Kaag originated from the rugged mountains north of the Wahgi Valley, New Guinea.
One day, as we walked carefully along Kala creek looking for crayfish, I asked him his age.
I was only nine. He looked at me, saying “Mi thirty, forty samting”.
Then, to further clarify, he said “Taim bilong Missus King’s* Duke kam bilong mipela, mi twenty, thirty samting”.
I treasured his lack of time-concern, and envied his simple elegant perceptions.
Crisscrossing a jungled mountain-side early one morning, I whined about the steepness, asking how far we still had to go.
A well-muscled man ahead of me laughed “Ah! Longwe liklik; em tasol**”. This could mean another hour, or three, or the rest of the day!
Their more continuous and fluid pace of life contrasted with my own culture’s obsessions with time, cutting it to pieces, dissecting all the hours, days, and years. We bump, think, schedule and negotiate our way through life, trying to control every moment, rather than feeling and moving more gracefully through the days and years as they flow over and beyond us.
* “Missus King” refers to Queen Elizabeth II. The Duke of Endinburgh visited New Guinea in 1959.
** “Em tasol” means “that’s all”.