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On Seeing, Part 2: Of running, Tarahumara Indians, Seeing and Wiping the Dust of Death

May 7, 2013

On Seeing, Pt. 2

“There is another world. But it is in this one.” – W.B. Yeats

So, on my way back home from Tracker School, no sooner had I gotten on the Garden State Parkway, than three exits later, I was off the Garden State Parkway, b/c my alternator light came on. Hello, Egg Harbor, NJ. Not the place I wanted to be. So I put my fate in the hands of all three of the Pep Boys, Manny, Mo and Jack, and their Pep Boy minions who ordered my alternator, got a hotel room and settled in.

No sooner had I plopped my newly converted, nature-loving butt on the bed and clicked on MTv, than the best “Road Rules” (best I suppose b/c it’s the only one I ever saw) ever came on. The Road Rules kids were visiting the Tarahumara Indians, who are from what is now northern Mexico. They were challenged to a cross-country running race, and we were treated to the sight of tall, fit, $100 Nike wearing college kids, snickering under their breath as they checked out the tire sandal (5 Years or 50,000 miles) clad, robe-wearing, 5 ft. Indians. Unfortunately, for the college kids, the Tarahumara may be the planet’s best runners, and the jump cut to the next scene showed weeping, angry, fit $100 Nike wearing college kids getting schooled by their sandal-clad, robe-wearing elders.

But the reason I tell that story, besides the fact that it is awesome, is because of an off-hand comment one of the guides made, when he introduced the natives. He said, and this made me sit up, having just come from a school that improbably teaches ostensibly sighted people to see: The Tarahumara call the Europeans, “The People With Cobwebs Over Their Eyes.” Later I learned that other natives called us “The People With One Eye Closed.”

What do you suppose they were seeing in us, even with the agrarian, outdoors oriented brain patterns of 400 years ago? Frontier people lived almost entirely outside, yet were still missing a lot. What do you think those long-ago natives would call a 4 year old with a I-pad addiction–85-chewable-tablet-helps-year-olds-develop.html who can’t even physiologically or attentionally see a green caterpillar on a green leaf, see a hawk soaring far overhead, or from the parking lot out front out front of the Kroger’s, hear the spring peepers chorusing their heads off in the wetland behind the store?

I do know that when that kid is 30-something, and wondering where he is and who he is, and has a few cute little I-Pad addicts of his own, he may desperately wish to receive a healing ceremony like the Condolence ceremony of the Mohawk people. I have only heard a synopsis from a “The Peacemaker’s Story” told by Jake Swamp, but just a few minutes of that can bring you to tears, because Jake talks about how the first stages of the Condolence is to cleanse all the senses… “they would take the softest hair from the belly of the fawn and wipe the dust of Death from the eyes, so that tomorrow, when the new sun rises, they will be able to fully see the beauty of the day.” And it goes on to cover the other sense, ears, nose, and mouth.

I remember the spring of the Columbine shootings, which occurred right about the time I re-learned to see. Amidst all the insane, bloviating punditry, I will never forget hearing one thing from somebody on the radio who actually made some sense. He said, “These kids found the world to be incredibly ugly. How that kind of programming can take hold in a mind and heart is very troubling. But if we could help them understand that the world is actually very beautiful, this kind of thing would never happen.”

The Well of every child, Friend, sage, artist, poet, parent and prophet , i.e. everybody, is the infinite, indivisible, inexhaustible beauty of the world. There is no place to seek it, no way to find it, except to see it now, as we are all standing at its lapping edge with our empty cup in our hand, all the time. This is the simplest of things, and in a way, foolish to speak of- or not speak of. Best of all that we should go to our secret spot, go kiss our beloveds, go see the sunset, go walk in the rain, go listen to the frogs. But go. Just go.

“To see the world in a grain of sand, to see heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palm of your hand, find eternity in an hour.” – William Blake

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