Facing Past and Future Times

Carol A. Hand

For the past few days, I’ve been preparing myself to take a trip into the past. I’ll be reliving those times during the month of November as I try something new. I’ve signed up for National Novel Writing Month. I wonder if I can turn a research project into a novel that protects people’s identities, but still remains true to the power of their stories.

It’s time. Snow will soon arrive, the time for Ojibwe storytellers to weave their winter magic. I hope I’m up for the task of writing thousands of words that make sense every day. The biggest challenge I face is figuring out how to begin…

Was I born with this as my destiny – to return to the home of some of my ancestors? Was it merely coincidence that life led me down paths I never envisioned for myself? From a childhood spent in a home with few books where I had no idea what a university even was and no notions of ever going to one? I had no idea that one day my life would be transformed by a series of events that would change my path.

I carry one particularly strange memory. It was just before I was to testify before the State legislature about Native American mascot issues in public schools. The hearing room was huge and packed to capacity. Media representatives were everywhere with cameras and microphones. It was odd, I thought. No media representatives ever showed up when I testified about life and death issues – health and infant mortality.

I felt myself panicking. I needed to go outside to catch my breath and remember why I was here. I hurried through the maze of corridors and down the winding marble stairs of the State Capitol building. Using all my strength to open the heavy ornate wooden doors – freedom! Standing on the marble patio outside, I closed my eyes and took deep breaths. And a voice spoke to me. “Don’t forget that you are one of the special people. You’re here for a reason. Use your gifts for others who depend on you.” There was no time for all the old tapes in my mind to play, “I’m no one of importance.” I needed to face the crowd upstairs.

It’s difficult for me to share this story. I worry that others may see me as “crazy,” or worse, as arrogant. But the truth is I could always see others’ strengths but not my own. I needed to learn to honor that in myself too, by trusting that I can face the challenges ahead. It’s the doing that matters, not the outcome. I don’t know what the result of participating in the NaNoWriMo will be as I prepare to take the first steps of this next journey, but I’m excited about the chance to discover something new…

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Photo: Pinto Anticipating the Winter Path Ahead – November 2014

 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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29 thoughts on “Facing Past and Future Times”

  1. Carol, you’ve covered a lot of wisdom in describing your background, and shown courage already, in writing this blog post about NaNoWriMo. You correctly say it’s the doing that matters, not the outcome. 🙂 Your unique experiences, mindset, abilities, and compassion, and your own personal need to confront the material, are all reason enough to go ahead! Is a novel the best approach? Who knows? Why not? It’s a great place to start since you’ve been thinking about it so much, and NaNoWriMo is a great opportunity in a tight package (specified time frame) to see where this path will lead you personally, and eventually your readers. I wish you all the best, strength and perseverance, perhaps catharsis (I better look that word up 😉 ), but certainly peace. Looking forward to seeing where this takes you. 🙂 ❤

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  2. “From a childhood spent in a home with few books where I had no idea what a university even was and no notions of ever going to one? I had no idea that one day my life would be transformed by a series of events that would change my path.”

    This and a few other things you wrote here, I can totally relate to.

    Listen to your voice! And no, you are not crazy. My voice speaks to me as well, when I allow it to and listen!

    You can do it!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I would say there’s more than a bit of crazy in you, in this sane world. Where wars are the norm, and bloodlust the honor. Where a tempest, of hate, machismo, greed, gluttony, and selfies rule the day and shape the egocentric minds of everyone you meet. Where individualism is nowhere to be found, where all opinions are formed by the official narrative, the status quo, the way we’ve always done it. Where racism, crime, criminals, gangsters, thugs, punks, murderers, and rapist; sports heros and movie stars live as encouragements. Where compassion is a fleeting obligation. Where tuff-guys drink, hunt and kill nonaggressive, passive, innocent animals and call it sport. Yeah, in light of what’s normal, I’d say you’re more than a bit crazy. I’m a raving lunatic myself.

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  4. Carol, from reading your writing over the last few months, I feel sure you will find that strength within you. One of the things I remind myself of daily is a line from the Spanish poet Antonio Machado: Traveler, there is no path.
    The path is made by walking.
    Good luck. Eager to hear about your journey. Best, Melissa

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  5. This should really get you into writing. Remember, you want to write. I bought a small e-book that you might find of benefit, 5,000 words per hour by Chris Fox. Basically, if you can build up your speed and write faster in the beginning, it will give you momentum. Don’t worry about things being perfect or even making sense. You want to build up your word count so you will have plenty to work with as you edit and re-write. And of course, I’m sure you’ll be sharing your progress with us.

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    1. I appreciate your comments and suggestions, Skywalker. I just realized how difficult it is for me to try something so totally outside of anything I’ve done before. My regional writing group is much younger than I am – experienced writers returning again to this annual event that for some is competitive. I have no idea how this NaNoWriMo works – and there are only couple days left to find out!

      There’s something both terrifying and exciting about facing new adventures and steep learning curves. For the first time this evening, I was looking at all of my complicated reactions – fear of failure and appearing stupid, but also, fear of doing well and becoming a target of envy in a competitive setting. These are old fears based on the past. The only way I can deal with these fears is to tap into a deeper spiritual purpose. I needed to come up with a title – something new that captures the essence of what I want to address and hope to accomplish. It’s my computer-sort technique that helps me keep on track. I have a draft title now and hope inspiration will visit me as I sleep so I can refine it and make it sing. (It’s often how my inspiration comes.)

      I hope all is going well with your writing! I send my love and best wishes ❤

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        1. It’s funny how something like “age” can be seen as a strength or a weakness, depending on how you look at things. When I think about the richness of our experiences – the places we’ve traveled, things we’ve done, and challenges we’ve faced – life lived fully is an incredible strength even though others may not see it so…

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  6. I’ve found turning stones that have been in the ground for a while can be scary. But I’ve also found that removing the stones allows for new seed to be planted as removing the stove tills the soil and opens fertile ground. Good luck on your novel Carol.

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  7. Such a potent image, Carol: the media attention around sports mascots instead of life and death issues. It’s striking to me how strong and swift the defense of whiteness and symbols of white supremacy is. Still. …how African Americans are not allowed to say that their lives matter… how the First Nations are not allowed to reclaim their identities… how latinos are labeled illegal… The urge to aggressively silence, control, and neutralize the others is always there just below the surface.

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