When Not To, When To

Watching one of the latest interviews of Victor Masayesva Jr, the Hopi filmmaker, video-artist and photographer, I found myself back to familiar grounds, despite the fact that this was my first encounter with the Hopi philosophy.

I was calmed by his distinctive pace of talk. He talked about humility, respect, cooperation and prayer being Hopi’s foundation for their work and life. Listening to him without the need to avert myself in another parallel engagement on internet, it was in his voice, full of volume, taking place, being present, that I felt that truly, he is all made of those virtues.

And then, between getting late and his voice acting as a soothing remedy for a good night sleep, I woke myself back when a few minutes before resuming the conference, he said what I apparently needed to hear most, about “when to plant and when not to plant”.

“Putting your hand in the soil to see if it’s warm enough to accept the seed and if it’s cold, why would you want to sacrifice that seed in that cold frigid ground?”, he shared a thick piece of his ancestral heritage.

Further down, he pointed that “it’s that hard work of you to know; you reach into that earth land and your environment, it has a sentience and you reach for that or feel for that”.

Almost immediately I brought to my attention a phrase from a different tradition; “there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: … a time to plant and a time to uproot” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-3:2).

I went back in me; to those times that I was planting. I knew. We all do. When we know, we know.

I was listening to Victor and my body was relapsing to the sentient of my human encounters; a freezing sensation started covering the back of my spine. Snapshots of myself with people traveling, studying or working together, stacked one after the other in my memory bank, took over the floor; I started analyzing the facts with an urge to bring myself before jolly conclusions; so, what is my human harvest?

I could sense a fear in my question and I was certainly not within the serenity that was projected from Victor’s body and speak. I sensed myself surrounded with seeds looking at me with a mixture of unexpressed anger and puzzlement as they have sensed that I had sent them to die in barren fields. Their piercing eyes were looking straight into me asking why did I lay them in grounds with no sentient, why empty of feelings and inner responses I went on to plant them?

I don’t have this answer and it doesn’t make any sense why anyone would plant on bad days, under the cast of unpromising omens, into arid earth, except for lack of better knowledge.

Not knowing is of course at the root of all. But I also feel the pressure of the overwhelming, unstoppable flow of life that goes on every single moment, and passes on, with nothing to hold on and asks for answers at every interaction with the living Worlds. In all of this frantic, evolving, transformable movement, all I want is to live, as a creative part of it. Can I do that without the noble art of discretion?

Living is a collective experience as much as it is an individual. Good discretion and right timing shows a level of interconnectivity and cohabitation that interrelates with the environments. Otherwise, I fear of the exhaustion by a hopeless energy confrontation with the world that renders the Earth and its people apart.

I do not want to give in and plant against my better judgement and my inner guts. The process is learning step by step even if my the steps are giant leaps. The more I know when not to and when to, I give in less and less. Yet, I don’t always find warmth earth for my seeds; and that depresses me. And then it is really lonely; my field feels empty, I am disconnected and unease. Life on Earth without connecting to the Earth is simply not possible.

If I were a Hopi I would have known just by living together in my community when not to and when to. They say that they feel that this year they should leave the Earth to rest. With no worries of how to feed themselves. They know when not to and when to. They accumulate for those not to days, living by their sowing calendar of humility, respect, cooperation and prayer.

This year the Earth rests, changes and replenishes her soil. A good time for us to choose better seeds for our soils and to cultivate our eco-humility.