After the TLB (tractor-loader-backhoe) was done digging Charlie’s grave, it spent most of the day evening out and digging the dam deeper. When we get one of these machines out for grave digging occasions, they are here for the entire day so we put them to use wherever we can. Cesar and I spent a good hour watching the TLB at work. He loves anything big on wheels, so this was like Christmas for him.
It is quite funny sitting there while the men comment on what the TLB is doing, how their eyes glinster at the sight of such a machine, hear them translate what the TLB is doing into manual labour hours. Spending time outside, working on a farm, with the Earth and physical materials definitely gives you a new perspective on what it takes to create something. From building rooms, fencing, growing food, maintaining trees, structuring and maintaining your water systems. When I lived in Belgium I was only ever faced with end-result products that I could buy and enjoy. I never looked or considered how something was created, what the labour involved must have been like.
On this farm, much we have built and created together, and all the things we can do and enjoy today, is substantiated by the process that was put into it. Where every piece of the farm has a history behind it. It’s not just a home, a place where we live – it’s our creation. I’m grateful to all our current farmsies, to those who have stayed and gone with us throughout the years and all those who haven’t yet come to stay with us but supported us from their own homes, all across the world. Thank you – without all of you this place wouldn’t have been possible, so grateful to be able to raise my son here as a result of many people’s +1s around the globe.
I’ve been walking by a tub of wood cut offs from various projects in the shed for a while now. Each time glancing and wondering if there’s anything we’d be able to use it for with Cesar. The last few days Cesar has been playing a lot with his plastic animals, where they do all kinds of things in a little lego house we have. Seeing the blocks again, I figured it would be nice if we had a more expansive house available for him it to play with the animals. Most of the blocks had the same width or height since we use the same type of wood for most projects, which made them nice candidates to stack and create little structures with.
Here we made a little structure with steps and ‘bridges’ that the animals travel over. Cesar’s giving Wildebeest and Zebra a tour.
I often wonder if Cesar is getting enough ‘stimulation’, if he’s happy with the activities and things available for him to play with and explore. But perhaps that’s just because I am still looking at everything from my own point of view, what I find interesting and fascinating as an adult. Where I often have to push myself and breathe through resistance in playing with him, because what we’re doing doesn’t fall under my category of ‘fun’. Accumulate those moments where I’m the one not having fun and not directing the experience, and soon enough I think he must not be having fun.
It’s in those every day, ordinary moments I realise how much I still need to work on myself, how far I have removed myself from my own innocence as life, how much of my adultism I still need to deconstruct.
Cesar decided to hitchhike along in the Bakkie while many were busy doing firebreaks in what we dub “the big field”. Every year during winter time which is our dry, and so also our fire season – we burn the edges of the farm in the case of fire breakouts, so that the fires can’t travel from field to field, farm to farm – which can happen quick when it’s dry and windy. The whole process took a bit more than two hours, which we observed mostly from inside the bakkie, watching what everyone is doing, explaining what each person’s role is. Oh, and fitting on sunglasses he found in the bakkie, insisting that ‘upside down’ is really the right way one should wear sunglasses.
Within wondering whether I am doing ‘the right thing’ and ‘providing the best’ for my son, I can easily find myself wondering off in my mind comparing myself, my life with that of others. Whether it’s people in my life, strangers I meet or people on social media. I start to wonder whether ‘their life is easier’, ‘how can they be so confident in what they’re doing’, ‘I wonder if that lifestyle would be better for my son’,… This goes on for a little bit and then I find myself in a dark space where I am jealous of other people and the lives they live in the belief that ‘it might be better’ than what I am currently living and providing for my son. Within that, I find myself accessing a more and more passive zone – where instead of actively moving, creating and participating in my environment and reality, I kind of sit back more and simply observe everything that is ‘wrong’ and ‘unfair’.
The one day I found myself scrolling through my Instagram feed where I was subconsciously comparing my life to what other people were sharing their life to be. And I could sense myself sinking inside myself as if I was becoming smaller, smaller and smaller. So then I stopped and looked up from my phone going ‘Hey, what’s going on here’. Because one moment ago I was fine – and suddenly I find myself in this dragging experience where everything is just wrong and unfair. Where’s all this coming from?
