Wednesday, October 23, 2002

A Process

It's been quite a while since I've written anything for the blog. Creativity
comes in spurts for me. I find myself not disciplined enough to write when I'm
not feeling particularly inspired. Any of you 'Artist's Way' disciples out there
will slap my fingers for that comment but it's true.

The other week I went to a seminar called Developing Capable People which the
Health Division organized to train those of us planning the kids clubs for
around here. I honestly wasn't expecting to get much out of it, personally. I
sort of feel like I went through a massive self enlightenment phase when I went
to the counseling school in Amsterdam. I figured I'd spend the rest of my life
working on what I had analyzed while there. But low and behold, I got a little
surprise. I learned several things. 1) that I'm not very resilient. I may appear
to go pretty far with something that I want to accomplish, but there's almost
always a wall that will flatten me at some point and when it does I'm unwilling
to go that same route again. 2) Self discipline in my mind, conjures up images
of legalism and guilt making some goals very difficult to achieve. 3) that I am
an Approval Junky. I am often motivated by things that I'm sure will bring me
the most approval from people I want it from (usually up-front leader types). It
was an interesting discovery.

My response was to write out all the things I had considered failures in my
life, which still brought up some sense of pain or regret when I thought of
them, and then analyze what went wrong. What did I perceive to be the wall of
which there was no way past? What was my perception of God's voice or will at
that time and how did it influence my actions or lack of them? Then I tried to
see what action I could take at this point, if any to be able to either lay
that failure to rest, continue on the road I'd abandoned or gather the
information I needed to go on and do it differently next time.

I found that the thing that most affected my actions or lack of it in the time
of the original failure, was my perception of what God was saying or doing. This
was something that seemed totally out of my control. It seemed like I attributed
most of what happened to God's will. But if that was true and that was what I
most wanted to be, then why was there so much regret attached to the memory?
Well, there seemed to be a variety of reasons, 1) I had misinterpreted God,
allowed circumstances to speak for Him instead of finding out what He wanted
directly 2)My motivation for accomplishing those things was based more on the
desire to please others with my success and accomplishment than to do what I
felt called, . 3) The timing was off. I need to learn to trust God with the
timing of things in my life and learn not to panic every time I hit another
birthday that I haven't got children, a degree or a career.

For many years I was the sort of person who always had a 10 year plan. After a
while of seeing these plans fall apart repeatedly, I gave up that practice and
spent the last few years in a sort of limbo state, where I went from knowing I
was in the right place and doing the right things, but not how long I'd be there
- to knowing I was in the right place, not sure what I was supposed to be doing
and no idea what was next - to having no idea if I was in the right place, what
I should be doing or where I was going. This was a really good experience for
teaching me trust and faith, but this week I felt like it was time to
re-evaluate.
My next step was to write out all the things I'm involved in presently to see
where they fit in a big picture scheme. Having a meaningful life is the #1 basic
need of human beings. If we don't have that we will not even begin to look for
food or water or anything else essential to survival.
I need to know that my life is going somewhere. I categorized my current
involvements into 1)Things I do for fun 2) things I do for money 3) things I do
because I feel like I'm supposed to and 4) things I do because I got suckered in
to it. Then I looked at each thing in light of the kingdom, my heart desires and
tangible things God has said to see where they lined up. After that I looked at
the things I've wanted to do and didn't or failed at, to see if they lined up
with what was happening right now and would take me further along in the
direction I wanted to go.

A very good process. We'll see where that one goes.

Sunday, October 20, 2002

I was doing some stuff with my Grade 12 World Geography Class on Iraq, and the impending war with the "little Bush" (as they call him in the Middle East), and a number of interesting things came out of that class. First, I got to indoctrinate my students with my Mennonite Pacifist beliefs, and second, I came across a great radio documentary that can be downloaded (mp3). The documentary covers a number of issues - current views on the Bush administration, discussion of the UN Sanctions (arguably the World's greatest Weapon of Mass Destruction in use today), and the problems arising from the U.S.' use of depleted uranium weapons in the Gulf War. It's a pretty heavy hitting and somewhat depressing look at what we've done to their country. Here is the address, and the download worked best for me if I just typed the address into the navigation bar. http://www.fsrn.org/news/audio/Collateral_Voices.mp3 . With high speed it should download real quick, but with dial-up, like mine, it took about a 1/2 hour. It's got a great soundtrack (cool middle eastern vocals).
Howdy folks! We just got back from another weekend out of town. We were in Nelson House for a volleyball tournament this weekend. It was a very long Saturday, as our first game was at 11 in the morning and we didn't leave the gym until 11 at night. Both men's and women's teams from Norway House finished first - which is highly profitable placement in Northern volleyball tournaments. For finishing first we won $1500, split between six players = $250 + a nice championship jacket. It was quite fun for me, as I haven't played in a tournament as competitive as that in a long time. I loved being out there. I put up some pictures from the weekend on our MTS webspace. So check 'em out if you like. We're coming down to the city this Thursday for a teacher's conference, and will be there until Monday morning. We hope to see some of you when we're down in the balmy south.

