What does it mean to think like an ancestor?

Lyla June Johnston is one of my favourite thinkers and influencers right now – I appreciate her writing and thinking so much.

In a recent short film she created, out of her experience running for Congress in the US, she says that we’re seeds.

I reflected on this language, as I watched her music video and felt such a strong call, to re-imagine my role, as one of a relay-runner. The work of my life is not about me. I want the work of my life to be about crafting and co-creating a more beautiful world, a more just world, a place where people, regardless of skin colour, are sovereign, where their bodies and dreams are respected and nourished by all the encounters they have. It wasn’t mine to start and it probably isn’t mine to finish. But if I don’t run my part of the leg, a long chain of effort breaks. I don’t want to be the break in the chain. I want to pass something forward to whoever comes next, that brings a lightness to their feet.

I remember first entering a team triathlon, and pedalling my little behind off, wanting not to let down my swimmer, who’d set me up so well, and my runner, who would depend on me to finish strong, to not quit, to pedal hard on the uphills even though they were way harder than I had imagined. Likely, if I’d just entered for myself, I would have slacked off, I might have quit, I would definitely have walked sections and felt sorry for myself. But thinking of my team mates, the woman before me and to come after me, gave me strength beyond myself.

I think that’s why Lyla June’s beautiful music video is such a powerful image for me.

In her short film, Future Ancestor, she says:

“We are the embodiment of latent dreams. Dreams so big we believe they are too big to even attempt. But we are attempting them now. We are afraid of failing, but our failures would only give our descendants greater lessons to leap from. The task now is to step forward, even though the path is not lit. Our feet can only feel the way forward, if we take that first step. We must chart the unlit path. And chart that path together.

In the old way, the traditional indigenous governance way, the job of the leader was not to make decisions for people. The job of the leader was to collect the voices of the people and bring them out. We were messengers, nothing more.

Back in the day, when you were alive, you understood that 7 generations backward, there was people planning for you, thinking of you, and they had the love and tenderness and foresight to build a place for you. And when you were the recipient of that love and that tenderness and that sophistication then naturally you wanted to give back to the next seven generations forward.

We need to practice planting seeds that will bear fruit that we will never taste. We need to practice loving things that we will never meet, people will we never see because we’ll be long gone, we need to have that kind of mentality.

Right now, all the different colours of humanity need to come together for the hoop to be whole. All the different colours need to come together to live out the truth that we are an interdependent system, and until we see each other eye to eye, until we see the beauty and the sanctity in every single person regardless of their skin colour, regardless of their culture, we will not live out the dream that Creator intended for us to live.

To me, being a future ancestor means you think far into the future. My name will be forgotten. Just like everyone else’s. What I care about is the way that my actions echo through time. Every hero is forgotten. Every rock star goes out of trendiness. It’s the effect of our actions that lives on, like a butterfly wing can affect things around the world.”



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s