Talking to rocks

Photo by Michele Craig

Warmer and hazier today.  It’s nice not to be shivering, but I loved the brilliant, clear light of the cold days, the bay a deep blue-green, Mt. Diablo and the East Bay hills standing out sharply beyond.  The cats followed the sun from window to window around the house and begged for laps when it disappeared.  Today they’re wandering in and out the back door to play with Vinnie, the roaming black cat from up the hill, at present sitting on a high fence licking his paws. He sees me watching him from the window, and his eyes widen momentarily and gleam yellow, then he returns to licking, ignoring prying eyes–and I go back to my book.

I’m reading Derrick Jensen’s latest book, Dreams:

…Part of the reason that this culture is killing the planet is that it ignores, devalues, or demonizes messages from those places where writing comes from, where dreams come from, where so many other impulses and ideas and beings come from. It tries to create a rigid separation between what it calls the human on one hand, and what it calls the natural, and especially what it calls the supernatural, on the other; it then favors what it calls the human at the extreme expense of everyone else.

The fundamental difference between civilized and indigenous ways of being is that for even the most open-minded of the civilized, listening to the natural world is a metaphor. For traditional indigenous peoples, it is not a metaphor; it is how you relate to the real world.

I am not indigenous. Not in the slightest. I will never be indigenous. I am simply a living member of a living universe, and so are you. The experience of listening to and communicating with nonhumans–including other mammals, other animals, fungi, plants, bacteria, and others; and also beings this culture does not even consider to be living, such as rivers, rocks, mountains, stars, soil, and others; and also beings this culture does not even consider to exist, such as muses, dreamgivers, spirits, and others–is the birthright of every one of us. Our culturally imposed exile from these relationships–this culturally imposed echo chamber in which we find ourselves imprisoned–is one of the costs this culture inflicts  upon us.

If I hadn’t read some of his earlier books, I’d think he was a little mad (he talks to rocks???); but since I already respect and admire his work, I’m left with no alternative to keeping an open mind.

I do so like books that make you feel like you’ve embarked on a wild ride to strange and distant places.  Having mostly been what Jensen would call a “scientific, materialist, linear” sort of thinker, I resist other points of view, but with the planet on the brink of calamity, perhaps it’s time to be a tiny bit open-minded toward what I would’ve scoffed at before. If our culture is what got us here, maybe, as they say in AA, we should shut up and listen to somebody else’s best thinking.

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5 Responses to Talking to rocks

  1. Dawn says:

    And all the people said,
    “Amen” !!!
    I don’t know about you, but i surprise myself by my capacity (today) to have an open mind. While this attribute was taught to me I still pause in awe when I realize I have just considered an alternative point of view – I’m talking on BIG issues. Issues I have for decades taken a firm stance, unwavering for sure.

    Embracing an open-mind has really changed my life in so many postitive ways. I am more giving , more forgiving, and NOT SO QUICK TO JUDGE. Oh how I do not like reminiscing about the old me. What a self-righteous brat I was.

    These are things that cause me to say thank you God for the experience of addiction and then recovery – it has humbled me to the core.

    • sswl says:

      I surprise myself too, Dawn. I think for me it’s all about being able to let down my guard a little because there’s no longer that shameful secret to hide.

  2. Lisa Neumann says:

    Marlo Morgan wrote “Mutant Message Down Under” … It’s one of my favorite reads. I had a profound awakening learning of indigenous people. After reading your [post today, I think I will dig it up and revisit it. I read it when I was newly sober, so I think a reread might be just what I need. Who knows, maybe I can learn to hear the rocks too. lovingly, lisa

    • sswl says:

      Lisa, I read Marlo Morgan’s book when it first came out in the 90s and liked it too, but it was later exposed as a complete fraud, and she finally admitted she’d faked it. See the Wiki entry:

      Sigh. I guess the best way to learn about people is to let them tell their own story.

      • Lisa Neumann says:

        “Sigh” is correct. I still enjoyed it, I still learned , so I guess it wasn’t a total loss. Interesting tidbit: My 2013 theme (thus far) seems to be naivete … this appears to fit. L

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