Why not

About 200 years ago in North America
people were avid readers and debaters.
Almost everyone could write and read,
including North Carolina.

In 1835, the English politician Richard Cobden announced that there was six times as much newspaper reading in the United States as in England.
And they are said to have grown
and have learned
from their daily debates at the common breakfast table.

As children, they learned to read well as early as five to eight years old,
and read what everybody else read,
complex and relevant and allusive, news and novels and poems,
despite a lack of schooling,
despite of working
in the coal mines.

Morn came and went—and came, and brought no day.

In all this hardship and extreme working conditions
they did not lack meaning,
they did not have to choose between a plastic toy and a tablet.
They did not suffer the Imposter Syndrome.

Sam Blumenfeld wrote in his book, The New Illiterates: One day she found her three-year-old working his way through a text alone at the kitchen table, reading S-am, Sam, m-an, man, and so on. »I had just taught him his letter sounds. He picked the rest up and did it himself. That’s how simple it is.« said his mother.

In 1867 an eight-year old girl wrote: »I’m a trapper in the Gamer Pit. I have to trap without a light and I’m scared. I go at four and sometimes half past three in the morning and come out at five and a half past. I never go to sleep. Sometimes I sing when I’ve light, but not in the dark, I dare not sing then.« John Taylor Gatto, New York City Teacher of the Year 1989, 1990 and 1991, commented: »She could write so eloquently with no formal schooling at all.«

Then, during the Second Industrial Revolution
with the advent of forced schooling
all over the world
as a next step
forests became wood yards
and
fish became fish stocks
and
humans became human resources
and
they learned to be perfectly indifferent to all that.

Instead of the coal mines
they learned to spend their days
in brightly lit pits,
in front of brightly lit panels,
inside ergonomically shaped workstations,
still convinced of what was required,
afar from the rhythms of nature.

They learned to distrust each other,
and were conscientious enough
to give each other good reasons to do so.

They learned to do work that had no meaning to them,
and buy things because someone else said
„I bought that too!”

They lived in an endless search for meaning
and connection
and safety.
But the pain just kept flaring up,
no matter what they tried.

And now
despite all the hard work
and all the discipline
and all those tears
and all those sacrifices
it looks like as if the floods and the wildfires can’t be stopped
and as if the honey bees and the birds and the fish are not making their comebacks
and as if
humans
and most other creatures
might not even survive 50 more years.

Should we go ahead?
Or should we change?
What should we do?
Whom should we ask?

While waiting for an answer, as a next step,
why not allow ourselves to feel again,
to read again,
to love again,
to trust again,
to care for others and help them heal,
as this is the thing we humans can do
just as
honey bees can make honey,
and clams can clean water,
and fish can swim and birds can fly.

Why not
for once
retreat
and start with lying down on the belly.
And roll one leg to draw up its knee,
and let everything else respond
and support,
and take it from there.
A simple, somatic lesson in crawling.

Why not find out
– discover –
that we are not born as blanks,
that we don’t have an empty hard drive for a brain and for a soul
on which just about anyone
can write
just about anything.

With a gentle bend of a knee,
and a roll of the pelvis,
and a push with one hand,
and a turn of the head,
we can reconnect, and recollect
meaning,
and love,
and healing.
We might even allow the fish stocks to grow back,
and the honey bees to be just bees,
and the wildlife to have their mountains and plains and rivers and forests.
It might be as simple as that.

Brush strokes

I was holding my new iPad, my first iPad,
the one I got myself for my birthday.
I wanted one since a good decade
but I never knew what for.

But now –I thought– it might cheer me up
in the endless lockdowns.

So I stared blankly at the home screen
and asked myself:
What to do with it? Apart from reading books on it,
what should I do next?

I opened one of the drawing apps
that I got myself from the App Store
because
iPads are fun to draw on,
this much I knew. And I drew a few lines.

I enjoyed the colours, the brushes,
the way my new Apple Pencil 2 glided over the screen.
I enjoyed the lines, the curves,
the shapes that emerged.

I enjoyed how the colours blended together,
or stayed on top of each other,
blue and light blue
and dark blue
and yellow and red.

There’s brushes that look like pencils,
and fountain pens,
and calligraphy brushes,
wet and dry, old and new.
There’s spray paint, and fine lines,
and broad lines, and patterns,
and weird brushes that have funny names like
Honeyeater, Fever, Wedge Tail, Storm Bay.

Then I put my iPad aside and
lay down on my new carpet,
the soft one, the comfy one,
the one I got myself to replace the thin plastic mat.

I lay down on my belly and placed my palms on the carpet,
my right hand next to my right shoulder,
my left hand next to my left shoulder,
then I lifted and turned my head.

I enjoyed how my upper rib cage twisted and turned,
how my upper chest contracted and released,
first on one side, then on the other,
and how my shoulders responded.
Now I was the brush,
and I was the screen.

After my movement class

The subtle, surprising, and delicious feeling
of a freshly integrated area,
for example the upper chest
above the part where the thoracic spine meets the lumbar spine.
This can move?
I didn’t know this can move!
This can transmit?
I didn’t know this can transmit!
This can help?
I didn’t know this feeling of support!
It feels wonderful.

A refreshed feeling of trust,
in how everything works together,
the feet with the knees,
the legs with the chest,
the shoulders with the neck.

A refreshed feeling of trust, again,
being present, being aware, being healthy, enough.
I’m doing good. I’m doing well.
I trust in life itself.

A refreshed feeling of emotional security.
Feeling safe, feeling confident.
Right now
nobody is out there to get me.
I am safe. I am loved.
I am complete.

I am breathing freely,
as if a stone was taken off
from a long burdened chest.
The weight was in front,
it was in the back,
it was on both sides,
it was on top and below,
and now it is gone,
replaced with something better.
Now breathing is long,
and calm,
and shallow,
and full,
and nurturing,
and cleansing.
I might just become friends with the wind.

All that is easy to forget.
And easy to restore.

Lay down

Lay down on your belly and wait,
for a moment,
for your breath,
for your heart.

And when all has come together,
when you are one,
when you are the one,
lift your head,
and see if you stick your neck out, or not.

Lay down on your belly and wait,
for your eyelids to fall,
for your shoulders to drop,
for the floor to catch you.

And when all has come together,
when you are at peace,
lift your head,
and feel the length of your neck,
the length of your spine, be long, belong.