reasons I won't state, I was sent to live in a foster home for a brief but spectacular period of time. Keep in mind it was 1966, I was fresh of the rez so to speak, our family moving to Dallas from a tiny Cherokee villiage not far from Claremore, Oklahoma. And me, knowing that I was Cherokee because honestly nobody told me otherwise despite my light complexion and because that was how I was raised, had never lived with white people in my life.
I mean whiter than white white people. Not being offensive, just was. So imagine my shock when at the dinner table one night, these people tried to serve me grubs for dinner.
There was a bowl full of the things, covered in ice. And everyone was very excited about getting them. The grubs looked very much like the cicadia larvae my grandfather would dig up and use for fish bait. The creatures had been decapitated, I was sure, because there was no head, were pink had shells and tiny dangly legs that hung like fringe from the bottom.
It was obvious to me, being eight years old, that this wasn't food fit for humans, cruel to the poor creatures that had to endure suffering so these yone (relax its just Cherokee for white) could feed upon them, but it was absolutely one of the most disgusting things I'd ever seen.
Which made me suspect of the rest of the meal. Just what was in those hushpuppies and onion rings, anyway?
So I sat watching them eat. It was a sight to behold.
My foster father noticed that I wasn't eating. And that just wouldn't do. He put his hand into the bowl and pulled out a dripping glob of the creatures and dumped them on my plate. "You don't know what you're missing," he told me. "They're really good."
My lip trembled. My stomach clenched. Did he actually expect me to eat those things?
Not only did he expect me too, he insisted. And he was a really big man and I was afraid of him so I wrapped my little fingers around one of the creatures and, with huge tears spilling down my cheeks, put the thing in my mouth.
It was every bit as awful as I thought it would be. I crunched the shell, the tiny legs tickling my tongue, then red faced, swallowed it.
Everyone at the table was very quiet. The foster mother looked at me, tears in her eyes and said "that poor thing. She's so hungry she ate it shell and all!"
At that point I realized I had done something cataclysmically wrong. I wasn't sure exactly what that thing was, but it sent me on a howling tantrum, demanding them to call my grandfather to come and get me.
But they didn't. They sent me to my room without dinner.
I couldn't have been more grateful...
I remembered this just before falling to sleep last night. Although that scene wasn't funny then, it's funny now. Nobody thought in their wildest dreams that they should explain to a little girl how to peel and eat a shrimp. I had never seen one, so how was I supposed to know?
There ain't too many shrimp boats up in the Nation, folks.
And without catharting I will say that this little tale is all about perceptions, ignorance and obscurations. How the fosters and I percieved each other, how we were both ignorant of each other and our ways of doing things, and how obscurations blinded us to understanding. And sometimes those obscurations blind us to understanding ourselves as well. It never occured to me that my lethargy was due to the weather, or my sudden desire to overeat had any bearing on the fact I couldn't get outside and do the things I normally do.
Just like I know that the sun is obscured behind a wall of gray clouds, the sun is still shining above us, and the sky is still a brilliant azure blue. Soon, very soon, I hope, those clouds will part and the water will dry out and I can get outside to clear out flower beds, rake up pine straw and exercise.
Like I said yesterday, humans are outdoor animals. It's neither natural nor desirable to be cooped up inside all day.
I feel hopeful today. The sky is gray but its not raining like before. I will follow Lama's prescribed plan for SAD and like the Beatles song, it'll be alright.
Up at 7:30 (yeah I over slept)
wake up practice
fed watered animals
Breakfast: orange and grapes, 12 oz glass of ice water
trash goes out
am reading Heart Treasure
yoga *usually done at 6 am* Water series for 20 minutes
writing till lunch
ab work and weights
Heart of Compassion
Writing till three
3 pm practice
7 pm practice
Reading: path to enlightenment
beadwork or reading till bedtime. Maybe both.
Earth series yoga for 15 minutes.
11:30 lights out