Posts Tagged ‘self-empowerment’

Richard Wagamese bravely entered the cracks in his life to reveal the hidden gold buried within

August 30, 2020

Having seen the Canadian movie Indian Horse based on his book, and enjoyed his journal entries compiled in Embers: One Ojibway’s Meditations, I decided to actually read one of Richard Wagamese’s novels. I started with Medicine Walk and ended with Starlight, the latter an extension of the former to become a two-part story, albeit an unfinished one. His flawed wounded characters seek healing and reconciliation, as he did throughout his life. The image below and his description of a mended broken heart reveal how his courageous talent honored and celebrated these lives, ultimately his own, and why he was beloved as one of Canada’s greatest Indigenous storytellers.

Medicine Walk

Richard Wagamese’s skills as a soulful storyteller and consummate wordsmith grew with each successive novel. I enjoyed reading Medicine Walk. It’s the story of young Frank who reluctantly agrees to help his extremely ill biological father, Eldon, a stranger to him, complete a journey into the wilderness to a special location where he wants to die in the traditional Indian way.

This emotionally charged story is an attempt at a reconciliation between a seemingly irresponsible absent father and his disappointed hurt son. This was something Wagamese had been grappling with throughout his own life, from both perspectives—as a young boy and later as a father to his own sons. It’s why he wrote the book.


I also read Starlight, his final, and unfortunately unfinished novel. Only 61 years of age, he died in his sleep before he could complete it. Beautifully written, this profoundly moving story is about the redemptive power of love, mercy, compassion, and the land’s ability to heal.

This is ultimately a tale of recovery from trauma by the power of human connection to the natural world and each other. It’s something Richard wanted to explore through the main character. This last book continues the story of a now older Frank Starlight. The old white man who raised him and taught him everything he knows has died and left him the farm and accompanying wilderness.

The story is filled with beautiful descriptions of Frank’s transcendent experiences in nature. He had also taken up photography as a hobby. During his time alone in nature he was able to come into contact with a pack of wolves. He runs with them from a safe distance. When he fearlessly taps into nature’s silence within, the alpha wolf seems to trust him and doesn’t bolt. They howl at the moon, and Frank captures this intimate scene through the lens of his camera resulting in rare photographs.

But the main part of the novel is about a potential relationship between Frank and a young woman and her daughter who come into his life. Unbeknownst to him they had violently escaped an abusive situation. The injured men involved are tracking her down to seek revenge.

A man of few words, Frank teaches Emmy and Winnie how to connect with the land, its creatures, and ultimately their own inner nature. It strengthens and heals them, enhancing their self-esteem. These scenes are profound, well-written, worth reading and rereading. I scanned those pages and may reproduce some of the content in a future post.

A tension is created between these contrasting situations. But the book stops just before they are about to intersect. A Note on the Ending, indicates how Wagamese was intending to complete the novel. It includes an outline and examples from previously published short stories.

Finding gold in the flaws of his imperfect life

A Publisher’s Note at the end explains how they came by the manuscript. Throughout the process of readying Starlight for publication they were guided by something that Wagamese wrote. It became the reason for this post. I found this image online as an example of what he describes.

I once saw a ceramic heart, fractured but made beautiful again by an artist filling its cracks with gold. The artist offering a celebration of imperfection, of the flawed rendered magnificent by its reclamation. I loved that symbol until I came to understand that it’s not about the filling so much as it’s about being brave enough to enter the cracks in my life so that my gold becomes revealed. I am my celebration then. See, it’s not in our imagined wholeness that we become art; it’s in the celebration of our cracks . . .

This reminds me of two previous posts related to this notion. One was when I discovered this Japanese ceramic technique Richard is referring to known as kintsugi. I included a definition, an image, and a poem, a tanka I wrote about this process as a metaphor for human growth.

The other was about Leonard Cohen and his song, Anthem, where he tells us to: “Ring the bells that still can ring/ Forget your perfect offering/ There is a crack in everything/ That’s how the light gets in.”

These great Canadian writers had the courage to try to come to terms with their own struggles and the skill to creatively express them in their own unique ways. Experienced aesthetically in the lives of their fans who may have been going through similar life challenges, these hard-earned truths became a validation, bringing beauty and meaning into their lives.

See these related blog posts on Richard Wagamese and Leonard Cohen: Coincidences happened that introduced me to the great Ojibway storyteller Richard Wagamese and Insights from Richard Wagamese’s Meditations and Leonard Cohen said there’s a crack in everything–how the light gets in. It came thru him & lit up a broken humanity.

