Spring Fever

“Why do goats looks so stern? I thought they are happy especially now in spring-time. Like lambs in spring-time could also mean like goat-kids in spring-time, no?”

The children exchanged looks. They knew to diagnose my bout of Spring Fever. I am seen scuttling off to sniff the air and marvel at life sitting up and stirring from its sleepy winter state. I head into the house looking flushed and happy. By evening, I am tired, but refuse to reduce the dose of spring bounding. But still this talk of stern looking goats had them worried.

“Ma?! You okay? Why are we talking of goats now?” said the daughter a mock-solicitous look in her eye, and I laughed out loud, and told them the context of the goat-ish tale.

“Well, it all started like this. Do you remember last Friday evening being  particularly beautiful? So, I shut the laptop with a whim, and headed out into the sunset. The hills were alive with the magic of spring. I told myself poetically that I could not bear to be a cell in a spreadsheet anymore. I wanted to be a newly sprouted leaf on a tree, a whimsical flower fluttering away in the mild breeze, or a Finnish fainting goat chewing thoughtfully at that latest blade of grass.

“Not for me the confines of mankind! Get rid of the shackles, and head out! “ I said.

” Uh-hm – someone would think you have a mission you are fighting for. How many times will you take pictures of the cherry blossoms and the clouds, and the sunset, hmm?” said the children but I waved these things away. Days like this are not meant to be wasted indoors arguing about the wisdom or lack thereof of going outdoors.

For a few months of the year, our neck of the woods resembles fairy lands, or the lands of the gods, or maybe heaven itself. The occasional rains, the burst of wildflowers, and the sunsets are all glorious. So much so that I find myself wandering around the countryside apparently lost, but really just finding the inner self. At least it is what I tell myself when that pile of laundry needs washing or that closet needs cleaning. Marie Kondo urges me to better myself, but Early Spring is more inviting. 

The fox squirrels atop the plum blossoms look naughty, while the fainting goat looks stern, the horse in the pastures peaceful, and the sunset glorious.

Where was I? Yes, on the stern looks of Finnish fainting goats. I had often wondered while reading the Three Billy Goats Gruff why the author went in for Gruff, but I see the choice of the word as I stood there admiring the serene setting against which the Finnish Fainting goat stood in its patch of farmland.

“Anyway, ” I said getting back to the point of stern goats, “I suppose if I had foul folks like me boggling at their spot of residence in that manner just because it is Spring, I would be gruff too! But the goat has a manner that is at once endearing, sober and majestic. The clump of fur on its chin growing away like a goatee (Get it? Get it? Goats have goatees!) made it look wise, and the green grass it chomped on made the world look a sweeter place.”

The children moaned not unlike the goat, and said, “Why not just call it a goat, why this fancy Finnish Fainting Goat?”

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“That is easy my dears. Google assures me that the picture I took of the goat is a Finnish Fainting Goat. And in any case, I doubt you would have listened patiently if I said I would tell you a story about a goat. No you would not have. But a Finnish Fainting Goat got your attention, did it not?” I said feeling clever.

“Ma?!” said the daughter, clenching her teeth. “You haven’t told us the story of the goat. You told us about the goat…you know what?! Never mind!”

“Yes…Never mind.” I said using that conciliatory spring-time tone, and said, “I will take you hiking there to see the old fellow. I am sure you all will like him. Looks like a satyr of your Greek myths. There is your story! Percy Jackson stuff on our next hike! ”

I ignored the ensuing groans. The fainting goat satyr and narcissus blooms will help.

The Power of Belief

“Göbekli Tepe!”, I said swirling the name around my tongue for the n-th time. Göbekli Tepe had a nice ring to it. A satisfying crunch right in the middle.
The daughter tutted impatiently.
“What is this Göbekli Tepe?! Going on and on about Göbekli Tepe! ”

“Glad you asked!”, I said and started on an explanation to her loud eye-rolls and dramatic groans.

I was reading a book on the origins of God through Anthropological history: God by Reza Aslan. His theological musings date back to the first homo sapiens. He sets forth theories and tries to piece together the origins of the concept of a soul separate from the body. A consciousness higher than one’s own that probably gave rise to the concept of Gods.

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Reading about the ancient humans trekking to Göbekli Tepe is fascinating. Built over 10,000 years ago, it is the oldest known temple. Shaped to match the shape of the old hunter in the skies, the pillar of Sirius is especially tall. I can imagine not only the lure of the night skies for the hunter gatherers of yore, but also the seemingly curious rhythms of day and night. The location of the constellations themselves shift by season with the movement of the Earth around the Sun, and therefore, deriving any sense of regularity in itself must have felt divine.

 

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The Temple of Göbekli Tepe: Oldest Temple Built to Worship The Dog Star

I said as much to the children as we were hanging about the kitchen doing this and that. “Isn’t the concept of God a leap of faith? Huh! Get it? Leap of Faith! Get it?”

A low moan revealed that she got it, and then she tried to pivot the conversation to areas of interest to her.

“Which of the Greek Gods is your favorite amma?”
The children are ardent fans of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series, and they often come up with questions like this. I read some of his books in order to keep up.
I looked at their faces, and said quite truthfully, “I don’t know whether I have any favorites. They all seem to be such jerks, at least in these stories!”
“Amma!”
“Well it is true. Aren’t Gods supposed to let go of their own Egos and all that? I mean they spar so easily. Oh! Oh! Did you say that? Okay! Okay, I am the God of Thunder. Here is a Thunder Bolt to strike down the mountain on whence you stand! – I mean, Come on! What is that even supposed to mean?” I said theatrically throwing hammers Thor-style.

