Sunday, December 16, 2007


The first time I saw a sloth it frightened me: it was so human and alien like and so utterly different that it sent a momentary pang of fear and distrust through me. The day after I found an arm in the orchard: fur and skin gone just muscles and sinews left and those three long talons. It was as long as my arm, but it took away my feelings of otherness.

They move so slowly, they really do. Watching them is a lesson. A lesson in beauty: they themselves are not ‘beautiful’ creatures, their coats are green with algae and their long limbs, tiny heads and awkwardly smiling mouths and long long talons do not make them pin ups in the animal world. But they are beautiful in their movements: each gesture takes time; the reach for a leaf; the slow process along a branch; the turn of the head, the shift of position. The sloth has eternity and each moment lasts a lifetime, each moment is all there is. I learn from the sloth not only to take my time, but that each moment is worthy of my attention, my consciousness. Closing my eyes to shut out distractions, and moving as a sloth feeling my muscles, the weight of my limbs, the energy around my skin, brings a feeling of deep relaxation and awareness.

no spend days

I’ve been keeping track of days in which I buy nothing, I usually average 3 or 4 per week. I’m thinking this is pointless activity: it would be easier for me to just do all my shopping on one day if I had a way to bring it all home in one go. It’s not how often one spends that’s important, it’s what one spends it on. Maybe that’s not true, maybe it’s the consumerism itself, the daily visit to the shop. Yet the daily visit to the ship is a ritualized social experience, one exchanges pleasantries, one may meet a friend, one participates in one’s community. This is the bigger problem – consumerism is a means to an end, it’s the desire to participate in activity with others that drives people to the stores. How many times have you got home with your purchase and realized you don’t want or need it? It was the act of being in the throng that had the juices flowing.

I was keeping track I think as a way to check my interaction with money. I would like to limit this. Not because I’m against money or think it’s evil, but because I find it becomes consuming. I find myself in a position where I can trade and for me this is liberating and fun. Tutoring for laundry and fresh bread, tutoring for local plant identification and uses, yams for plants, cacao for coconut. I’m still consuming, I’m still getting something. The only difference is that I’m giving something different in exchange, not a promissory note, but something somehow more tangible.

saturday night

What a life I lead. It’s Saturday night, I’ve just finished picking sun dried maggots off my cacao beans, now I’m making soursop jam. Tomorrow I’m excited about picking more cacao and planting out my bean sprouts (yeah, I finally got some to sprout!).