August 27, 2011

Rambling On

I'm upset right now.  For once not about Keven.  But the reason I'm upset plays into what seems to be a theme that's been going on in my internal life lately.  I've been thinking a lot about Life, what it means, why it is the way it is, and what happened to create the society we live in today.  Questions like

- Is technology really helping us or is it destroying us?

-Were our ancestors better off than us?  Were there more disease or less back then?  Would most of our societal problems be taken care of if we lived as a community that needed each other?  Is the lack of hard work and gratefulness one of the reasons so many people are unhappy with what they don't have and not appreciating what they have?

- What if there were no boundaries drawn on a map to separate us into countries, states, cities?  could we live in peace?  would we help each other?  would there be less violence in the world?  would we live and let live?

- Is all the hunger for power, control and money the cause for so much crime, immorality and hate?

So, yeah, heavy stuff with no real answers.  But I think for me, something is telling me that I need to change my life and my world in order to live the rest of it at peace with myself.  Weird, right?

Then today my friend Nuel stops by, just for ten minutes, to show me two things.  A picture of a huge fish he caught (best catch of his lifetime) and something his daughter wrote about her experience living with a tribe of Native Americans and how it impacted her life view.

First I have to explain Nuel :)  He is one of the closest friends I have.  We've known each other for 34 years.  We were a couple way back when and sometimes I wonder what would have happened if we got married.  He asked me - but he was drunk.  See, that's the thing about Nuel, he was drunk or high on drugs for 28 of our 34 years together.  He's been clean and sober for 6 years and its been awesome, its like getting a new best friend that already knows your entire life history and has a deep bond with you.

This is me with my boyfriend at the time (left) and Nuel.
Every time I got a new boyfriend I would tell them
that my best friend was a guy and if they couldn't
deal with that, too bad.  Most of them dealt with it,
a few were too insecure or jealous.  Their loss :)
Anyhow, Nuel is as down to earth as you get.  He'll never read this because the only technology he has is his cell phone which he was forced to get when payphones went by the wayside.  He's never really stayed in one place for long, he usually travels with the weather, living off the land, staying with friends, and getting by working jobs (he can build anything and does landscaping).  People always hire him or invite him into their homes because he's a lovable and wonderful guy.  He's just not the type to settle down (but he's been in Laguna for years now so maybe the wanderlust had something to do with the drinking?)

He was married for a few years but it didn't work out.  His daughter grew up mostly never seeing him and he always worried that she would never want to be a part of his life.
But, she is a lot like her dad and they are very close now, I think she lives in San Fransisco.

So all that to say - what she wrote really inspired me.  It fit in with all the questions I've been asking lately.  She talked about how "we" came in and mined the coal right out from under this tribe and therefore destroyed their water supply which affected their crops and killed off their animals.  She talked about how simply they lived and how everything was fine for the Native Americans until we started fucking with everything that had been theirs before we even got here.  We outnumbered them.  We thought we knew better and were smarter and more advanced.

It started way back then and it keeps going on today.  Some tribes make money now from Casinos.  Gambling, selling alcohol, etc.  Not something they would choose based on their life philosophies but pretty much the only thing that was a sure thing for making them tons of money to support themselves.  Then there are the tribes like the Lakotas in South Dakota.  If you want to know all about what true poverty in America looks like, visit my friend Amber's blog, here's just a small look at some of the issues they face do to poverty and lack of health care:

  • Some figures state that the life expectancy on the Reservation is 48 years old for men and 52 for women. Other reports state that the average life expectancy on the Reservation is 45 years old.  These statistics are far from the 77.5 years of age life expectancy average found in the United States as a whole.  According to current USDA Rural Development documents, the Lakota have the lowest life expectancy of any group in America.
  • Teenage suicide rate on the Pine Ridge Reservation is 150% higher than the U.S. national average for this age group.
  • The infant mortality rate is the highest on this continent and is about 300% higher than the U.S. national average.
  • More than half the Reservation's adults battle addiction and disease.  Alcoholism, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and malnutrition are pervasive.

Here are some more statistics that might make you cry or at least, I hope, understand what NATIVE Americans are going through.

If you'd like to help them you can donate through Amber's non-profit "Backpacks for Pine Ridge" that does way more than provide school supplies (she is one of my all time most admired heroes, this woman is amazing, and she would hate to hear me say that, but she is).

So, since there aren't that many Ambers in the world, what is going to change for these people?

