I didn't want to go. The bear skin surrounding me was warm. I felt the tingle of the berry juice and mushroom elixir that was passed from hand to hand during our healing chant. As the rhythm grew, my journey began as it usually does. I closed my eyes. The mantle of 46 years of tribal leadership disappeared. A whale swallowed the village whole. We swam toward the moon. Our ancestors smiled and asked what we had learned in our journey.
I looked at my fellow travellers. They asked me to speak on their behalf, calling me Grey Owl. This name was not familiar to me, but it was bestowed by my people. I use the name Rey Carr in my waking life and here are some of the words spoken during my journeys. Permission to use my words is freely given.
"In their hearts all members of our tribe know this truth: the only way to help yourself is to help others."
"Find peace with yourself by accepting not only what you are, but what you are never going to be."
"The best gifts are tied with heartstrings."
"A warrior who has lost the way, probably got there because of an unwillingness to acknowledge being on the wrong path to begin with. Such recognition is always the start of the right path."
"In one hand you hold all your dreams; in the other hand you hold all the obstacles. Which one do you think will attract more attention?
"Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll find yourself among the stars."
"Timing has a lot to do with the success of a rain dance."
"No individual rain drop ever considers itself responsible for the flood."
"Nothing about us, without us."
"Even the longest road must have an end."
"Never pick a fight, even if it's ripe."
"Memories can be wonderful or powerful, but a wise warrior does not store them in the future."
"Why settle for a picture of paradise, when you can gain paradise."
"A friend hears the song in my heart and sings it to me when my memory fails."
"There are many ways to measure success; not the least of which is the way your child describes you when talking to a friend."
"While scholars are comparing and contrasting theories, debating intellectual questions, and dividing humankind into categories, the world is changed by persons with faith, spirit, emotion, compassion, intuition, and irrational thinking."
"Anyone can count the seeds in an apple. No one can count the apples in a seed."
"Measure your success by the way your child describes you when talking to a friend."
"Before you critisize someone, walk a mile in her moccasins. Then when you do critisize that person, you'll be a mile a way and have her moccasins."
"Before you walk in someone else's moccasins, be sure to take off your own."
"Good listeners are not only popular everywhere, but after a while, they know something."
"A friend is the best gift you can give yourself."
"Friends ask you how you are and wait for an answer."
"I can forgive my enemies, but I will never forget them."
"To know the path ahead, ask those coming back."
"Nothing makes a person more productive than the last minute."
"What I like best about experience is that it allows you to recognize a mistake when you make it again."
"No matter how far you have gone on a wrong road, turn back."
"I'm usually more sincere and good-humoured at the end of a meeting than at the beginning."
"It may be that your sole purpose in life is to serve as a warning to others."
"If it's true that we're here to serve others, then what are the others here for?"
"As we grow older our bodies get shorter and our anedotes get longer."
"According to a recent study, five out of four people have trouble with fractions."
"We cannot control the tragedies that befall us, but we can control how we respond to them."
"Through adversity we reach the stars." Ad astra per aspera.
"Change affirms our life spirit. For what other reason does sleeping end with waking up?"
"Character is the border between too much and not enough."
"A step backwards can be a step in the right direction."
"The sun always rises, even if the clouds may hide its rays."
"Money may not be everything, but it does keep you in touch with your children."
"Most people would learn from their mistakes if they weren't so busy denying they made them."
"People will accept your ideas much more readily if you tell them that Benjamin Franklin said it first."
"Retirement is that calling which allows you to return your wisdom to the society that allowed you to retire."
"Enthusiasm is a word my people use to mean the God within you."
"Next time you wonder about how little time there is in a day, remember that your day has the same number of hours as the day of Michelangelo, Jesus, Frederick Douglass, Marian Anderson, Chief Quanah Parker, Margaret Laurence, Lester B. Pearson, Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve, Crazy Horse, or Oprah."
"Whenever you are having a difficult day, remember that Reggie Jackson struck out more than any other player in history (2,597 times)."
"If there is bitterness in the heart, sugar in the mouth won't make life sweeter."
"To err is human; to blame someone else is even more human."
"Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day. Teach that person to use the Internet and they won't bother you for weeks."
"There is no problem so complex that an engineer can't make it more complicated."
"The difference between a steppingstone and a stumbling block is often just a matter of character."
"I don't understand why Cupid was chosen to represent Valentine's Day. When I think about romance, the last thing on my mind is a short, chubby toddler coming at me with a weapon."
"All our lives have wreckage. Wisdom allows us to put the pieces together in a better way."
"At any moment all that we are can be completely changed forever. Knowing this is true helps us cling to what we value. Even my death won't change me."
"The land within covers more territory than can be seized by force."
"Prepare for the worst, expect the best, and take what comes."
"If you want to determine if you are rich, just count all the things you have that money can't buy."
"If you want to know if you are successful, just count the hearts you have touched with joy."
"Making a living is not the same thing as making a life."
"When you turn forty, you are not even half-way towards the end of your life. After all, anyone who spent the first twenty years of life asking your mother for the car keys and the next twenty years driving who knows where, has an incredible life ahead that is three times longer than the rest."
"What we did while visiting earth will be forgotten by most, but the spirit and heart of our lives will remain with those who shared it and be part of them forever."
"Greatness no matter how brief stays with you all your life."
"Visiting my brothers in Australia taught me that what we send out in our thoughts and deeds will most often come back to us with the accuracy of a boomerang."
"Our leaders seem to have forgotten that the power of the world lies within the human heart. Bombs and violence do not bring the heart to a higher level for the user or the victim."
"As a leader, my people expect me to be able to predict the future. This is not something I can do; but together we can shape it."
"The peoples of the earth will not unite through ideology. It is only by sharing our dreams and anguish that we can find common ground."
"A consultant is a person who uses your watch to tell you what time it is. A coach is a person who asks you what time do you want it to be. And a mentor is timeless."
"When you turn fifty, you discover the noise barrier. Prior to fifty, you often say "Turn that up." After fifty, you typically say, "Turn that down."
"Staying young is mostly brought about by ensuring that your dreams far outnumber your regrets."
"Nodding the head does not paddle the canoe."
"Members of our nation experience four stages of life development: childhood, teenhood, adulthood, and lookingood."
When Grey Owl was questioned by the members of his tribe as to why they must show respect to outsiders, he replied: "Dig the well before you are thirsty."
"Everyone has the power to make others happy. Some do it by entering the room, others by leaving it."
"Friendship between two persons depends upon the patience of one."
"Friends ask you how you are and wait for an answer."
"Before enlightenment, chop wood carry water, after enlightenment chop wood
"Good listeners are not only popular everywhere, but after awhile, they know something."
"My grandfather, Eyes-that Sparkle, told our tribe, 'Never cross a river until you come to it.' But in my generation, the world is owned by those who have made the crossing in their imagination far ahead of the crowd."
"Life is a rush into the unknown. You can duck down and hope nothing hits you, or stand as tall as you can, show it your teeth and say, 'Dish it up, baby, and don't be stingy with the jalapeľos.'"
"Some people come into our lives and quickly go, others leave footprints in our hearts and we are changed forever."
"The best way to destroy your enemies is to make friends with them."
"Blessed are they who can laugh at themselves for they shall never cease to be amused."
"My granddaughter asked me, 'Grandpa, how old are you?' I told her, 'I'm so old I don't remember anymore.' She looked at me with concern and said, 'If you don't remember, you must look in the back of your panties. Mine say five to six.'"
"Never miss a good chance to shut up."