The end of the semester is finalizing and I am entering my final year of university this next fall. I am finally making time to write something for my blog (I know, it has been awhile), and I am sitting in a coffee house I used to frequent when I lived thirty mintues south of my current home. I have been spending the afternoon working on my final course work readings, as well as enjoying a disappointing chai latte. For one of my readings it was a concluding chapter for my Southwest Indigenous Culture class, and towards the end of the reading the author briefly touched on the importance of a personal philosophy. Since indigenous ontology is combative with the dominate western thought, the importance of a personal philosophy is felt deeply. A song just began to play in this little coffee house and the chorus: “Got to be true to myself.” Fitting.
I have felt in myself lately also the need to be reminded more why it is that I am doing the things that I am doing and how I want to direct my life, live my life. I already make choices everyday that affirm myself within the world, but not all of the choices that I make align with what I feel to my “personal philosophy.” The dichotomy between my thoughts, my actions, and my words is disorienting sometimes because I am left wondering who I am and what I am trying to ultimately accomplish with everything I do. The chapter quotes Santa Clara Pueblo Dr. Greg Cajete who spoke on alcoholism specifically as one of “the spiritual ills which befall traditional people once they lose their direct connection to spiritual ecology. Tewa people call this state of unwhole, unwise existence pingeh heh…split thought or thinking, being foolish and doing things with only half your mind.” This distinction that is made, the split that Dr. Cajete draws attention to, is important. He also makes a point to mention, “It is not only Indian people who must heal this split in themselves.” The split in myself needs to be healed, and I must also recognize that nothing can be maintained without care -just because you have allowed old wounds to heal, or for the split-self to become whole again, does not mean that this wholeness can be sustained forever. Entropy does not allow for a thick web of stagnation to crystalize around us.
A little before this, the Navajo-Ute flutist, R. Carlos Nakai, was quoted about personal philosophy specifically. He said, “if you don’t have a personal philosophy of what you intend to do in the world you’ll get out there and begin drinking, and you’ll lose sight of your path.” Reading all of this made me wonder how a dismantled culture cannot support an individual and help without the foundation and creation of a personal philosophy. The quest for a deeply rooted sense of self (a self that also allows for change and the fluidity of life) should be the priority in this life if we want to be better humans that are true to others and to ourselves. All of this is akin to authenticity.
This is a topic that can be explored more, and should be explored more, but for now I leave a short list as a foundation for my personal philosophy to be developed further in another post:
- Family, friends, relationships
- Nature and animals (i.e. the world)
- Books and knowledge and experience
Ultimately, I am just seeking how to be a fulfilled human and how to best contribute back into the world. It is easy to become distracted and catatonic.