Sometimes we see ourselves at the edge of the cliff. Emotional conflicts, work problems, family quarrels are like the cliff that may lead us to fall and that robs our peace. A heartfelt wish to change the path of our lives, engaging in a new job that is more suitable to our skills and talents, a new love relationship devoid of lies and prejudices, a new thread to sew the frayed family fabric, worn out for such long time that its original shape is forgotten in the alleys of memory; these are current struggles that assail us all, silently crying, deep in minds and hearts.
What is the wisest way to cross a scorching desert, with its natural hazards, lack of water and of life, filled with snakes and scorpions? What is the smartest way to reach the top of a mountain, defeating the harshness of the vertical rock and the strong wind whistling in your ears the imminent risk of falling?
Over time, caravaneers and alpinists have provided valuable lessons of determination and detachment that are necessary to face such challenges. “And so has the eagle “, whispered in my ear, sweet as a summer breeze, an old and dear shaman of the Navajo people. “The eagle is capable of crossing the hot sands and overlooking high gorges, effortlessly “.
Starry Song, as he became known after his gift of, through his words, in chant or not, illuminating the paths of his brothers, had the ability to look at the world from the top, with the eyes of an eagle. “By changing the visual angle we see everything and everyone under a different light, thousands of hues matching the limitless possibilities of life. A wall can be an unsurpassable obstacle in your way, but looking from the top, with bird’s eyes, it is no more than a pinstripe on the floor. “In fact, almost all walls are as tall as a simple stripe in the sand of the road”, told me the wise man on a cold night, while our conversation went on, warmed by the flames of the fall campfire. “How many trips were cut short because one could not borrow the eagle’s eyes”, he said in sorrow. Right away, I asked him how that could be done. With the particular way the native people share their ancient wisdom, Starry Song looked deeply into my eyes and, after a short pause, as if he waited for the wind to whisper to him the best word, he told me to show the eagle my wings, as soaring flights require large wings. Thus, it would know what height I could venture to reach.
I asked what the size of my wings was, without fully understanding the lesson. “Your wings are as big as your heart”, he answered back, his quiet voice almost in a whisper, his gaze lost upon a distant star.
I offered Starry Song some tobacco, and he honored me by sharing his pipe. The smoke took our thanks to the ancestral spirits for having allowed us to reach that point. We smoked in silence for I don’t know how many hours, and almost at dawn he completed his valuable lesson.
“The endless road of life can be summed up in the climbing for understanding and the crossing for living the many faces of love. From its most primitive and bleak form, manifested as jealousy or the intention of being the master of the other, to the selflessness of unconditionally loving your neighbor as you love yourself. This principle exists in all, Eastern and Western, traditions. We start our journey with wings so small it is even hard to try some low-pass flights that barely take us off the ground and allow us to look a little beyond the dense morning mist. This makes the world small and conflicted, as even the smaller rocks are huge obstacles. The natural need to fly – evolution is innate in everyone – forces you to develop the conditions for your wings to expand, little by little, and you can fly higher. The wisdom of understanding that all you are and that all you have lies in how much love you can share, and that defines hos high you can go to follow the eagle and use its eyes.
It was not you who offered me the tobacco we have just smoked, but life gave you the conditions and made you an instrument for this meeting of ours. You gave me the gift of your time and attention. Humility, selflessness, and joy are ways to thank and to respect, because what life gave you it takes back. All that is left for eternity and that designs your spirit is the love you felt and you shared. This is the real you, and the precise height of your flight. May your wings take more and more daring journeys through the peace of the great heights of being”.
Translated from the Portuguese by Carlos André Oighenstein.