“I’m doing everything I can”

A Search for Meaning

Yesterday, I was walking to meet a friend (like many, I sought solace in the comfort of true friendship) when to my mind rose quietly, images from the book Little Hummingbird by artist Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas of the Haida Nation. Specifically the story focuses on environmental devastation, however the narrative reshapes itself comfortably to address our global responsibility to “do what we can”.

Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to hear Yahgulanaas speak at an education conference where he focused on the ‘search for meaning’. It strikes me now just how simultaneously ageless, and auspicious his timing was.

Tens of thousands of Americans voted for change on November 8th and so, as citizens of the world, we woke up November 9th to a changed reality.

Longing for a different-sort of leadership may in fact have been appropriate. ‘Status quo’ has not served very many of us well.

However, where such thinking falls apart is in the assumption that a ‘new’ kind of thinking is what is needed. Rather, perhaps it is within a very ancient logic where we will gain the greatest insights as we move forward today..

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The excerpt below is from The Little Humminbird by Yahgulanaas:

The other animals watched Little Hummingbird, and they were frightened.

“What can I do?” sobbed Rabbit. “This fire is hot, and am scared.”

“This fire is so big,” howled Wolf, “and I am so small.”

“I can’t do anything about this fire,” croaked Frog.

“My wings will burn!” cried Owl.

Little Hummingbird continued her work. She flew quickly, picking up more water and putting it, drop by drop, onto the burning forest.

Finally, Big Bear said, “Little Hummingbird, what are you doing?”

Little Hummingbird looked at the other animals. She said, “I’m doing everything I can.”

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