The lesson is simple. Let go of the desire for things that you think are valuable and they will fall away, revealing your everlasting, shining spirit.
I wouldn’t tell you what to believe but I would urge you to examine the feeling of lack in your life, the feeling that there is not enough. If you were to spend a day, and another and another in gratitude and humour for what is at hand that sustains you, it would open the door for a fundamental shift in your perception of your wants and needs.
There’s no point in comparing your relative wealth to someone living homeless in the Third World, just as there is no point in comparing your relative poverty to Bill Gates.
Both comparisons will simply feed your ego, for good or ill, and bring you feelings of shame. Comparison is the fastest route I know of to unhappiness.
If you must compare your life, then compare it to the deer who runs freely, the wolf that hunts, the bear that sleeps. Compare the impact of your existence to the marching ant or the spinning spider who reminds us that we are all connected by the great web of life.
Remember that in that web, what you do to one life comes back to your own in some way or another. When you kill the songbird, your song also dies. When you take the life of an animal – without humility, awareness and gratitude – you take the life of the land, and so, eventually, your own life as well.
We see this unfortunate truth playing out in front of our eyes. They killed the buffalo, they now cull the wolf. They rip the resources from the land without thanking the land. They cut the trees and foul the water. They destroy the diversity of the fields for single crops and spray chemicals on it to obliterate the insects who feed on those crops.
And with sorrow we see the rivers clog with soil runoff. We can no longer drink safely from the streams. The lakes are overrun with algae and even the honeybees are dying.
We destroy our ability to live on the land itself, all because we have forgotten to be grateful, to listen to the song of our spirit.
This is why it’s necessary to stop, to be silent, to let go of the desire for material things and immaterial things.
As we treat our own spirit, so too, do we treat the land, and neither can survive the harm caused by neglect, anger, apathy and greed.
The great orator, Chief Canasatego said:
“We know our lands have now become more valuable. The white people think we do not know their value; but we know that the land is everlasting, and the few goods we receive for it are soon worn out and gone.”
There are only so many heartbeats given to every living being. You have already used up many of your own. For those that remain, use them well.
Aaron Paquette is a First Nations Metis artist, author and speaker. Based in Edmonton, Aberta, his first YA Novel ‘Lightfinder‘ comes out in May 2014 through Kegedonce Press.
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This passage is an excerpt from the rough draft of an upcoming non-fiction book, ‘So Many Heartbeats’