Monday, December 1, 2008
Just Around the River Bend
When I was six years old, I had a sweater. It was pink, about three sizes too big for me, and was emblazoned with a huge profile of my favorite princess—Pocahontas.
All of my thoughts and hopes centered around this free-spirited, passionate Indian princess. My stuffed animals were all named “Meeko” or “Flik” alternately, and every rock became a 50-foot diving board.
It’s a well-known story in my family—some unknown villain crushed my hopes and dreams by letting my little, oblivious six-year old self know that I could never be Pocahontas because I was so incredibly white.
…Which is true. However, I have noticed (noticed, not imagined… I hope) some awesome similarities between this graceful, wise, beautifully brown princess and short, white, rather awkward me.
I’m pretty mellow most of the time, but when really aroused, I can definitely speak my mind about subjects I am passionate about—and Pocahontas does not let anyone make decisions for her. When she is told by her father that she must marry Kocoum, she really considers the subject, makes a decision, and sticks to it! Despite this independence, however, she is still closely tied to family and her culture. She, like me, has ideas and theories from which she will not back down. This reminds me of myself because of my LDS-ness. When I lived in Oklahoma, my beliefs were challenged almost every day. I had to have the courage and delicacy to stand up for my beliefs without completely offending the perpetrators.
I am more consumed with “what’s around the river bend” than in the “handsome sturdy husband who’ll build handsome sturdy walls.” I also care much more about personality and, especially, humor than about appearances in men—like Pocahontas, who shunned the INCREDIBLY ATTRACTIVE (but too serious) Kocoum without a second thought. Boys have to try pretty hard to get past my disinterested outside “layer,” but if they can make me laugh… it’s golden.
Pocahontas shows wisdom beyond her years in her lessons to John Smith about accepting others, her forgiveness to the white men, her father, and her friend Nakoma and in her kindness to and acceptance of these strangers in her land. That sentence was ridiculous. I think I also show some of this quiet maturity—comes from being the oldest child, maybe. Despite all her romantic tree-hugger tendencies, Pocahontas is also practical. When she breaks a rule, she figures out the repercussions and plans accordingly—you won’t see her making rash choices because “I just can’t take it anymore” or “All is lost!” or “No one CARES.” She stays behind instead of going with John Smith to England, representing her attachment to family and her mature spirit. I am not a romantic (as hard as it is to say that…) and I would have, I think, made the same decision.
I love the outdoors. My favorite vacations involve hiking, swimming, rafting, boating, skiing… you name it! Being in nature brings me so much happiness and peace. I love finding places where no one else has been before, sights that no one else has seen. Nature is unique because it is constantly changing. I love the gift God has given me in the ever-changing, beautiful landscapes of Earth—and so does Pocahontas. The acts of greed and villainy that pollute the beautiful, untamed land that once was just tear her heart out, and, as my incessant recycling habits and “save the trees” tendencies will blatantly show, I also feel very strongly about keeping wildlife wild and beautiful.
Though I may not ever perfect a 300-foot swan dive, have the perfect serenity or grace of a Native American princess, or achieve a perfect, chocolate complexion and waves of raven-black hair, I believe I am becoming more and more like my childhood heroine every day as I learn to trust myself and my instincts, to stand up for what I believe, to find joy in the little things and in the nature around me and to always look for the adventure!!