I've run out of energy to write anymore.  Part of me wonders if Nuel and I are meant to fall back in love and live the simple life together.  But, realistically, I don't think it will happen.  I think he's far too independent and I'm not quite adventurous enough.  We had some crazy times together.  C R A Z Y.  Stuff I can't even talk about.

I lived with him and his buddy Jason in a van for a few months just for the fun of it.  We'd go to the beach during the day, or hiking and then party all night.  Somehow we always managed to have money (Jason was an artist, he must have been selling his stuff).  We always had a friend willing to let us use their shower.  It was exhilarating and felt so carefree.  Eventually I had to get back to "real life" and got a job.

Then Nuel left.  He left and came back so many times.  We had many long distant fights about his drinking.  I think we went a year without talking once and I thought he was dead so tracked down his (famous) father who somehow located him.  Then his father and I became close and would keep each other informed of his whereabouts.  One night I got a call from his dad saying that Nuel was dying of some sort of pancreatic disease.  His pancreas had completely shut down, his liver was all messed up, he wasn't going to make it.  He'd been really sick several times so we thought this was it.  He offered to pay my way to Montana to see him one last time but a few days after he got there, Nuel improved so I never went.

I'm really done writing now.

P.S.  Saw both my boys today and they both are doing good.  Ant is still in jail with a great attitude (please, please mean it this time) and Kev is at Unidos re-adjusting to his meds.  He's been very, very tired so I hope he starts feeling better soon (and that he doesn't have Hep C - one of my fears)

Peace, Hope and Love, Barbara


Tori said...

I have watched movies that were disgusting on what military was doing to them just 20 years ago. STILL trying to force them off their land. I won't get in to it and had I not seen it with my own eyes I don't know that I would have believed it. I can't recall what State this was going on in.

Most of my post just got deleted! The Rez my X lives on is still in poverty and it is sad. Not that they choose this life clearly they really don't know any different and are "stuck" in that way of life. Casinos really can change their lives some for the good like the Rez about 45 min. away and some for the bad....Hopefully, his Rez will get their Casino one day.

You and I should go visit there one day. It is just in San Diego.

What a wonderful person she sounds like.

So much information in one post it was great. So glad you got to see both the boys and that they are doing well. We never know what will click with them.

Syd said...

The genocide that we did years ago was terrible. We lied to the Native Americans, exploited them and are still trying to exploit them. Now they are trying to survive but the solution is probably going to be their demise. Greed seems to be the American way of life.

Lou said...

You make some good points. I have no idea how to rectify the past. We certainly don't learn from it.

Re your friend: what if, Barbara;)

Anonymous said...

Wow, Barbara, that's a lot of thinking for one day. You have such a kind heart and seem to care about everyone.

I bet you were the young girl who brought home all the stray animals and all the other kids having a tough day. I think they call that type of person an "empath".

One last comment: your hair used to be so long!

Anonymous Mom said...

Tori, I knew this would resonate with you. I would love to go visit there someday. (I love San Diego).

Syd, well said. So sad but true.

Lou, time will tell on the "what if" but I don't know if I could feel that way about him again....although we did kiss the other day!! :)

Dee, thank you. I can't help being an empath - I was born that way I suppose. I did bring home stray animals, but not as many as my mother brought home! Yes, my hair was ridiculously long for many years. Right now its down to the middle of my back which is probably too long for "my age" but I don't care :)

Anonymous said...

You pretty much said what i could not effectively communicate. +1

My site:
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dogkisses said...

Wow, we are thinking about the same things. I hope you aren't losing as much sleep as I am over these thoughts, but my life sure seems to be turning back. I've been thinking of the "circle" the Natives talk about. "The Way" of the Cherokee people, and today, when another "facility" turned down my son, I was not only not surprised, but in one way, well, I don't know how to say it. Not relieved, b/c he needs a place to thrive and live. But, I really don't think it is in a "facility."

I think we want to walk a different path, listen to a different drum.

We went to The Rosebud Rez with the Lakota people. And there is a lot of poverty and addiction. There is also a sense of community. Some of the families are amazing in their inter-dependence, which I think is something we have lost in America.

We are all about doing it on our own, when really, this is not how human beings have succeeded at great things. Not in my mind anyway. We need each other. We need community, again.

I'm glad I stopped by. Thank you Barbara. You always touch a spot in my heart or mind. It's inspiring and confirming.

I would very much like to live closer to the land. All for that!!! Grow our own food, raise some animals, get a couple of horses, which I would totally use for transportation, and I think this would be a great healing environment.

Thanks again!

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