Learning new things is hard. (To wit: my sad slow attempts at knitting and purling.)
Learning new ways of understanding the world, when that also requires adjusting your relationships, your sense of your place in things, and unpacking things you thought you knew, is hard, discomfiting and a little destabilizing. I think one thing that helps is to have a north star, a thing you can hold onto, as you deconstruct and feel exposed and shaky. In a lovely conversation with Emma Gillis, our library director, this week, we chatted about navigating COVID as a library, all the restrictions and guidelines and changing scenarios. Ultimately, though, the library returns to this as a north star – they want people to feel safe there. Coming back to that helps. I have a personal mantra: may I choose curiosity over fear. I like curiosity as an approach. You don’t have to be particular brave or fearless. You don’t have to confront things head-on. You can sidle up to them. You can stand to the side and watch for a while. You don’t have to be competent, or expert, or look cool. You can ask for help. Curiosity is my north star.
I think (thanks to cultural baggage that probably comes from organized religion) we tend to hang on to this north star, as humans: I am a good person. We’re coached and coaxed into line by teachers and parents and authority figures, exhorting us to be good, and shaming us back into conformity, and so, learning a history that involves residential schools and systemized oppression can be deeply disturbing, because it is hard to hold on to the idea “I am a good person”, and the idea “I am part of a deeply oppressive and cruel system” at the same time.
I’d suggest that “I am a good person” is the thing we need to upgrade.
We could replace it with: I am open to learning.
Or, I am always trying to do better.
Or I am an open minded and open hearted person. (That’s way more interesting than being “good” which really, to me, implies obedience, and I’m like: obedient to who?!?!?)
Or even, I am learning that we are all kin.
This is an earth-based, animist or Indigenous concept – the idea that we are relational beings, we exist in relationship, that what we need to tend more than anything, more than our accumulation of possessions, our personal brand, our careers, is our relationships, and that we are ultimately accountable through our relatedness and inter-relatedness.
I recently heard the idea that the word “kin” and “kindness” are connected… so when we behave with kindness towards someone, we are treating them as if they’re kin.
So, having a north star (that is more fluid than “I’m a good person”) is a great place to start, in order to learn new things. And the second thing that helps, is to have a safe and supportive learning community.
And guess what?!?!? We’ve got it!
Enter, the Squamish, Pemberton and Whistler Public Libraries, who have created an online bookclub to met virtually through October on Thursday evenings, for four weeks. Meet four times, discuss an assigned section of 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act by Bob Joseph, with special guests, and fellow readers.
Sea-to-Sky Book Club
Oct 7, 2021 07:00 PM
Oct 14, 2021 07:00 PM
Oct 21, 2021 07:00 PM
Oct 28, 2021 07:00 PM
Please sign up at https://us06web.zoom.us/…/tZEsc…