I was lying in bed with my partner, watching the rain. Though I often read in bed, I wasn’t in the mood to read last night. In silence, wrapped in each other’s arms, we watched the rain. He could sense my restlessness.
“Let’s meditate,” he said. He sat up, leaned his back against the bed, and beckoned for me to lean into him. We meditated like this for a while.
“I’m going to sleep,” I said to him.
“OK,” he said, and kissed me goodnight
Sleep evaded me.
“Can I read to you?” he asked, and went to fetch a book.
It was Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens. Harari is a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Sapiens is kind of like a textbook, rather than a bedtime novel. It’s like the complete history of the human race, from how we began.
But what is ‘we’? ‘We’ are homo sapiens, with strains of Neanderthals and possibly other early humans. Where is everyone else? Dead and extinct, though we do not know for sure why we are the only race left standing. Maybe we bred them out; maybe we out-competed the others. But the amazing thing is, we came from the same gene pool as the peoples in the world today, here because homo sapiens won the war and made us.
There was a big jump our progress when homo sapiens learned how to communicate. This is known as the Cognitive Revolution and it happened around 70,000 years ago. We moved on from grunting yes or no, and began using language. And language plays such a large part in humanity. We can start a war because of words, just as we can spread love using words. Words are the vehicles with which we transport our thoughts, feelings, dreams and intentions into the world beyond our physical body, and thus create our material reality.
Why don’t we use words more often to spread love? To smile and say hello to someone you don’t know, to drop a few words to a distant friend, to write a kind letter, to post something inspiring on social media. We have so much beauty, inspiration, love and tenderness locked in us. If only we let them out more often.
In mid-sentence, my partner stopped his reading, stared into space, looking at the rain and waves beyond our window, absently stroking my hair. It is true, books do widen your horizon and shift your consciousness, keep it flowing towards realisation. Tonight, watching the rain in our eyrie whilst the world is in conflict, we tumbled into Harari’s narrative and thought just how small and insignificant the timescale of human life is: here today, gone tomorrow, all in a blink of the eye. For what purpose is life? I mused. If we are here only for such a short time?
“I love you, Jac,” he said simply. “Today and always.”
Reading this book together brought gravity to his words, because all we have is love in this uncertain, short history of the Sapiens and the long history of the universe: contemplating the vastness of space and the smallness of human life, love shines ❤
Our greatest strength lies in the gentleness and tenderness of our heart.