traces of being

and then there will come the days when you’re gone and your children read your letters and notes and diaries and wonder what you were thinking, and even though they see those letters for the first time, there are such uncanny similarities with their own lives that they cannot explain and that seem so strange. as if we were unintended replication machines since the start, producing ourselves over and over again, even when we try to get a different result… we can only teach what we are. and however much we sometimes criticize our parents, we can only become what they were, and no different. there will always be recognisable traces.

or are those traces visible to us because we’re looking for similarities with the ones we miss?

travelling like a thought

Perhaps on a day when it’s possible to travel with just hands in my pockets, without packing, preparing, nerve-wrecking planning and worrying about how, where, when, how to be on time, etc, i would actually enjoy travelling. Right now i enjoy it only in theory… lol.

I wonder where those fairytales come from where the third son just walks out of the door into the wide world and comes back with luck, love and happiness. Oh wow. I guess for all that I, too, need a horse who eats embers. Anybody know where i can find a horse that eats embers? Glowing embers. Yum! Crunch crunch.

The horse ate a trough of glowing ambers and asked the prince: how fast do you want to travel? Like the wind or like the thought? Oh yes – that’s what i need – that the fabric of the world were written in fairy tales… and it’s perhaps because i spent too many hours with all the world’s fairy tales and ember-eating horses as a child that i find it really, really difficult to adapt to the everyday ‘reality’ needs of taking a bus to get to the subway to reach the train station to reach another city to wait for a bus… ugh. How slow and complicated! One can go mad like that!!!

wolf spell

Canis lupus. Photo by Bernard Landgraf, Wikimedia CommonsAccording to the wolf researcher Ilmar Rootsi, our ancestors considered the wolf (Canis lupus) to be the most important animal of the forests. Despite being a constant, persistent threat to the cattle-breeding culture, one cannot find hostility or outward violence towards wolves in our lore. Ancestors tried to “tell off” the wolf with spells and keep it away from cattle herds with magical acts, but they recognised the wolf’s inherent right to live, and even believed that if a wolf killed off an animal in a herd, it would bring fertility.

What a culture. Looking into my own history and folklore is like an endless quest – I know so few, and there is so much more to learn that sometimes, my mind cannot even comprehend. This is nature reverence for you, when comparing this to some Western European cultures where they hung wolves, or Russia where they skinned and burned them alive. I suppose the Little Red Riding Hood tale conveys some of that attitude as well. — In W-Europe, the collective violence outbursts drove wolves nearly to extinction. To Estonians, the philosophy seemed to be – do what you have to, to protect yours, but not more than scarcely necessary; respect, let others live.

Honestly I cannot right now imagine any other culture who would try to fight wild predators with… words. Words, of all things! Seems to be something we’re good at.

Too romantical and credulous? Maybe. Certainly there’s more historical, geographical and environmental background info to look into, in order to understand the reasons behind other cultures’ different attitudes. But the question still remains: why is one culture acting so very differently than another? Why is one culture trying to destory something alive with a lot of persistence and no consideration; and why is another not doing the same?* It wasn’t like my ancestors were so ‘well off’ that they did not feel the need to secure their cattles at any cost. They were enslaved and ruled over; food was scarce anywhere. Culture. It’s not genetics; they say it’s not so much linguistics, either. But then what is it?

Here’s the spell for you, translation following.

Metsa sikku, metsa sokku,
metsa kuldane kuningas,
metsa halli harvalõuga,
metsa peni pikkalõuga!
Ära salva salajalta,
ära näksa nägemata,
ära puutu minu pulli,
ära katsu minu karja!
Mine sohu sobistama,
mine laande luusimaie,
pikki puida murdemaie,
kivi külga kiskumaie!

[Billygoat of the forest, goat of the forest, golden king of the forest, grey scarce-hair chin of the forest, long-jaw hound of the forest! Do not inject poison stealthily, do not bite unseen, do not touch my ox, do not touch my herd! Go waddle in bogs, go rove in forests, slay along trees, tear at stones.]
(Vigala parish, 1894)
— The names and chants do not rely only on the dictionary meanings of the words, but their rhythm, sounds, in particular allitterations, and associations. A translation only conveys a small part of the power and charge of these strings of words.
From “The wolf – best-known animal in Estonian folklore.” Read the entire article in English »

* In the original research article by Rootsi (“Hunt kultusloomana Eesti rahvatraditsioonis,” PDF) it is shown that slavic and germanic traditions and lore also knew reverence towards the wolf. Is this simply the difference of prevalent practices within a culture, or what changed?

two worlds, two dimensions

appreciate what you have before it becomes what you had

Had this conversation today with someone – let’s call them S.

