It’s the New Year’s edition of The Edge magazine, and I’m guided to return to the wisdom of David Godwin from the beyond. Channeled for Phyllis Galde’s FATE Magazine readership by the eminent Psychic Medium Janice Carlson, Godwin advised that there are three things you will be asked once you transition from this life to the next:
• Did you love well?
• Were you generous?
• Were you willing to let go?

As a New Year’s gift to myself and those in my immediate sphere, I dedicate my journey to answering these three questions in the affirmative.

I have a loving heart, but I have not loved well. Like all ’50s babies, my love was driven largely by Disney. In romance, I was the princess in the blue taffeta gown, twittering birds fussing at the shoulders, awaiting the rescue prince. Of course, the prince never really arrived; I had to rescue myself. Ultimately, I learned I was able to emanate more love when I allowed myself a life of more freedom and individuality than I ever harbored while hobbled in joyless marriages.

The solution to question one is eloquently related in Rilke’s Duino Elegies. The mystical German poet implores, “Is it not time that, in loving, we freed ourselves from the loved one and, quivering, endured? As the arrow endures the string to become, in the gathering outleap, something more than itself? For staying is nowhere.”

As to David’s second question, I have always felt generous in my heart toward others. Still, I am modeled after my kind parents, who had survived the Great Depression. I was taught to be frugal, to conserve, to maintain. My incursion into Mandan culture taught exactly the opposite: the measure of the peoples’ hearts was their propensity to give away. During our time in Indian country, Cedric would repeatedly admonish me, “Are you doing your beadwork? How’s the pipe bag coming along? Have you found a place that sells Pendletons? You have to think ahead; you don’t want to be caught unprepared. You never know when you might have to give away.”

Everywhere on the Rez were examples of hyperbolic acts of the conferring of lavish benefits on loved ones: genuine eagle feather war bonnets, Pendleton blankets, and horses were given away regularly. No real traditional person would dream of keeping things just to have them. The people didn’t wait for holidays to be generous; the act of giving was a ceremony practiced frequently and did not go according to the calendar.

The last of the Amazing Godwin’s advice is the most difficult. I know deep within that the key to lasting happiness resides with the willingness to let go. One evening, I was meditating with the aid of Dick Sutphen’s Balancing the Chakras CD. In one of his hypnotic suggestions his voice rhythmically urges, “I am at peace with the world and everyone in it.”

These words broke into my day like an invocation as I pulled up to a convenience store one morning. The echo of his words brought me to an abrupt, epiphanic halt. In that moment, I realized it is only my mind that creates conflict — not other people. No matter what others say or do, I have a choice of what message I give myself. I can suggest I’ve been wronged, hurt, slighted or on the receiving end of negative intent — or, I can choose to remain calm, realizing that what happens is not under my control. Other people play out their envy and greed, traumas and hurts; the best we can do is try not to be reactive and harm them more.

I use Sutphen’s suggestion as a mantra every time I get in my car, repeating gently, “I am at peace with the world and everyone in it.” I do not let myself say it until I truly believe it: then it becomes the truth for me. I have no conflicts with anyone. To become truly enlightened, all I need to do is let go. That is my New Year’s resolution: I will let go. Only in letting go will I create lasting peace and happiness.

Janet Michele Red Feather
Janet Michele Red Feather, J.D., M.A., is a ceremonial singer who has learned over 60 traditional songs in Mandan and Lakota and sings in nine different languages. Janet was a full-time defense litigator in California for nearly eight years. Her life changed significantly after she traveled to North Dakota in 1993 to fast and pray for a way of life. A regular columnist for The Edge, she has also appeared in Psychic Guidepost, FATE Magazine and Species Link. Her book, Song of the Wind (2014, Galde Press), dealt with her experiences as an empath, and her journey through Mandan spiritual culture. She is currently a full-time, tenured English faculty member at Normandale Community College, having taught Composition and Literature for a span of 20 years.

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