Monday, October 14, 2002

A United minister, an Anglican minister, and a Catholic priest (who knows how to use the Lord's name in vain) were sitting around the table discussing the merits of the movie Austin Powers - Goldmember... sounds like a joke? Well, it's not. Just one of the many interesting situations we find ourselves in up here. Another is: We had supper with a man who travels to the United Arab Emirates to teach Hypnotherapy. He's our teacher-friend's dad.
Just a bit of an update on us - our puppy - Wasko (Cloud in Cree) is doing fine. He's going to sleepover at another teachers while we take some needed time-off in Thompson over the next two days. We've had an interesting weekend full of meetings between our Norway House Artist Collective, and the Manitoba Arts Council Aboriginal Representative, as well as a representative from Heritage Canada. They were here to brainstorm with us possible ways of creating an Arts Industry here in Norway House. A lot of really cool ideas came out of these meetings, on top of the ones we've already blogged about, and, as usual, at the end of meetings, I found myself in charge of a particular project or event. This February, I'm responsible for throwing together the first Norway House Film Festival, showcasing local efforts, as well as pulling in some films from the national Aboriginal Filmmaking community. I'm taking some students from my Film/Video Club down to the Aboriginal Film Festival at the University of Winnipeg on the 7 & 8 of November. I think it's open to the public, so if any of you are interested, come check it out. I'll be able to make some contacts there, to maybe bring some workshoppers up to our Film Festival. Sounds like fun, and a lot of work.

Wednesday, October 09, 2002

A strange thing happened to me today.... At the end of my Grade 11 English class, a student of mine approached me. She said "Do you have a dollar?" And I replied, "No, I've only got fifty cents." Then she said "I said... Do you have a dog?" "Oh, yeah. Just got it two days ago." She asked me if it was black, with white paws, and really fluffy. I said yeah. I was getting nervous, because I was assuming that the dog that we found on our doorstep must have been hers, and I have already got quite attached to Cloud (in Cree = Wasko). Then she told me that she had had a dream last night about Joy and I and our dog, and that we had gone into a building where dogs weren't allowed, and we had been fined $30. Then when she woke up from her dream she had a bunch of scratch marks down her arm. She showed the scratches to me and they looked really bizarre - all criss-crossed. If it had been any other student I might have thought that she was joking, but she is the most sincere one in my class. We talked a bit about what it might mean, but couldn't think of anything. I've heard of that happening a couple of times up here, dreams with real-life things attached to them. BIZARRE!!

Sunday, October 06, 2002

By the way, the puppy is a male and we've decided to call him Cloud.
An Old Man’s Tale

The other day I was at the Health Division for a meeting. A couple of us were there early so we were just sitting in the boardroom waiting for everyone else to show. While we were waiting an elderly gentleman came in and sat down. One of the ladies asked if he wanted a piece of gum. He took it and said jokingly, “is it pine gum? When I was growing up that was the only kind of gum we had. We didn’t have junk food or any kind of processed grocery food.” Then he started telling us a story. I’ll tell it in his words:

“When I was about 8 years old I was out in the bush with my family. All my relatives were there. It was sometime in the 1940’s. We spent most of the winter in the bush, that’s where the food was, deer, moose, rabbit, chicken, fish…every kind of meat. I came into camp one day and saw 5 grandmothers and 5 grandfathers standing around a pot that was cooking over the fire. My parents told me to go to them to get something to eat. I went up to them and they said to me, “we’re going to give you something to eat that you’ve never had before.” I wasn’t scared, it smelled good and looked good so I took it and started eating. Then they said to me, “many, many years from now, if you live a good long life, when you’re an old man after the year 2000 life is going to get very hard for our people. Not in our time, but in the generation that comes after you. Our people won’t know how to get food any more, it will be scarce and the food we eat will have poison in it which will kill us off slowly. If you live that long you need to remember to keep your ax and your traps and your bow and arrow and remember how to get your food.”
I was 8 years old, I was thinking, why do I care what will happen then, if I’m alive I’ll be an old man. This is not going to bother me. Then they told me that what they were feeding me was Seagull. That they were giving me this so that when I was an old man, when food was scarce I would remember that I can eat Seagull which there is plenty of, but the only place that you can eat seagull is deep deep into the woods because seagulls near settlements are no good, they eat garbage and their meat is tainted but in the bush the meat is clean. About 2 years later a plane came and took me off to boarding school and I never saw those Grandmothers or Grandfathers again.
Now I am an old man, I am going blind but I’m alive. It’s 2002 and I can see that food is scarce, the food in the grocery stores is so expensive and we don’t know how to get our own food. The food we buy is full of cancer and diabetes which our people are dying from and we don’t know how to find food that will keep us healthy. It is all coming true.”

At the end of the story I was the only one in the room because the others had gone to do a few last minute tasks before the rest came, he had told us earlier that he had cataracts and could barely see, so he probably didn’t notice my blonde hair but he looked across the table at me and said, “Don’t forget the old ways, the traditions. They are important.” The others came back for the meeting, and he got up and left.


Friday, October 04, 2002

Look what we found on our front porch? Should we keep her? I'm talking about the dog. I plan on keeping my wife for a very, very long time.
Should we keep her?

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

Our friend Corrina has just started blogging. Check her blog out!! Her premiering blog entry is entitled "Simon Discovers Nipples." She's always good for a laugh.