What does it mean to be human?
What can humans tolerate?
What potential does every human have?
If you already are getting weird vibes from this posting, like the... Oh Jeez, just another globe trotter gone granola and weird, then save yourself now and go back to facebook.
If you are still with me, then party on Garth.
These questions pressed against my temples and forced themselves to be considered the other day at "work". I was cutting grass for cow consumption at a local dairy farm with two other women. One of the women had a beautiful baby boy named Jaydeh. Jaydeh was currently being taken care of by the farm worker's baby sitter, and by babysitter I mean the baby hammock affixed to the tree, consisting of the mother's scarf. Baby Jaydeh cried and cried swinging in the scarf. We continued to make trip after trip, transporting the bundles of grass we had cut to the feeding area on our heads. Each time we passed the tree, I wanted to stop and look at the baby.
Finally, my maternal instincts could take no more cries. I stopped and looked in at the baby and sang to him a bit. Jaydeh's crying ceased. I was allowed to hold Jaydeh and play with him awhile. He never cried. All he wanted was a bit of attention.
Now, everyone think of a time when a baby has been around you crying and is being held and paid attention to. Think of how that baby will NOT stop crying, even though it has a clean diaper, been recently fed and burped, and just awoken from a nap.
This baby Jaydeh really got me thinking to what the human condition can take and how our perspective on being satisfied, on having life be at a place where we aren't crying, can really vary. Even with babies as young as Jaydeh.
During my time in India so far, I have truly seen "two" (more of course) Indias. My family has a servant, who they openly refer to as their servant. Her name is actually Sirvita. When we eat dinner, she sits behind us, outside the ring of our intimate circle on the ground. Her home lacks the size and the luster of my homestay family. Her life is so different than any I, or anyone I live with for that matter, has ever known.
The tolerance she has for life is much more similar to baby Jaydehs. Sirvita finds joy often and smiles more than most I know. Siri has been so kind to both Haley and I, and we enjoy her company more than she will ever know. She is sweet, happy, content, and never seems to be exhausted, despite the tiring life she lives.
The tolerance for the amount of crap she puts up with, both verbal human crap and physical cow crap is inspiring.
Now, for the question of human potential.... Let's get crunchy fellow granolas.
I've been thinking a lot about this one lately, thoughts recently spawned from reading The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown and a trip to an organic farm.
The organic farm TBB West had the privilege of visiting yesterday was no ordinary organic farm, run by no ordinary organic farmer.
The man who greeted us at the entrance was older, probably around his mid fifties. He told us we would be done with the tour in about three and a half hours. I instantly was worried... How could I possibly be entertained and not get utterly bored and zoned out for the next three and a half hours... Had I ever done anything for three and a half hours before?
I was in for a surprise. As the man walked us around his farm, he spoke of the philosophical changes one must make to farm organically. None of us really knew what he was talking about at first.. our seminar reading had addressed organic farming as a shift from pesticides to organic pesticides, from chemical fertilizers to good ole manure. Not philosophy.
But this guy really had it figured out. He used absolutely NOTHING on his farm. Everything was the earth, and returned to the earth.
It turns out one day, about ten years ago, he decided after a long talk with his brother about biodynamics to get rid of EVERYTHING except the Earth and what the Earth had to offer to run his farm. He uses no pesticides, despite 10 percent of crop yields being compromised by pests. His answer to that one is simple,
"Where is it written that I get every tomato here? Is it not the earth that provides the soil, the water, the sun I need to grow the tomatoes? The same earth is creating the insects that eat the tomatoes. What is ten percent of my yield when I am respecting and honoring nature and the way it is meant to be."
This particular farmer's awareness of what it meant to be human, what his place was as someone manipulating the earth was fantastic.
He spoke of energy, the center of his farm was discovered and the energy channeled.
He asked me if I had ever had a day where I was upset about something, did absolutely nothing, and somehow at the end of it felt totally exhausted for no apparent reason. He told me everyday I have a responsibility to charge myself positively, the science of what happens between mind and body is proven.
By the way, for anyone who is reading along and thinks this guy is a weird yoga stoner mystic, you couldn't be more wrong. He spends his mornings at his other job, being a cardiologist. Just saying, in case you happened to be victim to a social construct where occupation either merits/demerits the validity of someone's opinions. :)
The cardiologist/farmer wisely spoke of the paralysis of routine. I referenced James Joyce at this point (for any readers of Mr. Mohney's AP Lit). He talked about "real life" being in the unfamiliar.
He spoke of how he did plant graphs, just like skin graphs. How he took the "skins" of different plants together and made new plants with them. He did this all with a knife that he kept in a fanny pack type thing around his waist.
Essentially, he blew my mind... if you can't tell.
So, after all these short conversations about life, spirituality, nature, our place as humans in the world... I asked him if he was affiliated to a particular faith or religion. He responded something along the lines of "Why limit yourself to a particular way of thinking. There are too many boundaries and walls up when you define your beliefs with a word like that. I have not read many books on farming, philosophy, or spirituality. Nature has been my only guru." He went on to talk about the importance of observation, about what we can learn by just watching the world around us. He even went as far to discuss the unimportance of economics, the theories and numerical way of looking at things. I admittedly got a little lost on this part, but that could be because I can't imagine a world without economics... where as he can.
Finally, this wise man spoke of "oneness" the same "atonement" or "enlightenment" Dan Brown talks about in his book. The potential of humans is unbounded, but it is only when you really appreciate the world as having creating you, not you creating it that you can even become to be enlightened. I feel as though the most humble are the most "at one".
Of course, through all this, I have been thinking about my own personal growth, my own tolerance and potential.
There are still at lot of BIG question marks when it comes to me. I have learned to tolerate being dirty, not having a shower, and virtually any conditions when it comes to "going to the bathroom" ( quotes are a must have here, since I haven't seen a true bathroom in a while...). However, I still have no tolerance for rodents. Quick story, night one, there was a mouse in my room. I was sleeping in shorts (not culturally okay in India) and fled into the next room to escape the rodent. Little did I know, the next room over was where the entire family was sleeping and I ended up jumping on my 12 year old host brothers bed at about midnight... wearing shorts. Pretty memorable first night. By the way, the village I am in has never seen white people before. Just to add to the drama and ridiculousness of this whole situation.
I have learned to tolerate endless stares and heckles from men. I have not learned to tolerate falling off a bike in front of the entire village into a pile of mud... secretly really being in pain but being so much more paralyzed by the humiliation to move.... That was a shameful walk home to say in the least, back covered in mud, people laughing, mocking, and imitating in a language not my own. Being defenseless to this kind of embarrassment can actually be painful.
I could ramble on and on about what my tolerance and potentials are. I really could. India is providing much inspiration and growth in both these areas in particular. Working in a field of surrounded by monkeys has proved to be an excellent space for reflection.
Until next time,