Maverick Muscogee Nation News Column Feb 2013

(I decided to write a monthly Muscogee Nation News Column though I no longer do them. I used to write them as an unpaid service for the Nation. The paper discontinued them. Here goes--here's a maverick MNN column. Enjoy.)

It’s one of those late winter mornings in the Creek Nation. Light patches of snow dot the ground make me think about patterning. There is some order to how the snow catches and holds but I can’t quite see it from the perspective of the glass doors in the kitchen.

I was recently at the Ucross Foundation, at a ranch outside Sheridan, Wyoming, holed up writing.  One day it snowed all day. On the drive from the writing studio to the residence the wind had drifted the snow into elegant, undulating patterns. The snow was about three feet deep by early evening and we slowly plowed through it. We admired the patterns. They created beauty in our minds, a kind of snow music.
The patterns of snowfall this morning make no beautiful sense. What they tell me is that the flashing signs on highway 75 from Tulsa to Glenpool were wrong. There was no need to take cover for a blizzard.

Being a weather prophet is a tough business.  The meteorologist reads the signs from gadgets that report barometric pressure, temperature and other details. They now have sophisticated satellite images from which to read. Every one of us has this information on non-stop streaming weather channels. A storm may be approaching from the west in a discernible pattern, marching slowly across the land or making some kind of wind-driven haphazard trail. Often we’re right in our predictions, and just as often we can be wrong, though some of us learn to catch the rhythms more precisely.
One of my favorite classes in all of my experience as a student from kindergarten through college was a physics class in junior high. We leaned how to fly to the moon. We also learned how to tell the weather using various gauges. I learned that if you developed your gauge reading skills and watched the patterns you could get a pretty good sense of prevailing conditions and what shape they were likely to take. Since then I’ve learned that birds, animals and plants are probably a little sharper than civilized humans when it comes to such things, and seem to know what’s going on ahead of the arc.

However you do it, we read patterns and make predictions. The storm will either get here or not, and ultimately it has its own mind. Yes, even a storm has a kind of mind that guides it.

When I look back over my life from the perspective of now, I see both elegant waves and chaotic patches of trouble. They make a story. Some of the story is difficult to speak or to even fully understand. Other parts of the story fold sweetly from one detail to the next, like catching a wave in an outrigger canoe that takes you all the way in. I feel like I am on such a wave right now, even as I am still taking care to understand the patterns in chaos. Often, those patterns are the most creative, though they may be the most challenging, even painful. We humans are created of both—they make a weave and even constitute the energetic system of our minds, bodies and spirits. When we stand back far enough to get a perspective, we can see the music in the system, how every small thought of human or cloud matters, and shifts the direction of the weather.

c Joy Harjo February 26, 2013 Glenpool, OK


"Get Up Offa That Thing"

Back to the last day at my Ucross writing studio, after my last workout with Radha Blank. The closest gym is in Sheridan, thirty miles away, so we made our own workouts that have included many kinds of dance (mostly done to soul, funk, r and b and hip hop), workout, step, stretches, dips, and ending with those dreaded planks. In three weeks we've lost some weight, can do stretches that were impossible at the beginning, and can hold the planks longer without collapsing within a few seconds. Yeah us! Now--for my last writing run here, then horn practice--and back for dinner and packing. And then to the "Historic Occidental Hotel" in Buffalo, where we all plan to sit in during the jam, or stand up and sing or dance. What an incredible group at this writing retreat--


Read that bottle nose call their loved ones by names. I don't believe that's a unique phenomenon to dolphins or humans.


The Wilds of Discipline

More snow, more wind, but I am finding the story--Everything I've written in these last two weeks I abandoned yesterday. I start again. That's how it often works when creating any new story, song, dance, painting...Discipline and wildness meet in creativity.


Wake Up

When we enter this world with waking consciousness we put on our earthly suit of clothes. We move slower, but the principles are the same. Sometimes I like to move through this conscious realm as if I were dreaming. In dreaming we are more in touch with how our thoughts create immediately and dynamically. If I think myself into the heart of the song, there I am, or a plant, or a knot of pain that is asking for forgiveness, there I am. So much knowing opens up then. We are all part of each other.


Doubt Monsters

Dealing with the doubt monsters this morning.

"Once the world was perfect, Granddaughter, and we were happy in that world. Then we took it for granted. Discontent began a small rumble in the earthly mind.
Then Doubt pushed through with its spiked head and all manner of demon thoughts jumped through.
We destroyed the world we had been given. Each stone of jealousy, each stone of fear, greed, and envy put out the light.
No one was without a stone in his or her hand.
There we were, right back where we had started.
We were bumping into each other in the dark.
Then, one of the stumbling ones took pity on another and shared their blanket. A spark of kindness made a light...."

c Joy Harjo from Wings of Night Sky, Wings of Morning Light--



Nothing like sleep on a windy, snowy night then waking to a bright sun made even brighter after a dark and difficult journey. Therein is the story of life, this flicker back and forth between shadow and light.


Move It

I realize this morning as I write my play that I will have to ride a beat to get my protagonist's voice down in poetry...like driving a car with the top down on a path through the heart.


Crab Aesthetics

This morning thinking of the island of Aitutaki, after hearing of the tsunami in the Solomon Islands. I spent one of my best days in this world there. We were let off at one of those proverbial South Pacific islands: white sand, coconut palms--an emerald jewel in a turquoise sea. We gathered shells, the most beautiful we could find. We each made little piles. Soon, the shells sprouted crabs and began walking off! I learned that even hermit crabs have a sense of beauty. They picked the best shells.


Morning Prayer

Sun climbs into the sky with a baby
On his back. He wants to show his daughter
The creation story, how all the colors of dawn
Become humans, plants, animals and winds.
There is nothing quite like this light anywhere else
In the universe he tells her.
Earth is one of the most beautiful beings yet much suffering
Is brought to bare here.
As the sun lifts up on his elbows to peer over the edge, all the plants turn in
 their direction and lift up their heads and drink the light.
The birds sing and talk of plans and shake night from their feathers. They
bathe in the new sun.
Animals stretch and breathe in light. They begin moving about for food.
Most humans wake to alarms, music or talk shows.
They jump into their mind cars and start speeding away
Into a world in which the sun with his daughter on his back
Is only a battery, a phenomenon, or a myth.
One human sends a song in the shape and smell of gratitude.
It is a flower, a peacock or turquoise colored lake.
Sun’s daughter laughs and claps her hands.

Joy Harjo February 1, 2013 Mvskoke Nation