Monday, August 8, 2016

Cicadas, story medicine and the $5 that asks questions

Turquoise Cicada....these are the noisest  little bugs that invade alot of weather bugs:
I am a bit ashamed, but there is one relation that I am really coming to hate.  Every night, as I hear the cicadas tart, I try to find a place of appreciation for this relative, but I just find a hatred of their little song.  If they sang without stopping it would be annoying, but I could tune it out.  The stop and start and stop and I can't let it go.  What lesson are they trying to share with me?  I have tried so many things to drown them out and they still get into my head.

I found five dollars on the street last week and wanted to give it to someone "deserving".  What a lot to unpack there!  What hubris, that I should presume to judge another like that.  I have been keeping my eyes open for an indigenous person on the street that I could pass this on too.  I haven't found one yet.  What does that mean?  Am I looking for some stereotyped "other" that does not exist?  Every time I see the bill in my bag it makes me think.

I am working through "First Wives Club" by Lee Maracle.  I generally avoid short fiction but the promised humor in the title drew me in.  These stories are very good.  Each one leave you with something to think about.  The sense of place and voice are strong.  For me, BC is still home.  The mountains, rivers and space are what my heart follows.  Maracle captures this element well and I learned more about the history of that place from her narratives.  I am reading this book concurrently with an article by Jeff Corntassel, Chaw-win-is and T'lakwadzi called, "Indigenous Storytelling, Truth-telling, and Community Approaches to Reconciliation" and Maracle is pulling very similar language into her text.  She does not see colonization as a past force to be moved beyond, but an ongoing current condition with real life consequences that need to be addressed.  In one story she talk about the feelings of the character on experiencing the end of a negotiation for a land settlement.  Knowing that "...because settlement is fait acompli, we can only negotiate the best real-estate deal possible."  The text is poignant when  imagining her ancestors who would have lived where Vancouver now stands.  In all my visits to Vancouver, it never occurred to me that this was some one else's homes.

In the same story she takes on themes of partnership with Canada and the tension, as indigenous peoples are apart, yet are not immigrants (the dominant narrative).  The unease with a dominant (christianized) culture who preached and still does, "do not kill" but does not live this out in their practices of capitalism. (spell check helpfully capitalized christianized for me!)  She notes the struggle of being last to the table, and while she wants to take a place, she remains wary of what the real consequences of that decision might be.  The table is not of her people and the damage to her culture may be great.

Even suspicious of short stories, I am really enjoying this book and find a lot of story medicine in it. 

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