Like Our Ancestors

Like Our Ancestors

What do I do the same as our pre-technology ancestors did? What can I do to link myself to them? Using the body, voice, and muscles, is one way to sense experiences better, perhaps to be more “authentic”. As more artifacts intervene between us and body use, we might do well to choose to do more elemental activities, ones that require the body, and the will.

Talk with other people, preferably face-to-face. Telephone conversation is highly technological but even it is more personal, more body-centric than email because voices mingle. One makes room for the other. There is a give and take. Email is useful but there are times I should shun it in favor of a rendezvous.

Worship services, presidency meetings, home teaching, rallies, concerts, and parties must never go out of style. Social clubs, service clubs, wedding receptions, funerals, reunions, and conferences must persist.

Tell stories. This is a body-to-body activity. Tell myths, fables, fictional stories of heroes, historical occurrences, the lives, accomplishments and troubles of our ancestors.

Sing. Before musical instruments were made with the aid of tools, (technology is tools), people sang to make music. The voice is of the body, the breath, the life, the spirit of the singer. Whistling is music made merely by muscles and breath. As an intermediate measure, we can, at times, choose acoustic instruments over electronic. This forces a more personal scale, the parlor or concert hall, a place where the instrument can be heard without electronic amplification.

Dance. Dance is body-to-body. It expresses cooperation, understanding, deference, teamwork. Dancing solo expresses joy. It can tell stories, and convey feelings to others. It is a simple, body-generated art form. Touch. Kiss.

Read ancient texts. Even in the time of Christ, people read and heard written words read. Though this and the following item, keeping sacred texts, are ancient, they stray a little from my original purpose, to illustrate body activities.

Keep sacred texts, texts of the dealings of God with my family. Adam started this. Other righteous families kept sacred records.



Walk. Walk to meet others, to gather food, to transport things, to migrate, to discover. My body can do this as well as my oldest great-grandparents’ could. Run for joy, for the feeling of speed, for resisting gravity, for fast communication. Bicycling is tool-aided travel, but it is like walking, swimming and running in that it is body-powered mobility. Resist the wind and draw of the center of the earth by moving.

Swim. This is just a body against water, exceptionally elemental.

Boating is ancient, boating for fishing, travel and sport. Pole, paddle, or raise sails with brawn.

Box and wrestle. These two sports require only bodies, not implements.

Plant. At its simplest, it requires little more than poking seeds in the earth, aided only by a stick. Harvest by plucking. Harvest wild produce from trees and vines, or from planted crops. Thresh with feet and arms. Kill animals for food. Use the simplest implements. Catch fish with nets. Threshing grain on a threshing floor and snaring deer doesn’t hold much appeal for me. I include them here just to augment the list. Using a bow for hunting is not out of the question, though.

Prepare food with fire and earthenware vessels. Grinding by hand, rock on rock, is still available, though not wise. I can’t see myself doing this, but I can see myself kneading bread by hand, cutting and stirring ingredients, baking and stewing.

Divert water for irrigation.

Tend animals for food and fiber.

Weaving requires almost no tools.

Eat and savor taste. Concentrate on the food. Often I overlook it by doing other things like reading and driving, watching entertainment.

Male-to-female physical union, the normal way, which occurs the same as it always has, so far, that is. (Most Americans need no further urging to use their bodies for this purpose.)

Listen carefully. Watch. See the difference five minutes can make in the light on the mountains.

Lift wood and water.

Write letters, sometimes even longhand. This has some benefits over word processing and instant messaging.


Lean against a solar powered rock. Bask in the sun.

Navigate using the stars.

These are primordial activities still available to us even in our tooled-up age. I started out thinking mostly of speaking, walking, dancing and singing. I have strayed a bit far from my original list. I started out trying to think of the uses of our bodies, unaided by modern tools. These activities are on the wane. In order to connect with the natural world, with society, and with our families, we need to consciously try to employ our bodies with their subjects, unmediated. The cavalcade of technological wonders we are being presented with will, along with its benefits, sometimes shut us away from the elemental aspects of life and some of its most profound experiences.


One Response

  1. Very needed information found here, thank you for your work

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