Saturday, August 09, 2008

Dennis Banks Says Goodbye

After the walk, longtime Native activist Dennis Banks passed on his staff to younger leaders, made a speech, and walked away, symbolically retiring from being an active organizer.

One Long Walker gave him a mock bow on his way out.

Longest Walk in DC Photos


Two days before The Longest Walk was to arrive in DC, I slipped while I was coming down a ramp, broke my arm and generally messed up my shoulder. I did manage to get to DC and walk with everybody else, but have spent the last 4 weeks recuperating, one week in DC and the last three here in Los Angeles.

Wow. This has really given me a new appreciation of our bodies and how much we take them for granted when they are working. I found myself watching people bicycling, walking, carrying things,dancing, going about their business, watching how elegantly their two arms functioned together without them really thinking about it, wondering if I would get that ease of movement back.

The doctor warned that I may lose mobility in the injured arm, but I am aiming for having that blissfully unaware ability to move both my arms together without really thinking about it again. In the meantime I have been VERY conscious of the injured arm---you realize that arms are also about balance for the rest of you,and you don't really think about your ability to roll around at night when you are sleeping until you can't. My awareness of others in public spaces also changed for awhile--I was hyper aware of the people bustling around me and their ability to send me into excruciating pain just by bumping into me the wrong way. (No cast--just a light shoulder sling.) So generally, I didn't go out much.

Also, I was exhausted, and slept a lot. I checked out some blogs from people who had broken bones and found that this was not uncommon. I guess your body wants you to rest.

Except for the lack of mobility, it is now doing much better--I can type with both hands, scratch my nose with my left hand, put both earrings in, put on my shoes--all sorts of activities that I was incapable of just two weeks ago. Having to ask other people to do simple things for me--ohmigod,not a lot of fun, but certainly a lesson in interdependance. Still can't get my arm over my head to put my hair up or anything like that.

This has also given me a tremendous appreciation for people who end up with lifelong changes to their bodies because of injuries--people like Christopher Reeves, Ram Dass---or someone like Jack, a Navajo guy on the Longest Walk who walked from Arizona with an artificial leg.

Also, as I am big on the symbolism of how we manifest accidents and diseases, I have to ask myself why my left arm has been screaming for attention, and what that says about the balance in my own life.

We must take nothing for granted.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Reflections On The Longest Walk, Three Weeks After

During The Longest Walk, some of us reflected that we would bettter appreciate and understand the walk after it was all over.

That has proved true in my case--but then, I've always been a slow learner, seeming to need a fair amount of reflection time after important events.

The walk was challenging, physically, emotioally, and spiritually. Up every day before 4AM, on the road by five, seven miles before breakfast, sixteen to twenty total, maybe showers maybe not, maybe a bathroom, maybe the woods, a diverse crowd of people thrown together from different cultures, sunburn, sunstroke, tics---and walkinig on land all across the country that held some painful hisorical memories. I wondered at times if we were actually doing any real healing with our walk and ceremonies or just scratching he wounds.

But now that it's been over for nearly a month, I feel more than anything a deep gratitude for the people I met on the walk and
the moments we shared. Ron from the Houma Nation with his New Orleans accent that made him sound like he was from the Bronx, Gilberto the Afro-Cubam Buddhist monk who WAS from the Bronx, Addie with the adopted dog Booger trailing along behind her, or pulling her along, Margaret from the Chumash Nation with her quiet and steady self, Christopher AKA Sunshine with his golden hair and spirit, quiet Kana from Japan who reflected that all the emotional turmoil we were going thru on the walk was like the laundry spinning to get clean, "All the Way Ray" doing sixty push-ups after the walk, Tony with his amazing plugalong car, and so many others....

Would I do it again? No. Am I glad I did it this time? You bet.