From Sling-Shot Gliders to Weeping Camels

I long ago learned that if I were to talk politics every day, my head would explode. I want things done now and usually my way. That seldom happens in the political sphere, so I am often frustrated and well, to be honest, freakin’ mad at the idiots that stand in my way of utopia.

So I often engage in learning about things that are far from the land of Washington D.C. Which explains why we often watch weird stuff on TV. It’s pure escapism from the slow-as-molasses moving of a progressive agenda.

And, learning can be a humbling experience. Take last night.

Jon Stewart had a guy, Mitchell Zuckoff on, who wrote a book about a plane crash in New Guinea. Only three survived out of 24. This, during WWII. A group of paratroopers was sent in, but there was no way to land a plane nor walk out. Eventually parts of a glider were air dropped in, and a set of goal posts erected, between which was strung a giant rubber band. The glider was affixed somehow, and a low-flying plane with a hook, captured the band, and catapulted the glider over the mountains where it landed safely.

I kid you not. The glider was named Faggot, and such planes were universally known as flying coffins. One person from that group is still alive today.

If that isn’t incredible enough, I offer you the documentary called “The Story of the Weeping Camel“.

For this we travel to the Gobi desert into the land of the Mongols, who live in round portable houses called Gels and raise camels, sheep and goats. Life is harsh but seemingly happy. The people subsist mostly on camel’s milk with a bit of meat.

All is well. The female camels are dropping their babies. The mothers are tied up so that assistance can be rendered if necessary. All goes well until the last of the expectant mothers finally begins to give birth. It is apparent that she is having a somewhat rare white colt. He is big, and the men help in pulling the gangly babe free.

This is her first birth, and given it’s difficulty, she is decidedly not interested in the colt. Days go by and she makes every effort to evade his attempts to nurse. Of course the family (four generations) offer as much help as possible, milking the mother and trying to get down enough to keep him going. When let loose, the colt follows the mother relentlessly, but she will have nothing to do with it.

A discussion is held by the men, grandfather, father and son. Of course there is only one solution–an ancient ritual, but alas there are no near neighbors of the desert who play violins (or what passes for that in Mongolia–generally a three-stringed instrument that looks more like a guitar).

A trip must be made to the “Centre” what appears to be a smallish town-trading center, one serviced with electricity and a certain modernity. The oldest boy (about 12 or 13) and his brother (about 7) set out on camels to locate a violin player.

They stop at a lone neighbor part way for refreshments. These folks have a satellite hook-up and the younger boy is mesmerized by the cartoons being shown on the TV. A truck and motorcycle are also evidence that the two are closer to “civilization.”

After being told to follow the power lines, the boys finally arrive at the Centre. Crowds of youngsters play games in the dirt around dozens of Gels and wood frame buildings. The boys apparently find relatives and tell them of their needs. An aunt (or equivalent older woman) leads them to the school, where a dance class is interrupted to locate the musicians. Second floor it is. The violin teacher is located.

The boys return home and advise that the teacher has much work, but will come. Indeed, he arrives aboard a motorcycle and the ritual soon begins.

A woman, wife to the youngest adult male and mother of at least one child, begins to caress the tied-up camel mother. She begins to sing in a three-tone voice that goes on for a few minutes. Then the violinist joins her, and the song continues for some time. The colt is slowly brought forth. The mother noses it, and looks off to the horizon.

The colt is urged to the teat, and all hold their breath, as the singing and playing continue. The colt begins to nurse, and for the first time, the mother does not try to walk off. The camera zooms in to her eye, and a distinct tear forms, and then more, until her eye is flooded with water.

The colt drinks his fill. Quietly the song ends, the woman moves away, the violin stops, and the family who has remained at a respectful distance, smiles and congratulates each other on the success of the ritual. Mother and colt are left alone, the mother now solicitous of her child, nuzzling and watching over him.

So.

We who are so filled with our exceptionalism can but shake our heads and remember that there is more in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our “civilized” philosophies. With much apology to Shakespeare, I remember again, that this world is full of so much that we do not understand, and are in our arrogance too “smart” to realize.

May you find something amazing in your life today that makes you stop and ask, just how much is still wonder in the world we inhabit?