Chapter 12: Evolution - Can't stop the music (Part 1)

Chico reflects...

Well, I'm here in Vienna at one of the most historic jazz clubs in the world, Jazzland. There are only a few and here have performed some of the greatest musicians to walk the face of the earth. I am honored to be in the company of such great artists. Considering where I am now and how I've arrived it's clear that change is something that happens everyday and my viewpoint, my sound, my abilities, my concept and my countenance are all part of my evolution. I realize that my continued evolution is something that I accept with an open mind and will endeavor to embrace the positive in my continuing journey even in the not knowing the destination.

Estelle revisits The Cradle of Humankind...

Early morning coffee in the Magaliesburg
near the Cradle of Humankind

Our human uniqueness stems from a vast evolutionary turn, from a time that still keeps us guessing. It is deeply rooted in our DNA. Maybe us human beings think we are programmed to own as much as we can lay our hands on and our political and religious beliefs are just an attempt to hide our territorial genes. Maybe that is our downfall. Our ancient primal instinct urges us to make borders and build fences, to keep out those who are a threat to our tribe and our genetic heritage. Survival. Maybe it's time to break down the barriers and evolve beyond our self imposed limitations. Maybe, maybe, maybe it might just day. Maybe not.

The concept of evolution has me thinking about my time spent in the Magaliesburg situated near the Cradle of Humankind in South Africa where some of the earliest human remains have supposedly been found. I look at the porcupines quills on the table where I keep my red-brown soil in a jar and my stones on the window sill and I am in that place where the land might grow back but for more bone collectors. This room in this hut was where I discovered how fragile human beings are, when faced with the reality of creatures who are attuned to a habitat we have mostly forgotten about or seldom live in. Another story for another day.

The lodge near the Cradle of Humankind

One night in our tiny lodge halfway up the mountain where history is not inclined to repeat itself, rain came down on the corrugated rooftop like a migrating herd of wildebeest. Sitting on wooden hand carved stools, we blinked in the candle light and shouted above the thick sheets of water connecting with metal. The mountains seemed like an optical illusion every time lightning speared blue flashes across the sky. Hip-high grass waved their skeletal arms in the wind before falling flat in the storm.
Next day when the rain has stopped, we walk outside in the morning sun to inspect the damage. Once the mud has dried on our boots it will become hard like stale fruitcake. The bath is at the foot of the mountain in the compound and I want to go there now! It will be a while yet though, before we can risk any wheels rolling down beyond the slope through the thickened earth that is now glue and when we do, we get stuck in the mud, twice.

Our bath in the bush
Three days later when we finally do brave the slow-drying clay-like sludge, why should I be surprised at the Mozambican beauty sliding over rock and stone on our now 'notorious for sump damage' driveway?
Hand and foot slam down on both brakes with such force that I smack my forehead on the low windscreen and my lit cigarette flies into KD's lap. The sun looks like sticky spider webs shimmering off the snake’s back. Two metres in front of us and lying across the full width of the road, a Mozambican Spitting Cobra from the Western Cape is luxuriating in the late afternoon glaze. No idea how they migrated from the Western Cape to Gauteng...these snakes. Our Eve is motionless. The soft top of the land rover is down and the hooded one is catching a ray or two in front of the vehicle.

Why am I drawn to Eve as the example of 'wronged woman' in the form of a shape shifting serpent? In what context? This is no time to start musing about Biblical analogies that have mostly seemed to me like an unattractive jumble of misleading fables. Most doctrines, religious and otherwise have seemed this way to me.
Anubis and the Scarab
Now face to face with the concept as possibility, maybe I am just desperate to justify the hidden meaning behind our predicament. Living so close to nature does this to you. Searching for symbols behind every rock and tree and lifting our eyes to the sky for guidance, each moment is planned around whatever totem might appear on your path that day. Every day has its' own symbiosis when you are looking for a reason and if there isn't one you make it up!

A well balanced, slender skittle, she seems to be made from rubber. Fully erect when ready to strike, well over a metre tall when aiming for the eyes (always the eyes), pinpoint precise. Her venom she is able to spit up to three metres away and it might make you go blind. Her bite causes tissue breakdown and possible paralysis, often resulting in death.
The 'enlightened ones' speak of fear being the biggest destroyer of all. Well...face to face with our silky one gleaming in the late afternoon sunlight I am pleased to let you know that my human fear will hopefully ensure my human survival. I'll just remember to hide that fear and close my eyes when the spit comes flying from those fangs!

We exhale quietly. Are the sides of the landie high enough off the ground to protect our eyes should any snake juice come shooting our way? What’s there to risk by doubting? Fear is a breeding ground for paranoia and natural instinct. That instinct is saying put foot on the gas and go!

The land rover with roof top up
Starting the engine (which tends to stall a few times before taking) would mean an eye-popping rev on the accelerator from my friend behind the wheel. Snakes and sudden loud vibrations don’t go so well together but there's no need for us to contemplate the 'worst-case scenario' at this very moment! Turning to the back for a quick glance, we are both considering what would happen if the snake slid under the vehicle and decided to surprise us from behind. Ah yes, the imagination is now playing out it's own little melodrama at full tilt! The canvas soft top is bound with leather straps and securely buckled. No can do. We sit. We wait.

This hot afternoon dragging along slowly is alive with insects and a single fly circling above my head sounds like a helicopter. Do we dodge what’s playing dead or do we try and miss one of the most dangerous and highly strung snakes in South Africa? We look at each other once and then without a word KD starts up the engine and we put foot! The slippery one wriggles out the way and into the grass.

Historical cribs have a ribcage scattering thousands who to this day are still living barefoot in plywood shacks and the events that moulded these circumstances you can't call evolution.

Jan plays the changes

The only constant in life is change.

Everything changes as we evolve and grow.
It's all a matter of perception
and interpretation.

The songs Chico and I wrote are now part of Estelle.
The melodies and words have taken on another life
evolving into the sound of you and you.

And you, the listener, will hear it another way - 
through different speakers, headphones, earbuds, computers and sound systems, all vibrating and adding frequencies.
Different meanings will emerge as memories get triggered by words and chords, melodies and the reflections of sound in different rooms, cars and halls all mixed with the background noise of everyday life.

Yes, nothing stays the same.

The only constant in life is change.

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