Carol A. Hand
For the past few days, I’ve been preparing myself to take a trip into the past. I’ll be reliving those times during the month of November as I try something new. I’ve signed up for National Novel Writing Month. I wonder if I can turn a research project into a novel that protects people’s identities, but still remains true to the power of their stories.
It’s time. Snow will soon arrive, the time for Ojibwe storytellers to weave their winter magic. I hope I’m up for the task of writing thousands of words that make sense every day. The biggest challenge I face is figuring out how to begin…
Was I born with this as my destiny – to return to the home of some of my ancestors? Was it merely coincidence that life led me down paths I never envisioned for myself? From a childhood spent in a home with few books where I had no idea what a university even was and no notions of ever going to one? I had no idea that one day my life would be transformed by a series of events that would change my path.
I carry one particularly strange memory. It was just before I was to testify before the State legislature about Native American mascot issues in public schools. The hearing room was huge and packed to capacity. Media representatives were everywhere with cameras and microphones. It was odd, I thought. No media representatives ever showed up when I testified about life and death issues – health and infant mortality.
I felt myself panicking. I needed to go outside to catch my breath and remember why I was here. I hurried through the maze of corridors and down the winding marble stairs of the State Capitol building. Using all my strength to open the heavy ornate wooden doors – freedom! Standing on the marble patio outside, I closed my eyes and took deep breaths. And a voice spoke to me. “Don’t forget that you are one of the special people. You’re here for a reason. Use your gifts for others who depend on you.” There was no time for all the old tapes in my mind to play, “I’m no one of importance.” I needed to face the crowd upstairs.
It’s difficult for me to share this story. I worry that others may see me as “crazy,” or worse, as arrogant. But the truth is I could always see others’ strengths but not my own. I needed to learn to honor that in myself too, by trusting that I can face the challenges ahead. It’s the doing that matters, not the outcome. I don’t know what the result of participating in the NaNoWriMo will be as I prepare to take the first steps of this next journey, but I’m excited about the chance to discover something new…
Photo: Pinto Anticipating the Winter Path Ahead – November 2014