So much has happened in 2019—historic climate events, gun violence epidemic in my country, troubling shifts of politics and populism around the world, my own wavering sense of well-being along with that of every other human on the planet. Like many of you, I’ve felt spiritually and emotionally bankrupt from all of it.
I don’t take very good pictures these days, so I don’t take many. Perhaps, it’s the sadness in my eyes or the greying of my hair, or the fact that I look too much like my late mother. The last two years have been hard on my body, hard on my soul, just hard. I’m glad to get out—grateful to hear the wind and feel it blow through my hair and let the sun touch my face for several hours.
Today, I gave myself a long overdue outing and attended the 26th Annual Hart of the West Pow Wow. I saw children playing, chihuahuas, elders, a Vietnam veteran, a homeless man who crouched down nearby taking in every drumbeat into his troubled soul, beautiful muscular bodies waving feathers and wearing colors so luscious that it makes one salivate to look at them, circles of drummers singing in swelling voices that rose up over the hill of the old estate where 1920s western film star, William Hart, once lived. I was overcome with emotion and a deep sense of familial loss. I had to walk away.
I walked up the hill and explored through little pathways lined with railroad ties, cactus, fallen trees, and the grounds of Hart mansion. I took photos up there, but put my camera away when I descended back down toward the Pow Wow and the tents with families gathered underneath in a large crescent shape around the center of the park. I could not bring myself to take photos. I felt it wrong as a non-native person. Although California born, I can not claim my ancestors were from this place beyond 300 years—so… I tread lightly, walk silently, approach with respect, and hope that one day we can all heal from the terrible burden of a painful past.
I watch the Aztecs perform. I melt into the drums and shifting feathers. Afterwards, everyone was invited to come join in a community dance—the moment I was waiting for. I’ve been to a few Pow Wows in my time and always felt a great release in these shared dances.
We formed a circle and held hands. Some of us grew tired as the drum beat went faster, but we all did our best. We held onto one another, even when our arms grew tired and our hands were sweaty and we had to expand and contract as the snakelike chain wrapped around wide and then in close until the faces of young and old, large and small, faces going by—all bright and focused and smiling—all working together in harmony. The feeling was tremendous and uplifting and I told the man I was holding hands with that the whole world needs to do this.
I thought about climate change and the great challenge we are facing and how the entire human species must rally together to solve it. This is how it will feel—all of us in motion, keeping the line going, holding on tight, moving together in unison.
Let’s do this. Hold my hand.