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Lions Roar : March 2016
our family. It’s about getting into our animal limbs. Clea weeds the garden and orchard with us. The howler monkey up the road climbs onto her shoulders, and we interact with this fellow pri- mate without talking. And then there’s Clea’s favorite element... Water. Clea charges, one morning, toward the creek that runs through our land. She’s always first to hear its gurgle, snap- ping me out of my mental to-do lists. Splash. Gush. Gurgle. Onomatopoeia waterfalls into our vocal chords. As David Abram puts it: “Our own lan- guages are continually nourished by other voices—by the roar of waterfalls and the thrumming of crickets... [Language is] a sensuous, bodily activ- ity born of carnal reciprocity and par- ticipation.” Clea reaches the water, so ecstatic that she’s stripping off shirt and dia- per. “Wawa!” she cries out, mixing two languages, her conjunction of “agua” and “water” conveying the stream’s voice; wa-wa -wa splashes into a pool, leaps into a two-year-old’s inner ear, ricochets off her pink tongue. Her bare feet enter the flow. Fol- lowing her, I tear off my shoes and together we wawawaaa. CLEA FASCINATES ME, in terms of what we are as primates. “If we raised her in trees and dug for grubs to eat,” Melissa says to me one day in our fig-and-avocado orchard, “she’d adapt entirely.” In her book Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves, family counselor Naomi Aldort encourages parents to refrain from reacting when our kids push our buttons. Buddhist teacher Jonathan Foust has a wonderful acro- nym for it: WAIT (Why Am I Talking?). I use it a lot. When I’m about to either put a label on a mystery or try to make a situation right, I WAIT. I sink into the sky, a breeze...and also into my inner weather. Something interesting usually happens: The moment aligns. Life doesn’t need my brain. After a year of using Aldort’s practice, I realized part of why it’s effective. Instead of anthropocentrically narrowing real- ity, WAITing allows us to be biocentric: Clea and me both. It allows me to tune in to how attuned she is to surrounding sensory stimulus. She’s noticing a hawk overhead, wings stiff as kites. She’s stopping to pick daisies for Mom. She’s here, now: a plume of smoke, the coarse lick of our kitten Boots’ tongue, a Picking the cherry-like fruit that grows on the trunk of the guapurú tree. It is also a perfect tree for swinging from the branches and pretending to be a monkey. LION’S ROAR | MARCH 2016 52