Living in hotels and the city is getting to me. Last night I stayed at the home of my music producer, Larry Mitchell, because we went late in the music studio. He and his wife rent a home out in the hills west of Santa Fe. I went out into the morning on the back patio, to the realm of the sun, earth, birds, lizards, and pinon and cedar trees. I heard: quiet. And in the quiet you can hear your heart, the earth’s heart, the sun’s heart, and the sound of the direction of your life as it merges with the whole of life. I learned as much out there this morning as I can in a book, or a whole library of books. I saw and heard what I needed to know as I headed back into the other part of the story.
These days it’s a tough story. The results of our desecration are all around us. The waters of the Gulf of Mexico are being choked by oil greed. We are literally the Earth’s body, so we humans are intimately feeling and knowing the effects of these Earth changes. Storms are many times stronger, as are the winds. A few weeks ago in New York City, as I came out of the National Museum of the American Indian, after being part of a native playwrights panel, the winds were so strong they lifted me up and pushed me against the Battery Park fence. They were relentless and powerful. I dreamed about them several years ago: how the winds would move like a tsunami over Earth, to remake the Earth. So it’s no wonder that many among us are developing cancers, strokes, heart, various body failures and emotional challenge and breakdown. We are the Earth.
This country is in a downturn of the cycle. It’s an important part of the story, but difficult to weather if we don’t keep the perspective of eternity. That’s how the wisest always position their perspective. It’s like looking from the Moon, or from past the point of your departure from this place, or with seven generations in mind. We have to keep moving with grace, strength and humor and know that our native ways are what are going to help us make it through the destruction. You watch, the same people who are championing English only, immigration fences, and the dissolution of our tribal nations will be coming to us to know how to live. We have to be ready.
So, this morning, I call my mother, who lives in Tulsa, to see how she’s doing. It turns out that my brother, who loves to gamble at casinos with his Choctaw wife, has given my mother a new reason to continue her forays to the Cherokee and Creek casinos. He reminded her that she gets lots of exercise walking around the casino. Now she has a new reason to go, much to the dismay of my sister who is on a constant campaign to keep my mother from spending down her money on the machines.
Last month I gave a performance of a new show at the New Mexico Jazz Workshop: “We Were There When Jazz Was Invented”. The highlight for me was stomp dancing with Gary White Deer, Valerie Harjo and Willie George as part of the show, to prove that our tribal people were part of the origins of the American musical forms of blues, jazz and rock. When you hear all the music together, there is no doubt our Mvskoke culture was left out of the equation. Everyone loved Gary’s troupe’s performance, and my spirit was happy hanging out and getting to know Gary, Valerie and Willie better. Being with them reminded me: I need to go home.
Yes, I need to go home.