The Girl Who Sang To The Buffalo

Buffalo

While I’ve read each of Nerburn’s books many times before, recently I read all three in the “Neither Wolf Nor Dog” series. I hate to even use the word “series” for a writing that has shifted my life in such a strong way. Using the word “series” makes it sound like “Little House on the Prairie”.

I’m positive there is no written word from me that could capture the essence of these books. And while each one was progressively moving, The Girl That Sang To The Buffalo” was most so in the way that it reflected a light on the connection of man and nature in a fashion that I’ve never experienced.

I’ve never read it because I and probably most of us, haven’t had the fortune of meeting a people that are so far removed from the noise of this society and all it holds important. People so far removed, that silence and the conversations of nature are as clear as our Mothers voices. We don’t meet them mostly because we don’t value them. We say we do, but we hold high and in esteem many of the things that really matter least, and are without a clue on most of the things that do.

These are glimpses of what I found fascinating in this book. The old Ojibway man, Benais, living in a natural world that would scare the crap out of most of us. The young child that white doctors want to medicate because they can’t understand her. If freaks them out that she can communicate with the natural world as effortlessly as breathing.

These lives on the fringes. These quiet ones. These ones that feel no need to validate themselves to anyone. These ones so connected to the Creator and Creation that their lives are a effortless flow of Zen. Always in a circle. Always with meaning and purpose. With truth.

If you have an interest in seeing the world through eyes that perceive differently or wish to have your circle of understanding stretched, all I can say is read this book. Begin with “Neither Wolf Nor Dog”, then “The Wolf At Twilight” and close out your reading journey with “The Girl Who Sang To The Buffalo”.

They are powerful, but then again truth usually is.

I am

I am American. A Southerner and Floridian. I am English, Czech and Indian. I am perfectly imperfect and imperfectly perfect. Significant beyond measure and yet a speck of sand in the great deserts.

I am lost and found. A believer in the goodness of mankind and scared to death of my own dark possibilities.

A seeker and deep wanderer. Complacent and moved by selfishness.

I am moved by ceremony and many times untouched by beauties and graces that surround me.

I am thankful yet much of my life shows no sign of that.

Many times I can’t say what I mean and I wonder if it’s a lack of command for words or if deep down it’s my heart.

I know there is something bigger than me but can rarely define it.

I am insecure and yet completely comfortable with who I am and the journey I’m on.

I am full of the world. Full of love and many times full of shit. Sometimes I have a hard time knowing the difference.

I am here and I am gone. I reach out and hold close.

I am you and you are me.

Do you know me? Does any of this ring a bell?

Thank you for lending me your ear. I have written this straight and from stream of conciousness. No editing.

Listening to Learn

dream1If we took time, I wonder how much of what we pass every day of our lives,  would we find interesting. If we heard the stories of the people we pass and  the places we go. If we really tried to listen. Not just waiting to respond with our own version of the story that is being told to us. If we really took a deep breath and said to ourselves, “I’m just going to listen and try my best to put myself in the storytellers shoes”. I have a friend in Texas and  if you start telling him a story of one of your friends or relatives, he will politely interrupt you to ask the name of the person in the story. He is trying to place himself there to understand with heart and compassion as best he can. He is listening.

But we generally aren’t interested in or don’t have…oops that’s wrong, we don’t take the time to listen. The world is about us personally, socially, economically and geographically. Do we learn more by talking or listening? Do we open up and have more compassion and understanding when we re- realize that ours isn’t the only point of view. Oh and just how similar we all really are. We may have different customs and traditions, and some of those might startle people but it’s mostly because they don’t really understand them.

This is no new news, but it sure isn’t very well practiced. This art of listening. This way of being in the world, where you can appreciate others customs and realize many of the things you hold sacred are right there in theirs.

Pictured here is a dreamcatcher. We’ve all seen them and maybe we even know the general thought behind them. First Peoples also used stories to grow their children. They were no more practical than Jonah and the whale, but were used to tell a bigger story. This dreamcather that I’ve made tells many stories. It talks in ways that keep me grounded and connected to the Creator. To life and family.

