The Pawnee (a tribe of Native Americans living in Kansas and Oklahoma) have a legend about the meaning of life that I find both interesting and startling.
For years, I’ve studied origination myths–stories of how the world was formed, according to many religions, nations, and legends. I’m amazed at how many different stories there are, and how the stories have so many things in common.
Here is my recollection of the Pawnee legend:
We must all walk our path. Each person’s path is different, but we must all walk on our own. We will cross other paths, and they may seem similar, but there is just one path for each person. We walk on it in the day, and we sleep on it at night. If we live to see the morning, we get up and continue walking. We cannot go backwards, we must always move ahead.
On the path, there are scraps of notes. These are experiences. Sometimes, we do not know what the experience means, but we must still live it, take that scrap and put it in our pocket. No scrap is too small. Even if the scrap has only a part of a letter on it, we must take it along.
There are times in our life, when we put all the notes together and look at the whole it makes. Maybe we understand what we read, maybe we have part of a map, maybe we suddenly see where we are going. That is the wisdom of experience.
There can be many understandings along the way, but there will always be more scraps, more notes, more experiences. We live life, and life also lives us.
When we understand what the Great Creator wants of us, when we do what we are born to do, we stop longing to be on another path and walk our own in peace.
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I love this story, because it tells the story of keeping a journal, of making meaning through writing and art–the way we take notes about our life.
––Quinn McDonald is a note taker. She crosses paths with other meaning-makers, and spends time asking questions about their journey. In this way, she is a creativity coach.