I’ve seldom entered a situation knowing what I am going to get out of it.
When I visited Standing Rock, North Dakota in December 2016, I went to support the Sioux community and observe what unyielding strength looks like. I witnessed protesters hard at work preparing food in the kitchens, taking care of the fire, and on the front lines and realized if I’d come with one idea, one leaning, inclined to discover a single outcome—simply to see Indigenous peoples fight a pipeline—I would have missed the real teachings of my visit.
That experience led me to see that if we only wait for moments where there is controversy or a fight to be had, we will miss the opportunity to make change. The challenge is to notice and listen to the lessons; however, when we go as hard and as fast as we can (which we love to do), we miss a lot of stuff. I find myself, more often than not, in the “hustle” space— a place not conducive to standing still. Or listening.
From the beginning, I have flung myself into my work at Naheyawin because I was never sure I was doing the right thing. It felt like if I was moving fast enough, I would get to where I was going. But that isn’t true. The societal pressure to stay in motion lends not only to anxiety when we come to a stop, but raises the question, who are we without our work?
In our ancestral stories, Indigenous Peoples had an eight-hour work week. The rest of the time was spent exercising who they were as people—engaging in art, exploring the environment, playing games, telling stories and raising children.
With automation and artificial intelligence positioned to become part of our everyday lives in the near future, we are well on our way to a fourth industrial revolution—one where there is less hustle because there will be fewer jobs. It gets me thinking that a whole life’s work could quickly become obsolete if we don’t stop to take notice.
This is where entering the “bubble” instead of “hustle” space could be much more fruitful.
In the “bubble”, we find what is useful in the mess ups, and give ourselves room to move around—up, down, sideways, or in circles—to discover all there is to glean from an experience, idea or concept before moving on. That bubble led to the birth of Tatawaw. This initiative may have been lost on us as a team if we had kept moving full steam ahead with the work that originally defined Naheyawin.
The bubble also allows me to loosen my grip on an idea, have trust in my future self and access what a day of hustle does not provide—a deeper reason and meaning for the work I am doing.
In observing the protests at Standing Rock, I saw people come together to fiercely protect their water supply and wildlife from potential irreparable damage, but I also witnessed the Sioux Nation invite others to see and take up their cause, and as a result, nurture their allies.