Had a few extra minutes this evening to do some further exploring of the Forum – far too much to appreciate here, sadly! But I found this topic, and thought I’d add a couple of short ones – including one REALLY short one. Both are by the same author: Joseph M. Marshall III. Both are also in a traditional Lakota (Sioux Indian) story telling format – something of which the author is a master, in my opinion.
Keep Going: The Art of Perseverance is only 133 pages, and those are VERY short pages. It is a teenage boy seeking wisdom from an elder he calls Grandfather, though that may be only in the traditional sense of respect for tribal elders. I tend to think it was a blood-line grandfather, but it really doesn’t matter in the end. It may seem to start out slowly, and not seem to make much sense – stay with it. I found it to be very quietly yet powerfully motivational for those times when it almost doesn’t seem “worth it” to keep trying, and it would be easier to just give up and let whatever happens happen.
Prior to reading the above book, I had gotten Returning to the Lakota Way: Old Values to Save a Modern World well over a year ago. I started slow, not fully appreciating what I was reading in the first few “chapters.” Each is a stand-alone story in itself, and weaves in Native American philosophies of life and values with traditional story telling, which can include conversations between people and animals, mythical groups even back to the beginning of the history of mankind (their literal “emergence” from the earth onto the surface – you’ll have to read that all the way through to truly appreciate it), etc. The second half of each chapter, however, relates the traditional story to modern life in a way that can apply to anyone. By the time I finished the last chapter/story, it had become an emotional experience. What took a while to get through initially (the first few chapters), suddenly went quite quickly, as I found it harder and harder to put the book down even though each chapter ended a story completely, and there was no direct relationship between one and the next.
What I particularly appreciate about Marshall’s writing is the powerful wisdom that is also easy to at least partially miss because of its simplicity. And the type of story telling could, on the surface, be mistaken for something more suitable for children. That would be a huge mistake, though with children that aren’t too young, it could also be an interesting mutual activity between parent and child, or discussion after each reads a chapter (story) themselves.
While each tribe has its own traditions, there are things that cut across such differences that become quite universal. There is much to be learned in these two books (and likely, most anything Marshall writes). I plan to read more of his writing – it’s peaceful, thought provoking, and wise, just not your usual Barnes & Noble best-seller table material (sadly).