Oprah says she and her staff meditate, enjoy a Quiet Time twice a day—Facebook Live interview

September 17, 2011

Oprah and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg enjoy a lively discussion.

This was news to me. Did you know that Oprah was interviewed on Facebook Live? Live Interview with Oprah Winfrey – Sept 8, 2011. Since I’m not on Facebook I didn’t go there to look for it. So I did a Bing search and found it posted on Oprah sat down with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg for an enjoyable talk. Besides Sandberg, members of the Facebook crowd also got to ask Oprah questions, along with online participants.

Oprah is quite the talker. She is a great communicator and teacher. She sincerely wants to bring more consciousness into the lives of her viewers, and shares some revealing valuable lessons she’s learned over the years. Around 9:15 minutes into this enjoyable 1 hour interview, Oprah tells Sheryl that she and her OWN company offices in Chicago and LA have now incorporated meditation, a Quiet Time, twice a day into their schedule. Hopefully, we’ll hear more about this in a future show.

There were so many wise things Oprah said about her life, the evolving philosophy of her program, from entertaining and shocking her viewers, to helping them empower themselves. She feels her mission is to help people become the best they can be. Here is a partial transcript from the section on meditation. Sheryl asks Oprah what was it in her that helped her become who she is today.

Oprah: I think that the same thing that is in me is in everybody else, and when you close your eyes sometimes and you get really still…like one of the things that we are doing at my companies now is everybody is learning to meditate. And everybody gets all thrown by the word, meditation. So I said to them the other day: Let’s not call it meditation, let’s just call it Quiet Time, because…

Sheryl: Like my kids. They get Quiet Time.

Oprah: Yes, yes. Because when you teach your children meditation, you don’t say, we’re going to me-di-tate. You say, let’s have some Quiet Time. So twice a day now, at OWN, in Chicago and Los Angeles, we take Quiet Time…where you…literally…

So I have…having grown up in rural Mississippi, alone with my grandmother, I had a lot of quiet time. I had a lot of time to touch the stillness inside me. And the truth is, that’s where God lives. God lives in the space of stillness. Whatever you chose to call God, or not call God. It doesn’t matter whether you chose to call it or not, that stillness is always there, that awareness space.

…where you live, where the capital You resides, is not in the thoughts, but in the awareness, in that space. So I have lived in that space, of awareness for myself for a very long time. I can’t even remember…

You know, all of us has that space were you’re willing to get still, because the world will try to tell you everything about yourself, and…we have so many voices, in our heads and on our Facebook pages telling us everything. But, to know, really, what to do and how to be guided in your life, you have to go to that still space where the bigger You, the greater You, resides. And I have it, and so does everybody else who’s listening to us right now.

Sheryl: Get ready Facebook, we’re going to be meditating. (Sheryl gives the peace sign).

Oprah (laughs): Ya…ha ha ha

Sheryl: Twice a day.

Oprah: It changes the energy of everybody in your company. I mean, for years I’ve wanted to do it. And I knew that, because I didn’t start out that way. And I started out my school doing it too in South Africa.

Have a moment where you can go into that space, so that you’re not just talking and operating outta the top of your head, and you’re not just moving in your action-external self, but that you’re bringing a deeper sense of who you really are.

For a review of the show with quotes, here’s an article about it in The Huffington Post: Oprah At Facebook: Incredible (VIDEO). The video is posted there, as it also is on Oprah Forces Her Employees to Meditate, which is unfair since Oprah doesn’t force her employees to participate in such programs, she just provides it to them as a Quiet Time option, a time to chill out—something we can all benefit from in this fast-paced crazy world. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.

This first show is now posted on Facebook:

It’s a great interview. Enjoy!

Also see Reports of Oprah’s visit to Fairfield, Iowa in the news Oct 19+20, 2011: Fairfield Ledger: Oprah visits Maharishi School, Fairfield | KTVO: Oprah and her jet land in southeast Iowa | Oprah Winfrey Meditated in Fairfield Iowa Tonight with Other Transcendental Meditation Meditators: Oprah Jets into Fairfield and MeditatesInspiring Developments | Mount Everest | Emporium. And Oprah meditates with ladies in MUM Golden Dome, which includes links to an interview with Dr. Oz, reported in Oprah Discusses Her Life After the Practice of Transcendental Meditation. And a recent post on the TM Blog Oprah Winfrey talks TM with Dr. Mehmet Oz. For more, see: Some Reports on Dr. Oz’s Interview with Oprah about TM and her Next Chapter. And this latest news: Oprah writes in O Mag about her visit to TM Town and meditating with ladies in their Golden Dome.

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