“Sometimes I go about in pity for myself, and all the while, a great wind carries me across the sky.” – Ojibwe Saying

I first came across this saying while watching an episode of The Sopranos, a captivating HBO series about a mob boss who has a panic attack and subsequently starts going to therapy. In the show, the main character (Tony Soprano) wakes up in a hospital bed after being shot in the leg and sees the above saying posted on a wall in his room. It is somewhat of a mystery as to who placed the saying on the wall in the first place but regardless Tony contemplates the meaning as he looks at the world through new lenses.

I often think of this saying when I am going through difficult or painful moments in my life. To me, this saying is about gratitude and appreciation. In Native American culture, elements of nature are often connected to spirituality and ancestral ties. For some, “a great wind” can be a religious representation of God or Spirit. For others, “a great wind” may be a connection to meaningful love and support such as with friends and family. Additionally, being “carried” means someone is taking care of me or something is going well for me.

When awful things happen there can be a tendency to say, “Why did this happen to me?”, “Why am I so unlucky?” or “It’s not fair”. While I think these are very normal human responses, if we are not mindful, we can get stuck in these beliefs making it difficult to move forward. None of us are immune to hardships in life. A common defense against this reality is the belief that bad things don’t happen to good people. Or alternatively, as one of my favorite psychologists Harriet Lerner wrote about, “if I play out the worst scenario in my head then it probably won’t happen to me.”

My goal these days is to cope with the reality of pain in my life by both feeling the intensity of the emotions and acknowledging the ways in which I am carried through it. I do this with gratitude for the love and support that shows up in many forms and with appreciation for the moments of experiencing adversity with presence and grace.