As previously mentioned, I am in the process of writing a new book with the working title Uncultivated. The book is built up around negations of “the ten commandments of cultivation”. The intention herewith is to jeopardize taken-for-granted cultural and societal “truths” in order to encourage rewilding.
- We have to adapt and behave
- We are superior to animals
- We are separated from nature
- We must be ambitious
- We have to work hard
- What cannot be explained is not true
- We do not talk about death
- Decay must be defeated
- Time is linear
- God is dead
In this post I share an extract from the section: You have to work hard. In forthcoming posts I will share selections from other sections of the book (next up is: What cannot be explained is not true). Feedback is much appreciated!
You have to work hard
I want to be a chef or a drummer or a runner or an artist or an animal caretaker, when I grow up, he says. It is hard to choose though, because I am good at so many things.“
“Being good at something requires hard work.” I am brought up with this sentence. I am nearly unable to think differently. And, as much as I absolutely love when my youngest son makes a statement like the above quoted, I can also feel that it triggers my basic assumptions, and that I deep down inside think: you cannot say stuff like that! Saying something like that is being big-headed, boasty, pretentious…!
But the thing is; when my 8-year old says that he is good at so many things, he is being anything but pretentious. He is being pure and uncultivated, honest and straightforward. He doesn’t yet know that you are not allowed to make a statement like that; that it is considered arrogant or inappropriate. He just feels that the world is open to him; that he could do anything he is passionate about, and that there are so many things he loves to do. Furthermore, he is filled up by the feeling that loving to do something makes you effortlessly good at it. This feeling is very motivating! And, it is very possibly true. I am writing this cautiously, because it is so unaligned with what my culture’s voice preaches.
My culture says: you have to learn lots of things you aren’t interested in and don’t love doing. This is important, because not everything can be fun and enjoyable. It just can’t! You have to work hard and do lots of stuff you don’t enjoy in order to succeed and become a good, civilized, cultivated human being.
My son says: I enjoy doing so many things, and I am good at them too; why shouldn’t I do those? Why should I do things I don’t like to do?
My culture says: everybody has to learn more or less the same things, whether they like these or not. This is important, because we have standards and procedures that have to be followed, and these have to be the same for everybody.
My son says: some of my friends are really good at yoga and at writing beautiful letters and at dancing and at reading aloud from text books. I am not, but I am really good at running and jumping and drawing and cooking; this is perfect because it would be really boring if we were all good at the same things.
“There is no one right way to live”, says Ishmael (in Daniel Quinn’s “Ishmael”) – and I am sure my son would agree.