Leadership Quest Reflections by Tiger Lane

Tiger Lane received a full scholarship from us to participate in our Leadership Quest of June-July 2018. Tiger Lane, son of Chief Phil Lane, is from the Ihanktonwan Dakota and Chickasaw Nations. At the time of writing this article he is only 18 years old, and a student at Earl Mariott High School (USA). We really appreciate his reflections and depth of insight. We will continue to support youth future leaders like Tiger to benefit from the teachings and resources of our EARTHwise Community. Chief Phil Lane is also a Guest Teacher for the Leadership Quest. When we started the Quest we asked all participants to reflect on the role and myths around “pain” and “growing through opposites”. Tiger starts his reflections here based on those explorations.

Reflections from the Leadership Quest by Tiger Lane

“I believe that loss is an important part of life, as it is through loss that we can come to learn and understand many things about life, ourselves, and others. That being said, I do not believe that loss is necessary in any way to appreciate life or anything in it. Rather, if one were to look closely into themselves and surroundings, one could easily learn to appreciate things while they are still present, rather than having disappeared and learning to appreciate due to loss.

The idea of only learning through opposites is completely false. Love, respect, and healing can be felt directly without needing to go through suffering first. The love of someone does not need to be preceded first by abuse to be realized.

Although some pain can lead to gain, that is not the case all the time. It is my belief that there is always a way to gain something without going through pain, or, when pain is unavoidable, to do so in a way that said pain is not excessive and is what is expected. Personal growth, for example, can result from pain and suffering, but it can also result from learning of a new path or being given advice from someone.

Love, compassion and nurturance, without a doubt, can exist and be activated without pain beforehand. They can, of course, arise as a result of pain, but never only because of it. For pity but never exclusively. Paying for other people’s food, offering to do things, etc, can happen out of “nowhere.”

Personally, it is inspiration and attraction to my own innate qualities that are driving me as a person. Through inspiration, I feel the drive to carry on, and I believe that is something that many besides me also share.

The cycle of birth, death and renewal can be seen everywhere in the world, not only locally but at large as well. Beyond the most basic example of nature decomposing old and deceased things to be used as nutrients for the new, I feel there are less obvious examples that exist as well. Forest fires, contrary to popular belief, actually occur naturally, and are required for forests to survive and spread. As people, we might go through great suffering or turmoil, but often times when we come out, we come out stronger and able to resist the next challenge.

It is incredibly important to heed the words of our Indigenous elders and ancestors. It is through them, their past accomplishments, and deeds that we have reached our current state as an indigenous peoples and as a human family. I’ve realized now that many people take the teachings and contributions of the past for granted, whether due to ignorance, arrogance, or simple misinformation.

For example, many teenagers and millennials forget the painful sacrifices that our ancestors made in war after war, in the suffering of Indian residential schools, and in the unjust theft of our lands. Yet, despite all this, the extent of what we owe to them goes even further back than the last few centuries.

I believe that if we look carefully within ourselves and our history, we will discover that life isn’t an either-or situation of accepting the new and having to throw away the old. Rather, by supplementing and combining both the ancient wisdom of the past and new teachings, we will have a more enlightened and peaceful society. We will be able to use the wisdom of the past in more ways than ever imagined.

I have been made aware of the power of meditation and listening to the greater expanse for a long time, thanks to my parents. There are many times where, in times of doubt or in times of great need, I will just find a silent place to meditate, and do so. In that state of silence and isolation, I’m able to find my inner voice as well as get a grasp of the greater whole. In that state of pure thought, I am able to realize what to do next.

When I began the vision quest, I had initially been disorganized and scattered, likely a result of hard summer school and some sickness. I had not been able to attend the live sessions due to said summer school, but I was able to watch the recordings of them in my own time. Starting with the first season, I could feel a gradual, but meaningful change begin to occur. Through each of the lessons, the meditations, and the self-reflections, I learned more and more not only about myself but also about perspectives I hadn’t considered before and on ways of looking at the world. Other things, I had known before, but hadn’t truly explored until going through the exercises and being more introspective and pondering the meaning of those thoughts.

Although I have learned much from the Quest and “finished” it, I think that there’s still more to the lessons and teachings for me to discover, even now. As such, I will be going back into the lessons in order to review and think differently about what is in them. I will be using what I’ve learned and integrating it into my life, in day-to-day circumstances, hard times, and even in ways I hadn’t thought of yet. In truth, I think the quest is a gift that keeps on giving, and although I hadn’t finished viewing the lessons until recently, I predict I will be coming back to it in the future."

Written by Tiger Lane, Ihanktonwan Dakota and Chickasaw Nations, Age 18, Earl Mariott High School (USA)

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