Connecting With Your ‘Inner Child’
I’ve been thinking this week about learning from others, and the fact that everyone you come across each day has something to teach or share. Tribewanted would not have flourished as a project if we hadn’t learned along the way from our Fijian friends and family. However, sharing and benefiting from one another’s experiences is not a one-way street. Tevita and I were talking about this the other day and he told me how many of Team Fiji themselves didn’t know how to meke before they came to Vorovoro. Many of the young lads from Ligulevu hadn’t thatched a traditional bure until last week, and Sosi learned how to weave palm leaves for roofing, along with the tribe, a few days ago!
We respect and trust our village elders on Vorovoro, as is the tradition in Fijian families and many other indigenous communities, but this is something we’ve forgotten how to do in the West. Likewise, we no longer know our neighbours or come to rely on them. In the Sustainability Forum this week we talked about the lack of community action in much of the West – how can we work together to reach our accumulative maximum potential when we live in virtual isolation, socialising only with a small group of friends and peers? Being part of a community means working with, respecting, and learning from those around you, rather than those you choose to be around. By limiting our interaction to a closed group of people we are missing out on so much richness and diversity, and yet this is how many of us live. I believe that we can achieve greatness only with the help of others.
The knowledge and wisdom handed down by the elders on Vorovoro has proved invaluable on the project, but I think we sometimes overlook that other important demographic – the children! According to Google, the average child laughs anything between 150-400 times a day. The average adult laughs just 15 times a day. The average number of times a day a Fijian laughs falls somewhere in between that! The lessons to be learnt, or revised, (lets not forget we were all small people once upon a time!) from the kids in our life are just as precious as those from our more traditional ‘teachers’. Friedrich Nietzsche said that “a person’s maturity consists in having found again the seriousness one has as a child, at play”, and with that in mind, it’s been a juvenile couple of weeks here on the island…in the best possible way!
One evening last night we decided to watch a movie in the Grand Bure. The mats were laid out, the popcorn prepared, the mood lighting set. Out of the darkness came Pupu, armed with a kerosene lamp and time on his hands. Before we know it storytime/talanoa night was unfolding. As the tribe members hushed, Pupu began with tales from his past. He talked logging, horse wrangling, snake-capturing, road-building. And we listened, as children do, quiet and eager to hear more. After half an hour the laptop was shutdown, clearly surplus to requirements for the night, and as one hour passed to the next tribe members began to slumber, lulled by Pupu’s gravely tones.
A couple of days later some of the tribe were chilling on the hammocks after an afternoon of thatching, weaving, and banging stuff. One of the boys mentioned that he was restless and wanted to play a game. Feeling childish and up for some fun, I suggested ‘Sardines’. For those not in the know, Sardines is ‘Hide and Seek’ with bells on. One person hides and the remaining players set out separately to search. Once a Seeker finds the first Sardine they jump in and hide alongside them. And so the next, and the next… resulting in a tin stuffed full of sardines. It’s a game of ingenuity, intrigue, and stealth… depending on how seriously you take it.
As we sat and counted on the beachside picnic table, Jenny headed off – in full camouflage gear, I might add! – to hide. We later discovered that she had a recommendation from Taniella. There was no namby pamby ‘behind a rock’ or ‘under the table’ spots involved in this game. By the end of round one, 6 of us lay flat on the corrugated tin kitchen roof! * Round two saw Mateo hiding. Jon-e shook his head and warned us that we’d never find him, as Mateo knows the island like no other. He wasn’t far off. After a sneaky tip-off 3 of us piled inside the chalk notice board, whilst Jim innocently whistled as he wrote up the next day’s activities. It was my turn to hide in the final round, and as it was getting dark I decided to go for the easy option – curled on a bed in the Family Bure, under the mosquito net. Tale walked entered and seemed to look straight through me. Sarah next, followed by Mateo. The minutes passed as I heard each player crunch past on the gravel paths. Ole, Jonas, and Tale returned, this time armed with a torch. They shone it right on me, but clearly my invisibility cloak was running on full power. After another few minutes, growing lonely, I whispered Tucana’s name and he finally came to join me. The game was, finally, up!
Immaturity is not always a negative trait in adulthood and we’ve had many, many laughs recently when connecting with our ‘inner children’. To those of you starting another Monday morning behind a desk, I’ll leave you with a Mark Twain quote: “Work and play are words used to describe the same thing, under different circumstances”. I hope you all have a great day, a great week, and find the opportunity to laugh joyously, and often!