Saturday, March 31, 2007

Oh my goodness, what to call it????


Reading Karen Connelly's One Room in a Castle. It is poignant in places, and some of you have talked of finding good travel writing, and this is very good...she won the Governor General's at 24. Her web site also claims that she is fluent in a mere six languages...yee gods, and I thought I had accomplished something with my life...and she's two years younger than me...

All that said, here is a brief excerpt...
Is it...my nearing departure that makes everything seem mysterious, untouchable, too beautiful to hold?...By the time you receive this letter, I will already be in another world. How long will it be before someone says my name? And when they do, what will it sound like?


It rings very true for the traveler in me. I am only just now having people say my name.

Partir est mourir un peau. What else is this but a small dying?


The French means, loosely: parting is a small dying...

Here are some photos from Barcelona..they are in or near Parc Guell...






We still haven't get a strong feel for everything that is going on, it will probably take several years...a whole crowd of people and their kids just washed up our street, waited around outside the casal and the end of it, and then en masse wandered out again. A lovely lady from the library was there, and one of my students...it had something to do with kids singing and Easter...I suspect it is a children's choir and it was rehearsing...the crowd going in was waiting for their kids to come out. That said, I couldn't hear any singing....a mystery. It was a bit like watching the tide ebbing and flowing.

On a different topic, my kids have periodically asked us if we are rich, usually after some friend of theirs recieves the umpteenth gift for no apparent reason. I find it very hard to answer. Certainly globally...we are stinking rich. Very nearly everyone in the western world is. I heard the line once that if you have a little pot somewhere in your house collecting pennies, you are in the richest 5% of the global population. Sadly, we never have. Compared to my children's friends, both here and in Canada..we are not. We don't have a car, we cannot buy whatever we want whenever we want it, they do not get gifts showered upon them very often, and frequently, by the end of the month, things are getting tight. Then again compared to some of the families that we have seen in the out-islands of the Bahamas, yes we are, especially as we could orginise our lives so that both my husband and I could leave work and go sailing for three years, only working for a few months a year. It is a difficult question to answer; but then I looked at it differently. We are rich...in that we have the ability to make choices. We can chose where we live, we can chose work we like, we have the education to get work in most places, and the opportunity to chose our lifestyle and our activities. I think that we are unbelievably wealthy because of that. I am frustrated sometimes because I cannot buy my kids what they want when they want it, because sometimes we simply run out of money. I am also not entire sure that this is a bad lesson for them either.

This is also part of why we are here. To give our children choices, to give them an EU passport, to give them another language or two, to give them a view of the world beyond brownies, be it allowing them the near continuous living within nature that they experienced on the boat, to experience that most people are good and kind, to know for themselves that there is more than one way to do EVERYTHING, and that one of the great riches of being human is the ability to devise a way whatever the circumstances.

This is also why my husband and I are both working so hard at learning the languages, we don't want to have to leave because we cannot communicate. It narrows our choices. It is why I am anxious about the elder daughter learning Castillian. I want to maintain my ability to choose where we go, and not have to leave because she cannot manage in the school. Looking at it sideways like that, and beyond the economist's bottom line...yes, I say to my kids...yes, we are rich. Even by western standards.

I'm going to end with another excerpt from Karen Conolly's book, "One Room in a Castle"
Why don't people recognize each other as the same species? Spanish, Basque, Catalan, southerner, northerner, Irish-Canadian, Quebecois, Chinese, American, African. Whatever arguments we make in favour of them, these labels of division never illuminate the mystery of human existence, and they never allow us to move closer to each other. Beneath all the trappings of culture and sex, of ideology and language, we are the same people. I know this. Our lives begin and end with journeys made alone.


Oh, here's something amusing. The kids got report cards today...apparently the eldest is only good, rather than very good at English comprehension. Can I add that she reads the Economist? Since the English teacher cannot write a ten word comment in English without making serious grammatical errors, I find this, well, strange.

7 comments:

Beth said...

so she's only "good" in English comprehension huh? poor thing! ;)

Oreneta, I love reading you. You always make me think about things so deeply....my kids always ask if we're poor too. and compared to some kids at school, then I guess we are. We don't shower them with gifts all the time either....but I think that when they DO get a gift, they treasure it, ya know? It's special. And they are not spoiled little brats who demand everything new thing that comes out.

By the stories you tell about your girls, I think you are doing a fantastic job. Keep it up.

and yes, I do have a pot with pennies in it.

oreneta said...

Beth: I have a friend who maintains that her kids are more obnoxious every time shegives them something. Stragely she also showers her kids with gifts. I haven't figured out why she does that yet.

Beth said...

What a wonderful post. Your family is rich in so many ways - ways far more valuable than being able to buy the latest (disposable) consumer item for a child.
And I also loved those quotations from Conolly's book - especially the last one.

Trish said...

Your comment about being rich because you have choices reminds me of a book I read (can't remember which) that spoke of "the luxury of indecision".

So true.

Jocelyn said...

What a terrific explanation of why you're doing what you're doing. I'm ready to wake my kids, pack some bags, and head for Finland. Or anywhere.

I love your thoughtfulness.

oreneta said...

Beth: Have you read that book? You really should...it is very good.

Trish: If you ever do remember that book, let me know please...?

Jocelyn:Thank you so much. Your latest post was pretty brilliant as well. Brave too. Happy birthday to the blue moon girl.

Bahama Chris said...

Thanks for sharing your pictures...makes me feel like I'm back! Best wishes with your future travels