...the best that we have...

Last night, I learned of a woman who had gone to one of the same boarding schools as I did, who then went on to become a student of Rabindranath Tagore's. Her name is Mrinalini Sarabhai. She was born knowing she was a dancer, not that she would become one, and at Tagore's blessing, after having mastered traditional dance, began to create her own - at a time when being a dancer was not respectable. During her career, there were times she felt it was a lost endeavour, especially as she felt under appreciated. You can watch two short movies about her here and here. In 1961, she was told: "You have done in two hours what no embassy is able to do - make India beautiful to these people."
How excited I was to learn of her. How neat that there are fewer degrees of separation than I thought between me and Tagore, who has been my favourite poet since childhood (you know how I love the Hunt for the Golden Stag). His work in education continues to inspire my own, especially since he fearlessly embraced change while preserving tradition. He also wrote many beautiful things, like: Let us announce to the world that the light of the morning has come, not for entrenching ourselves behind barriers, but for meeting in mutual understanding and trust on the common field of co-operation; never for nourishing a spirit of rejection, but for that glad acceptance which constantly carries in itself the giving out of the best that we have.
Today it is hard to tell stories aside from the ones being propagated by the political -media machine that Foucault foresaw when he wrote about power. Today it is not enough to bomb a country, but entire cultures must be destroyed. Why else are they not given the space to speak in their own words?
The moment of pan-humanism is short-lived, but beautiful. Kenneth Burke writes that modern man has strayed in his attempt to imitate machines, and in his loss of religion and poetry. Burke believes that even though man strays, he eventually returns to seek 'the good life' - and proposes a contemporary cure via poetry: it does no good to face the problems straight on.
People like Mrs. Sarabhai are keeping that little flame alight, dancing to the song of a deeper reflection, like in the Conference of the Birds. And as for myself, I think that one can only stand to gain by "giving out the best that we have"; like in all things, there will be naysayers, but the one or two people who understand will be as valuable as gold.

Element: frame.

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