The hoop is a circle. Everything in life is a circle. Seasons go in circles, one following another. Seasons of life. Circles like dreams and life cycles of a person can’t be broken. The buckskin used is to honor the 4 legged creatures that provide clothing and food. The hoop itself is partially dyed green for the earth and partially blue for the sky or heavens. A balance between the two. The shell in the middle represents the journey of life. The searching, examining, rejecting and accepting of your own way of understand this universe.  the 4 holes in the shell represent the 4 seasons, winds and directions. Finally, the feathers represent the winged ones. The ones that carry our thoughts, reflections and prayers high up to the Creator.

As I completed this dreamcatcher, I burned sage and cedar below it so the smoke also would carry the hope that whomever receives this will do so in good spirit. In the spirit of understanding our First Peoples culture more as well as a good road in finding balance and harmony in this life.

So this isn’t simply decoration. It is a tool for reflection and teaching. Of connecting and caring. Of family and tradition.

Personalized dreamcatchers are also available. This one is 40.00.

 

 

Story

Have you ever told your story? Did you realize that you even have one? Everyone does. They are all fascinating, full of uniqueness to the teller and enough strains for us all  to identify with each other. We are the family of man. I met a guy probably 11 years ago for coffee one day and one of the first questions he asked me was “what’s my story”? That threw me off a little. I had never talked about or of myself in that way. I never consciously thought about me even having a story. I managed to piece together some sort of guarded outline, careful not to be too transparent ! Even after I realized I had a story, I couldn’t think of any reason that it needed to be shared. After all I was just an average Gulf Coast guy. Not rich or particularly talented or gifted in any apparent way. “Just a fella” as Clint Eastwood famously said in “Unforgiven”.

I confess, I still have a shyness in thinking my story could touch, move or be of any value to anyone else. But I think, not from an egotistical point, that is where we are all mistaken. Just someone else coming to the understanding that they are not the only ones that think a certain way. It can be a lonely world if turn our attention away from the things that really matter. If we get caught up in the shininess of the world and forget about the beauty that surrounds us. The feel of the wind on our faces, the sunshine on our shoulders and the touch of a strangers hand. Our children, parents, family and friends all bring beauty into our lives if we let them. The four and three legged animals in my world bring so much centeredness that it amazes me. Other friends words in songs and blogs sharing the moments that stir their lives. IT’s rich stuff ya’ll, I’m telling ya, it’s rich stuff.

A few years ago I was asked to participate in an interview setting to share my story as it related to my faith. My church was trying to let folks know that the person sitting right next to you has a story and it just might not be what you were thinking ! I cringe still as I see myself on a video, but maybe there will be one word or phrase that you will connect to. Use the password ” story ”

I encourage you to think about your story. Share it. Own it, it’s yours. Encourage others to share theirs with you. It brings us all closer to understand. It helps break down the walls and we all know we are way too divided today.

Southern Accent

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I like traditions. I like old ways. I think there is value in them. I like the style and accents of good storytellers. Phrases that have long ago fallen out of fashion. While much in every tradition should be let go of, I don’t see any sense in throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Our country has become so homogenized that sometimes you can’t tell if someone is from Vermont or Georgia. There’s a damn Cracker Barrel, Lowes, TJ Maxx, and Toys R Us in every strip mall, in every town you go to. They have thrown a big sheet of blandness over the lower 48 ! Gone is most of the uniqueness that sets places apart. That makes them authentic. I don’t wanna get grits in New Hampshire anymore than I wanna get deep dish Chicago pizza in Gainesville Florida. Isn’t that what makes it interesting to travel, to see, while we are really deep down all the same, just how different our cultures are?

There’s a southern accent, where I come from
The young ‘uns call it country, the yankees call it dumb
I got my own way of talking, but everything gets done
With a southern accent, where I come from

While my ancestry is split, I am a Southerner, plain and simple. I understand the good and the bad of it. The depth and the breath of it. I also understand how outsiders see it and just what they think they know. Threaded through this post is a lyric to one of my favorite Tom Petty songs called “Southern Accent”.

There’s a dream I keep having, where my momma comes to me
And kneels down over by the window, and says a prayer for me
Got my own way of praying, but everything one’s begun
With a southern accent, where I come from

Perhaps I am a person that grew up in a regional world and now I’m living in a global world. I am happy to be here, and while my travels are not nearly as far n wide as some, I’ve been a few places. I’m not saying we should stick to our little patch of ground. I’m just saying hearing someone with a regional accent makes me smile ! To listen to the Billy Bob Thornton’s, Levon Helm’s, Lucas Black’s and Dolly Parton’s of the world is a good thing. And let me tell you all of those people are and or were as sharp as they come.

