Terry Trowbridge | On the Edge of Ethos

The main concern is of being good rather than simply doing good.
-D’Arcy Rheault, Anishinaabe Mino-Bimaadiziwin, p. 138

If “doing good” is the simple part,
then “being good” is labyrinthine.
I can only be as good for as far as I can see.
How do I know what my experience can do
when I step over the horizon?
When I stand there, on the unseen part of my path,
what will my footprints trace –
after all, not only will I see my footprints toes-first,
but I will see the back of every tree, person, road sign,
that I passed along the way.

I have read a lot of Plato:
The unexamined life is not worth living.
If I understand D’Arcy Rheault’s book,
understanding my life and living my life are two different things;
not that Socrates is wrong, but that philosophy is a halfway point,
and choices can be made either by reasoning,
or by choosing the right tool at the right time.

I guess when I have dilemmas, I start to walk in different directions.
When I cross the horizon and look back,
when my dilemmas look like a well-considered path,
and more life grows in my footprints than I squished down,
I will have a good answer for my anxieties.

I just can’t see this happening with every trail.
I am not good at traditions, tools.
I used to have so many friends!
And now my trail is lonesome.

I preferred the time when I could look back at my trail,
and by recognizing the footprints next to mine,
use those toes to decide whether I was being good.
So many of my friends were good,
and so many of them drifted down other paths,
while I paused to read the signs aloud,
sometimes too loudly, lingering too long.

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