Nature's Zodiac

Beyond the Wheel

Bach and the Secret of Ceaseless Activity: Meditations for a New Moon in Aries

In his book, How Children Learn, author and educator John Holt describes a key difference in the approach of a child versus an adult when it comes to trying something new.

When he brings out his cello to a group of children they often ask him to play it. He responds by playing a very active piece, one of Bach’s preludes. When he is done he offers them a turn, to which they eagerly accept.

They mimic his up and down feverish bowing, and try to do just what he was doing. He says, “They are not so much trying to figure out how to play the cello as actually playing it.”

After a while, they grow tired of making nonsense sounds and want to know how it really works. “But” he says “the total activity comes first”.

It doesn’t take the child long to figure out the basic idea of the cello and make it produce a nice sound. But “while he has been figuring this out he has been ceaselessly active.” In this activity, he has collected a lot of seemingly useless information. While the adult scientist gets his answer from minimizing non-pertinent stimuli and quieting down the noise, “the child gets his answers out of the noise.”

There is a New Moon in Aries this week on Thursday, April 20th. As the ambassador of Spring, Aries celebrates total activity. Take a page from the “ceaselessly active” child this transit, and try to find your answers out of the noise. Try to find the right questions and patterns out of the sweeps of information, even if that information seems useless. If you have to ‘hear’ Bach’s prelude in your head to help you do this then go ahead and hear it. Himself an Aries, Bach said “Ceaseless work, analysis, reflection, writing much, endless self-correction, that is my secret.”

Holt ends this chapter by saying this: 

“But the greatest difference between children and adults is that most of the children to whom I offer a turn on the cello accept it, while most of the adults, particularly if they have never played any other instrument, refuse it.”

Don’t let your ‘better thinking’ get the best of you. Keep playing.


4 responses to “Bach and the Secret of Ceaseless Activity: Meditations for a New Moon in Aries”

  1. Hey Tess – this is a great one! I think they way your are now tapping into the differences of the child’s and adult minds is fascinating and worth pursuing. Personal experience and observations meeting more systematic and thought provoking visions of the universe and the self.

    It brings me back how the great revolutionary philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein upended western philosophy after spending a number of years following WW1 talking with pre school children in the Austrian Alps. Philosophic Investigations was the result of that Not sure if you have the book but here is a Wiki summary

    Did you send this to Claribel? I think this could be a particularly good podcast if she might play the cello for you with it. She loves to play Bach big time

    Love, Dad


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Dad! Wow yes! I read about Wittgenstein in the Alps with the kids in one of those Colin Wilson books. I will definitely look into Philosophical Investigations! I have yet to read him- I think he may be hard to follow but curiosity will help that problem out!
      It really does seem like understanding children better is fundamental to understanding nature better- they are simply closer to it! Closer to that bustling bloom of activity that underlies the all of the all! And they can show us the ‘natural steps’ towards creating- steps that never leave out important parts like love, interest and enthusiasm.
      I didn’t quite realize that she played the cello! Not surprising! And I can only imagine the magic she infuses into the melodies. Would love to collab with her on a short podcast for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Brava!
    I found Wittgenstein difficult too.
    This is more my speed:

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes great! I like to see lots of pictures! Looks good and strange! 😄


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My book is for anyone interested in the creative powers we share with nature!
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