Saturday, August 18, 2007


I was going to write about wasps this morning. You know, those irritating, annoying, frightening little beings that buzz around whenever you sit out on your patio to enjoy an evening meal with friends.

I hate wasps. Used to be allergic to them and now I'm just terrified. Makes for a rather uncomfortable dinner when I sit frozen in place, swatting my serviette through the air like a scarecrow flapping lifeless arms in a cornfield.

Rather stupid behaviour around wasps. Flapping your serviette at them. Just makes them angrier.

But, it's okay. I'm not going to write about wasps and my ridiculous behaviour last night. I didn't get stung anyway.

This morning I want to write about travelling. Through life. Into life. Into our human experience.

I started my morning like I generally do. Coffee. Read the newspaper. Start writing. Sometimes, I reverse the newspaper/writing process. This morning, I'm glad I didn't.

On page A27 of the Calgary Herald today, there is an Op.Ed. by Richard Wagamese entitled, Travelling the journey to self. For those who don't have access to the Herald, I'm hoping this link works --

Mr. Wagamese's words made me cry. His words tugged at my heart. They pulled at my conscience. They ripped apart the veils of disbelief fogging up my rose coloured glasses. You know, those glasses I wear that suggest I'm open to all kinds of humanity, as long as they don't disturb my peace of mind. Those glasses that want to believe there's a new day rising out there, where no one has to carry labels, or the shame of being considered less than, other than or different than anyone else in this land they call home. The glasses that keep me stuck in denial.

Natives, aboriginals, first nation citizens, I'm not sure of the politically correct term to call them today, a fact which, Mr. Wagamese suggests, is a contributor affecting the journey into self. The very fact I search for a label keeps me stuck. It limits my movement away from what is wrong with my thinking. Inhibits my journey into acceptance. It keeps me over on this side living amongst us and them over there on that side where them should live. Us and them. The history of a nation divided.

Mr. Wagamese's experience is different than mine. His journey labelled by the words other people, namely white folk, have burdened him with as he struggled to understand, Who am I? when I'm not living the label someone else has foisted upon me in a land my ancestors walked long before the white man strode into the picture of my life unfolding.

I'm a first generation Canadian. My father was born in London, England to an Irish father and a Spanish/English/Irish mother. My mother was born in a French colony in India. Her mother was Portuguese with a sprinkling of what my auntie's call, 'mixed blood'. Her father was India born English spiced up with French.

I haven't always lived on this land. For a long time, my family's wandering footsteps took me far away to foreign soils where I struggled to find myself and ended up never fitting in. Sometimes, still, I don't know where I fit as a Canadian. Sometimes, still, I wonder, Who am I? A woman. A mother. A daughter. A sister. An aunt. Sometimes, I've lost my way and forgotten who I am as those who said they knew better gave me labels to carry so that I would never lose my place. Other people's labels never fit well for me. Other people's labels never fit anyone.

Mr. Wagamese's article brought tears to my eyes. The tears of one spirit recognizing another regardless of the colour of our skin, the label we carry, or the past we've journeyed through. The tears of sadness knowing that we do those things. We call other human beings those names. We destroy spirit every day when we fling our words like cheap dollar store frisbees, expecting those who are not like 'us' to catch the drift without anything to hang onto other than the shame of being different, of not being 'one of us'. We tell them they should rise above our insults, knowing they can't as we push them into the grimy dirt of our history dragging them down.

My skin is lighter than Mr. Wagamese. My experience different. My roots in the soils of this land no where near as deep. But his words touched me. Called to me. Reached inside me and tugged at my heart. They gently pulled back the veil of sleep blinding me to the beauty of this morning awakening into truth.

His life, my life, come from being called many things. His truth, my truth, resonates in the lands upon which we walk together, apart and alone. His words of truth awaken the human spirit and set us all free from living labels that fit uncomfortably as we struggle to wrap ourselves up with grace, ease and dignity into the weave of humanity into which we are all born.

In truth, I am not bound by the footsteps of my ancestors. Their journey away from self has freed me to chart my own journey back home, into self, into that place where I too can wear my acceptance of who I am, who I was, and who I can be like a beautiful rainbow coloured cloak floating around me in the mists rising up from the water's edge.

I was going to write about wasps this morning. Instead. I awoke to the wonder of another day where all beings, all creatures create value in the wondrous weave of living life exactly the way it's meant to be. In freedom.

May we all travel through this day seeing the beautiful reflection of our humanity awakening to the wonder of life free of the labels we carry that define our journey as anything other than magnificent. May we all let go of labelling others while attempting to hold them to a path we'd never want to travel with them.

May your day be filled with love, peace and harmony.

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