The son laughed raucously. His eyes widened a little at the conversation. I know the little fellow took to the concept of a God without being led to it in any form – a trait we found highly amusing. We are not a religious household by any means, so it was clearly not a case of nurture. The daughter has a more lackadaisical view somewhat akin to my own.

The concept of a God – one or many Gods has always intrigued me. I am an amused, and sometimes annoyed, spectator when it comes to seeing how the religious peg themselves on a pedestal higher than others by virtue of their beliefs.

I am curious how different people take to the concept of a God more easily than others.

I am also humble enough to accept the Power of Belief.

I told them about how the concept is so intertwined into our collective consciousness from so long ago, that one can’t really try to imagine all the ways the concept finds its ways into our thoughts.

“It is everywhere!”, I said, and told them about how I remember the mother telling me as she looked on lovingly at the then newborn baby of mine smiling in her sleep. She said the story is that God came and gave the child a lotus in her dreams. Hence the newborn smile.

“If that were true, how would we know? You certainly weren’t saying it. In fact, you probably contorted your face into a spasm that we thought was a smile.” I said.

I have often wondered what the first thoughts of consciousness are for human-beings. Is it being self-aware, or is it in the feeling that we are one among the great biosphere? Do mosquitoes think that way? Do trees and bees?

What, Why and Where is God to you?

Read also: The Beauty of Questioning

Fox 🦊  & Pan 🐐 ⛰

“You know? Most of my morality comes from Percy Jackson and Harry Potter?” said the teenage daughter one day. 

“Gee! Thanks for that speech on wonderful parenting my dear, No clasping mother and father to heart and tears of joys on helping you navigate a messy world and all that?!”

She had the grace to laugh. 

She had been holed up in her room all morning, and I had hollered to her to come and help me with the chores. She stumped downstairs, unable as a teenager, to let on that she was probably enjoying the interlude of putting away the dishes with music in the background. 

As the dishes clattered, the kitchen was enveloped yet again in a mythological whirl. The daughter was always fond of Rick Riordan’s Greek and Roman mythological tales. The son, who has now started to read the series with gusto is thrilled at being included in the club of discussing these important works of literature with his sister. The warring factions of the Gods Vs the Titans has been analyzed from teenage, pre-teenage and elementary child angles. Myths have an alluring charm and when you find the similarity between Cerberus and Fluffy the three-headed dogs in Percy Jackson and Harry Potter series, it is always worth doing a little dance jig, and discussing with the teenaged sister. 

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The husband and I have been made to read the books too, and I must say they make for entertaining reading. I still prefer the Harry Potter series, but I see the lure of Rick Riordan’s work. He has perfected the rhythm of adventure with the right mix of modernity set against Greek gods in our world. 

“Which God would you be if you had an option?” the daughter asked, and the answers flowed forth. When it came to me, I paused for a moment and said, “Probably a nature god. Who was she? Hera?”

“Nah…You are thinking of Persephone. She is the Goddess of spring – you’ll like her too”, looking like a doctor arriving at a tricky diagnosis, “but I think Pan is more suited to you,” said she.

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“Fine then. I will be Pan. Pan is the strongest God if he is the Nature God right?” I said knowing fully well that my answer would be met with an uproar: 

Zeus is the most powerful. 

The top three are Zeus, Poseidon and Hades. 

“Well you know what happened to Pan?”, and then the pair stopped mid-sentence and exchanged meaningful glances. 

“We must not spoil the suspense for you, Amma, but it is very sad what happened to Pan.” said she.

“What happened?”

“NO! Don’t – let Amma read it!” said the most recent reader of the books.

“Just tell me!”, I said, deftly catching a cup from cracking as I caught it from the dishwasher.

A dramatic sigh followed, and the sad prognosis was delivered.  “Pan is fading Amma. He is no longer a force that he was on Gaia now. It is up to us now to save Earth!”

I looked at their faces and felt a surge of pride, alongside a wave of gratitude to writers like Rick Riordan who so beautifully captured the essence of conservation in a manner that so many young children can relate to. Where would we be without the gifts of imagination and creativity?

I read another short story, Fox 8 , by George Saunders, who captured my attention, in a similar manner. Written from the viewpoint of a fox, Fox 8, it outlines the sad outcome of a mall being developed in Fox View Commons ( an area that was home to many animals, forests and trees). Fox 8 learns how to “speek yuman”, at the window of children being read to by their parents at bedtime. Fox 8 loves the stories, their morals and their imagination. Even though, the stories get things wrong about animals all the time, he is fascinated. Fox 8 is a huge fan of yumans and their ingenuity even when the mall development essentially drives their pack to hunger and death. The story ends on a sad note, with Fox 8 wondering how yumans can be cruel and unfeeling towards fellow beings with life, when their stories promise to teach differently.

I have said this once and I say it again – if only we could learn to live like the stories we weave for our children – with wonder, empathy, bravery and curiosity, wouldn’t our lives be more whole-hearted and content? Maybe our greed could be in check and Pan would not have to fade away so much.