This is a book I just finished reading...

The Continuum Concept: In search of Happiness Lost by Jean Liedloff, 1975.

The author lived with a remote Amazon tribe for 2 or so years.  Here is a quote about water that I loved, after she noted the arduousness of the women having to walk down a perilous track 3 times a day to collect water...

"Once a day each woman put her gourds and clothing on the bank and bathed herself and her baby.  However many women and children participated, the bath had a roman quality of luxuriousness,  Every move bespoke sensual enjoyment, and the babies were handled like objects so marvelous that their owners felt constrained to put a mock-modest face on their pleasure and pride.  Walking down the mountain was down in the same accustomed-to -the-best, almost smug style, and their last perilous steps into the stream would have done credit to a Miss World coming forward to claim her crown.  This was true of all Yequana women and girls I saw".  She then says she can't think of a better system of collecting water!

Jean was working as an untrained observer of these tribes.  As such her observations were not colored by previous studies - she was not a trained anthropologist.   She saw and was amazed by their internal happiness: in their whole existance: happy in their work, in carrying large loads, happy in the trials etc.   Everything was accepted and not fought against.  Even their rituals for when a guest came, was completely unhurried and slow, and utterly respectful, on both sides.    The lack of judgement also stood out a mile.   However it is largely what she wrote about child rearing, that this book is famous for; babies are loved and nurtured, and kept close to the mother, sleeping with, and being carried by the mother ( or another), and always part of the day to day life.  Never left alone to cry. And pretty much the opposite of what was taught was 'the right way' to raise a baby in most baby books.  What Jean noticed was that as the babies grew, they were confident, responsible, never fought with each other, never cried unnessarily, never had colic or vomiting, or trouble sleeping!  Yet they were jostled, and carried from hip to hip, or slung on a back, being with the mother as she worked, walked, climbed, cooked, and went about her day.

"It is observable among us (being Western civilisation) as well that the more frustrated, the more alienated people are, the more they feel they must judge and distinguish between others as acceptable or unacceptable either on a personal basis or in groups, as in religious, political, national, etc..."

This is the book that prompted a wholeness movement of baby rearing i.e. of not timing feeds, sleeping with your baby, etc... which I never knew about.  And only did some by pure instinct/ dumb luck :-)... but I love what she has to say about what she learned about treating babies, ( and each other) in such a human, respectful way.  Without judgement.  There was complete freedom for men to cry when in pain.  Or to do something wild and silly.  No one passed comment.

I have noted since Jean's time there in the 1970's, these tribes are becoming westernised in dress etc, and schools, but they have high hopes of maintaining their traditional living, and are fighting against illegal diamond mines.

Anyways, I got to thinking, what has western society lost that tribes living in the Amazon have so much happiness, and their children are so respected and loved, and grow up so well behaved, and responcible.  Why we rush through each day in a pace they must find bizarre; why I don't enjoy the luxury of bathing like they do, but rush through a 4 minute shower, and left feeling like I'm missing out on something truly remarkable?

I am challenged to live each day with a simplicity of belief and enjoyment in all things...

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