Friday, 12 October 2018

The Momentum of Mother's Milk

The furniture I am making for our new granddaughter fascinates and puzzles Skhumbuzo. His two nephews living with them in the house are almost 3 years old and they are still sleeping with their mothers. No cribs or special chairs or cupboards.

While I am making the rocking chair he looks at the components taking shape and the plans lying on the work table.

“This is so beautiful. And strong! But what do you use this chair for?”

“The mother sits in this chair with the baby in her arms and when it goes backwards and forwards, the baby goes to sleep easily. It is a rocking chair.”

“That is so clever. I think it will also help with the feeding. Every time the chair with the mother goes forward the milk of the mother will flow quickly into the baby’s mouth.”

I haven’t looked at it that way. Nowhere did I take the theory on the momentum of mother’s milk into consideration. 

Perhaps I should have designed the chair with a brake of sorts. After all, a pitcher cannot be constantly tilted and you don’t want unnecessary spilling and splashing where a baby is concerned. 

A man of practical wisdom, our Skhumbuzo.


Monday, 8 October 2018

On The Move, Grounded

“…the wise man looks into space
and does not regard the small as too little,
nor the great as too big,
for he knows that there is no limit to dimensions.” 
                                                                                      Lao Tzu

It is often difficult to say what the reasons are in choosing the next book to read. In some cases it is obvious, like when you receive a copy as a gift and you cannot wait to open it on that very first sentence. Oh, I love first sentences! Other times though, there is almost a lull in the reading air with no sense of direction and a myriad of choices.

During such times, I wait. It is exciting, trusting the bigger scheme of things that’s tapped into my essence and subconscious to make suggestions, or offer guidance.

It was along the latter route that Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek recently came to rest in my reading hand. It is by no means a new book, neither by publishing date nor acquisition. On the inside of the front cover I’ve written the date of purchase as 23 November 2001. Over the years I’ve read random snippets and parts of it, but I haven’t given it my full attention. Like putting your phone on silent and sitting yourself down on the chair across somebody in a manner that says: “I’m all ears.”

The messages and meanings sprouting forth from reading are multi-layered and often quite subtle. But the deeper I go into Pilgrim the more I realise why I ended up reading it now. Through a number of factors, most noticeably the Living School experience, there is a growing and deeper realisation within me of the extremely intimate relationship between us as humans and the whole created world we live in. Not in a sweet, sentimental “Oh, I just love nature. When I’m frazzled, all I need is a day in the bush” kind of way. For many of us, that can be the starting point, but what I am talking about is the deep experience, on a soul level, of our beings and that of earth and cosmos being interlocked, all part of a seamless garment.

It has immense implications for the way I live my life, care, work, buy, consume and grow into a richer, larger and paradoxically, more humble identity.

Annie is skilled in revealing that. What struck a deep chord with me was when she talked about these known, but often forgotten aspects of us being human in the cosmos:

At this very moment, earth rotates at my latitude at a speed 1 485 km/h.

As part of the solar system, while rotating, earth also orbits the sun at 107 826.05 km/h.

Rotating, orbiting the sun, earth – along with all the other planets and the star of our solar system - orbits the centre of our galaxy at 792 000 km/h.

And rotating, orbiting the sun, orbiting the galaxy, earth is moving at even greater speed. Our total Milky Way Galaxy with its billions of planets orbiting the many, many other stars besides our sun, is moving at a staggering 2,1 million km/h in the direction of that part of the sky that is defined by the constellations of Virgo and Leo.

Turning, orbiting within orbiting, moving at more than 2.1 million km/h. And how often have I said: “I would so love to travel!”

But on the same page Annie describes the notorious kayak sickness Greenland Eskimos tend to suffer from. The weather within the Greenland fjords can become so completely quiet that there is not enough wind to blow out a match and the water is like a sheet of glass. Sitting in his kayak, not stirring while waiting on the shy seals, the Eskimo hunter can become totally disoriented in such conditions and the landscape unreal. Earth and sky blend, and it seems as if he is stepping into a void where he becomes totally paralysed, unable to cry or move, just falling, falling. 

Immense movement. Breathless quiet. And somehow I am part of it and it is part of me. Rationally I do not make sense of it all, but on a very deep level it comforts and expands me. It also makes me realise that a vast canvas is being stretched for me and in my small, self-centred life I am scribbling in the one corner. I do not live expansively enough.

Jungian psychologist, James Hillman summed it up beautifully:

“We spend so much of our modern urban time shutting out the world. We are busy ‘getting and spending’ in Wordsworth’s phrase. And we are depressed, focusing narrowly on our ‘problems’. The world becomes a disturbance. It gets in the way of what has to be done today, or it breaks into our mood with its noisy demands. Rain is a bother; winter nights come too early; things break down and require attention. How can I possibly love a world that consists so largely in Muzak, traffic and bad coffee? ‘All is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil’ Hopkins writes. Besides, I am so preoccupied with my life that I cannot follow [the poets]. Everything I see becomes ‘a comment on my life.’ What do I feel about it? What does it mean? How can it do me some good? These reactions built into our psychological wiring show that ‘my’ subjective self is bigger than [the] mountain. I Love myself, even meditate upon it to help its growth, to the exclusion of the world.”

So, I am reading Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.

And I long to open up to this wonderful world we live in, be in love with its many ways.

And all along I want to enjoy this hell of a ride.