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Be the Buffalo

“The angel, ‘Yes we have met…
My gifts have human faces
hieroglyphs that command
you without yielding what they mean.’”
-“At the Well,” Marge Piercy, The Moon Is Always Female, 1984

Let's talk about bravery in the most ordinary of circumstances. Not heroic courage, but the quiet inner courage that lays the brickwork of character. Courage to do the right thing, tell the truth when it would be far easier not to, face the things that cause trepidation in your heart, keep going when you find yourself discouraged. There comes a point when you’re done being scared, and finally, you decide to “be the buffalo,” as Donna Brazile, a Washington DC political consultant, puts it. She is referring to the words of Wilma Mankiller, a High Chief of the Cherokee Nation, describing the difference between cattle and buffalo in an approaching storm. The cows, it seems, will stampede off ahead of the storm. Run themselves into the ground, exhausted. The buffalo however will turn and face into the storm, plunging straight through it. The point is not lost on me. When all hell breaks loose, better to be the buffalo and break through – there’s daylight on the other side.

The line of poetry that caught my thoughts today is rich in puzzles. I love the idea of human faces as hieroglyphics, the idea of the indecipherable as a gift. Destiny is shaped in the palms of these angels, pounded like clay.

Great determination and vision is required to create anything of ourselves in this world. And then there is the fortitude to see it through. To accept how much is beyond our control. We do all that we can and then release our dreams along with our apprehensions. As fear is released, ideas catch the wind. Be the buffalo.
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