Basic Learnings #12
Tecumseh “So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.”
I picked up one of the youth from his home after midnight. He had called me to take him to his aunt’s house because of the drama at his house. I park a half block from the house and walk to the back window. Soon the youth drops his younger brother out the window and follows him. I walk them both back to my car and we get in.
“Thanks,” the youth mutters. I don’t know where to take them so I suggest “Want to get a hot chocolate at Micky Dee’s?” They nod “yes.”
We sip the hot drink in the car and I ask “Do you want to talk about it?” The younger brother starts crying.
After a while, the older brother tells me what is going on. We talk about it and I start to drive over to their aunt’s house. Before we get there he starts to talk. “I thought that when my stepdad got a job the fighting would stop. I thought that I could handle everything. I’m just not big enough to stop him.”
The next day I picked up a young adult to talk to the younger Native. We meet together after school with the two brothers. Earlier I ask the young adult if he knows what he is going to say.
“No,” he says. “Not yet but it will come to me.”
We pick up the two boys and I wait.
“Listen,” he says, “It is not about growing bigger. Even I am not big enough to fight everyone who is big enough. You have to grow inside and learn how to make your life what you want. You are Native so live in beauty and respect yourself. What happens at home sucks for you. And it may not get better. But you and your brother can choose to be strong inside and find the things that do make you feel good, like music or sports or hanging out with good friends.”
Both brothers seem to take courage from this so I take them home.
As I take the young adult out for coffee, we talk about this basic learning of growing strong inside when you can’t do much about the outside circumstances.
“I think this is how we prepare for the future,” he says. “We don’t know what is going to be offered us up the road. So we get ourselves ready now for facing anything and get ready to move on when we can. I know it is hard for the young one but he has to learn now that he makes his own future work.”
As I think about this, I realize that this is still a basic learning for me. Whatever my future holds for me in the last decades of my life, I prepare for it now by how I beautify my life. This gives me choices I can leap into when something new comes my way.