Looking Back, and Looking Forward

How do you reflect on a week of class that is truly imaginative, truly engaging, truly opening? Maybe it’s that I’m new to this whole blogging thing, or maybe it’s like what my classmate Heather says . . . that some things are just beyond words. Reflection is hard. But I’ll give it a shot.

First, the past week. Since the first day of class, there has only been more space to navigate. Since it seems best to focus on a single event rather than recapping the whole week, I’ll talk a little about our ceremony this past Thursday. We met with Celinda Kaelin, a local woman who is well versed in Indigenous issues and has spent lots of time with the Lakota people. The most striking and amazing part of the ceremony with her was going around as a class and “putting something into the circle”, in a sense. We shared our individual and collective gratitude, fears, excitement, worries, prayers, etc. After each person spoke, the rest of the circle voiced their approval and support – AHO, we said in unison. It reminded me so much of one of my favorite family traditions – going around the table at dinner and saying something good that happened that day, or something we were looking forward to in the coming week. I really think this sense of a circle, a circle that gains and grows and shares together, is beyond powerful. Through mere words, life can arise. Listening, sharing, supporting . . . it truly is a beautiful process.

And how much more beautiful that I get to share this with a class! Not just people to commiserate about work with, but friends to listen to and share with. After ceremony, we went around and talked about our experiences. Eloquence, feelings, and love came out. A heartbeat. To conclude the ceremony, we hugged each other. Not just I’ll wrap my hand around you and pretend to embrace hugs, but real and genuine squeezes of appreciation.

It’s pretty crazy to think that a week ago right now I was hadn’t started this class, hadn’t met these people. Now, we are doing ceremony together, studying together, going to parties together . . . in just six days.

I think I may look at this post in another week and laugh. Because tomorrow, we embark on the adventure that is certain to create even more intense bonding experiences. We are headed up to Pine Ridge, South Dakota to a Lakota Indian Reservation. We will be there till Friday. Expectations are running wild; vibes are certainly positive. Today, sitting in dance rehearsal, I focued my attention on having a powerful and meaningful experience. I haven’t prayed in years, but this feels like the closest I’ve gotten. And it felt so natural. We will be experiencing sweat lodges, meeting people, touring the reservation, and I’m sure doing other things that will be pretty fascinating.

Talking to my parents tonight, we reflected on how cool it is that I get to have experiences like these. What an education I’m receiving. What an education that I’m navigating. See you in a week, my friends. Mitakuye Oyasin!

Published by Mark '14

Hey! I am a junior philosophy major. I was born in Boulder, Colorado, lived in Connecticut for eight years, and went to high school in Southern California. Some other things I am involved with at CC: I am a member of the Honor Council, a tutor at the Writing Center, a tour guide, an intramural sorts player, and a pseudo-dancer.