online: 11 september 2002

10 september 2002 competition and collaboration

17:26 A summery afternoon and I feel like doing nothing but sit here seeing blue sky and clouds and trees and cut grass and an insect that is examining or feeding off my hands and fingers. Forgetting as far as I can the almost day-long radio re-living the attacks on the USA a year ago this week (and remembering no such attention to the killings of far greater numbers in Rwanda and elsewhere) I simply sit here and wait to see what happens...

...As I wrote that, a man and a woman came by picking blackberries and he asked if they might pick the ones growing beside me. He said they intended to make blackberry jam and that they didn't know how to make it. I told him how my mother used to take us gathering blackberries each autumn and that she added cooking apples and sugar and sealed it in jars for the winter. He said they'd eat it as soon as it was made. She said she didn't want to add sugar so I suggested apple juice. He asked me where the best blackberries are to be found and I told him of some and he offered me the ones he'd picked while we talked.

A woman I know passed with two dogs and I waved. And now a man I know (also with two dogs) passes and I call 'hello' and he waves back. I spoke to him yesterday and he told me he was saddened by the death of the dog that always used to walk with him. He told me that one of the two dogs with him now is from the dogs' home and the other is from Paris. 'He's a Frenchman!' he said, laughing.

There are still bees or wasps visiting nettle flowers nearby and many insects bothering me.

A man in t-shirt and shorts walks by. He looks as if he is tired from running and is not interested in his surroundings. I am not interested in running but at one time I was. I used to run cross-country for the pleasure of being able to go on and on once you get a 'second-wind'. Otherwise it can be self-inflicted torture but something drove me to do it even then. Was it competitiveness or was it a sense of achievement? The latter I think - the culture drove me to compete but I preferred running on my own, against the clock... but now I much prefer walking.

Now here are two mountain bikers pedalling up the slope and talking as they go... And two men walking - one of them sprints ahead but the other does not accept the challenge - so the one sprinting stops to wait for him.

I suppose these little incidents tell us much about our motives and our culture. Perhaps all we need to know. Each moment of life is in some way the whole of it.

on my way back;
I've stopped to watch two young men throwing and catching a spinning plastic disc (I forget what it's called*). They are doing it so beautifully. Each throws and spins the disc so that it rises and floats in a curving path that ends close to where the other is standing. They hardly have to move to reach the falling disc and they almost never fail to catch it with ease and without jerkiness. I suppose it's a rare example of collaborative sport - with no attempt to out-perform or to out-wit the other. I wonder how long it will be before collaboration will replace competition as the growth in population makes it necessary for survival? If it does.

Later an owl flew ahead of me, beneath the tree-canopy. It's many years since I've seen one though I often hear them if I go walking at dusk (there are some fictional owls, and an 'owl house' remembered from my childhood, towards the end of my favourite chapter of the electric book.)

*a frisbee, a popular toy or game of the sixties. Is that why it thrived then - a time of collaboration? And is that why it ceased to be popular - collaboration being too difficult in the present culture... competition is easier... and worse?

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© 2002 john chris jones

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