Sometimes you just need to be a Bison

As many major life lesson do… this one started in the driver seat of my truck.  Michelle (my ridiculously awesome wifey) and I had just finished a week of road tripping and camping that happened to be extra life changing.  Time with friends in the country and mountains with delicious food and wine is as close to perfection as it comes and there were a hell of a lot of bonus experiences beyond that.  I often feel a sense of sadness and the impending return to “real life” on the way home from my road trips, but this time it was different.  This time, it felt as if something was chasing me… something dark and heavy.  As we twisted up through the steep cliffs and tight corners of Denio Pass, I found myself almost feeling like I needed to drive faster to get away from my pursuant.  The fact that a serious dropoff into the valley with no guardrail was only 3 feet from right tires kept me under control though.  Throughout the trip, I sensed the darkness winning the race and by the time we arrived home, it had caught me.  I love my home, I love seeing my dogs when we come through the door, I love Salt Lake City, I honestly feel so very blessed for all I have… but I wasn’t happy to be home.  Fortunately, a few days later was my meeting with my coach Lyn Christian (check out her super bad ass company SoulSalt) and had an opportunity to work through what was happening.

Throughout the close to 10 years I’ve been connected with Lyn, I’ve learned that there are a set of magic words that seem to preface her most mind opening questions.  Those words are, “I don’t know why I need to ask you this, but… epic question goes here.”  On this occasion, that epic question was, “Have you had any animals that have been significant to you lately?  Maybe you feel a connection to them or they have been appearing to you regularly or in your dreams.”  For years I’ve felt an affinity with the Bison and on this particular trip, they were everywhere I looked.  Lyn took off out of the room and returned with a large book called Animal Speak by Ted Andrews.  She turned to the page that described the symbolism of the Bison and within a few sentences, I felt my energy shifting… it was as if Ted had written those 2 pages specifically for me to read in that exact moment of my life.  Over the past 2 weeks, I’ve really studied those pages and as I’ve talked about what I’m learning with the people close to me, I realized that the Bison totem has wise words that can be powerful for just about anyone… that’s why I wanted to share them with you.

White Buffalo Woman brought countless lessons when she appeared to the Lakota Tribe.  The one that spoke to me is – When right action is joined with right prayer, abundance and manifestation happen easily.  When one or the other is not present, we struggle to have our needs fulfilled.  Basically what this means is we can work as hard as we want, but if the heart and our intentions are not congruent with the work, it will be a struggle.  There are also times where we wish and pray for something with all of our heart, but then mysteriously, our actions do not support that prayer. (Yep, sorry but the “Law of Attraction” doesn’t bring you diamond necklaces just because you tell the universe you want one… that’s a whole other post)  I am by nature, a person that will make things into what I want them to be… I’m definitely not afraid of hard work.  What I recognized as I read those words was that work life and all the random day to day stuff had become empty action without the support of the right prayer and it had become a struggle.  My head brain is a force to be reckoned with and it had completely taken over allowing no room for my heart and my spirituality.

The Bison is also an animal that typically choses the easy path.  It’s a massive animal with plenty of power on reserve which it uses only when necessary.  If you’ve ever witnessed a herd of Bison, it’s very apparent they are not in any hurry to get from point A to point B and are very content to enjoy the moment they are in.  When a Bison appears to you as a totem in life, it is a sign that you are in harmony with the world and it’s time to enjoy the easy path… it’s not time to force your way through obstacles or manhandle things into existence.  In fact, if you arrive at your destination too early, you may come to find there is nothing for you at that moment so it’s imperative to allow the timeline to unfold naturally.  Like I said, I’ve had the Bison as a totem for many years and this is the most apparent trait to me… it’s power is calm, reserved, grounded, and undeniable… never forced.

