The very first observation I made of Eagle was his handshake. It was gentle and warm in Spirit. Many times Eagle would teach the handshake to those he met.
One comment he often heard was, “This is how I was taught to shake hands.”
And Eagle would respond, “It is the handshake that represents a system that is not working. You are too hard on yourself. Don’t be so hard on yourself.”
A handshake that held the hand is all that is needed. Our handshake reflects us. We put enough demands on ourselves; we must remember to be kind to ourselves. Whenever I shake hands, I pay attention to my handshake’s tension. If it is not gentle, I get the message – I have to soften up. This is Deer’s message – to be gentle with one’s self.
Eagle had said, “Life is serious enough. Don’t be so serious. Be kind to yourself.”
Eagle supported his teaching of the handshake with this in mind. He was at a gathering while living on Vancouver Island. When he met the carver, Simon Charlie, Eagle noticed that Simon’s right hand was wrapped with bandages. Simon had injured his hand in a fire at his studio. Eagle shook Simon’s hand gently and always said he was grateful for the Elders teaching him how to shake hands.
“He trusted me enough to extend his hand out to me. If I would have shook hands the Western way, I would have had him on his knees. I thank every Elder who taught me how to shake hands.” Eagle said.
“Don’t be so hard on yourself. Loosen up.”
The handshake speaks.
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Photo of Simon Charlie is courtesy of the internet.