A combination of quotes from two different emails today on certainty. First from Ashley Cooper, quoting Daniel Sielgel:
“When we are certain we don’t feel the need to pay attention. Given that the world around us is always in flux, our certainty is an illusion.”
And then this, from Tenneson Woolf, who currently has my copy of Tsawalk: A Nuu-Chah-Nulth Worldview. From that books is this is a story of Keetsa, an Ahousaht whaling chief who runs into trouble when the space is no longer held for him:
Every protocol had been observed between the whaling chief and the spirit of the whale. Keesta had thrown the harpoon, and the whale had accepted it, had grabbed and held onto the harpoon according to the agreement they had made through prayers and petitions. Harmony prevailed, whaler and whale were one, heshook-ish tsawalk.
All of a sudden something went wrong, some disharmony arose, some disunity intruded, and the whale turned and began to tow Keesta and his paddlers straight off shore. Keesta took inventory. Everyone in the whaling canoe remained true to the protocols – cleansed, purified, and in harmony. Prayer songs intensified. Still, the great whale refused to turn toward the beach, heading straight off shore. Keesta and the paddlers had kept true to their agreements, and now there seemed nothing left to do except to cut the atlu, the rope attached to the whale.
Keesta took his knife, and as he moved to cut the rope, Ah-up-wha-eek (Wren) landed on the whale and spoke to Keesta: “Tell the whale to go back to where it was harpooned.” Keesta spoke to the whale, and immediately the great whale turned accourding to the word of Wren, the little brown bird, and returned to where it was first harpooned, and there it died.
After the whale had been towed ashore, Keesta discovered, as he had suspected, that the disharmony and disunity had intruded at home. When his wife had heard that the whale had taken the harpoon, she had roused herself and prematurely broken away from her ritual in order to make welcome preparations. At the point when she began to go about her life in disharmony from the rest was exactly when the great whale had begun to tow Keesta and his paddlers off shore.