01 November 2018

Sometimes 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.
Brian Doyle 

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.


  1. "The desire of humanity to create, to transcend, to share."
    Yes. This comforts me so much too! I love how you can put into words the things I so often feel and yearn for and want to connect with. Thank you for that, Sabine. And for wisdom from others, too, including your husband.

  2. Thank you for this precious thought, Sabine.

    Searching for more about Brian Doyle, I found this and thought you might like it, too. Now I want to read books by Brian Doyle:


  3. Maybe this is why our childhoods (those of us of a certain age) seem, looking back, so idyllic. We had so much less material things but so much more otherwise - a sense of identity, of belonging, of connection, of mystery and endless possibility.

  4. They say one cannot appreciate light without first knowing darkness; i believe we are all ready once again to appreciate light. It is good to know we have it in us to make it so. Thank you, as always, Sabine, for your gentle hope.

  5. Lovely post Sabine. Been thinking about you and hope that you are doing well.

  6. For some reason this posted reminded me of lyrics from Bruce Cockburn's song "Last Night of the World"
    ...I've seen the flame of hope among the hopeless
    And that was truly the biggest heartbreak of all
    That was the straw that broke me open...

  7. I read something not so long ago that humans have ceased to evolve, that we are, in fact, devolving, our brains getting smaller. the weak are no longer winnowed out, we no longer need to strive or problem solve, no wilderness to tame, we don't even need to be physically fit to survive with all our labor saving devices, and technology has overcome the desire for the arts. I guess our only hope for humanity is these small isolated pockets which are disappearing rapidly as 'civilization' encroaches.

  8. That IS a precious thought. I don't know what I think any more about humanity.

  9. Truly food for thought! There is so much more to discover and learn about here on earth and beyond these bounds. We do still desire to change, I think, “to create, transcend and share.”