Native American Wisdom – How to Keep Going

Bailey here –

One of my favorite authors is Joseph Marshall III.  That may not sound like a Native name, but Joseph is Lakota and was born on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

I’ve been having a tough time lately, but have gained a ton of strength from reading Joseph’s book, Keep Going – The Art of Perseverance.  In the book, a young man named Jeremy is grieving the loss of his father.  Jeremy visits his grandfather, Old Hawk, who is over 80-years old, and who understands that “life itself is the greatest journey.”

Jeremy asks his grandfather why life has to be so hard, so painful.  Old Hawk tells him, “In life there is sadness as well as joy, losing as well as winning, falling as well as standing, hunger as well as plenty, badness as well as goodness.  I do not say this to make you despair, but to teach you reality.”

Old Hawk goes on to say that if life were the same all the time, there’d be no variety, no excitement and no balance.  Old Hawk says, “Life is not all sadness.  Yet without sadness we would not yearn for joy, and strive to find it, and treasure it when it comes.”

As for me, I wish life could be good all the time.  But if it was, maybe I wouldn’t treasure it.  I really don’t want anything bad to happen – to anyone – ever.  But could Old Hawk be right?  Would life be boring if it were perfect all the time?  Like maybe we’d go nuts because we wouldn’t have something to work on, something to complain about, or some problem to solve.  Do we actually like it this way?  Need it this way?

Could it be we wouldn’t be able to feel joy without knowing sadness?  Oh my gosh!  Maybe we wouldn’t know joy at all.  How could we experience the thrill of winning if we never felt the sting of losing?  How could we know warmth unless we’ve felt the cold (although I’d be willing to risk it on that one).  But seriously, maybe we wouldn’t feel anything at all.  That’s kind of scary.

I guess Old Hawk is trying to tell Jeremy that he needs to keep going through all that life has to offer.  To enjoy the good that makes him happy, and to allow the bad to make him stronger.  I guess I have to do the same. 

Joseph M. Marshall III is an author, historian, educator, motivational speaker and Lakota craftsman.  He’s been both technical advisor as well as an actor in films such as Into the West (one of my favorites) and Return to Lonesome Dove.  Check out everything Joseph has to offer at

As always, I’d love to know your thoughts.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Alexis
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 05:08:16

    “To enjoy the good that makes him happy, and to allow the bad to make him stronger.” –LOVE this line!

    I’m giving you (Tanya / Bailey) the Stylish Blogger Award!!


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