I heard a lecture yesterday by a Native American historian. His subject was the colonization of indigenous peoples' land, and the potential decolonization of them. As he ended, he talked about solitude, anger, and patience, using the example of a person waiting at a light in a car, and the impatience that simmers in the waiting.
He contrasted this--I think this is fair to say--with a native attitude of patience and waiting in the moment, without irritation or hurry. He showed a slide, his final slide, of a sunrise, and said that he always ended this way, with an image of the sunrise, because each day, a person could wake to that light, make promises to the day, and that these would be in the form of prayer.
I have been thinking about this ever since. Thinking of how, say, when I am alone, driving, I often give voice to impatient, harsh words, addressed to the drivers around me, or even to myself. Tonight, for instance. I was in the turning lane, turning south. A car in the next lane hastily pulled in front of me, cut across my lane, hurtled across the path of my moving car, to turn left before me. It was a dangerous thing to have done--perhaps not done deliberately, but mindlessly. I followed, turning, soft curses on my tongue. I thought again: quick to wrath.
In my dealings with people present around me, I am not usually quick to wrath. Or if I am, when my temper rises, I almost always apologize, and quickly. I don't like living with lingering anger and its consequences as my companions.
But in my passages from here to there, when I am alone, the angry source of these words are my medium.
I want to not live in haste, in temper, in quick anger.
I like the idea of beginning the day the way the lecturer described, with a promise to the day that is a prayer. I want to wake and have that prayer be my first thought, and be reminded of it during the day.
I wonder how long I would need to practice that kind of steadiness, compassion, patience to have it become my nature. If it ever could.
Also, I wonder if I will ever manage to wake up at sunrise, and that's the truth.
Hurry is an antagonist of this. Not enough sleep, too much worry, too many things to do. But it's also, clearly, a habit, a reaction and not a response.
We draw upon the languages we're given, but also the languages we cultivate. I want to cultivate new languages. This is only one of them, but it seems like a good place to start.