Life is a river, sometimes flowing this way and at other times flowing that way. The theme of the River of Life has guided me now for 16 years when I first heard the hauntingly familiar sounds of the Native American flute. I was enacting a traditional rite of passage led by a Native teacher in the wilds of Canada. It was also the time I first heard the story of Siyotanka - the story of how the Native American flute came to be. At the time, I had a vision - a vision of this short legend touching others and teaching a new generation about the interconnection of all life, the value of humility, and of course, the healing power of music.
It is a deceivingly simple story about finding our way when we are feeling lost, defeated and alone. It is a story about how we each carry a gift inside of us - a gift that is not always easy to find or access, much less live out - but a gift nonetheless. It is also a story about how embracing that gift gives us a ground to stand on - because it is the gift that tells us most essentially who we are, what we are here to do, and where it is we are going. To me, it is an essential story for our time - a time when there has never been more despair, uncertainty and soul loss. To find and embrace our gift is synonymous with finding our soul, that is, the most essential, mysterious core of who we are.
In 2008 the play became a reality through the hard work of my fellow co-writer, colleague and friend Stephen Lott - and the generosity of the Pensacola Little Theatre and the amazing cast and crew of the production. It also went on to win 7 Crystal Awards. In 2009 the soundtrack that I composed went to #1 on the NAR charts in February and stayed in the top 20 for another 6 months - and then it went on to I win the Native American Music Award in the Native Heart category Oct. 3rd in Niagara Falls. If that were not enough, it is now in the running for a Grammy nomination.
Of course, none of this is about the rankings or awards - it is about how this story went from touching a chord in my heart that resonated at such a level that it began to take on a life of its own and began touching the hearts of so many other people around the world. It is a confirmation of the story itself - that the greatest gift we bring is sharing what is within us. It reminds us what can happen when we follow a vision that is born from our deepest heart. As one of my teachers use to say: "A vision without a task is just a dream. A task without a vision is just a job. However, a vision with a task can change the world."
It is hard for me to believe how much my life has been changed by simply following a simple vision and being willing to do whatever task that vision required of me. I encourage all those out there who have a dream somewhere in your hearts to find someway to bring it into the world - find a way to make a beginning. Perhaps just by speaking it out loud to a friend or writing it down in a journal. Start slowly, but start - start somewhere! Life moves swiftly - like a river - and if we stay on the bank's fearing to take the journey down the rapids we may imagine we are staying safe, but ultimately safe from what?? Life? I am more and more convinced that we are here to follow the river of life, which is actually flowing through our very hearts. Take the journey. You may be surprised where it takes you!
Blessings on your journey,