Horizon at Sandy Point

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday as Earth Day

Today we have the opportunity to consider both the sacrifice of Christ, and changes wrought by human "sin" on the enduring earth.

While I don't actually believe in "sin" - at least not in the traditional way - I do believe in consequences. The human earth today is the result of the migration, evolution and development of a particular species; an event set in train over 60,000 years ago as the scientists tell us. Judao-Christian mythology cites the "fall of man" and our expulsion from Eden as a fall from grace, into self-consciousness, even self-disgust, knowledge and self-determination.

Upon whichever system you choose to rest your being, we all need to acknowledge a few certainties. The rise of humans has spelled death for others - among them species of lion, pigeon, turtle, wolf, frog, whale and the Caribbean Monk Seal. You can find the list of those that we know about here:
You will also find the much longer list of animals that are endangered in the same place. Among these elephants, monkeys, deer, birds, fish, plants and marine life. And these are what we know about.

The question today therefore: Are humans on an irreversible path? Do we yet have - not just the intelligence -but the spirit to bring about change for balance on the earth.  Have we reached the level of consciousness to create the collective transformation, the mind shift that has been foretold by others - the Hopi, the Mayans, even Nostradamus.

This is what Christ died for. This is what the Buddha meditated on. It is what Shiva danced into being. What all systems of human ethics, morailty and the "middle way" have alluded to.

So good Friday, or earth day, lift your spirit to the "noosphere" and create "peace on earth."

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Conversations with Pat

Pat Bishop says that she has spent the last 30+ years saying the same thing. Having read a few of her speeches, I am now challenged to find out what this single thing is. Is it the plight of the artist in the modern world? Is it the difficulty of securing the singleness of purpose that is the pre-requisite to the making of art?  I will read on and let you know.

For myself, I have never considered myself an artist, or making art. I have remained pretty confused in life about what I am "good at" and even more indecisive about "what I want to be, or do." In school, I was a quick learner, and the logic of arithmetic and reading and science came easily. I was not fond of physical education  or sport - I didn't see the point of it, and maybe there was enough play - and work -  for me, growing up on a farm to make sure that I ran, moved, walked small children, stretched for fruit or climbed trees.

I followed my mother as a nurturer and care-giver to younger brothers and sisters. By sixth form, my day started before five - not studying - with the making of school lunches. Fresh squeezed orange juice. An array of sandwiches - sardine, egg, ham, cheese paste with mustard, luncheon meat (aka Spam). In the evening, I followed my father into the hatchery, washing and grading eggs, twice a week packing eggs for the incubators. it was not a "normal" child's life, and I don't remember when I had time to study. Of course, the results showed in the "A" level exams. But, most likely on the basis of other things - being a "goody goody" in high school as some like to say - an opportunity for university came my way and I got a degree. Still not knowing where I was bound - didn't want to get married; no doctor lawyer teacher ambitions; no art - I graduated in being. And that's probably where I am still - a generalist, jack of all trades. Going where the wind blows. A leaf on a river.

So what is this life of others? Anchored to ideas. What is the singleness of purpose that produces painting, music, mas bands, plays that speak across centuries, great poetry? Is it in each of us, waiting to be mined and nurtured? And why is it that women seem pre-selected to fail, or be less than, distracted by time-consuming child-rearing, care-giving, maintenance activities?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A wedding

My son would say his mother is getting sentimental in her old age! But there are worse things. The wedding of a friend - rather a friend of the same son - provided a couple hours to pause to reflect how fast thirty years - a generation, a new generation - have gone. A snap of the finger, a wink of the eye, and here we are, older ladies and gents, witnessing self-possessed grown men and women pledging themselves in commitments like marriage - and yes, parenthood - already!

It's a morning wedding on a Saturday. A time and occasion that Trinis may have grown out of. Morning weddings call up floral short dresses and hats on ladies; casual and comfortable men's attire. Kenneth, his father and the best men sport cool khakis and white shirts that fit the setting, the open decks and poolside of a home thrown open to overlook the northern range, sloping to the sea merging at its horizon with the sky. The bride in a simple strapless ivory gown.

The "I do's" take place on a platform at one end of the pool. The videographer is having a field day. Every shot would have magnificent rainforest or seaward scape in the background! But there are conversations and reminiscences taking place in every cool corner. On the couch, the grandmother, a sprightly 93, and the aunties. On the porch, the new English family - Roxanne's sister and friends of the couple from Kent.

Apollo and Anjini talking about their three-month old son, Apollo Jacob. What a change a baby makes! Yes, we know, we smile and recall our own "new parent" escapades, putting a three-month old son into the pool (will he sink or swim - he sputtered and barely kept his nose up), a daughter down the islands (and a sea bath) at one month.

Christopher and Matthew - two loving boys, ahem men! - and Auntie Ann, still training for water polo and a match that's going to take place in Saudi Arabia. Konata, with locks, dapper in white with black waistcoat, getting ready to leave, but staying to the end.

The Music School's band, in which Ari plays saxophone, provides lively jazz interpretations of old favourites. Oye Como va! Greensleeves for the couple's first dance. Rudder's Calypso Music.

There's way too much food - what else is a feast? Fish, shrimp, pastelles, roast beef, barbecued chicken, pork, salads. Best of all were Lorraine's chip-chip sugar cakes, crunchy and gingery.

Time to say something for the bride and groom for their video, which they will look at every anniversary, and chuckle, and laugh at, as the years pass.  Of course, we wish them well, many years of being together. A significant memory? Kenneth has always been around, almost as long as my own son, I see him through the son's eyes. But here he is, his own person, a different path, and all our hopes go with him for an interesting and enjoyable life, filled with love.

So yes, where did the last 27 years go? From the time he was placed on my chest, a squirmy, vulnerable, unarmoured bundle of flesh, to the man who thrives in a faraway country, whose friend is taking this important step, we hope his stories are interesting ones, and that he doesn't hold too much against his parents! So many stories to be re-told. And the stories are different from every side.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The cuteness of the young

The vet asked how long it has been since I had a puppy. Not since 2006, that's five years ago when we had six bundles of  furry lab-rott wiggliness. Now, we have a puppy that looks like a teddy bear, and is content to be cuddled and hugged without trying to wriggle away. Let loose, he bounces in the yard like a fur ball, goes up and down stairs like a slinky. You can barely see his eyes in a black masked face; but when he rolls over on his back exposing his soft underbelly for a rub, that's trust.

Why is it that we find the young so kuchi kuchi cute? We do it with our own young - even when they are just born and can appear decidedly repulsive or alien (they look red, or wrinkled, or squingee, or like ET). Kids can be cute until they are five or longer - it all depends on how adults have been encultured to tolerate innocence and naivete. Some parents always think the world of their own children. It seems that we are born with - or have cultivated - a mechanism towards the young - maybe even all young - that evokes our protection for their vulnerability.

We know that this is not the same in all animals. To many predators, the young of other species are easier - more succulent? - prey. Young wildebeast to lions and leopards; seal pups to orcas; puppies to eagles; you could find numerous examples in the wide wild world. So we should not be surprised to find it in humans, adults who behave like predators taking advantage of the young, the vulnerable. Some adult humans will prey on their own kind. Hopefully, that's extreme behaviour at the extreme of the bell curve of human behaviour, bearing in mind that we are already six billion on this planet.

Let us continue to delight in the cuteness of the young  (all young), their playfulness, their innocence, and see the world afresh through senses that are delighted by grass, smell, blueness, sea waves and the companionship of other species. In this way we nurture our best instincts and create circles of harmony in a world that all too often seems savage and hostile and lonely.