I’ve been writing so much in the second half of 2023, focusing on my new book in Slovenian, that I completely neglected my blog. Some days before Christmas, I received a wonderful gift — fabulous feedback from the reader of my one and only book in English, Human. It was really inspiring and I have to share it here …
It is a story like many others, when a person lets a book wait until the time is right … for some this time never comes but for Marcin it did.
In May 2023, he started reading it and what better place to read it than in the Kingdom of Tonga where he lived with his family in a traditional village for five months.
Imagine immersing in traditional living in one of the most isolated archipelagos in the world (Niuas)! Imagine first undergoing hard initial struggles, and having to win the trust of the tribe. Finally, they managed and found their place, their village, their people.
They lived a most basic life in an indigenous family/village. They ate together, worked, farmed, fished and hunted, drank kava, played, sang, danced, swam in the sea, learned local customs, language, and connection with land and ocean, they prayed, and fell in mutual love with the local family and the Island itself.
And that’s where they read my book Human: Instructions for Use. This is what they have to say about the book:
What a mind-opener on so many levels! This book gave us a wider context to what we were experiencing there. It gave us things to experiment with. It was an amazing space to practice the challenges listed in the book.
It goes without saying that in Tonga, people do not use chairs or tables. They don’t use spoons or forks. They sit and spend time on the floor and eat with their hands, especially in Tafahi (not so much on other islands). They squat when they do a lot of their work (or play Mapu). So the readers of my book did all of it together with them.
They made the practice of squatting every day as much as possible and made it their resting position. For a few months, they were mostly defecating in the forest, squatting (while, funny enough, the villagers used a wooden chair-toilet with a hole). They started doing the breathing exercises that are described in my book and kept experimenting with them.
Walking barefoot has proven to be the hardest of all challenges as the whole island was covered with rocks, small and big and there were barely any surfaces that weren’t harsh for the feet. Men and kids were walking barefoot (or in cheap flip-flops) a lot.
Marcin tried consistently–having dozens of wounds (and very painful infamations for the first two months), then switching to sandals or flip-flops. It was a joy to discover that for the last two weeks of being there, he could walk everywhere (and basically on everything) barefoot for a long time. He did feel pain but it wasn’t overwhelming. How amazing!
He started to use the chewing stick as well. He found that the mandarine worked best for him from the plants available on the island. Quite quickly he shifted to using it as his only brush. (Other people didn’t practice it there.)
He had a habit for 10 years already of using only water to wash himself, but washing with rainwater and ocean water made his skin beautiful and shiny, just as I claim in my book. They ate mostly food from the Island, hunted or harvested.
The best parts were sensual experiences. They lived in a place with no cars, no electricity, almost no cellphone service, no internet, no shops. They cooked by the fire, they lived in a small hut (3×4 m) made from wood and scrap metal, learned their ways of life with whatever came from nature.
They are sad to see how this way of life was dying due to the flood of modern culture.
Please check out this article where they summed up their experience: Wild alive sensual world.
Life there was difficult and painful, there were crises. And we loved it very much. We never felt so strong, healthy and beautiful. Also in our minds and souls. We never felt so happy. With so little. And at the same time with so much. I realized that this is what I need: living in an intimate physical connection with beautiful Nature, work with it, have my family close and my friends around, having things to eat and drink. And that’s it. Luxurious Simplicity as you call it.
Marcin experienced that he doesn’t need 95 % (or more) of the things that he thought he needed. He realized that his happiness depended on very, very little. The crucial ingredient of happiness is “enough”–not too little, not too much (of human-made things).
There were mismatches, of course. Their ways of expression and what they had to offer were not of much interest to the indigenous people. They were very traditional and rather rigid. So they returned to Europe, thinking they could be more useful here than there.
After a month back in Poland, the culture shock was very painful. Marcin writes:
Walking in the supermarket is painful. Seeing where we have gotten as a civilization and how crazy we are is painful. And how far, how very, very far we are from Nature. … I actually EXPERIENCED a different kind of being a human being. The change of lifestyle and actually most of the things now are very painful. I thought I would be able to maintain my new practices, but for the most part we have been washed by the stream of the culture here.
Being back in a nuclear family in our neurotic culture with a lively and happy child, forced to live with his parents or be enclosed in a kindergarten is frustrating. Having to make a lot of money to survive is no less frustrating.
Marcing touched my heart, thanking me at the end:
Thank you for being part of this experience and providing the tools and context to go through it.
Thank you for being an inspiration and assistance for “inner bushmen” to come to life, for indigenous souls to rise up. It sure worked for me.