Saturday, February 12, 2011

A joyous path, and its unexpected stories – will get us there quicker in the end

"It was a funny little path, winding here and there, dashing off in different directions and sometimes even tying a knot in itself from sheer joy. ( You don't get tired of a path like that, and I'm not sure if it doesn't get you home quicker in the end.)"

Tove Janssen, Comet in Moominland, 1946 (English translation 1968)

During the last year, I've been involved with the Transition London Ontario initiative. We've hosted several events, talked with lots of people about how we'll go forward into the next twenty and next fifty years. Transition ideas are explorations of how we'll handle a time when there's far less fossil fuel available than now (for the myriad consumer goods, the transportation, the wastefulness we take for granted) and when we - locally and worldwide - are feeling the effects of climate change.

The most important aspect of meeting with people on a 'set' topic has been sharing stories and visions ... sometimes getting far from the set topic ... having ideas bounce from one to another person as we've reminisced from the year 2030 about events that occurred on the way to that time of cleaner energy, local food production and less toxic air.

Recently, I listened to a talk given by Rob Hopkins, founder of the Transition Movement ( At the end of it, he used the Janssen quotation (above) as the best analogy he'd found to Transition. There are many groups doing different things, we don't know what the results will be, and we try to remember to enjoy ourselves as we make and remake the path.

"...dashing off in different directions and sometimes even tying a knot in itself from sheer joy." My heart just ached hearing that line.

I actually emailed Rob Hopkins to get the title of the book, waited for the book to get to the library. I read the book with absolute delight. Thanks Rob and thanks to your son for helping me know about Janssen's books!

In Comet in Moominland, Moomintroll and friends have to figure out how to save the world from a comet that is coming too close. Some adult readers might say the style of it is a bit old fashioned. I say that Comet in Moominland is a great book for all of us. Pen and ink drawings create Moomintroll, Sniff, Snuffkin and the Snork maiden in the simplest lines ... just a few strokes of the pen reveal complicated characters, emotions and situations. The drawings are the sort of things that young children craft a whole world from, and if we grownups are lucky we'll see it too.

Each adventure takes the friends into danger and they come through it by their bravery or quick thinking. Having one adventure per chapter - through dark woods or a desert or across a drained ocean - makes for the best bedtime story reading.

Moomintroll is a thoughtful character. He loves his home and his family, he loves the natural world.

“Moomintroll thought how frightened the earth must be feeling with that great ball of fire coming nearer and nearer to her. Then he thought about how much he loved everything; the forest and the sea, the rain and the wind, the sunshine, the grass and the moss, and how impossible it would be to live without them all, and this made him feel very, very sad. But after a while he stopped worrying. 'Mamma will know what to do,' he said to himself."

Of course, Mamma does know what to do. But her part in saving the world comes because Moomintroll and friends have done their part. Love and good and friendship and family and story are triumphant.

Setting cynicism and the weight of my own 55 years aside, I want to have some wonder and some story, and some community as I do my part on the journey.

It may well be '"a funny little path, winding here and there, dashing off in different directions, and sometimes even tying a knot in itself from sheer joy" but "You don’t get tired of a path like that, and I’m not sure that it doesn’t get you home quicker in the end."

Best regards to all of you,

Why's woman

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