Brian DoyleSometimes you want to see the forest and not the trees. Sometimes you find yourself starving for what’s true, and not about a person but about all people. This is how religion and fascism were born, but it’s also why music is the greatest of arts, and why stories matter, and why we all cannot help staring at fires and great waters.
Earlier this week I was listening to a friend telling me of her recent research trip to the deepest forests in the mountains of Papua New Guinea. Initially, she was listing the various diseases she encountered (leprosy is prevalent, breast cancer too) and the way the communities are coping, but soon enough, she showed me pictures of sacred objects, artifacts, tools, baskets, toys, made me listen to recordings of songs and chants, and gave me two small woven bags she had smuggled through customs.
I am at a loss of words to describe all of that. Beautiful? Stunning? Strange? Unexpected - definitely - and there is the obvious risk of romanticising what clearly is beyond my understanding.
These are examples of a daily life, a daily struggle, a sense of community and of traditions - some bewilderingly violent - that are beyond my imagination, certainly beyond my physical ability, yet they feel utterly hopeful. Comforting. The desire of humanity to create, to transcend, to share.
Later, when we talk about this over dinner, R tells me that evolution can only work in isolation, that species that share everything will cease to develop. I ask again, bewildered, and obviously, this applies not necessarily to humans but he has been thinking beyond the potential of human evolution far longer that I have dared to.
And for a moment I allow myself the thought that we as a species still have the ability to change, to retreat, to transcend. A precious thought.