I rest my head on my desk and try to centre (or perhaps decentre) myself before I continue writing. I spend some time letting the pressures of the day fall away, a practice I find helps with my ability to focus on the task at hand. I take a deep breath and realize it smells like the forest, and the scent immediately relaxes me. I notice that the sounds of my office around me have dissipated and there has even been a shift in the feeling of the space I am in. I lift my head, open my eyes and nearly jump out of my skin. I am no longer in my office but sitting in the forest in what seems like a small waiting room. I recognize the space immediately as the in-between space where I meet Coyote. I have never met with Coyote during the day and only when I have been at home. I try not to panic and take a deep breath; the scent of the forest works its magic and calms me. I slowly take in my surroundings; I am sitting in a chair in the clearing where I always meet Coyote, but I am not alone. There are chairs and a table set up around me, as if we are in a waiting room of sorts. Magazines sit on the tables, and I glance at the title … ‘Coyote Weekly’…‘Trickster Times’… ‘Journal of a Place That Just Is’… I reach forward to grab one as someone bumps into me, and I realize I am not alone. I look around and take stock of the waiting room. A collection of forest animals sit in chairs looking bored. I shake my head, trying to wake myself up. I must be dreaming, as this seems out of the ordinary, even for a meeting in third space.
“Excuse me,” I say to the possum beside me, even as I question the possibility that I have in fact lost my grip with reality. (I should probably examine why even when in this interstitial space I question the possum’s existence, but I will save that for later). “Could you tell me what we’re doing here?” I ask the Possum.
“Why, waiting of course,” the Possum answers.
Just as I am about to ask for whom, Coyote appears as if out of nowhere.
“Hurry, hurry,” Coyote shouts at me and gestures for me to follow.
We rush through the forest, and I follow behind Coyote until we come to the side of the river.
“You are so needy,” Coyote shakes his head at me. “I have other patients you know!”
“Patients? I’m a patient?… Coyote…” I look over and see Coyote is dressed as a doctor and is writing notes in a chart.
“Look… It’s not always that simple. Of course you’re a patient, but you’re also a…” Coyote doesn’t finish his sentence as he madly writes notes.
“A what, Coyote, and why am I here?” I ask, trying not to sound as confused as I feel.
“I can’t answer that. You came to see me, and I have a one problem limit per visit sooooo…. Tick tock…” Coyote points at his Apple watch.
“I…I…well…” I stutter as I try to formulate a question.
“Look, I can’t help you if you don’t know, but I do know this…Sometimes there is more than one worldview. There is always more than one story, and there is never a beginning, middle or end. So, stop struggling with how to start, as it has already started long before you got here,” Coyote pats my hand and hands me a lollipop.
“Coyote,” I call after him as he hurries away. I want to ask him about the chart, but he disappears, and I realize I am sitting back in my office. I feel unsettled but more relaxed, and I ponder my visit with Coyote. I realize that Coyote is right and that I am part of a story that has started long before I have arrived. Hannah Arendt’s ideas of belatedness come to mind, that indeed I have been born into a story that was already started, and with that comes a certain sense of responsibility, but it also means there is important work done by those who have walked before me. It is my responsibility to uphold this work and engage with it in a good way. I think about the women I have met that have and the stories they shared that led me to this space in my educational journey. I have been taught that the four R’s are always to be used when engaging with story in any way (Archibald, 2008). Respect, reciprocity, responsibility and reverence should always be enacted (Archibald, 2008).
So, does this sum up Indigenous worldview? I would hope not, as I have been taught that if I do not have more questions than when I started, I had better go back and do it again. I do know that Indigenous worldview is forever changing yet always staying the same. For my own teaching, I know that our Neyihaw creation story reminds us of a time when animals spoke to us and we lived together as a large community. When we as humans started to take advantage and forgot about unity, Creator planned on taking the animals away where they’d be safe, but the animals refused. They understood the importance of interconnection and that without them we would not survive. So, they gave up the ability to communicate with us to continue to nurture us. Just like that, we are back at the very first story, even though we are at the, end and it is this that reiterates the importance of learning in a cyclical and not linear way. We are also back at understanding that the story will always be at the heart of understanding, being and worldview.