Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Buffalo in Me

I spent the day in Olde Town in Albuquerque, New Mexico today with my sister Alanna and her good friend Jeff. We had a lovely traditional mexican lunch and visited a few of the local artist shops. I found a few items to give to the kids as souvenir gifts. Each shop had signature items that represented true New Mexico; colorful pottery, beautiful jewelry and folk artistry abounded there. It was a beautiful sunny day and it was a good one for galavanting.

The very last store we visited was called Garden Critters of New Mexico. Metal sculptures, ornaments and wall hangings were everywhere. Some of the sculptures were coated with color, others were either the natural silver color or the copper coloring. Many of the sculptures were created to be put in a garden setting. Suns, animals, heiroglyphic designs and other various shapes covered the walls, tables and other surfaces (including a christmas tree). As I looked around, I did not have any particular aim in mind- just drank it all in. I was attracted to some of the sun sculptures, a dual toned cross and then, after perusing much of the store, I saw a copper buffalo.

My first reaction was one of avoidance. You see a good friend of mine has likened me to a buffalo and the thought and intent of the reference was not one of admiration- more like a criticism. So the metal representation of this reminded me of his assessment. I think, at the time of description, he was expressing the qualities of the buffalo that may include- not being unaware of smaller creatures or things, bumbling through life, stomping on those smaller than itself. I don't think he was supposing that buffalos intend to stomp on others, just that is what happens when a buffalo walks through life. In short, If you want to hang out with a buffalo, you better get out of the way when it starts to walking because it may not notice you in it's path.

This image of me was not flattering to say the least. It maybe suggests that I am not empathetic or observant; that I am clumsy, or not capable of recognizing nuance in life. Or maybe that I may not have an appreciation for "those smaller than me". Either way that description gave me an impetus to pause and reflect. Do I devalue others? I would never want to somehow make someone feel small through my actions. Am I just roaring through life not aware of the hurt I cause? Do I express appreciation for people in my life, for who they are and where they are? All good questions, and I am thankful that my friend felt safe enough to give me this feedback.

Being in New Mexico, near Native American tribes brought me to some memories of a camp I developed that incorporated Native American symbolism. I remember the buffalo being one of those symbols- a very positive one, so I thought I would research it again, hoping to gain a different perspective. My search took me to a website that shares the symbolism of many animals in the Native American tradition.
This is what it says about the buffalo:

Buffalo: sacredness, life, abundance

Buffalo is considered by many tribes as a symbol of abundance: its meat fed the people, skins were used for clothing and covering, bones and sinew were crafted as survival tools, hooves were converted into glue. According to Lakota tradition, White Buffalo Calf Woman gave them the Sacred Pipe, promising abundance as long as they prayed to the Great Spirit and honored All Their Relations, that is, all other creations of nature. Buffalo's Medicine symbolizes an honor, reverence or special love for all things that Mother Earth offers her children. It is also knowing that abundance is present when all relations are honored as sacred, and when gratitude is expressed to every living part of Creation. Buffalo signals a moment to reconnect with the meaning of life and the value of peace, to praise the gifts you already have, and to recognize and honor the sacredness of all paths, though they may be different than yours."

It is my hope that I could emulate the buffalo in this way. How wonderful it would be if we would all try to connect with the meaning of life, the value of peace, praise the gifts we already have and honor the sacredness of all paths. In many ways, I try to practice these principles, I don't pretend to get it right, but in my heart I try.

If I have somehow stomped on you or did not notice your energy or your contribution, know that I am interested in you and want to know your story and I strive to really honor the sacredness of your path. I am sure ego or zealousness, or momentum get in the way. A little pinch might do the trick to bring me to reality (or maybe just tell me how I am coming across).

Ultimately, I would want the buffalo in me to reflect the positive qualities described within the Native American tradition and not the person my dear friend describes. I am a work in progress.

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