Division need not be permanent
Division is defined as “the act or process of dividing; the state of being divided,” which most of us associate with mathematics. On many levels this topic has perplexed me throughout childhood and into my adult life.
For example, when Kira and Grange were in grammar school, I had to cede jurisdiction over their math education to Jana. Once they got past basic addition and subtraction, I was wholly and irretrievably useless.
Geometry, trigonometry, and calculus are Greek to me, so when Kira decided on astrophysics and Grange biomedical engineering, I blessed them with all the power I had at my disposal and sent them on their way.
Like trout in a mountain stream, once released into the intellectual current they skittered away, never to return for assistance or advice.
I concluded they inherited the math gene from their mother or some distant and unidentified relative. Surely, it did not come from my side of the family.
One might rightly ask how someone gets to my station in life with only the most rudimentary skills. In answer, all I can say is, “That is a very good question!”
My solution has been to surround myself with smart people, and finding more intelligent people has for some reason not been challenging.
Despite their superior math skills, one thing Grange, Kira and Jana do have in common with me is that none of us is good at division, of the racial, political or religious type.
While many border towns draw distinct racial divisions, Bluff has always been more commingled, less fractious, more open. Here people of different races work together in “hozho,” which is the Navajo term for balance and harmony.
When Kira and Grange attended Bluff Elementary School, my own alma mater, they participated in Navajo Song and Dance, a program intended to introduce children, both Native and non-native, to indigenous culture.
The class taught pupils Navajo language skills and showed them a variety of ancient traditions. Every year Kira, Grange, and their classmates participated in competitions to illustrate what they had learned.
Seeing my red-headed, fair-skinned children performing in full Navajo costume, including turquoise and silver, always made me swell with pride.
Kira was so good she often won the competitions in her category. As a result, her friends at times inquired whether Kira was Navajo. Jana assured them our kids are from the Pasta, Potato, and Spicy Portuguese Sausage clans, not the Frybread and Mutton Stew group.
The Yei-be-chei, an age-old healing and initiation rite, was Grange’s specialty. In their headbands, moccasins, medicine pouches, and velvet shirts, he and his buddies chanted, rattled, and danced through the ceremony as though they were experts.
They performed at many venues and events, including Ms. Broken Trail, where they mingled with prospective princesses from across the Navajo Nation.
As a result, Kira and Grange grew up drawing no division between themselves and their Navajo associates. Priscilla, our trusty sidekick, also taught us a lot about being inclusive rather than divisive.
During one recent conversation about living and dying, Priscilla noted the Navajo perspective is that nobody owns anything, and there is therefore no reason to divide things up, be selfish, or act as though you are the exclusive possessor.
Everything, she cautioned, is temporary, and possession illusory. She indicated that only when you pass on and your shell goes back to the earth is there ownership of any type.
At that point it is you who are possessed by Mother Earth, mixed back together with all the others who have shared this world; red, yellow, black and white; tall, skinny, fat and short; intelligent and otherwise.
So, having fretted about addition, multiplication, subtraction, and division all those years, it turns out my shortcoming isn’t such a great handicap after all.
I just wish I could convince my accountant of that when she calls with questions about my financial reports.