Shifting Perspective

Carol A. Hand

In the past, waiting for a response from others was always the hardest part of completing any initiative for me. When I created something to share with others, it was often an experiment to try something new. I wondered if and how others would respond. I remember sharing this with my graduate advisor when I handed in exam papers. “I always wonder if what I write or say will make sense to others. Is it brilliant, confusing, or merely mediocre?” His response was slow. “Your work is so – it’s so – interdisciplinary.” That didn’t really address my anxiety.

When I submitted my first ever play for review a few days ago, the same questions surfaced. And then I realized that my reason for writing and submitting this work, and other works before it, was not really about others’ reactions. Sharing stories, ideas, and possibilities about crucial issues past, present and future is an attempt to inspire productive dialogue and constructive changes.

I hope the play will make a difference for at least some of the reviewers. Maybe it will even be selected as one of the plays that will be performed for an audience. But once submitted, what happens next is not something I can control. So why should I be concerned? It’s a diversion from the more important question I should be asking, “What’s next?

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Photo: An unidentified perennial in my hummingbird garden – early July 2015

If you breathe your spirit and heart into what you do, how others respond is really not the most important consideration. You’ve done what you can to share something meaningful. In this case, what I tried to do was to honor the words and experiences of others who trusted me to share their stories in hopes that their suffering might help others. Those who have followed my blog faithfully for the past couple of years would recognize some of the stories highlighted in the play. Uncle Raymond and Auntie Lucille share their early childhood experiences within their Ojibwe reservation community. They describe how these and later childhood experiences affected them throughout their lives, and the ways in which the lives of the next generations were influenced as well.

The title of the play comes from the words Auntie Lucille whispered in my ear when I was visiting the elders’ center during lunch nine months after my study began – “You wouldn’t want to hear my story.” Her warning that it wasn’t a happy story proved true. She was removed from her family and community when she was nine and spent the next nine years in an abusive White foster home far from the reservation. Yet her story is distressingly similar to that of so many Native American children throughout the centuries of continuing colonial oppression. Child removal and out-placement practices still continue today.

Uncle Raymond’s contrasting story demonstrates that there have always been effective culturally appropriate alternatives to keep children safe in their own tribal communities.

I don’t want to spoil the suspense by sharing the ending. But I can say that the ending brought healing tears to my eyes while it warmed my heart with hope. I have no way of guessing how it will affect the reviewers. Regardless of what they say, I am grateful for the important things I learned as a result of trying something that took me outside of my comfort zone. I’m also deeply grateful to Diane Lefer at Nobody Wakes Up Pretty for the encouragement to try. (Chi miigwetch, Diane. I have learned so much from your blog, books, and televised interviews.)

I promise to let you all know what happens with the play. In the meantime, I send my gratitude and best wishes to all.

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Photo: The hummingbird garden – August 12, 2015

Copyright Notice: © Carol A. Hand and carolahand, 2013-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carol A. Hand and carolahand with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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About Carol A. Hand

What matters are not the titles I’ve held or university degrees I earned or the size of a house or bank account. It’s really what I’ve learned from ordinary people like me whom I’ve met along the way. They taught me to live with gratitude and give thanks for each new day.
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25 Responses to Shifting Perspective

  1. desilef says:

    Congratulations! I’m so excited to know you wrote it. I do hope to see it produced.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh congratulations, Carol. I wish you the best of luck with your play, and I hope to see it on the stage one day. Hugs, N 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Congratulations, Carol. To have completed a play is a very big deal.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for your kind words, Cynthia. I’m grateful for the challenge of sharing people’s stories with added dimensions – lighting, gestures, expressions and intonations, and other ways of highlighting particularly important memories. I look forward to the feedback on this first attempt. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  4. cindy knoke says:

    If it comes from your heart, it cannot help but be beautiful.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Congratulations on your accomplishment! It sounds like it is a very sensitive and thought provoking play. Warmest wishes and blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. sojourner says:

    I hope your play is produced and touches many! And as you point out, not just for your own sake but for the sake of others.