So, what was the darkness that chased me home from Crater Lake?  It was one of my demons that I’ve carried with me for a long time… one that shows up in moments when I forget who I am.  It’s an ugly little bastard but we need to take a little walk together once in a while to wake me up.  Following the realizations from the lessons of the Bison, life has definitely shifted.  Currently “right prayer, right action” is a mantra that is repeated many times throughout my day.  The way I’m living that is by doing the things that my heart directs me to without a need for an immediate result (such as this blog that I’ve been procrastinating on for about 6 months).   I trust that by living this way, everything I want and need will make it’s way to me in the right time.  My biggest challenge is staying in this place and not falling back to old habits, so I have a daily practice of meditation and prayer that I imagine my day in the way I’d like to walk through it to set positive direction.

Native cultures believe that the earth, the plants, the animals, and the universe are offering us guidance at all times… if we are open to it.  Slow down and take notice to what lessons are being offered to you today.  The dove that landed next to you at the park wasn’t an accident… the chill up your spine from the gust of wind wasn’t an accident… reading the lessons of the bison today was not an accident.

love life


*** The two photos above were taken just after all of these discoveries.  Photography isn’t just a hobby for me, it’s a visual exploration of life.  I’ve been “hunting” for my ultimate Bison photo for a while and the main photo happened as the last shot of the day at Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake.  I had gotten a few shots earlier that I was happy with (second photo is one of those), but I really was wanting that connection shot… the lone Bison looking right through the lens into my eyes.  As Michelle and I rode out of the park, there was few Bison on their own up on a hillside.  I jumped off my bike with camera in hand and very quietly made my way closer and closer to a huge bull that was grazing away.  Once I was in range of getting a good shot, I crouched down and waited… and waited… and waited.  This guy must have been damn hungry because he wasn’t about to look up from his grassy buffet.  At the moment I started to stand up to walk back to the bike, he noticed me and raised his massive head with these incredibly worn and broken horns.  My camera went up and I swear on my life, he looked dead on through the glass and I could feel his gaze on my soul.  This is the shot from that exact moment and it brings me so much happiness each time I look at it… I hope you enjoy it.


17 thoughts on “Sometimes you just need to be a Bison”

  1. Wow what a life revelation in who you are. This gave me chills. How many times we run from our demons just to see we need to face them so we can grow into who we need to be. I really loved this and I can not wait to see what’s next. The picture is amazing. Thank you for sharing this.

    • Oh Andrew, You are ever inspiring.Thank you for sharing and being awake, ear enough to hear. Tears flowed for me. The Bison are so close to my heart as my Father Jack was a Ranch hand and when he passed the medicine man Jake urged his spirit free to “Roam with the Buffalo”. I love your thoughts and process. life is terribly sweet and there is so much to absorb. Life is a sweet gift. Continue writing your amazing words! Thank you Friend!

  2. I’m glad your doing this friend. I value times of reflections. Sharing these moments can cause us to be venerable. I’m glad you are choosing to step into that fear! It will inspirational to read! Great job.

  3. Hi sweet man. I adore how present you are committed to being in this great glorious world. It is through presence in every moment that we hear see feel know all we are to know in that moment. I appreciate all of you. Thank you for taking the time to write, to share so that we may all learn. That we may all be lifted and raised into more. I love you.

  4. Being Native myself it’s inspiring to know and here people search out here animal spirit…when I completed my passage I was asked by my Elder what was my Animal Spirit and it was the Lion…I am called Koala Bear …!! Our journeys and our lives should always be aligned with Mother Earth and all that she offers…your connection to Tatanka is a blessing…and as you continue to learn about the Tatanka our lives se to make more sense and gives us a deeper understanding of who we are and what we represent….blessings to you brother… Thank you for your knowledge and selflessness you give of yourself in the way of being a Leader, Teacher and Student while living with humility….your an amazing Hairdresser ….be well and Stay Blessed…:))

  5. Andrew I’m reliving the story you told me in your last session while reading this post now. What a treat and even more details added in this post give even more depth to your experience. Thank you for the generous “shout-out” as well. You are a terrific client due to your willingness to grow, learn and stay open to change. You bring that sense of self and presence to an undaunted quest of living and loving…which has now become born into this on-line archive of the Journeyist. Watching you on the sideline as you learn and lead with your totem is an incredible experience.

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