Got my own way of living, but everything is done
With a southern accent, where I come from

I’m not sure I’ve fleshed this out very well. I just like the feeling of being connected to those that came before me and some of that is in phrases and accents that for a time were all I knew. Before everyone sounded like the man on the six o’clock news !

In writing this post I was listening to Southern Accents by Tom Petty, Good Ole Boys Like Me by Don Williams, Going to Montgomery by Davis Raines, Just like Hank by Walt Wilkins and Down South by Kings of Leon.I was also watching “I ain’t in for my health” a documentary on the great, wonderful and deeply missed Levon Helm. Hope ya’ll enjoyed this and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Local Tourist

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With a few stops along the way, I have lived in three places in my life. All tourist towns. I grew up in and my home is Pensacola Florida. I lived for a few years during high school in Saratoga Springs, NY and for the past 16 years I’ve lived in Nashville TN. So I have always hoped to never be a tourist and still don’t. I’ve always been drawn to being a traveler but never a tourist.
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Recently my wife and I went out to eat and decided to ride downtown just to see first hand the explosion of Nashville. We see the growth in other ways and my job reminds me often how many folks are moving to Nashville, but to see downtown was amazing. A friend is a pedi cab driver and he toured us around to places we’d heard of but hadn’t seen. The new Hatch show building, the mega huge convention center, the cool vibe of the Pinewood Social Club, where you can drink, eat and yes bowl a few games in a very hip atmosphere.
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This town has so much energy and cool things going for it, no wonder it’s projected to double in size in twenty years. I really think it is the jewel of the South as far as major cities. I say all of this to simply say this; if you don’t get out wherever you live, you should. You have no idea what is going on out there while your home watching Game of Thrones! This generation of young minds is doing some pretty cool stuff and designing and shaping a life totally unique.
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So if you find yourself in a rut like we have been, then take it from me, sometimes the best entertainment is to just get out of the house. There’s more to this story but the main thing is,cruise around your town, stop in someplace new, see your world from a little different angle. It feels good !

Rollin’ Down The Back Roads -Tennessee

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The back roads of middle Tennessee are especially beautiful in late spring. Everything is lush fueled by big May rains. Plants, bushes and trees poised and ready for the dry, hot, take no prisoner, summer sun of the South.
Traveling on roads like Leipers Fork and Bear Creek road, twisting turning two lanes snaking through ancient lands. Riding with an old friend from Pensacola, and enjoying extensions of the same conversations we’ve had for 25 some odd years now. Sometimes riding in silence for miles, until I hear my friend say “turn here, I wanna see what’s up that road”. Off we go into someone else’s world, peeking into their lives a little but telling us more about our own unquenchable thirst for connection.
Fairview, Santa Fe with a long E, Carters Creek Pike, cattle, long gravel driveways, steelbelts hummin’ on the asphalt as Steve Earle would say ! This is my hometown, American back roads. I know these people, farmers, preachers and warehouse workers. The ones that don’t have it all, the ones that aren’t quite up to snuff on having everything the advertisers say you have to have to be happy!

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We drive on, stop at a few markets in between Country songs, put our feet on the ground hear the screen door slap and a slow friendly “howdy” comin’ from inside. Old friends on old roads, traveling, sharing life, sharing Creation. Sharing the things that hold us together.

Harpeth River, Caney Fork Road, leaning tobacco barns, cemeteries in the afternoon shade. Jo’s Kut n Kurl, Tommy’s Tune-em shop. John Deere mailboxes and one room church houses. A glimpse to a past that some don’t remember and most try to forget. It’s heartland, it’s the backbone. The ones to count on, the ones that remember who they are.

I wish were cruisin’ in a big ole Jim T kinda ragtop Cadillac, feeling it sail over these roads like it was meant for them and them alone. But still we are taking whatever turn looks interesting and wandering. We are free. Free of clocks, free of all that we seek to be free from.
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A few hours into our little journey, we head east, looking for the signs of home. It will be good to be there and share our stories. It is good to have another set of experiences to laugh about. It’s good to have friends and good to be a friend.