Sunday, 22 March 2015


How we saw the solar eclipse on Friday...
through the trees

An awesome day does not begin to give yesterday's Easter festivities any credit. The WEATHER was amazing. It literally WAS the first day of spring. Winter in the shade and summer in the sun. I was mostly in the shade, but that's ok. Also i managed to get my mini exhibition/display of my class done. That was REALLY nice. When i got to school the place was buzzing. Children were running in and out and because of the great weather we were able to open all the doors to the Main Building and soon there were children running everywhere. My greatest source of joy was watching the kids play in the new garden. In fact my boys - the children of Class Three - spent most of the afternoon in it playing with their new toys. And the girls - of Class Three - spent time at the pond. Everyone tried to look for the frog. And everyone said how great it was that the back garden was now cleared up. I know i go on and on and ON about the back garden, but honestly, yesterday it really came into its own.

I met a few parents, some ex-parents, some interested people, and they were of the ilk that you know, gardening in schools is surely a good thing, especially when the children are able to do such great work.

Also from the herb spiral i was able to pluck the lavender and make this beautiful bouquet with some newly blossomed hostas. The beauty of spring embraced me so much that when i went to bed i could barely get to sleep with the excitement and adrenaline of the day. I am so lucky to have found this community.

I am also pleased to report that having accepted my somewhat slightly reduced state, the pain seemed to have abated and i felt much much better. It was such a relief. There are twinges, but once i had stopped fighting the pains, it felt like my body relaxed and i was much better. Most importantly i was not frustrated with myself, which is the source of a lot of my annoyance.

Also i ate two steaks in quick succession and whacked in some B12. That may have something to do with it.

I was reading the controversy about Roundup - well it isn't a controversy any longer. It is now more or less established that Roundup can cause cancer. My approach to pesticides is very much the way i approach the rest of life - especially education, conservation, food and health. I believe that human beings were not put on this planet to be helpless and miserable. We are inherently capable of taking care of ourselves and the resources around us, namely the planet and each other, when use judiciously are able to give us what we require.

Which brings me to the topic of death. I think that far more time needs to be invested in us coming to terms with death. Death is a beautiful thing. I know it is very painful to lose someone wee love but i was recently reading a diary entry from three years ago when a friend passed away and he was almost 70. He suffered from very poor health for at least 10 years. but it never stopped him from enjoying life. It was completely apparent that he was going to die when i last saw him and i did not really hide the fact that this was obvious. He was up and talking and bright, but his legs had completely swollen to three times their size. This is never a good sign. 

I asked him, are you afraid Eddie? And he said, Me, no never. I have had a really good run at life and i have enjoyed it completely. I am not afraid to go. I am ready. And really that was the first time i had a very close friend on the threshold, but also showing such grace about his going. And that is the thing, if you have really lived, followed whatever it is you have wanted to follow, then you are ready to go. And perhaps it is better that people understand this and work on this aspect of themselves than creating all kinds of bizzare things to help them not die.

That said, in order to live, i think it is critical that we look after ourselves. Like eating well. Eating in balance. Looking after the world around us because that brings us a deep satisfaction. Following our heart's call because that helps us grow. Fall in love at least once. Questioning everything. When i was 12 and did my PSLEs i promised myself that i would NEVER put a child through this terrible system. I crossed my heart and said, this is not going to happen to my children. I was 12 then. Which is why i am in Steiner education. I promised myself i would not rob another child of their childhood, nor would i make them suffer needlessly. And for what? Few children gain the satisfaction which good grades bring. The only reason why i did as well as i could at A levels was so i could get a scholarship to leave Singapore to see the world. I think about the incalculable damage that that exam process did to me. It brought out the worst in me. Also it stood in the way of many things i did want to do. I wanted to draw. I wanted to do so many things which had nothing to do with an exam result. The formula for doing well in exams in not rocket science. Just bang away at a book, memorise lots and you will do well at an exam. Never take any risks. Never explore anything new. Never come up with your own truth. You will have great results, but it kills something inside you. I watched parts of me die. Ask any of my friend who were scholars and had half a soul left, who were not in it for the blind ambition, and they will tell you the exact same thing. They had been scarred by having been forced to do well in the exams.

So as with exams, herbicides. Herbicides are like exams. They prioritise efficiency and results over process and health. I am not the kind of gardener that thinks, weeds should grow everywhere. Let them grow. No. I know that for a plant which you want to thrive to thrive, then you need to make sure that it is in its best health, and not having something there to compromise its chances is a good thing. I also know that good management, will eradicate most weeds. And my good management i mean planning, good soil management, conscientiously taking out the unwanted plants - it is an intensive, time consuming mechanical process. What a weedkiller like Roundup and GMO wheat and corn does is that it applies the 'Fire and forget' technology - a tagline used by Raytheon. Just nuke everything, except for the plants which have been designed to withstand such a process.

I do not have to be Vandana Shiva to know that any plant which is genetically engineered to withstand such an onslaught nor that a chemical which shrivels that life forces of a plant is not going to be good for the environment in general. It is not going to be good for us. The same way a 12 year old child knows that it is not a good idea to rob anyone of their childhood for the sake of an exam and possible later material success which means nothing to them anyway. How could a chemical which has just killed a plant then enter the water system and lose its potency? This would make the human beings who designed this very clever. And really, human beings aren't that clever yet. A poison is a poison. And this poison is being used to increase efficiency. 

I think it is ok to use a little bit of it for a short time, but not a good idea to use a lot of it forever. It just can't be done. Just like sometimes a little bit of competition is good - but constant standardised examinations and tests is like war without end. The same is true for the way the medical professions has progressed. Instead of acknowledging the limits and the dignity of death, they wage war on the reality of life. This includes mental health issues, chronic illness and even long-term health. Medicate everything seems to be the rallying cry of the mainstream medicine. As a result of this crazy obsession with perfection, there is a neurosis where people cannot tell the difference between a real cure and a quack. Learning to live with our disabilities is also something which in a civilised society would be ok. Someone may be born different, but so what? A civilised society would make allowances for that, not try and make them conform to what is considered normal.

When Oisin was about nine he said to me, you know so and so - he isn't like us is he? Is he handicapped? He was asking me about someone with Downs Syndrome. I said, he is different the way we are all different. Some people have curly hair and blue eyes and some people have pale skin, but that does not make them worse or better - just different. This person is like that. They are just different from us. And that's ok.

Learning to live with our world, not to be obsessed with status and money, to leave the place better than we found it - to never give up - on anything or anyone. To make our peace with life. Peace without end. Amen.

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