    I am going through something similar and yet much different. I am a college trained musician/composer. And because of my love of many styles of music, I spent most of my career/life performing and writing and arranging more commercial forms of music, and not with very much success, at least not in the worldly sense of success.

    Now I am in my latter years, and the doors have been closed to me in many areas of music, in particular when it comes to having large works performed: I have been out of that “click” for decades and there is no way back in. Nor do I want to be “in.”

    Anyway, I have almost finished a three movement symphony, and yet I have no real way to get it performed or share it with others. Oh, I can listen to it, because of technology, but that is not the same as hearing it performed by a full orchestra with an audience.

    So here is my point: your post really spoke to me. I need to really consider what you have shared here: “What’s next!” Moving on and doing what is placed in front of me to do, and without having to know or control what happens; letting go and being content with the creative process.

    Hopefully, what I write, and compose, affects more folks than just me. But as with you, I have no control over that. So maybe doing, with the desire to affect others, is the most important part of being?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your thoughtful discussion, Sojourner. I appreciate hearing about your experiences as an artist, as well as your crucial insights.

      And congratulations on almost finishing a symphony! That’s truly an impressive accomplishment! I hope you have a chance to hear it played by an orchestra someday 🙂

      I’m wondering if it’s enough to keep creating even though few may ever see what we do during our lifetime. I think of all the artists, prophets, and ordinary people whose genius and contributions weren’t recognized during their lives, and the many who were never recognized at all. It’s the doing that matters, not the recognition. In fact, in my life, the times when what I did was recognized, it felt hollow and focused on me rather than the ideas or issues.

      If we’re focused on doing what we love, it affects how we live and interact with others. Increasingly I feel that’s the most important thing we have to contribute. And it doesn’t necessarily mean being a Pollyanna. Truth-speakers and those who expect to be treated with respect and treat others accordingly are in short supply these days (and probably always were). Maybe the most important thing is living in a way that expresses the love and reverence we have for life or the truths as we see them through whatever means we have – to simply live and express what comes from our hearts, minds, and spirits. If we need approval or recognition, we really are not free to just be who we are. But isn’t it exciting and a wondrous gift when we do find others who understand and value some of the things we do?

      Liked by 1 person

  7. sojourner says:

    “If we’re focused on doing what we love, it affects how we live and interact with others. Increasingly I feel that’s the most important thing we have to contribute. And it doesn’t necessarily mean being a Pollyanna. Truth-speakers and those who expect to be treated with respect and treat others accordingly are in short supply these days (and probably always were). Maybe the most important thing is living in a way that expresses the love and reverence we have for life or the truths as we see them through whatever means we have – to simply live and express what comes from our hearts, minds, and spirits. If we need approval or recognition, we really are not free to just be who we are. But isn’t it exciting and a wondrous gift when we do find others who understand and value some of the things we do?”

    Wonderfully said!

    I’m way past the need for fame or even a great deal of recognition. As with you, I have always felt uncomfortable with a great deal of praise, not that I ever had to deal with it much;-)

    What’s the ancient saying, something to the effect, “the destination is not nearly as important as the journey?” This makes great sense to me. I am also beginning to believe that the universe, or our selves, or whatever, allows us to struggle with these issues until we come to this conclusion, this place of rest where we can continue.

    This is what I have been considering, in dealing with life the way it is right now. And what you have written has been a confirmation to me that all I need to do is continue this journey and not worry about the where, when, how and why.

    Thank you for sharing what is on your heart and mind!

    And yes, it is a wonderful experience when someone connects with something that has come from somewhere deep inside of you, it’s a great blessing!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Reblogged this on Dreaming the World and commented:
    Carol, Thank you for sharing this post! I, too, hope the reviewers are touched, and the rest of us get to see the play on stage soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. hsampson says:

    Congratulations Carol! I am sure you will have lots of success with your Play! Thanks for sharing!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Best wishes for the success of your play. Hopefully it will fall into the hands of people who believe in you and know how to make it work.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. You are already a success in my eyes.

    Liked by 1 person

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