Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Rambling with Pooh

I spent the evening with a student talking about why I am a folklorist. Many times during our conversation I tried to explain to him why I believe studying culture, studying people, is so important. Yet I could not come up with any stronger explanation than the one given by anthropologist Wade Davis, "The world in which you were born is just one model of reality. Other cultures are not failed attempts at being you; they are unique manifestations of the human spirit."

When I am at my most vulnerable I point my fingers at my culture and yell - "You are weak, you are voiceless, you have failed me." And then I look at the fingers pointing back at myself and wonder what I am missing, in me. 

Jenna has shared The Tao of Pooh which I have been reading, studying, and enjoying. One concept that touches me is called the Wu Wei, meaning we look at circumstances and follow our intuition in acting on that circumstance. Some people call this a sixth sense; the Wu Wei, says this should be natural, to be "sensitive to circumstance." In doing so, no big decisions need to be made about how to "react" to that circumstance, because as we have adopted this trait, the decision as how to act has been made, and we follow.

Living Wu Wei, or sensitive to circumstance, is a learned behavior. It is developed by modeling those in our community, our culture, who manifest this characteristic. A culture needs dual models - what to do and what not to do - in order to make the choice as to how to behave, how to act.

I pray, every single day, that I can practice the Wu Wei, that I can look at the culture around me and acknowledge the good, the bad, the differences, the similarities, but more particularly, that I can be sensitive to circumstance, because my path is not the only path, my way is not the only way.

Thank God and angels I am surrounded by folks who do practice the Wu Wei, who are blind to boundaries, who are brave enough to reach out, and who sensitive to circumstance.

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