online: 15 december 2002

14 december 2002 everyone is related

16:25 Indoor cafe today - cold damp air outside. Little or no wind. The heath guardians seem to have decided to leave the oak where it fell (smashing itself against another tree) near the bird viaduct - and they have remade the gravel road in a detour round it.

Is this a part of a new collective sensitivity to nature? In my earlier life, and perhaps in all human history, I can think of no such decisions to adapt human constructions to preserve natural destruction and decay. Does this indicate a profound change in human evolution, directed and informed by scientific knowledge of 'the whole'?

On the way here I spoke to two women who were making a tree rubbing. 'It's for my daughter's art project' said the older one. She came from New York and now lives in Britain. The tree they'd chosen is a half-fallen, half-rotted and very gnarled oak that is still sending new branches upwards. In earlier times it might well have been cleared away.

Then I met a man who was using a metal racquet to hit a tennis ball for a dog to retrieve. 'Playing tennis with your dog?' I said (rather foolishly) as I passed. 'Oh yes - he must train for Wimbledon!' he replied immediately, as if from a script (and in a strong mid-European accent). And then he repeated it: 'He must train for Wimbledon!' He wore the same kind of cap as I do. What silly things we say to each other!

Looking at the people in this crowded cafe I realise that I don't know any of them - except that we share the experience of being here in this place at this time... and also of being alive in this century on this planet... and in sharing our common evolution, and history... So in these facts at least we do all 'know' each other!

This is (a small part of) 'everyone' writing!

And now I look at these people (my wider family!) again... Each one reminds me of several other people I've known more closely than these - from which memories I infer (wrongly or rightly) an idea of what each 'is like'... I feel that I could immediately begin talking to any of them, given a pretext or purpose, or responding to a smile or an exchanged glance...

And now it is proposed (by manufacturers?) that we wear electronic badges which could recognise, among 'strangers', those with whom we have shared experiences or interests... But in a small country like Wales people have always begun conversations with apparent strangers by asking 'and who are you relatedto, then?' It is quite probable I have a distant cousin in this room, but I lack the means of recognising him or her. And it is possible that we are all descended from one person!

We need not fear the (very) new. It resembles the (very) old!

what's new


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© 2002 john chris jones

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