Friday, January 16, 2009


Painting by Urabe Elizabeth


There is a wise one in all of us. The voice of that one is subtle,
doesn’t yell or elbow or otherwise call attention to itself.
It’s just there, like the knowing silence in those old Creek
relatives who know that real power comes with humbleness.

But there’s no mistake when I’ve heard that voice.
One day the clatter of my mind was too much as my thoughts
wheeled around and around about not having this or that,
not being this or that, and off onto the track of judgment.

You know what I mean. It’s so easy to stand there with your
mental hands on your mental hips, smacking your lips
with judgment over someone else’s weaknesses and poor choices
in life. They’re so easy to see. Meanwhile, your weaknesses
are dancing circles around you in cheap polyester,
making a racket you can’t hear or see, unless you shut up
for awhile.

And everyone else might be pointing fingers and laughing up
at the raucous pride, the need for attention, or whatever it
might be. We often leap to our own uninformed conclusions,
usually by leapfrogging over the wise self.

And what invariably happens is that whenever I make those
judgments or pronouncements I find myself on the other side
of them almost immediately. And then I hear my words come back
to me, sharply, painfully.
Then I know I have gained knowledge.

Joy Harjo September 2004

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