Thursday, May 21, 2015

Day 79: From Farm Life to City Life | Don’t Touch the Walls

This is a continuation to Day 78: From Farm Life to City Life | Intro

The first big difference we had to adjust to, was the aspect of space.

In our own home, our room is very spacious and set-up specifically to accommodate my son, Cesar.

This means there is lots of space for him to play, walk and even run around, he cannot reach anything which might hurt him and he can’t reach any breakables or things we don’t want him to touch.

In our room, we can spend time together doing things, but we can also have our moments where we each can do our own thing for a while.

In the house itself, our kitchen is baby-proofed, where he cannot open any of the cupboards containing harmful or breakable objects. We left one cupboard ‘unproofed’ where some plastic tubs are stored, so he can open these cabinets and share in the kitchen-experience. My sister and her husband also live in our house and their door is mostly open (for the dogs to go in and out) and their room is also quite baby-proof, which gives him another space to be and play if he wants to get out of the room.

We have a large garden where he can walk around with a sand and water pit. There’s dogs and balls to be thrown. We can go for walks in the fields or visit other gardens on the farm and the dogs and people who live there (I live on a community-style farm).

So in terms of space and safety, he has quite a wide range of freedom and independence, more so in our space than other parts of the farm

When entering my childhood home, I experienced a mix of things. Firstly, my parents had gone through renovations in the house which immediately had caught my eye, where there was a certain experience of ‘awe’ as things looked nice and neat. At the same time, there was another experience, an uncomfortable one which I wasn’t able to place directly, it was a kind of claustrophobic sensation.
Only later during the day did I realise what the experience was about, when one of my parents told Cesar ‘not to touch the walls’. Immediately, I could place my experience from coming in – as this ‘rule’ of ‘do not touch the walls’ was in place when I grew up as well, where no matter how nice things looked inside, there was always a dark experience because we’d have to watch ourselves in every space to not ‘tamper’ with the space such as the walls. This limitation had always bothered me though I never really understood what it was about. Somehow the assumption was made that whenever we would touch the walls, we’d be making them dirty, and that is bad.

I mean, yes sure, there’s a logical connection between touching walls and them ending up being a bit dirty; but at the same time, you’re talking about your living space, the place where you spend most of your time day in and day out. How can you ‘live’ if you’re in constant tension about keeping your space ‘unaltered’. That’s like, contradictory – because you’re going to be doing things, and time is going to pass and in the end, some of that’s going to show on the walls.

In the same way, Cesar was not allowed to play with toys against the walls and had to have his hands cleaned each time he touched something which could possibly leave a trace on the house or other people (even while he is for instance still busy eating, and will be re-dirtying his hands).

So, the first point that really stuck out for me, was not so much like actual physical limitations such as having a smaller living space and small garden – but the mental limitations we impose on reality, which limit us more than physical barriers.
Monday, May 11, 2015

Day 78: From Farm Life to City Life | Intro

Due to particular circumstances playing out in my life recently, I’ve had to travel back to my home country and town for a period of about two months.

This was quite an interesting experience for myself, as well as for my son Cesar.

I have been living on a farm in South Africa for the past 7 years or so, where life paces itself at a whole different rhythm and dynamic than what I was used to growing up. This was the environment where my son has been growing up from birth – it was the only type of environment he really knew (besides some trips into town which are always very short). So, I’ve had to adjust coming from Belgium, a tiny country where many people live and where life revolves around your status in society – to slowing down and living in an environment which centres on awareness and consideration for life, your own as well as that of others on an equal basis.

Now, I was bringing my son into the environment I grew up in, which was pretty much the reverse of what he was used to; while being faced with my own childhood environment yet living and applying the principles I had made my own from living on a farm environment.

So within the next few blogs I want to walk and share some of the observations I have made during my visit to ‘the homeland’ and the sharp contrast of how people live and how children are treated/brought up versus a lifestyle typical to the that of the Desteni Farm.

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