here is a tribe in Africa where the birth date of a child is counted not from when they were born, nor from when they are conceived but from the day that the child was a thought in its mother’s mind. And when a woman decides that she will have a child, she goes off and sits under a tree, by herself, and she listens until she can hear the song of the child that wants to come. And after she’s heard the song of this child, she comes back to the man who will be the child’s father, and teaches it to him. And then, when they make love to physically conceive the child, some of that time they sing the song of the child, as a way to invite it.
And then, when the mother is pregnant, the mother teaches that child’s song to the midwives and the old women of the village, so that when the child is born, the old women and the people around her sing the child’s song to welcome it. And then, as the child grows up, the other villagers are taught the child’s song. If the child falls, or hurts its knee, someone picks it up and sings its song to it. Or perhaps the child does something wonderful, or goes through the rites of puberty, then as a way of honoring this person, the people of the village sing his or her song.
In the African tribe there is one other occasion upon which the villagers sing to the child. If at any time during his or her life, the person commits a crime or aberrant social act, the individual is called to the center of the village and the people in the community form a circle around them. Then they sing their song to them.
The tribe recognizes that the correction for antisocial behavior is not punishment; it is love and the remembrance of identity. When you recognize your own song, you have no desire or need to do anything that would hurt another.
And it goes this way through their life. In marriage, the songs are sung, together. And finally, when this child is lying in bed, ready to die, all the villagers know his or her song, and they sing—for the last time—the song to that person.
You may not have grown up in an African tribe that sings your song to you at crucial life transitions, but life is always reminding you when you are in tune with yourself and when you are not. When you feel good, what you are doing matches your song, and when you feel awful, it doesn’t. In the end, we shall all recognize our song and sing it well. You may feel a little warbly at the moment, but so have all the great singers. Just keep singing and you’ll find your way home.
This is so sweet.
“It is common for koalas to roam back to their home range afterwards and become confused to find nothing there. A worker noticed a koala had been sitting stationary in broad daylight on top of wood piles for over an hour.”
my heart just broke
Marina Abramović & Ulay- Breathing In/Breathing Out
The two artists devised a piece in which they connected their mouths and took in each others exhaled breaths until they had used up all of the available oxygen. Seventeen minutes after the beginning of the performance they both fell to the floor unconscious. The focus was to explore an individual’s ability to absorb the life of another person, exchanging and destroying it.
The day he first told me he was starting to disappear I didn’t believe him & so he stopped & held his hand up to the sun & it was like thin paper in the light & finally I said you seem very calm for a man who is disappearing & he said it was a relief after all those years of trying to keep the pieces of his life in one place. Later on, I went to see him again & as I was leaving, he put a package in my hand. This is the last piece of my life, he said, take good care of it & then he smiled & was gone & the room filled with the sound of the wind & when I opened the package there was nothing there & I thought there must be some mistake or maybe I dropped it & I got down on my hands & knees & looked until the light began to fade & then slowly I felt the pieces of my life fall away gently & suddenly I understood what he meant & I lay there for a long time crying & laughing at the same time.
treasures that look like common stuff
She held her grief behind her eyes like an ocean & when she leaned forward into the day it spilled onto the floor & she wiped at it quickly with her foot & pretended no one had seen.
I watched the pellet leave the gun. It was like a big black fly & it landed on the blackbird’s wing & suddenly there was a single drop of bright bright red & the voices of the world seemed farther away & I knew I could never do that again. The sounds of the other birds stopped for a moment as its song flew out to all the corners of the world & I hoped that someday I would be remembered that way.