almost my birthday

tomorrow is my birthday. while it may be just another day for others i will celebrate it. i usually get philosophical about it. i look back at my life and i feel grateful i am still here. there are more years behind me than i have ahead of me.

i grew up on the rez. i witnessed the changes it went thru during my lifetime. we didnt have electricity, running water, telephones or computers when i was real young. we didnt have paved roads, many weren’t even graveled. many spoke potawatomi. there weren’t many jobs here. most of the few hundred indians that lived here were poor.

i always considered the rez my home. life took me to many other places. i felt i never really belonged there. i went to parochial boarding school, job corps, a few colleges, the military and relocation. i started out on the rez but always returned here. this was home.

there was a point in my life where i rejected everything. this may have started in boarding school. i didnt understand how ‘religious’ people could be so cruel to little indian kids. they beat us to show us the error of our ways. they shamed us by calling us ‘little savages’. they forced their beliefs on us. i couldn’t comprehend how this was religion.

i stayed home during my high school days. i went to a public school just off the rez. that was the first time i was around people that weren’t predominately indians. i was only around Indians growing up on the rez and going to an all Indian boarding school.

after i graduated i slowly drifted away from the rez. sadly this took me down a different road. i got involved in alcohol, drugs and violence. i bummed around all over the country. i was in a rebellious stage. i burned down all the opportunities handed to me.

i was lucky i was able to get out of that lifestyle. it would have destroyed me. others weren’t so fortunate. i lost many good friends. if i didnt get out of that lifestyle i would have joined them. i learned to appreciate life. peace means more after you have seen violence. i appreciated beauty after seeing so much ugliness.

over the course of my life i criss crossed this country many times. after awhile every where seemed the same. the only constant was me. that is when i found myself. some believe life is all about the search for self. i found my life was mine. i dont play the victim. yes life is unfair some times. it still goes on.

eventually i made it to all 50 states. i even got to see other countries. i love to travel. if i have a bucket list the top item would be to travel more. travel has shown me there is so much more to life than what we see in front of us.

i learned from life’s lessons. i developed my own beliefs. even today i wont let anyone force their beliefs on me. i always think if some ones’ beliefs mean anything they should live them. if they dont, they shouldnt expect me to either. i got my own trip to do.

i haven’t done every thing i wanted but done enough to be content. nor have i become a rich man. money dont mean all that much to me. in this world you need it to get by. i know it dont make very many happy. these times are the best economic times ever for our tribe. many make good money but they aren’t happy. i am glad i never got caught up in all that.

tomorrow my wife and kids will join me for a birthday dinner at a Japanese place. they cook right in front of you while telling dumb jokes. like egg roll as one rolls down the spatula. the food is good. i haven’t had it in a while. i will have filet mignon and shrimp with my rice.

all i can say to myself tomorrow is happy f$#(*#8 birthday.