My father used this saying as a warning to us kids. Maybe he’d already had a taxing day, but we ‘d be so eager to see him (especially after mother’s worst days), we’d do anything to get his attention.
The three little “Indians”, was our nickname- we three were mischievous and devilishly cute at the same time- with our dark hair, dark eyes and sun-coated skin. My parents even used to dress us up in costumes. Mother studied Indians as an anthropologist, so her views had nuance, (I’m sure (lol)).
So Dad, when we weren’t cute and/or were imposing on his quiet time, would use this phrase as a warning that spankings were next.
You see, he didn’t actually use “be seen and not heard”, he used, “be seen and not hurt”.
When we kept up squabbling, as sibs will do, it certainly gave my mother permission to discipline us. Although Dad’s threats carried more weight.
Mind you, I was 4 or 5, it was the early 60s, and after work cocktails the norm; to Dad, “my home is my castle” and he got his peace!
Most interactions with parents and adults were defined by this phrase so we learned to quiet ourselves one way or another. Not unexpectedly, our power plays with each other reflected our parents’ argumentative and overly-physical tones.
I learned how to numb, disappear, or become invisible; Donald became nonchalant and disengaged; and Valerie played dumb (even though I’m pretty sure she has the highest measured IQ of the three of us).
From our comparison to “little Indians” and the special game we played of being very quiet (wink, wink,… nod, nod) so that we almost became invisible. As I learned, Indians, or as I think of them, sacred earth peoples, have a ‘special power and are able to trick beings into forgetting they are there.’
By slowing down, and stilling breathing, heart’s pulse and blood pressure, stopping all thoughts and becoming one with their surroundings, people and prey in particular, just ‘forget’ to notice them!
That was a fun game to do and I played it well, for at least five minutes. But it really helped me persist in “adult”, meaning I didn’t have agency, situations.
At the same time of course, this teaches us that our personal wants aren’t important (being hugged or played with by Dad in this case), creating an aggression, micro- or more, against the will of our being. Literally shutting down our agency to want and get what we want. At the same time keeping focus on Parents’ (or any other Authorities’) wants, so as to avoid their wrath (or later loss of job or status).
Does that sound familiar to any other groups?!
Over the years I learned to appreciate the energy of a place. Finding who I could go to, to hear me out, and who wouldn’t. Who only wanted to solve my problem, rather than offer me pieces of advice, so I might better solve it. Who thought they were ‘better’ and therefore condescending. To avoid undue attention, like anyone else, I fit in the best I could.
But agency is an interesting thing. Agency stems from our organs wanting to be used. Our agency is driven by mitochondria and comes from our inner wishes. As these liquid crystals move in space and in cells, they create potentials for currents and magnetism, let alone proton channeling and quantum spin alignments.
The density, sizes, and morphology of mitochondria, as distributed in tissues, create specially separated but physiologically connected hive-minds, each reflecting it’s needs of use. The more one is used, the bigger the organ system grows in order to anticipate, also, in turn, the more repair it requires to keep in its highest and greatest health. While separate organs are regulated by their own pacemaker or clock cells, as in the heart, digestion, testes/ ovary, hippocampus, and pineal, all resonate in context with one’s whole and chronic milieu.
Each person’s genealogic lineage has its own organ-specific set of DNA tools for healing and repair. Epigenetic changes occur from environmental effects on these tissues and how they are called into, or suppressed from, action.
As a ‘magician’, or one who would create a world of one’s own “choosing”, wenecessarily use our agency. Expressing ourselves adaptively, we get what we need, even if that allows only a shadow, or derivative of one’s potential to shine. In responding to our environments, we learn to sculpt ourselves, and direct our agency, to find our needs in terms of what’s socially correct within our peer group- not someone else’s.
The more we can keep ourselves in the company of those who encourage our agency, the healthier for us and our environment. The more we can thrive.
Healthy groups also take turns being leader, as in King of the Hill, are cooperative, supportive, and reflect a diversity of views- all of which foster resilience of the group’s mission to survive and thrive as a whole.
Persisting in difficult environments means, for me anyway, uncloaking and sharing those parts deemed valuable by the group, or our parents, and hiding the rest from authorities and judges (anyone with power over me)- subjective and selfish beings as they can be. (And yet, they are often are our best teachers! What was the reason for engagement anyway?!)
With my mother, or really anyone I find difficult to be around, my visits are limited to ten minutes. Within that time, and before I grew to really love Reiki, her comments would often be critical, demeaning, and brought uncomfortable attentions to my body. During those ten minutes, of what felt like continuous mini-aggressions, anyone of which would be guaranteed to conflict with the visit’s harmony – had I engaged. It helped me to know that I could and would step away, when the conversation grew ugly. Mind you I drove 3 hours to see her!
When people can’t or won’t honor your healthy boundaries, they are missing your beautiful self when you say, “no” with your actions too!
Fortunately, I was willing to be compassionate (I was the one without a mother), and that was healing for both of us in the end. Imagine that we could even forget time together. What a blessing!
You are exactly in the right place right now.
May it be so with us all G-d’s children
I’m telling my story, not yours. My parents often referred us to as the “three little Indians”. This no doubt reflected both their desire to see us a not-Indians, and at the same time, acknowledging the entity of ‘being Indian’ at some level. Cultural appropriation is a double-edged sword, it created curiosity in me.
Imprinting onto the memory blueprints of our atemporal hologram existence whilst ever shifting in response to our own circadian frequencies, we act on our worlds both by what we have done and by what we have left undone.