I’ve got an interesting set of classes this semester. The usual language course which I am obviously learning from. A mythology course that I’m excited to attend. A less than adequate history course that focuses on “aboriginal peoples” but actually focuses on white settlers - yay, no. Lastly, an aboriginal studies course. An intro course even. I knew it would be good because my advisor, whom I trust, told me it would be but I did not expect that in only two lectures - 4 hours total - I would feel the things I’m feeling.
That I would be learning pretty profound things about myself and how to navigate the world.
I don’t think everyone in this course feels this way. I don’t think they are taking things the way I am or relating to them the way I am but that is okay. I don’t think it really affects me at all what other students are doing with the information they’re being given.
We talk a lot about stories. About how “stories are all that we are.” (Thomas King) Which I relate to because I’ve only ever identified with my own experience and with where that has taken me. I’ve only ever been able to create art and write about - my - story. Sometimes about the people or experiences that intersect my story but still, about myself.
And it seems so simple in so many ways, but my professor told us a story yesterday. A story of a student who was writing her own tale and was made distraught by the result. She had been adopted and was seeking her biological mother who in turn responded negatively and asked her, through the adoption agency, not to contact her and not to seek her out again. Obviously, this is a terrible situation to be in but her student was absolutely destroyed by the news. She was upset and couldn’t fathom why. My professor responded with: but why? You do not know the whole story. She could have been shocked by you contacting her. She could be ashamed, embarrassed. She could have so many reasons but you only know one piece. Maybe in a day, or a month, or years from now she will try to find you because you gave her something to think about.
At first, I didn’t understand what she was trying to say. At first, I found it a tad insensitive to focus on how this woman’s biological mother must be feeling. At first, I don’t think I wanted to understand what she stated. She continued to say that, you do not know the conclusion to this story. This may be it or it may not be but you have spent all this time writing this story, searching for her. Write a new story.
It was clear then. One story does not need to begin and exist and end. So many times it has begun again. So many times it has ended again. So many times it has been open. We write our own stories when we make different decisions and sometimes we rewrite those decisions, sometimes we don’t. I definitely have. It is silly that I ever considered that I didn’t hear what she was saying. When we are taught to write stories, we are told setting and timing and location and all of these things are so important to the structure. In some ways, they are. Bad timing, no matter what is happening in the plot, can get someone killed. Location has a huge affect on what the characters experience. It sounds so simple that these things should easily translate to our everyday lives but they don’t. Words on a piece of paper can evoke certain emotions but if those emotions come first, how does one handle it? I was colonized and the stories I was told were never open-ended. They had conclusions and morals I was meant to learn which was up to the discretion of an author. I wish my stories were different but they can be different now.
I am my own author and I have tried, and I have created, and I have experienced and written and felt the blood and guts and tears. I can feel my heart pumping and I can feel the weight of every choice that I’ve made and I can feel the responsibility in every breath that I take and I understand. I understand the weight of change. I understand being overwhelmed. I understand because as I sit in the room filled with students and we are asked to answer three simple questions: your name, your culture and your dream for the world, my heart is racing so hard that I may actually have a panic attack. My name is fine. I know my name but my lips quiver as I tell them of my “culture” or lack thereof. I sit in a room filled with people whose dreams are for “world peace” and an “end to poverty” and I agree - but what exactly does that mean. Tell me more. Tell me more about that story. So as I open my mouth, I consider that if I was listening to me speak I would want to know these things and I tell them my dream. I tell them about equitable education and what I am doing and what I want to do. I tell them that accessible education is important. I tell them that real histories should not be an elective in university but mandatory throughout your academic years.
And then I’m silent. I avoid eye contact from everyone and just look down at my page. They move on because no one can feel my lungs pressed against my ribcage, barely holding air. I understand,
Understanding does not make me less sad. That is the truth but I do understand. I hope, I do because I cannot help but not, that our stories will lead us back in this direction. Maybe they won’t but then again, maybe they will. Because I am here.
We are all stories. That is truly all that we are.
If anyone is interested in reading the story it’s “You’ll never believed what happened” is always a great way to start by Thomas King.
8 notes · #personal #on the brain