Monday, October 12, 2015


The wind was very high yesterday (over sixty mph sometimes) and managed to tear loose one end of my just-nailed-on garage roof tarp.  The forecast said that the wind would drop at 6PM and it did, so I did a quick repair that could at least keep the tarp on the roof.  A house just up the street lost several big old trees.

This morning at 5PM when my neighbor with the loud motor went off to work and the cats came to wake me, the sky was clear and the stars were as bright as they can get.  Today is predicted to be “breezy”.  It is double-dedicated to Columbus Day and its opposite: “We Were Already Here” day for indigenous peoples.  The main thing it means to me is that there won’t be mail.  But there will be less internet activity from people who had a 3-day weekend on wheels and more messages and reading from people who stayed home.  

I’m hearing shotguns boom at first light because it’s waterfowl hunting season.  A high wind means one has a chance to shoot a Canada goose for Thanksgiving, since it forces the birds to fly down low.  They’re just beginning to migrate.  So, you know, there's always a silver lining.  Maybe not for the goose.

I’m back to thinking about the five aspects of growing a human being.  One might think that the first stage, gestation in the womb, was protected and uneventful, but in fact the fetus is barely separated from the mother’s internal systems so if she is struggling with something like war or famine or emotional stress, that is happening to the fetus as well.  As a blastosphere, the earliest stage, the mother’s body may just throw off the new beginning as too much of a burden.  But if she has the resources or if the expanding body of the zygote is strong enough, this is when the most basic molecular structures of the community of cells begins to bring “online” abilities, one by one or in groups that have connected themselves: a spine, tissues that will be muscles, various organs, little anatomies like hands and feet and eyes and neural wiring with its dashboard, the brain.  The heart begins to beat.  It’s called “quickening” when the mother can feel the baby moving around in there.

Essentially, the second stage -- after birth, outside the mother’s body but not her attention -- is the completion of gestation since otherwise, like an English bulldog pup that must always be birthed by surgery, the human baby would be stuck inside.  Sometimes it is anyway and must either be pulled like a calf or cut out.  Once the brain is outside and the body is free to grow, the infant learns to breathe, to suck, to organize the bombardment of electrochemical data from the senses, and a few primitive ways to communicate by squalling or cooing.

Something forms that cannot be seen: the baby’s “world-frame,” developing from its own abilities as they continue to form against the mold of its care and circumstances whether in an Inuit shirt against its mother’s skin or in a modern house being constantly changed, washed, fed, covered, and urged into a quotidian cycle.  Some babies are put into a human-made womb and others are left in a caged space to kick and learn to turn over.  They will adapt and grow accustomed to not only the physical circumstances but also the attitudes of the people that cause them to care for babies a specific way, usually responding to the ecology of survival.

This stage extends out to the point where the child is walking and talking.  The vocabulary it learns, the emotional vibes, the protocols it’s supposed to observe, and growing competence in fine motor skills, along with pleasure or suffering, and the organizing and adapting to life, all are added to the World Frame which is much like a skeleton, the basics attitude toward existence.  The body even has to learn how to digest food and how to wake up.  But gradually, by age four or five, a little child is as smart and capable as an adult dog.

The next stage is learning the human skills where not even a chimp can go: arithmetic, reading/writing, music, art, how objects act in space against gravity, basic stories of the culture.  In some places, how to take shelter when bombs are falling.  In most cultures how to maintain basic hygiene.  How to interact with others and with things, even electronic things.  There is a space of time when adults still support and guide and provide, but the body is still unfolding until finally the adrenals begin to wake up the gonads and the child becomes fertile.  This interval before being sexual is a risky and supersensitive time when the World Frame takes a beating.  Then it adds sexuality.

Adolescence, when a child is physically capable of creating a new child but maybe not emotionally or socially complete enough for such a task, is nearly overwhelming for some people unless they are lucky enough to be in a consistent and supporting group that will guide and protect.  Call it a family if you want to, but in a culture that doesn’t support attachments based on genetics (as ours seems to be becoming), and commits unfinished children to institutions that value excesses and do not protect against aggression -- even sexually damaging or damaging to brains -- while all the time pretending to “educate” for success, survival can be a distortion.  I’m including college.

Adulthood in terms of full capacities is not reached until some time in the early twenties. At this point some people have a brain fully enmeshed with a healthy body and are a functioning part of the larger society   How much that society is thought to include can vary and is still part of becoming human, a combination of growth and limits that has impact on the entire planet -- for all we know, the galaxies.  The wisdom and energy of the entire ecologically interwoven planet contains enormous potential for environmental destruction and human death.  Sometimes we call that war and sometimes we call it progress.

Some people will talk about spirituality, though its very fuzzy and disorganized, maybe not much more developed than that World Frame of the baby with an undeveloped brain: something about a sustaining world that will make you bouyant or maybe a strong sense of tenacity that will endure in the face of suffering.  These are basic elements of personality that -- when developed into cultural institutions and major worldviews, -- determine events and their consequences, like air quality, resource management, cities and symphonies.

Each stage is dependent on the ones preceding and bequeaths the capacity for the next stage.  A human at the fifth stage has gone from physical development to awareness and imagination.  I don’t know what the sixth aspect is.  We assume it will be spiritual.  But that capacity was there all along.  In fact, everything is there all along, the way a symphony is always in the dimensions and qualities of sound vibration, simply spread across time.  It is always the embodiment of potential, perhaps not even recognized.

So my World Frame, so far as it is conscious, consists of getting the tarp on the garage in a high wind, until I get to a great dark silence.

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