NICK-IZMS: Rez Born, Urban Raised (Jan 2017)


By Nick Metcalf

It’s that time of year that resolutions are made and resolutions are broken. Our resolutions include losing weight, exercising more, saving money, finding another job, pay off bills, spending more time with our kids, finding love, dressing better, and on and on and on…We want change. We crave it in our life. We want to be different.

This month I want to talk about change and transformation. There is a moment in all our lives that we have an opportunity to change, or grow, but sometimes we choose to remain where we are. When you live long enough, you must learn to accept the consequences of those choices or make a different choice. Sometimes, being trapped in a circumstance can be soul wrenching, soul-draining, soul killing.

My maternal Grandmother, Bertha Kills In Water, was a part of relocation in the 1950’s. The Indian Relocation Act of 1956 encouraged Native Americans to leave reservations, learn a vocation, and assimilate. My Grandmother moved to Denver, Colorado. I grew up with my Grandmother until I was 4.

I have many memories as a kid in the city of Denver. I remember her and my Grandfather, an elderly white cowboy, walking us to the playground. I remember playing with kids who didn’t look like me. I remember the excitement of it all.

I’ve watched many people in my life transform themselves. I’ve also seen those who are trapped – trapped in their own mind. Trapped in their own circumstance. It’s as though free will and choice have been taken away. It’s as though a message is told to them every day, “This is it. This is all you’ll ever become.” Somehow this message sinks deep in their bones. Eventually, the shine in their eyes disappears. The youthful zest is gone. The hopeful stride vanishes. These people shrink into themselves. I look at their body. Shoulders slouched. They carry too much weight. The weight hides who they are. They wear too much make-up to hide. They pretend a confident walk. They speak loudly and disrespectful to their children, to other adults, and to themselves.

It really is the saddest thing to witness when a person loses hope. There is a bleakness about them. Their nature disappears into an abyss. They have no interest in themselves. They disappear.

Ultimately, they’ve forgotten the hope they manifest. They forgot this truth, their ancestors longed for them. Someone dreamed of them. They are the light that their ancestors held onto during a very dark time in our history. They are a manifestation of everything that is good. They longed for them.

How do we get back to finding our purpose? It is with soul searching? It is with soul healing? It is reconnecting yourself to your soul?

We all have a dark day of the soul. The day when it feels as if the odds are stacked up against us. When we feel the loneliest. When it feels as though God is gone. This is the day you are most connected to yourself and are called to be fully yourself. It is a turning point in your life.

Leaving poverty is the most difficult task that I’m undertaking. I come from generations of poverty. Upon reflection, I’ve realized it was the women in my family that kept us together. It was their yearning for more that inspired me. They created space for me to grow. They held space for me to be who I was. They encouraged my transition off the reservation. They let me go. It was with their courage that I ventured forth.

If it wasn’t for me leaving the reservation, then my siblings would not have left either. My leaving provided them an opportunity to escape poverty, as well. Don’t get me wrong, I have family who lives and thrives on the reservation.

Sometimes being trapped is of our own making. It is fear that immobilizes us. We make assumptions about the world around us. We accept our circumstances as unchangeable. But, they aren’t.

If there is anything that I’ve learned is this, the power to change is ours. Change belongs to us. If we want to change, then we can have it. We must accept responsibility for our own life.

My Grandmother ventured out into the world. She wasn’t going to be trapped by her circumstance.

It is from her example and the many people in my life that I’ve learned that change is possible. I see the possibility. I consider my distant future and see my grandchildren and their children thriving.

As each of us begins 2017, I wish that for you, to remain hopeful and to be bold, to be daring, to be everything our ancestors dreamed of. You are a manifestation of a dream. The choice to change belongs to you. I believe in you…

Cetanzi – Nicholas “Nick” Metcalf, MSW, is an emerging writer/poet who manages a blog entitled, “Nickizms” and shares his daily musings on his Facebook profile. Nick’s first published piece can be found in the 2014 St. Paul Almanac, “A Mother’s Hope.”