Friday, September 25, 2009
Choose Your Fairy Tale
We have a neighbor, up here on this rugged East Bluff, who built a home shortly after we moved into our place. He's a retired dairy farmer, a bachelor, a curmudgeon, clever-minded, hard-working, helpful and dead set on his opinion of how the world operates. Most of the time we get along just fine and we humor each others differences. But sometimes he loses his temper with me, typically when I try to explain why I interact with horses the way I do in response to him telling me I should handle them more like he feels "livestock" should be handled. I suppose my failure to embrace his experience with cattle as something transferable to our horses seems like an insult to him and this is what makes him hot-headed. Surely, I have no desire to insult anyone and sometimes (like this past Sunday) I am surprised to find that I have provoked his ire.
While attempting to explain the subtleties of herd dynamics, especially when a stallion is present, anger flushed over him--he cut me abruptly off with a spurious ranting. Among a spewing of dagger sharp words he aimed at me were these: "You read too many fairy tales!"
I was not so much slain by the words themselves, rather, it was the strange vehemence in his eyes as the words were spoken. I realized, fully for the first time, that this man finds me absurdly incompetent.
I'm nearly 49 years old and unaccustomed to being harshly scolded like a misbehaving child, but there was no point in arguing with him. And anyhow, he is right, I do read "fairy tale" books...but that doesn't make my interactions with horses wrong.
Many philosophers and esoteric sages tell us that humans create their own realities, in that the morals, ethics, religions, lifestyles, etc. are agreements made by a collective of humans which aim to explain the natural phenomenon of the world and provide structure and meaning to their daily lives.
Historically, every culture has its myths, superstitions and irrational suppressions which modern humans tend to think of as primitive, quaint, out-moded expressions of a limited reality. After the Renaissance, the "Age of Reason" propelled the collective mindset into a belief that science could provide humans a more accurate accounting of the world--and so it indeed seemed to do, with gnomes, fairies, ghosts, demons, gods and goddesses vanishing like a dream from which we'd awakened. Empirically gained insights were replaced with rationalism, deductive reasoning supplanted sensory perception and the long-held hierarchy of male domination knitted these into a new reality which we find ourselves perpetuating even today.
Recently, I heard a CBC radio news program alert its listeners that new evidence has been discovered that there are a myriad of microbes living in bathroom shower heads which scientists now believe are responsible for a great number of human ills. We are being instructed to get into the routine of replacing our shower heads every three months. Our demons have become the bacteria we have coevolved with hundreds of thousands of years, our gods have become the manufacturers of the medications and appliances that will protect us from the harm of these evil organic entities.
My neighbor sees the world as belonging to humans, which have earned the say on how to best make use of all that surrounds us. Animals are brutes that must be controlled and put to use to further the cause of mankind. He is not alone...it seems most of the humans walking upright around this earthen sphere have decided this is the true reality of things and that it is in our nature to behave in this way. Archaeological discoveries have been presented to us in such a way as to have us believe that cooperative societies were rare and dominator societies, based on meat consumption, patriarchy and violent power grabs represent what is normal behavior for humans. The actual science behind such summations is as reductionist as any primitive cosmology. This "reality" we have been cultured into is based on a limited view of the world and its potential. It is just one of many "fairy tale books".
I'm chosing to read different fairy tales...to create and live a different reality (in as much as I can and yet participate on the fringe of modern human society). In my reality, horses come alive with personality, feeling, dreams and desires. The horses are beings with whom which I can have relations based on sensory perception, rational deduction and the development of a coexisting intellectual communication that incorporates body, mind and spirit. Why limit it to brute force and hierarchical domination--that is so prevalent in the "fairy tale" my neighbor subscribes to?
Remember there was a time when the collective beliefs of many humans determined that Afro-American slaves were incapable of higher intelligence and that "coloured" humans were inferior. It would seem that the current President of the United States decided to believe in a different reality, a "fairy tale" begun by others who declared that certain beliefs were unfounded and dedicated their lives to releasing themselves from such limitations as were created from that type of thinking.
I'll keep on living as if "once upon a time" we had a beautiful relationship with the entire world, and it smiled on us with great fondness--so far this is the reality I'm experiencing. It's a good fairy tale and I'm sticking with it!