I looked back at my phone to ‘replay’ what I just went through when I saw the subtle comparison and insecurity playing out in the background. How my mind just automatically wondered off imagining what it would be like to ‘live their life’. I decided to play a bit with that notion. So what if I was living say, this random person’s life? If I was living their life I’d still be looking at everyone else’s lives, including mine currently, and believe that ‘maybe the grass is greener on the other side’ still. I could place myself in different scenarios and see that the fear of possibly missing out would still be something that existed. I went through more people and noted what I saw as pros and cons in their lives, and how no matter what life you envision – you always have a selection of cons and pros at play (say if you live in the city you have easy access to things but then you miss out on a more calmer lifestyle – if you live in the countryside you have a calmer lifestyle but things are not as easily accessible). So I concluded that in the end, you’re always going to end up with some pros and cons – and that at the end of the day, you have YOUR life, the life YOU’RE living. One life, one path, one scenario of many. There could have been so many ways that my life could have turned out differently, but my life is where it is. This is the path I have created, this is the life I have chosen for myself.
I can either sit back passively in a sense of superiority and entitlement that I deserve ‘better’ and whine about everything that’s wrong and unfair – waiting for reality to change and adapt to my whims and wishes — OR – I can move myself with what I have available, and zealously move MYSELF to change and adapt to the reality that’s at hand. Instead of allowing my environment and my perceptions of my environment to dictate who I am and how I experience myself; I can reverse the roles through inspiring myself instead of waiting for my environment to inspire me. (Funny note here, to inspire also means to breathe – and breath is what gives us life. Where either I give myself life or place myself as dependent on my environment to breathe life into me)
In the end, no one parent or family finds themselves in the exact same situation as another. We all have different lives, different struggles and blessings. What defines us is not our situation, but who we are within it and ultimately, what we make of it.
Cesar enjoys being around when Gian is working on the little viewing/picnick deck that’s in the process of creation. He’ll try and put nails into the slats, or find a rock to imitate the work being done on the structure. Cesar enjoys putting things together, seeing what he can create from different elements, seeing how they can fit together. In a way, the structure being built is of a similar nature, and when you hear the men on the farm discuss these type of projects, can see that childlike expression bubble up as they discuss and explore the possibilities and take pride in the progression and creation of whatever they are working on. In those moments where Cesar is intently focused on putting something together and seeing those moments where Gian is intently focused on a project, can see that this drive to create, to explore, to expand is naturally inherent in us all. Exploring the yet unknown “possibilities”. It would be great to have this natural drive nurtured and fostered, instead of beaten out of us in the quest to survive and comply to some narrow and limited view of “how things are done”. How things have been done and are done = we have the result before us today, a bleak picture. Let’s explore the possibilities!
Through speaking and interacting with the movie, we assist each other in remaining grounded in our bodies and remain aware of our environment, instead of slowly slipping into a ‘zoning out’ mode.
Cesar totally loves the tractor. He has a few tractor toys of his own he likes to play with – but nothing beats the real deal. Whenever we go about walking around on the farm, he keeps his eyes open for any bakkie or tractor action he can get into. When he was more of a baby, he didn’t like car rides, now he can’t get enough going places by car and pointing out every single truck and bakkie. We make a game out of it to catch and count the trucks and to name the colours. Learning happens everywhere!
Other times he throws himself off balance.
In this moment, he got really upset when I started going around the trampoline in a different direction . He often goes into a controlling state when he is in an experience he doesn’t like and/or understands. Where instead of focusing on his internal reality and grounding himself, he gets obsessive in arranging things in his environment to be a certain way – whether it’s objects, animals or people. If he doesn’t get the desired result he explodes. If he does he get the result, he goes unto controlling the next thing, and the next – until he still inevitably collapses as he realises that re-arranging his external reality doesn’t re-areange his internal reality. When he goes into this, we take him to a quite space, remove distractions, relax and sit down. Saying is name in a low, grounded voice. Guiding him to calm down and let go of his experience. Showing him that through fixating, we only hurt ourselves more, as anything but our way then becomes ‘wrong’ – instead of moving, embracing and flowing WITH life, rather than resisting and being against the currents life takes us. As he goes on and expels all his excess energy, he starts grounding himself. Once he has centered himself we move on with our activities and embrace the new moment.
Toddlerhood is definitely not easy as he is able to explore, interact and do more – yet is still lacking vocabulary in so many ways causing frustrations. Imagine having so many questions about yourself and the world around you, yet having no way of asking them.