To New Experiences, Face Paint and Becoming More of Yourself
How do you relate to Native Americans? If your upbringing was anything like mine, we grew up thinking of them as almost mythical characters that ran around hollering in feathered headdresses! Whereas of course they’re actually the original Americans, before the English came over and made themselves at home … and they’re very much alive and well and living in their own areas of the US.
The more I learn about traditional Native American philosophy, the more I warm to it. Check this link http://home.earthlink.net/~tessia/Native.html for some Native American thinking … like this for example:
American Indian Commandments
Sacred Instructions Given By The Creator To Native People At The Time Of Creation
Treat the Earth and all that dwell thereon with respect.
Remain close to the Great Spirit.
Show great respect for your fellow beings.
Work together for the benefit of all Mankind.
Give assistance and kindness wherever needed.
Do what you know to be right.
Look after the well being of mind and body.
Dedicate a share of your efforts to the greater good.
Be truthful and honest at all times.
Take full responsibility for your actions.
If all of humanity were to follow such a line of thought, the world would be a very different place, don’t you think? I also really recommend the book “The Wind is My Mother” by Bear Heart and Molly Larkin.
Guess what I was doing when I should have been writing your blog last week… I was partying! To be more precise two of my kids and I were attending various fancy dress parties in honour of the Jewish festival of Purim dressed as … Native Americans 🙂 – you see I was coming to a point!
One of the themes of Purim is to get your head around the idea that the world isn’t always as you see it. That there is a reality hidden under what you might think is reality. Hence the fancy dress part, which I embrace wholeheartedly, much to the bemusement of the more staid fellow adults around me … to whom I say: Chickens!
In the pre-party scramble for costumes I ended up picking the Native American theme almost by chance, but as we were driving down, I realised that I actually felt very at home in my costume – (despite the blazing red feather tucked into my headband … and suspect wig – I’m guessing not that authentic!)
Any other grownups out there who love fancy dress? I love it because it gives you a chance to see life and be life in a different way. You get to ask yourself the question “Who would l I be if I was a witch, scarecrow, elephant, fish, rock star etc ” and then you get to answer the question. I once dressed up as a very dishevelled tramp for the day of Purim, and it was an interesting experience. People didn’t want to go near me (ok, I was sitting at a bus stop, my bags scattered around me, eating out of a can at the time, but still), even people who knew I was in costume answered the door in an edgy manner, and one woman stopped her car and tried to take me into a shelter! So fancy dress can teach you something … and it’s not just a knowledge download, it’s experiential.
As well as just learning what it feels like to be another being for the day, I think you can choose to absorb something too. Just like you are what you eat, I think you also are (or you become) how you continuously present yourself. Want to feel like a professional? Dress like a professional. Want to be true to who you are? Dress and behave like yourself – even if it doesn’t always align with the whims of society. Want to be confident? Act confident and the feeling will come. What’s on the outside can come to be what’s on the inside. Though beware of being inauthentic – because what’s on the inside also inevitably leaks to the outside too.
In my case over the course of the day I really started to feel that Native American vibe! When evening came and I had to go back to being me, it was with reluctance. In getting my kids to bed various bits of the costume had to come off out of necessity. Finally when everyone was asleep I just had on my headband with feather, plaited wig and my ceremonial paint. I looked in the mirror. “You know” I thought to myself “I still look like a Native American”. I looked into my eyes. There was a love of nature there, a certain steely resolve, respect for the world, confidence, and pride. “Good” I thought, “it’s still there”. Slowly I took off my headband and feather. Checked my face and eyes again. Yep, it was still there. I took off the wig and finally I wiped off the face paint. Again I looked deeply into my own face in the mirror. And then I smiled … I still looked and felt a little bit Native American.
Have you ever dressed up like someone or something else for the day? How did you feel? And what did you learn? Any full time Native Americans want to comment?