The challenge of finding a rhythm which gives life to us, and nurtures us has become increasingly perplexing. The unravelling of our connection with creationís rhythms began with the introduction of the electric light and gathered pace when houses were equipped with central heating and cooling. We can now function without respect to the daylight hours, and program sleep around our own wishes. Here in West Melbourne I could hold a game of cricket or football at any hour of the day or night, such is the availability of light from the surrounding streets and buildings. Is it any wonder that we are pushing ourselves to the limit and beyond when the normal limitations have been removed.
But this lack of rhythm has extended to the seasons. Although some might argue the [significant] problems of global warming, the globalisation of the food economy has stripped us from our connection to our land and environment. Growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, it was a sign of summerís arrival when water melon and strawberries began to appear in the household. This week, in the depths of winter, both fruits have been consumed. What does this do, not only to our rhythms, but our connection with our environment?
The seasonal rhythms are as essential to the health of the flora and fauna as the daily ones. I stood amazed during a total eclipse when I listened to the evening sounds of the bird life appearing in the middle of the day: taking the dimming of sunlight as the cue the birds moved into the evening routines, only to reemerge in the following half hour as the eclipse passed. Some birds migrate during the colder months, fish move to different parts of the stream to spawn according to the season, and in winter months deciduous trees shed their leaves and tamp down until the spring draws out the new leaves.
With the absence of seasons so creatively constructed, how do we find rhythms in life which encourage us to slow down, draw breath, take up different challenges and responsibilities while letting go of others. The closest we approach in Melbourne is the switch between the cricket and football season, although these lines are increasingly blurred.
To find life-giving rhythms is always a challenge. In a setting where the natural environment is suppressed, even countered, we need to work hard to ensure that we arenít simply swept along in a tide, encountering a waterfall before we recognise where the river has taken us.
August 14, 2005