While researching for my play workshop, I came across an interesting concept called neoteny. According to the Scientific American article “Being More Infantile Might Have Led to Bigger Brains,” neoteny is “the retention of juvenile features.” For example, humans have big eyes, flatter faces and far less body hair than a mature chimpanzee, our closest ancestor. Basically, we have many of the features of a baby monkey. We have a slower maturation process than chimps, too.
This week, my husband Jamey and I ventured in to the woods to see the world “stripped of its secret.” In this seemingly seemingly stark and monochromatic wilderness, it is easy to miss the subtle beauty of the natural world. I hope this post inspires you to keep connecting with the earth this December.
Following the winding path-away-from-the-path,
getting swept away by rippling waters,
traveling with the fallen leaves
“We are here to awaken from the illusion of separateness.”
– Thich Nhat Hahn as cited in The Illusion of Separateness by Simon Van Booy
In my ethics class this last week, the question of the “disappearance of community” was a point of lengthy discussion. The lamenting of this societal loss is not new. In the book by Robert Putnam Bowling Alone published fifteen years ago, the phenomenon of lost “social capital” was extrapolated on at length, from Bowling Alone’s website:
“The central premise of social capital is that social networks have value. Social capital refers to the collective value of all ‘social networks’ [who people know] and the inclinations that arise from these networks to do things for each other [‘norms of reciprocity’].”
While this particular definition is a little clinical for my taste, I basically agree with the premise: community is important and fulfills needs.
The absence of this “social capital’ is worth lamenting. Loneliness is an issue. If you search “statistics on loneliness in the United States,” you will find the following articles:
For the ceremony, we decided to each create a sky lantern where one side would be an honoring of present and passing lives and the other side would be a welcoming of new gifts.
Immediately, this time was different from the last in that Mel’s adorable little children were not quite ready for bedtime. In the pictures below, what you don’t see are the tiny hands, feet and voices in the background and Mel trying to coerce her little people back into their beds.