Monday, January 19, 2009

Tales of the Koko Lion, Part 1: The Kickapoo Secret

There's a way of seeing that's available to you when you escape the delusion and artifice of your ego, of who you think you are. A way where there's no need for judgments or comparisons of any kind between yourself and others. When those feelings, those fear-based needs arise, you recognize them as unresolved aspects of yourself, and just release them. What once seemed like such a vital and automatic need to compare and to judge simply dies off of attrition, starved of it's energy. The urge to gossip disappears. You begin to view those who indulge in it with compassion, understanding that they need to reveal their own fear to find some comforting identification with others, to momentarily enhance their picture of themselves, and hopefully get a little relief. Once you can adopt this approach to seeing others, you will rarely be offended by anything.

Without your own crazy horse in the race-- your ego's attachment to an enhanced version of yourself, or the need to defend yourself from some threat of your own creation, those frozen perceptions that created the surface of your personal "reality" thaw out, and like a shell dissolving, the surface of all things and people becomes transparent, and the truth is casually and refreshingly exposed. You can finally see people and things as they truly are-- creations of lives; of thoughts, of fears and hopes.

It's like taking off the dark glasses you've been wearing... at night. And then starting to turn on a couple lights.

You begin to see everything as being simply animated by our common source energy. Actions and objects formed by thought made material. We are all the same stuff, and often, without a clue, directly connected to one another and the universe in every cell, in every moment.

It's a big relief, and very refreshing- to start to view the world that way. And putting it like that seems really simple, doesn't it? Everyone becomes incredibly interesting. But how can we go about attaining such a realistically tolerant way of seeing? Since we already have everything we need to know inside of us somewhere, we can start by delving into the handiest example of the form we all can examine closely and carefully – ourselves. We just need to fearlessly look at ourselves with the same kind of compassion. Like we were looking at someone else.

Certain stories describe us almost entirely, and in my case, one of them is this story of my fairly recent ancestors on my Mother's side. Who they were, and how I unconsciously, on purpose, chose to depict the part they played in forming my peculiar self-definition. As with all my stories, they could be complete and utter fabrications. But they're not. They're true, as well as I know. Sometimes, perhaps, more apocryphal than academic, and just slightly more than loosely documented. And as I said, the names are incomplete, or changed to protect unwilling or fragile participants. So, on with the stories...

At a rather young age by our standards (though oldish by hers), twenty-three or twenty-four, my Great-great grandmother set out of Missouri to cross the Oregon Trail by herself, in the mid 1840s. It was a rare thing for a young lady (one named Churchill, no less) to undertake such an impractically feminist adventure in those days. And though I don't know her motivations, we can surmise that what she wanted very badly was a change of scenery.

As a female she was automatically relegated to second-class status. And being an unmarried, unaccompanied female lowered her status even further – to third, or fourth-class. As such, it was deemed that she ride in "the back of the bus," or in this case, in the back of the wagon train with the other third and fourth-class citizens; wayward misfits, gypsies, and the like. Families of the solid God-fearing "Christian" caste, led by real men of fine American mettle, took their positions at the front of the train. These were the men who made this country, and in many ways the world, what it is today.

Bringing up the rear as well were the American Indians who showed them how to find water, what they could eat along the way, and which direction they should actually go in to conquer "the unknown wilderness" that was the "unexplored" continent to the west. My great-great grandfather was a Kickapoo indian that Ms. Churchill met amongst the others back in the rear of the wagon train.

The Kickapoos are a tribe with origins in the Great Lakes and plains region of eastern Minnesota, northern Iowa, and parts of what is now Michigan, and I suppose that when the wagon train neared The Great Divide, my great-great grandfather felt the need to return to his land and people. Perhaps he wasn't aware that Ms. Churchill was carrying his child. Maybe she didn't know yet, or she knew and didn't tell him. In any case, the universe has since put too much space between us all to know what truly passed between those two people in that natural world so long ago. He went back home. She went on west.

Before the wagon train reached it's destination, she must have felt it imperative to be married for the sake of her unborn child-- the stigma of unwed parenthood being too great an obstacle to overcome. She apparently found the most likely match she could, and sometime before arriving in Eastern Oregon, she married a Basque shepherd named Jordan, who became, in name (my middle name, in fact), my step great-great grandfather. They settled in central Oregon, where you find Jordan creek and Jordan City, and had six more children together. But it was that first-born, half-Kickapoo boy whose grandson, Harry Jordan, met and married my grandmother, Minnie Fletcher. And that was my mother's side of the family.

No comments:

Post a Comment