Time do we need it?

Bird Droppings June 2, 2012

Time do we need it?


“I still can’t see any reason to count all the sand on the beach – why bother? Or minutes, either. Could I possible add one more minute to my life by counting them?” Fernando Payaguaje, Secoya healer and holy man, translated from Secoya by Nathan Horowitz


I was reading an article on Amazonian indigenous peoples when I found this quote. Payaguaje was the last of his kind, no one wanted to learn his secrets. When he was gone thousands of years of wisdom, from the jungle would be going away with him. Miguel Cabodevilla and Nathan Horawitz were attempting to glean at least pieces of his vast knowledge before he passed on. They recorded his visions of what was to be and of what had been. While able to speak in three languages Secoya, Quichua and Spanish, Payaguaje was also illiterate in all three refusing to learn gringo writing and reading preferring the wisdom of the jungle and the father to son passing of wisdom he had learned from his father and grandfather.

He was once involved in a discussion of having someone tell him about time as if he needed to know about watches. He mentioned how his grandson had a fine watch and came to him telling him the time. The old man turned to his grandson and said I have no use, the jungle tells me when it is time. A bird called and he turned to his grandson and said one hour of your time and it will be dark that was the birds call before going to roost for the night. In exactly one hour all was quiet and darkness fell upon the camp. The grandson listened more intently from then on but still was engulfed by the modern world.

This is not about primitive versus modern it is about wisdom. It is about our history and who we really are. I have been involved with Foxfire teachings for nearly ten years and an avid fan since my first book in 1972. I have helped teach courses atPiedmontCollegein the Foxfire Approach to teaching. How can we truly move on in life if we do not know where we came from and why? An aspect of Foxfire is going back in the community using pieces of and bits of whom and why we are. In eleven years now for me back in public education I have had not one student who can name a great grandfather.

Before he passed on Parguaje would have to somehow record the 16 generations and he neither reads nor writes. This was crucial to him it is as crucial as eating or drinking and knowing who we are. Time was of less import he felt it was as if we want to count each second now and forget every second from the past. I was watching the TV show Psyche, a rerun of an old show with my wife and several times a Ford ad came on where the father was dropped off after a weekend with his kids and he thanks his ex-wife for letting him go and we wonder why our children cannot remember. Maybe they do not want too, it hurts to bad. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your heart and to always give thanks.





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2 responses to “Time do we need it?”

  1. One of the things that concerns me with some of the games that we play on computers now, like this puzzle game I play, you slide the pieces around to make the picture, just like the old jigsaw puzzles but instantly on completing it, the image disappears and a new puzzle is started. My mind is unsettled because I want to spend some time reflecting on the finished picture, but yet, there it is, wowie zowie, another puzzle! Let’s do this! It is the same with the word game that I play with my friends; it’s like scrabble, but as soon as anyone wins and the game is over, the board disappears, no time to sit back and contemplate the words that have been chosen . . . why does this leave me feeling so cheated? And how will it affect the children who have maybe never played these games (puzzles, scrabble) in their physical form . . . are they to always be questing after the next thing before they even reflect on the satisfaction of finishing the current project?

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