Once, a mighty tiger roamed the mountains of ancient China. He ruled the steep cliffs with impunity. But along came a hunter, as mighty in the world as the tiger was in the wild. Slowly and carefully, quietly and expertly, the hunter stalked the tiger. Through forest and clearing, up mountains and down, until late one night, above the river, the tiger was cornered. A huge cliff behind him, and the powerful, deep, ice cold waters of the river below. The hunter drew his arrow, the bowstring stretched back ready for the killer shot. All was quiet. Savouring the moment, taking quiet satisfaction in his expertise, the hunter loosed the arrow.
Yon with friends, December 2014
“Don’t worry”, said the old lady, “just relax, it will all be fine”.
That was the best advice we heard about giving birth. Simple, straightforward, and spot on. It didn’t come from a doctor, a midwife, or the author of any of the veritable library of pregnancy books around our place or any of the generous friends who’d shared them along with their own stories. Instead, it came from the woman in the blue apron in the photo above, a mother of two from a small rural village in China who, doubtless, had given birth in what most of us would consider spartan conditions. The lady spoke quietly, gently and wisely, but more than what she said, it was how she said it. Yon, by then more than eight months along, smiled, and relaxed. As the uncertain father-to-be, I felt the anticipation ease as well. It was almost the first time I really thought “we can do this”.
It’s almost a cliche, the wisdom of an old lady in a remote village. If a backpacker told me the story in a bar in Bangkok, I’d probably roll my eyes. If Hillary Clinton wrote a book about it, Oprah would give it a glowing review. But sometimes, people who do things the old ways really do know how to do them best. And all we need to do is listen.