January 17, 2017

The Great Teacher's Teacher.

Every night of my childhood Dad would stay up in conversation with me, examining the lessons offered my the day and handing down the knowledge and insights he had acquired in his old age. Kind and patient in manner he also had a sense of urgency, the kind common to a person whose task is far larger than their remaining time to complete it. His task was passing down my inheritance, that is, educating me; nothing else he had, Dad correctly reasoned, could persist in the trying times he foresaw.

When I was nine he sent me away to the mountain herders, to escape a war which was brewing in our own community, and as I left he gave me a book he had been writing since he learned that I was going to be born. The Seedbook. It was the first I knew of this book, but it was also the last time I would see my Dad, and since I never again conversed with him my childhood was ended as I rode away.

Every morning of my youth I studied The Seedbook, it was a thick leather bound tome, every inch, of every line, of each of a thousand pages was crammed with his shorthand. The first hundred or so pages were written simply and I could appreciate them right off, but the bulk of the book was dense and often turned to highly technical or elaborate writing which took me years of study to understand. The Seedbook rambled over every topic my Dad was fascinated by or suspected of being useful; each topic grew from a child level topics to the furthest extent Dad was capable of expressing by way of sections scattered by my Dad's fickle muses across the book. Each topic introduced with fairy tail like morality plays, and a hundred or more pages later would delve into the complicated realities of each subject, quoting pages at a time from the reference books my Dad had hoarded his whole life. He taught me though this book of all fields of knowledge concerning soil and seeds, poetry and maths, physics and history, meteorology and environment. A section I still recall vividly delved deeply into technical charts cataloging the composition and properties of the different materials left as salvage in abandoned building, on pages opposite he wrote me a personal letter where he struggled to express his regret about siring me at such an advanced age the he wouldn't be there for me as I grew up, musing about his feelings for my Mother and how unexpectedly they became lovers, then lamenting the powerlessness when she was arrested, and stopping mid thought to write an essay on the properties of radio waves. The book was every bit my father's spirit given a paper form which fit him better than he own flesh ever did.

When I tucked away the book to live each day, my Dad's spirit would follow me, filling my imagination with the conversation born in my childhood, the conversation and my Dad's spirit grew as I grew. Through these spiritual dialogs the ethics and techniques of the Seedbook took a new life in the soil of my spirit, they guided my own innovations in nomadic gardening, seed bearing, herding fire and water, serving and enriching the territory in general. I only had that book for 18 years before it was taken from me, lost forever. Loosing the book was in many ways more difficult that the first time I lost my Dad, and for years there after I lived in a dead world, where the very imagination which guided by each day became dark and cruel. It took me a long and trying life to discover that the best of that which was lost had become a part of me, but I have never felt youth since.

Every moment from then on was balanced between the dark resentment of a world Consuming itself as the all too many struggled for survival, and a bright faith in a fertile future I imagined could still come. A future where the seeds I could bear through these trying time might some day germinate and create beauty surpassing the vileness all around me of a world devoured down to bare granite bones. On the days lit by that faith I glowed with the beauty of a future of pure imagination, and during times when that faith failed I confess to being as viscous and consumptive as any of the many enemies I fought.

As I write this I am much older than my Dad lived to be: a younger cohort has taken on the daily burden of bearing the endangered seeds to the future; a respite from the Consumption has come to this territory with the outcome of the recent war; and I am free to spend my final years as he spent his, passing down what I can to an uncertain future.

In The Seedbook I learned to imagine a bright future, and I was given the tools which I used to bear the best things around me forward; from the darkness I learned lessons that humble any written teachings. So I will write a new Seedbook, recalling what I can from readings half a century ago, adding selections from the books in Dad's library with I have reclaimed, and putting myself and my experiences into the work. Dad's Seedbook may be lost, so I hope that my Seedbook will be a worthy gift to the future.

The Preamble to Seedbook by Heni.

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