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It has been an interesting couple of weeks. I have been on holiday with my son, my niece (his cousin), her husband and their two baby girls, aged 4 years and 17 months. We have been visited by my ex (my son’s father) and by my son’s friend. That makes three generations under one roof and provides a petri dish for examining family dynamics. At times I have found that I was listening attentively to a four-year old as she recited the story of “Cinderella” and then I created and play-acted with her our own post-modern ending after the ending, while also playing a game with the baby of repetitive calling of our names to one another, listening to my niece’s logistical plans for the day, and my son’s account of the baseball game the previous night. I observed how space opened in me to be attentive and accommodate the various interactions. This is situational dynamics that I am sure many of you recognize. I enjoyed the shift of energy and the non-stop activity from six am until somewhere around eleven pm.

Then my niece and her family left. I had real space to read and to write but I found I wanted to sit, work in the garden, walk and swim. And this morning I discovered an activity I have not tried before–kayaking. I have been canoeing since I was about 10 years-old and had many adventures on some remote and pristine places in South Africa. Kayaking is easier, the technology of the craft is more aerodynamic. I had forgotten the simple pleasure of being part of the tapestry of bird song, the hissing of the water under the craft, the beauty of the green and thickly wooded shore and the pattern of white clouds slowly moving across a blue summer sky.

The lesson here is obvious. We are all part of an interwoven matrix of relationships, responses, and activation of our impact on this complex web. I watch many species of birds early in the morning, they each have their territory, I walk on a wooded trail, each fly and bug has its territory, and in our vacation homes each person has their physical and emotional territory.

If we each can realize our responsibility for the strand of the web we embody there would be more harmony, and less rupturing at the fabric of our intertwined lives both on a personal level and among the billions of people who make up our species. What a beautiful world we live in and how lucky we are to have a summer vacation in it. As we are each an intrinsic part of it, as we are it and it is us, we create it daily in our image. Each of us has a choice as to the shape and reality of that creation.

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