Thursday, 13 November 2014

chasms and sacrifice

In high school, I studied ancient Greek. Don't ask why. I'm not a language person. We all did exams in Herodotus and translated much of his work. He's a politician and a great story teller. The following is one of his stories, freely translated by me.

Lacus curtium monument. Pic from here

The chasm in the center square. 
Once upon a time in a town in the heart of Greece, I can't quite remember why, but for some reason a  great chasm had appeared in the center square. I think there must have been a fight or disagreement that angered the gods. These stories often involved ticked off gods. People didn't know what to do about this chasm, but ssomethinghad to be done add it was severely disrupting daily life. So they did what all ancient Greek would do, they went to Delphi and asked the Oracle. The Oracle said "fill the hole with the most precious thing you own." The Oracle being the Oracle, never gave straight forward advise, but was always right.
So the people of this town tried to fill the hole with all the gold and silver they had. They threw in their precious clothes and jewels. They threw in every thing they could think of. Nothing happened. The chasm was still there, as bottomless as ever.
Then, one day, a knight, or soldier, or prince or whatever you call the important greek people who do everything, hopped onto his horse and drove it into the Chasm. I imagine he was inspired by one of the gods. Athena perhaps, she was wise and reasonable. The chasm closed, swallowing up the horse but not the guy.
The moral of the story was that there is nothing more precious than your horse own life. But giving your life won't kill you. Just your horse. I remember that this horse was very precious to the owner. So it was still a big sacrifice.

Sacrifice of life for the better. Pic from here

Our own chasms. 
I was talking to a friend about life and montessori and thought of this story, which is why I share it here. Because we all have these chasms somewhere in our heart. And most often we don't know why. Herodotus knew in his story, but I've forgotten. It's usually something silly anyway, something that ticked off your morals and values. And we try to fill these broken hearts with gold and silver, otherwise known as shallow wants and addiction. We try to fill them up with various drugs. Coffee, beer, cheap food, take away, television, Facebook, you get the idea. Retail therapy, spending money on cheap stuff that breaks easily, quantity rather than quality. Ugly people, ugly feelings such add hatred and jealousy.
And we all know it, but we all do it. Because the only way to fill the chasm is by giving your life, your passion, your fire. And that takes courage. It requires you to sacrifice your horse ego. It could kill or hurt you, but it's the only way. And your inner wisdom (Athena) knows it. Some oracle, otherwise known as random person on your Facebook page, or teacher, will tell you. Actually, i think we're told very often what it is that we need to do, but just like these greek people didn't get it, we don't always get it either. And it's hard. We all love our horse, it's precious, we depend on it. Or ego works for us and makes us feel important.

How Montessori relates to this. 
So. Back to montessori. She talks about the child's psychic needs. She says, or at least suggests, that if we don't look after the child's mental well being, they become sick and misbehave (she says in several books that misbehaving children are to be doted on as if they are ill). Naturally, children don't misbehave. They like to cooperate, clean, learn and work.
And this is where the chasms come from. Unfulfilled needs. Interrupted concentration. Stress and trauma. Broken promises, broken trust. They break the child's heart slightly. It results in little chasms. And these lead to craving. Craving attention, craving food, craving love, craving work. A normalised child doesn't have these cravings. They are whole.

How to keep your child whole
Maria montessori says to follow your child. His interests and passion. We need to prepare the environments so our little masters can develop themselves without interruption. But I also think we as adults need to follow our interest and passion. We need to model that we love our work, regardless of what that work is (I mean to include chores, love them the way your child loves them, as they are a way to beautify your environment). I think we also need  fill our environment with real beauty, real food, real people, real things. I'm sure you know the difference.
We also need to learn as much as possible about the child's development and we can do this easily by studying the child.  This is what Maria Montessori did. She studied and observed the children. She removed the teachers and replaced them with scientists, directresses.

Besides preparing the environment, we need to be kind to our children and see them for being the man and woman they are creating. We need to reduce their stress as much as possible. Not by giving them gold and silver (useless toys), but by giving them our life and passion. When the child sees this, sees that he's kept in your heart and that you give your life for him (or her, obviously, but i have a son so think in hims and hes), then he'll learn to do the same. When the child feels safe and secure, confident and free, he can sacrifice his horse and live passionately. He can then heal his own heart, which is sure to get broken at times.

Ps. Of course I got touched by this story and had to satisfy my mind and find out what it was exactly. Plus I wanted to find nice pictures to add to my blog. From what I can find it was the story of Anchurus, son of Midas. The famous Midas who turned everything he touched into gold, which is also related to the above story. It seems to have been written by Plutarch, although that's not what my memory says. The Romans got a version too, but agree it's a mix up with the Greek sorry.  I really couldn't find any satisfactory information or reliable source. The story published on the Web is short and doesn't include gods, which I find strange. Anyway, doesn't substract from my blog post, I think. However, if you know more, do share! 

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