I grew up on the plains, near the river. I know the impossibly wide stretches of land that call the eyes to reach further, and then further still.

I live a few minutes from the sea. I know the foam of the waves giving shape to the wind, and the reflections of the sky in the water.

I want to plant a forest. I know the way the canopy breaks up the sunlight and the branches fluttering their leaves make me tip my head up and name their colours.

But I am mountain people. Born as I was, growing up as I did, living as I do, with the plans that I have… that has never changed. I remain of the mountains, and the mountains are calling.

One in particular, the one nearby, is in many ways a representative. I always think of this mountain as masculine. It’s a volcano, therefore younger than most mountains I have seen. Much, much younger than the mountains I always longed for. But he allowed me a home, and thus became the axis of my life. Loyalty and awe started it, then a better understanding therefore love grew alongside those. Confidence, too, now that I think of it.

I am happy today, and walking fast to contain the feeling (at least in public), I was watching this mountain. The snow glowed pink in the sunset, then faded into blue. The beauty replaced the human aloneness, that sharp tone that gives happiness its actual power. Beauty beyond humanity however, notwithstanding the eyes that measured it. And yet I was happy, so I couldn’t think of myself as lacking beauty – a human quirk, I am sure πŸ™‚

So I talked quietly and acknowledged that in my mortal pride I can still recognize the degree of beauty we’re talking about.

You see, I have always felt this mountain as alive and awake and aware. Powerful, oh yes, and sacred to its original people. Not suffering fools gladly, and very much particular about the people who are allowed to climb. With sacred springs and odd far-seeing faces, with a terrible temper and a pleasant disposition πŸ™‚

Whimsy, but then symbols are allowed for the people who choose them.

I am living here, near this beautiful mountain.

I am trying my wings around him, wobbly flight then sure gliding. There will be many more mountains. In my native country, I hope. In places I read about and love, with mountains so old that even myths are becoming new stories again. In places where autumn cloaks the mountains in colours that reach into the soul. I will see his brother through the drifts of sakura flowers.

And then I will come back, and the first sighting after the long travel will be the same:







In a time and place when philosophy and lectures were apparently leisurely (I am talking about the ancient Greeks, you know) there might not have been discussions about what is best for the children… then again, maybe there have been, knowing parents.

But I had (in the modern world) a discussion with a friend about education in general and schools in particular. I was enthusing about the Montessori method as usual, as that is, to my mind, the way I would have loved to be educated when I was the little one’s age.

My friend quite rightly pointed out that the little one is part of a very small group of people, selected at least three ways out of many: a parent who lives in the vicinity of, who can afford and who chooses to send the little one to such a place. Sounds privileged, doesn’t it? And given how Montessori actually started, that is beyond ironic!

Both my friend and I also know of children (way, way too many) for whom books are a rarity and life at home has infinitely bigger stresses than not being able to watch β€œone more and no more” cartoon.

And we know well that by the time a child goes to school some things cannot be fixed, some things cannot be learnt and some things can never change. So school methods should really be late developments and the focus should be on the first three years. Which means that school begins at home (Philosophy? Lecture? Leisure?). And that’s when I trotted out that big fashionable statement that my friend arched his eyebrows at: it’s a systems fault – only I didn’t use the term fault πŸ™‚

I can’t help it, truly! There are very few things I see as not systems faults – professional bias, you could call it! The way I see it we are the only species on Earth who doesn’t know how to raise their young anymore. So we have to substitute cultural imperatives for natural ones… but cultural imperatives change a lot quicker than human nature. We are overcrowded so crying babies are discouraged (from apartments, planes, cafes). We work industrial hours, so we train babies to sleep. We praise independence so we raise isolated, lonely children. We lose contact with our families and communities so we raise children who do not know where they belong.

Then we treat the consequences (attachment issues, sleep and eating disorders, anxiety) while still demanding resilience, good behaviour, hard work and achievement. At school. Which is not set up for the above.

What to do though? These children will raise children of their own one day – and choosing our rest homes, too πŸ™‚ What will they teach their children?

Educating future parents helps. Child care and human development should be in high school curriculum, alongside sex, relationship and civic education. But that is a band aid. If this is, indeed, a systems fault, it is our lifestyles that need changing. The feedback loop doesn’t sit still just because β€œwe’ve always done it that way”…