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Lions Roar : March 2016
beyond words? How, in such spaces, can we learn from Clea how to be part of nature’s web, both as individuals and together? One admittedly odd practice is swinging from tree branches. The idea occurred to me one day when Clea was a few months old. I sat her down on the grass and swung from a low bough, making sounds poorly approximative of our ape ancestors. Little Clea cooed as the leaves fell around her. Since then, I’ve done variations of this a hundred times, and, as Clea has grown, she’s come to imitate me, shaking branches herself whilst screeching, monkey-like. She loves me to place her on the boughs of trees, where she shouts “ooh-ooh-OOOH!” Before long, we’re two orangutans swinging together, the smaller imitating the larger. The fun! How genuine it feels to connect with my “rotoño” (or “plant sprout,” as they sometimes call kids here) through leaf, limb, and larynx. Here’s another one: We sometimes use the Buddhist practice of telling Clea “We call this a tree” instead of “This is a tree.” After all, it’s not a tree. It’s not ink scratches, not two conso- nants and two vowels. This so-called “tree”—an olive-green guapurú (Jabuticaba) on our west hillock—is utterly unique and utterly unified with “the ten-thousand things.” A third practice is a simple, profound one we learned from my sister. Before meals, one of us rings a bell and we all bring our hands into prayer position and breathe in silence. After a while, somebody rings the bell again and we look silently into each person’s eyes before eating. Clea has come to lead this, insisting on the silence even when Mom and Dad forget. Naturally we’re not dethroning language 24/7. We do set limits with Clea and communicate them with words. (Share your toys. Yes, it’s bedtime.) But “biocentric childing” has become central to Biocentrism means rejoining the web of nature, as opposed to anthropo- centrism, which places Homo sapiens at the center of the show. The view over the valley of Samaipata, which means “resting place in the highlands.” LION’S ROAR | MARCH 2016 51