Me [talking about indigenous peoples and their rights and Canada and #idlenomore and all kinds of such things]
S [finding it all very interesting, then asking suddenly, in the end]: Have you ever been to Canada?
Me: No, I haven’t. Have you?
S: Yes! I’ve been to Nova Scotia, Halifax [starts explaining where it is and what it looks like on the map]
Me: I happen to know very well where Nova Scotia is. I’m kind of learning the language of Nova Scotia, and around.
S: Really? Oh wow. Yes, they speak a bit differently [starts imitating a strange English accent to illustrate]
Me: No, I’m learning the indigenous language of Nova Scotia.
S: ??? There’s an indigenous language in Nova Scotia?

Two worlds. Two semiospheres. Two completely different background systems.

A year ago, I didn’t know where Nova Scotia was. I did know where the Mi’kmaw people were located on the map, though – more or less. By now I seem to be more familiar with the Mi’kmaw names for places than the other ones. It was a natural choice for me – to learn from the people of the land.

Sometimes I come across a similar semiospheric confusion while talking with people who live in the world of French-speaking geography that I am not very familiar with. The confusions are easily solved by giving the English equivalent of the place name, and I learn, quickly.

In any area with indigenous peoples there’s a yet different reality layer, though – consisting of place names that often make sense, a language, a culture, a relationship with the environment around. It is all so very interesting, unique, rare, and often endangered.

The general public tends to know the layer of the prevalent culture(s), and very often they are not even aware that an alternative exists. Yet it does, and it’s in most cases not dead, decayed, deteriorated and forgotten, but alive, thriving, surviving, and carried by real people in the real world – as real as anybody else.

But the average occidental regards this as a dream world, long gone, dead, buried, and fairytale-ish. It’s so very romantical! To wear feathers on Halloween and remember the lovely natives with a good word on Thanksgiving, but living your whole life not knowing where your neighbours actually come from, or even that they exist, to say nothing of… knowing and understanding what they feel and think, or trying to learn some of their language in return of their having learnt yours. There are so many little things, being “the least” we could do! I suppose it hasn’t been made easy over the history, but it doesn’t excuse the ignorance.

It’s the diversity we all share and should attempt to keep and hold on to, until we still have it, in the present tense.

a wish

I’m making a wish: for now and always
to work with people who respect and value the time and work of others;
to be always able to earn my living with the things I love to do;
to be always able to learn from my mistakes;
to be able to recognize situations and people I cannot change;
and to have courage to walk away from anything that doesn’t accord with my values.

February 3, 2011

beauty

“Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart.”
– Kahlil Gibran

Wish I could always remember that. For it happens too often that people who appear beautiful outside have not much of it left for the inside… That’s why I also prefer to close my eyes an listen, rather than to see. But still I have so much to learn.

between me and my dreams

I get confused quite often. Confused about what I’m doing, why I’m here, if I am happy or is there something missing…

Guess I’m not the only one. Not wanting to be bold, but it seems to me that most of the world – at least the Western world as I know it – is confused like I am. Maybe even worse.

But happiness – true, genuine, intrinsic happiness – isn’t something external, achievable, is it? I’ve talked with happy people. They say that they are happy – they have their life, job, dream home, dream spouse, children, hobbies – whatever. But something makes me think that they were actually happy before. They are not happy because they have a home / spouse / children / dogs / money. I’d rather say they have all those things / people in their lives because they are happy. But some of them would be equally happy, sleeping naked under the desert sun or wrapped in the rain forest leaves…

And I wonder what kind of brain chemistry makes people like that. I’d really love to have that pill!

A few days ago I got really fed up with sadness. What am I doing, I thought, wasting my time and energy on something that doesn’t depend on me? I should project my thoughts and hopes into positive, rewarding actions. Do what you love, and do it often.

But sometimes it’s not easy to see what it is you love while you’re just filled up with shadows. Everything seems dark and hopeless. You know that you have to keep it light, but it keeps coming back and drowning you again.

So out of the bottom of that well I cried out for help. To whom? I think it doesn’t matter, really; that in the end everything that we could possibly cry out to is just a projection of our own minds. But funnily enough, this strange way of talking to your imaginary alter ego sometimes works for good.

I asked to be relieved of the sadness. I chose to let go. I chose not to cling to the reasons any more; and it opened my eyes.

Over the next days I just stumbled upon things and discoveries that made me see the brighter side of life. I got ideas; I got hope, confidence, inspiration…

It seemed like I had been standing in the shadow, and just one step took me to the light. My mind was cleared. And I wasn’t running to the light completely… I wanted to stay on that border, embraced by both light and darkness. To love myself as I am, to turn my weaknesses into strength and courage. By pulling myself mentally completely back from the outer world, I discovered an intrinsic balance I’d never encountered before. A balance free of fear, but full of curiosity. And all that because I had just asked. Why hadn’t I taken this one step before?

Sometimes happiness is just a question away…