Monday, October 19, 2009

Joseph Marshall III

This post is less about any specific book and more about an author named Joseph Marshall III whose work I really enjoy. I was reminded of him when I picked up the most recent issue of Cowboys & Indians Magazine, in which Marshall wrote a nice article about sacred places in the United States. There is a great biography, and a wealth of other information, on Marshall's website (, but in short Marshall was born and raised on the Rosebud Reservation in SD and was brought up by his maternal grandparents in a traditional household. His first language is Lakota and he learned the tradition of oral storytelling which he translates to print in his numerous books. Marshall has written both fiction and non-fiction and writes mostly about Lakota history, teachings and people.
His most recent book is The Power of Four: Leadership Lessons of Crazy Horse, but the book I read most recently and which I really loved was Keep Going: The Art of Perseverence. This book is essentially an inspirational guide that includes dialogue, recollections and stories as related by Grandfather. Below is the poem "Keep Going" which opens the book, and which is refered back to throughout. This is a wonderful little book, a quick and easy read, but one that packs a punch. It is both inspirational and heartwarming, and is a book that you can refer back to when times get tough and you need a reminder that sometimes, no matter what you are going through, you just need to keep going.

A young man asked his Grandfather why life had to be so difficult sometimes. This was the old man's reply.

Grandfather says this: "In life there is sadness as well as joy, losing as well as winning, falling as well as standing, hunger as well as plenty, badness as well as goodness. I do not say this to make you despair, but to teach you reality. Life is a journey sometimes walked in the light, sometimes in the shadow."

Grandfather says this: "You did not ask to be born, but you are here. You have weakness as well as strengths. You have both because in life there is two of everything. Within you is the will to win, as well as the willingness to lose. Within you is the heart to feel compassion as well as the smallness to be arrogant. Within you is the way to face life as well as the fear to turn away from it."

Grandfather says this: "Life can give you strength. Strength can come from facing the storms of life, from knowing loss, feeling sadness and heartache, from falling into the depths of grief. You must stand up in the storm. you must face the wind and the cold and the darkness. When the Storm blows hard you must stand firm, for it is not trying to knock you down, it is really trying to teach you to be strong."

Grandfather says this: "Being strong means taking one more step towards the top of the hill, now matter how weary you may be. It means letting the tears flow through the grief. It means to keep looking for the answer, though the darkness of despair is all around you. Being strong means to cling to hope for one more heartbeat, one more sunrise. Each step, no matter how how difficult, is one more step closer to the top of the hill. To keep hope alive for one more heartbeat at a time leads to the light of the next sunrise, and the promise of a new day."

Grandfather says this: "The weakest step towards the top of the hill, toward sunrise, toward hope, is stronger than the fiercest storm."

Grandfather says this: "Keep going."
(Text from Keep Going: The Art of Perseverence; Joseph Marshall III; Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.; 2006)

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