Entrainment: A Guest Post

Authored by Anja von Seydlitz on May 5, 2016.  Re-posted here with permission.

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Photo by Brittany Ederer

I have been watching, as I always watch, the delicate dance of animal, flora, weather and human agency, here on our farm in Namibia. There is seldom a time when one or the other doesn’t gain the upper hand, influencing all the others in a direction or tendency; they are never perfectly balanced. If they were, one would have to wonder whether the dance would be so captivating, or whether there would be any drama, any movement, any soul, any growth. The dancers must bend, straighten, must give and take, must consider, must plan, act on instinct, adapt. Sometimes it is a tragedy being acted out, draught, disease, overpopulation, starvation. Sometimes it is a glorious victory, a year of plenty, a great burgeoning of life, an overabundance, a burst of joyous thanksgiving.

What of us? Our part in all this, our influence, and our susceptibility to all of creation? Do we consider it? Sometimes, the hubris that leads us to think we are not connected to everything leads us toward not only unwise, but also evil choices. To fail to acknowledge our relation to all else and all others leads us into the a darkness, a madness that leaves devastation in its wake. We run, even from our relation to each other, which is often the most painful to recognize, but is also essential to our understanding of ourselves. I am related to that man I see, begging on the roadside. I am related to that child, who is working in horrifying conditions to produce the clothing I purchase so glibly. I am related to that dictator, who is responsible for the deaths of so many, and the misery of so many more. The people we hate, the people we love. I am related to you, whoever you are; my brother, my sister, my mother, my father, my child.

To act on our relatedness is perhaps one of the great challenges of mankind. In our daily actions, to remember that we are a part of something greater than ourselves, means to face our own discomfort with both the recognition and the anonymity it offers us. We may not say it is none of our business, that we can’t do anything about it, that so wonderful a thing could not include us, or require of us, in our capacity, to live up to it. If we were not made for this, we were made for nothing, a series of nothings, a lifetime of meaningless ditherings. It is painful, humiliating, taxing, glorious, overwhelming, exhilarating, completely terrifying, and entirely fulfilling. To meet all with a nod of familial recognition, is to live in the purpose for which we have been made. To join in the rhythm, the dance.

Photo by Anja von Seydlitz
Photo by Anja von Seydlitz