Since Bill visited the Hadza in modern-day Tanzania, and I've been learning about cultures that have lived for tens to hundreds of thousands of years, I asked him about how they lived. We talked about their religion, rituals, dancing, singing, fashion, textiles, and culture in general. Neither of us studies people or cultures, so we're just two people talking about our observations, but it's pretty clear when little boys learn to use bows and arrows around when they learn walking and talking that there are cultural differences we can learn from. As for our culture, the summer after high school, a friend and I rode bikes and camped from Philadelphia to Maine and back, about 1,500 miles over a month. Everyone jokes at least, but many say seriously, that parents would be arrested for letting their kids do that trip today. So we talk about how to raise kids and what we may be missing. Are young children taught today to handle sharp knives in the kitchen? Bill talked about a Hadza kid carrying around a machete. In summary, we talk about cultural differences including independence, responsibility, and freedom for youth, which we lack and suppress. American culture has a lot to learn. We also talk about Bill's commitment, helping nurse his plant back to life.
I indulge in asking Bill about his and his wife Laurie's passions, filmmaker friends, goals, and so on. He talks about passionate peers he's worked with like Michael Pollan and Paul Stamets. The names Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen come up too, as two other people who appeared in his movies. He explains the value of celebrity. He shares his storytelling techniques not to make political films or push people, despite covering fields others treat more bluntly. He and Laurie share nuance and subtlety. Also joy and appreciations. He takes an interest in the Spodek/AIM Method so I describe it to him, not just do it. I hope everyone practices it and spreads the joy, fun, freedom, and rewarding emotions and experiences that connecting with nature does.
If you agree innovation and technology has its drawbacks, you may still worry: if we don't press onward, aren't we risking reverting to the stone age with thirty becoming old age and mothers and children dying in childbirth. Don't we store fat so well because our ancestors never knew when their next meal would come? I used to think that way. Learning about cultures that haven't adopted our technology-based culture relieved me of my ignorance. You've heard episodes with authors of books on Hawaiians before Captain Cook and the San bushmen in the Kalahari Desert. These cultures didn't barely eke out survival. They thrived. The San lived for hundreds of thousands of years. They show higher signs of resilience, health, longevity, abundance, equality, and stability than we do. Of course they do. You can't barely eke out 250,000 years. Bill Benenson produced a documentary (free online, click below) on the Hadza in modern Tanzania, who seem to have lived as they do now for about 50,000 years. Watch it to see how they are living just fine, or would be but for their territory being encroached on and traditional ways decimated. We could learn a lot from them. We could use some humility about our culture. Bill shares his journey learning of them, documenting them, and learning from them, including some behind-the-scenes stories of the scenes I found most fascinating.