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18.4.10

In The Garden of Eden

Return with me now to those thrilling days of yesteryear, in a magical place called the Garden of Eden in some traditions.

Imagine a place where you never had to worry about planning for the future. If you were hungry, you reached up and plucked a fruit or gathered up a little grain or caught one of the myriad animals just lying around the place. You never needed to worry about the consequences of your actions, because everything you threw away simply decayed or sprouted anew. Fish and crustaceans were so plentiful that you had only to reach in the water and pull one out.

There was no need for planning, because there was always plenty of everything. You didn't have to cultivate or store up for winter. The day was always 12 hours and the night, too. The temperatures were always mild and there was always a nice sea breeze. There was six months of rain and six months of dry. The most effort you had to put out was to cut down some bamboo and lash together a shelter from the rain. Took all of two or three days work for something that would last for years.

You didn't need clothes, because it never got cold, and if you were hot, you played in the waterfall or swam in the ocean. There was no need to store information, because what ould you tell future generations, except how to peel a banana or the best way to tie a knot in coconut rope? You could children all they needed to know about survival in a couple of lazy afternoons. Everything you needed was everywhere.

The only history you worried about was the last landslide in the rain season. The oldest of the old might remember a volcano or serious earthquake. But those were acts of God and there was nothing that could be done about it, so why worry? There was no need for math or engineering or even war. Navigation was limited to sailing to visible islands, and if there were none visible, then you lived on the only piece of land in the world. Nothing existed beyond the waters.

You didn't need to predict the weather because there were no crops to worry about, or winters to plan for, or typhoon season for which to prepare. So astronomy was little more than a passing curiosity about those lights in the sky. You didn't have to move flocks around or house them at certain times of the year.

In short, life was almost perfect all the time.

Your language would not need tenses. The eternal present tense was enough. There was no theater, because there was no history to dramatize. Art was pretty much limited to carvings and weaving. Didn't need pottery, because there was nothing to store. Music and dancing would be really popular, and you culture would highly value good musicians and singers, but the songs mostly dealt with love and longing, because that was about the strongest emotion anyone ever had.

Your language would have many ways to express love, dealing with the many aspects of that emotion. But, it would be very simple for things like buying and selling, because other than some handcrafts, there was not much need to commerce. Concepts about medicine would be very simple. You were either sick or not, so you only had one word to describe each, and one word to describe the cure.

Your culture would not think about pollution, because there was no such thing. Banana peels decayed and seeds grew into more fruit trees. If you used wrappers for cooking, they were made of leaves or bamboo and throwing them on the ground didn't matter. Worst case scenario, you just burned what you didn't want to keep it from rotting and smelling bad.

Language and culture are all a product of environment and experience. If you want to understand Indonesia, just return to the Garden of Eden and you can see the roots of today.

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