24 December 2015

Thus, from one extreme of human evolution to the other, there are no two kinds of wisdom. Therefore let us adopt as the principle of our life what has always been a principle of action and will always be so: to emerge from self, to give, freely and obligatory. We run no risk of disappointment.
Marcel Mauss

In the first days after we had moved into our little house in paradise, we were watched carefully from a distance. Slowly, people started to wave and smile. Children began to come one step closer when we turned our backs and a game of giggling and running ensued until finally, a very cheerful girl about the same age as S appeared at the back door and began interrogating us in the three languages most of the natives, we soon found out, could speak fluently: French, English, Creole. 
Soon, more children joined her bearing gifts. Huge golden papaya, baskets of pink mangoes, a large bouquet of hibiscus flowers, salted fish, coconuts freshly opened and straws inserted, limes of all shapes and colours, a kitten ... we tried to reciprocate in our clumsy European style: packets of biscuits, small toys, pens and colouring books - until a really small boy handed me an even smaller human baby, asleep in a tightly wrapped blanket. It was then that the adults stepped in, shy at first, but with firm handshakes and instructions on how to handle insects, bats and free range poultry and roaming dogs. The kitten and the baby were restored to their original owners but the endless chain of gifts never stopped.


  1. If only people everywhere were as kind and generous to strangers. Sounds like a lovely place. Paradise, indeed.

  2. I want to live in that paradise. Such a beautiful outpouring of humanity.

  3. Have recently read Lewis Hyde's The Gift. Turns out that much of that book was inspired by Marcel Mauss' book. Thank you for the link. I downloaded Marcel Mauss' book and will be reading it in the coming days.

    As always, I am grateful that you write down your vivid memories of paradise.

  4. Wonderful story, the small boy giving you the baby made me chuckle!

    Very best wishes of the season to you and yours, and thanks for being here.