As I Remember It: Teachings (Ɂəms tɑɁɑw) from the Life of a Sliammon Elder


You know, myself, even though I remember all those teachings, sometimes I start to backslide and I start to feel sorry for myself and, “Oh, I’m getting old, I’m getting so old. You just can’t do this anymore. I can’t do that anymore.” And that kind of gets you down. Kinda eats away at you. And if you allow it – if I allow that, I’m gonna sit here on my pity pot and, “Nobody ever comes to visit me and nobody ever does this for me and nobody ever –” and I tell myself, “Smarten up!” And I have this book, it’s a daily meditation book. I will pick it up most every day, especially if I feel I need a boost, and I turn it to that page – “Oh, today is July the fifteenth, or July the sixteenth” – turn to that page, and lo and behold! There’s always a message there that reminds me it’s okay. I’m not going to worry about tomorrow – it’s not here yet. I’m not going to worry about yesterday – that’s gone. I’m here for today. And that’s what’s really important. I’m here and my children, my grandchildren might just drop in, and that’s a gift. And a friend may phone me, and that’s a gift. So I have to take each gift for that day as it comes. And if it doesn’t come, I know it will be okay. So there’s people that are in worse situations than I am. Maybe they’re not able to walk. Maybe they’re not able to feed themselves.

So you have to think of all those other things in your life, instead of feeling sorry and “Oh, I got my knee problems and I can’t walk that far,” complaining or thinking about all the negative things. Think about other people that are worse off than you and where they are in life. Because they have got physical disabilities or, you know – it’s important to think of those things too. Not just people with addictions or other traumas in their life, but physical disabilities that other people have. And to think about them and appreciate your own health. Appreciate what you’re able to do. With your limited capacity, if you’re gettin’ limited capacity. So to me that’s really important. Those are my reminders. I must remind myself every day to appreciate what I have, ’cause other people may not have that. Other people may be homeless. They may not have enough to eat today. What am I complaining about? I’ve got food in the house. I’ve got a family. I’ve got a roof over my head. And I should be thankful for that, and not to worry about what I don’t have.

So to me those are really valuable lessons for myself. I need to remind myself, I’m only human. And I tend to backslide sometimes, and I think, “Oh gee, I wish this, wish that.” Well, it’s fine to wish for things, but you don’t always get your wishes. It’ll come to you when it’s ready. So I feel discipline is so important in one’s life. Not only at the time of your loss, your immediate loss, or unexpectedly you will lose someone. It’s always going to be a shock. Use the good medicine that the Creator gave you, that’s around you: the very air you breathe, the water, the cedar, and all the teachings that come with that. Those are important.

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