Today is one of those slow days - every blade of grass, leaf and living creature pointing towards a cold and long winter. Winter is a time for taking things easy, reflection and for certain bodily organs to take a break. It is a special time in the bush - a change of colors, animals are more visible and concentrated. It is a time for lots of 'reading' ......... books, yourself and all the signs of nature.
Today, for some reason, the concept of 'learning' keeps popping it's head out everywhere. Most of what I know, I learned as a child in the Kavango ... my 'teachers' were mostly the true inhabitants of that part of the world - the Kavangos and the Bushmen. Other figures played a role as well - my parents, a school teacher here and there and then the amazing characters that this part of the world produced. My greatest teachers, if I really think about it, were the Stillness of Nature, because it helped me 'remember,' and some four-legged friends.
It is a well known fact that the larger part of what we know, we learned from watching others. One can only do this if you manage to be still - only in stillness can you concentrate and absorb. This is an impossible task today - 'new' diseases keep popping up that make it impossible for some kids to learn and absorb in stillness. They simply can't be still anymore - they run and fiddle like wind-up toys. All thanks to ADD, ADHD and every other DD you can think of. The concept of discipline has flown off to a far-off place. Today the majority of kids learn everything they know and much more than what is good for them from the magic square old box. The same one that I was warned against as a child - yes .... "it will fry your nuts, rot your brain and you'll get square eyes if you sit to close to it."
Learning from people that live 'close to the ground,' who themselves learned from those who respected the 'ancient ways' was possibly one of the most valuable experiences of my life. These people, traditional black and Bushmen people together with the teaching capability of Nature and some four-legged friends all have something in common. It is teaching without any expectations, judgement or questions ...... without ego - it is an ancient code of patience, a natural flow of knowledge and experience. Something that just is, always was and always will be. I can remember the total calmness of my mind, no hesitation, no nervousness, no fear in asking questions - a total willingness to absorb and to learn.
What a shock it was to enter the 'learning procedures' of the modern world. Some gadget, book or extremely 'clever' person will give you that edge. There were books, methods, pills, the canes of teachers and pressure of all sorts that 'pointed', fairly forcefully to the new way of learning.
"If you don't master this, you'll be nothing ... you can't do that, because there's no future in it ... why do you read that? ... how dare you think that? ... no you can't do anything with your hands, that is what black people are for ... if you don't go to Sunday school every Sunday and pass your religious exam, you'll never get a job ... there is only one way of mastering this, you'll do it my way."
I quickly learned that asking questions only caused more questions directed at you. A straight answer was out of the question most of the times. If a question asked was a little bit out of the 'comfort zone' of the teacher - you might get your ear pulled off or caned.
I can remember a teacher telling us that we must all go the coming weekend and spread the word of God to the black people .. "you must make fishermen out of these people" - based on the Bible story. As a child of about 8, I could not understand this kind of responsibility and it was just a plain stupid idea to me, because of all the time we'll waste doing it. I dared to suggest the following: How about we all go out and invite all the black people to the school hall, then she and the headmaster can tell them all about God and fisherman coming Monday. I was not sarcastic, I really thought that we'll attract hundreds if not thousands of black people and they'll love to listen to knowledgeable adults telling them about God. As a kid without much experience and not really understanding God's ways - no one was going to listen to me anyway. This way we could achieve so much more in a short amount of time.
Of course I was giving a hiding for suggesting such a thing - that was the 'apartheid' years and just thinking about inviting black people to our school was a big no-no. After the break I was called to the headmasters office .... I learned bloody fast not to express my ideas anymore.
You asked a question and the immediate reaction was, no you can't, why do you think about something like that, it is a waste of time or you might even get an immediate thrashing. Knowledge, I learned was not universal, it was linked and channeled to a certain mindset. You dare to think out of that little square and you'll be pulled in the mouth.
I quickly learned that knowledge was a very personal and private thing - I had to find another way of learning about interesting things. Basically, I quickly learned to sort everything out myself and not to trust what others told me. Try everything and keep the good close to your heart. It is ironic, because that is basically what the Bible teaches us - unfortunately our so called modern teachers (during my childhood, all fairly religious) missed that part.
The last 10 years of my life, I've been 'itching' to learn again - in Stillness and from our greatest teachers. God knows, I tried the other ways - most of which completely removed me from my roots. I learned that there is an ancient code of learning locked within us, it is not out there. Some things out there help us to remember. It is a gut feeling - a feeling we were taught to ignore by our 'modern teachers.' Gut feelings, your instincts, you Inner Voice - they belong to the primitive, to the ancient and not to 'movers and shakers.' We are taught that if you want to get somewhere in life - the plastic fish pond with the red garden gnome and white picket fence .... you must follow the masses and totally disregard your most inner feelings and 'gut' instincts.
I might be very different, but give me a rocky hill with a tree ... a view any day - it helps me remember. You're most welcome to keep the garden gnome and picket fence ... if it really makes you happy ........... because it helps you to forget ...........