GB No. 4(19)/95
I remember as clearly as it was yesterday: a psychology lesson with the head master of the school I used to attend. "Jankowski, explain why labour has a social character" - the man demanded. "Well, labour is not always pro-social" it slipped off my tongue, "for instance Robinson Cruzoe..." but I could not finish. The head went so furious that he wanted to expel me from school. Ten years has passed and the notion of an individual who is independent and self-sufficient is still with me. The story about the ingenious castaway has been present in our culture for three centuries. We have always long for the "lost paradise"...
Initiation. The so-called primitive cultures understand it as a test whether a young man is capable of getting what is necessary for survival. But there is something more to it: the contact with the Absolute, which has often been linked with achieving the real existence. The maturity exam that we take is just juggling with dates, formulas and principles that are forgotten right away. Do I exaggerate? Well, think: how much of the knowledge that is pumped into our heads is actually helpful in life? I guess that six months is enough to learn everything that you can really make use of. What is the whole rest for? What for are all those years spent behind desks, lack of sleep, diarrhoea before tests, cramming somebody’s lies for tests, etc., etc. Something has been botched here and the wrong reaches deeper that it seems to. Today’s home means tv set, holiday means shopping, cooking and tiresome family meetings. Almost each aspect of our life has turned to a grey and groovy parody.
Six months spent in the "Indian" tipi and allowed me to get rid of many stereotypes I used to believe in. No worms - insects do not like smoke. Not a sneeze in the time when my potential coeval could have needed several kinds of medicaments (I lived in the tipi to October frosts, about -7oC). Cooking over a bonfire is healthier, faster, more tasty and ... cool. And all despite my tipi was rather miserable (made of Russian sheets) and I was a greenhorn. But I can imagine that a tipi of hides or any other thick material plus experience of generations can make a paradise. Or at least something very close to it.
In the marvellous story by Berger The Little Big Man one of the protagonists, the Hide from the Old Hut says that all the follies of white man result from living in square houses because the angles are dwelling places for demons. There is also another fragment of the book saying that the Indians were devastated by regularity of the train time table for it was not in harmony with any natural rhythm that they felt.
Not many people watch stars, listen to birds or talk to trees. Deafened by media, in constant pursuit of as indispensable things as an electric toothbrush, we have forgotten that the Earth is a live organism and Man - an interdependent creature. "There are no proofs for that" somebody may say. Certainly, there are not. But there is one certainty: each of us will turn into dust and become a unity with the Earth. And the latest make of car or tons of revitalising cremes will not help. Therefore it is always worthwhile to stop among the rat race and contemplate oneself and the world. And perhaps go to the woods and listen... Why birds are so joyful?
reprinted from Mat' Pariadka 11/94
translated by M. Maciejewska