I have been doing a fun exercise and thought I would share today’s with you.
Today choose a place to which you would like to be transported if you could – and tell us the back-story. How does this specific location affect you? Is it somewhere you’ve been, luring you with the power of nostalgia, or a place you are aching to explore for the first time?
There is a place I have been to once that claimed my spirit at first sight. Often in my thoughts and always in my heart, it is my first choice, and perhaps the second and third. The land of my mother, more ancient than the continent on which I currently reside, has a rich history.
The town, at the heart of the matter, was established about 1160. In contrast the city in which I dwell was established in 1807. Apparently back about 1100 we had an assortment of Vikings and Indigenous folk tromping around this country.
Even the age of Canada is considered ‘young’ at 200 million years whereas my land of dreams boasts a hearty age of about 500 million years. Around the time when it drifted northwest from about 30 degrees south of the equator to its present latitude of about 54 degrees north.
Rocks, stones, green, and of course the sea welcomed this weary traveler. The city is more that 800 miles further north than Kitchener Ontario, closer to the Arctic than we, but it is warmed by the Gulf Stream from the Atlantic so more protected from the extremes of Canada.
Being so far north it has glorious longer days in summer, which I got to experience. Of course the reverse holds true for the winter so my desire to be transported will be in summer please. Far past midnight there is a light.
Did I embrace a city so rich in history, romance, intrigue, and mystery or did it embrace me? Could it recognize the DNA of far traveled offspring? Was it the sea air, touring a city under the present one, drinking water so pure it is rated one of the best in the world, and buildings and castles built long ago, or was it something more?
My mini-me resides there, the daughter of my mother’s identical twin and four days younger than I – an important distinction to make believe me. We speak in face-to-face everyday, sometimes just for a few minutes, sometimes a bit longer, but it ties me even closer to this family and my city of choice – Edinburgh.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about our open information society, and I don’t mean our lives laid out for all to see on Facebook or Dating Sites or Instagram, but how nothing seems to be private anymore. I have stood in line at grocery stores and in a few moments had people tell me their story or worse yet the intimate details of someone else’s life. Everything from illnesses, to affairs, to arrests, abortions, drugs..well you get the idea. In five minutes I can walk away from a complete stranger with more information than I could ever want.
When I was a little girl I watched an old English war movie and there was a scene in a war room where three men were talking. The one fellow excused himself and one of the other men asked what was wrong with him. The fellow responded with, “It’s a personal matter.” The fellow just said, “Oh that is unfortunate.” And they continued on with business. Even at that young age I remember thinking about how respectful the whole scene was.
You see I think we have lost some degree of respect when it comes to our personal lives, to ourselves. The more I consider it, the more I believe it is all about respect. Respect for ourselves and respect for others by not prying. The thing is that few people seem to understand what is happening.
I have been doing some research for a potential biography and along the way have found myself asking just how much information should be passed on? (Especially when that person is not alive to answer to information.) How much information would I want my children or grandchildren to know about my life?
Do we disrespect ourselves when we just blab about everything? I used to be a little too open about my life and activities thinking honesty equaled total disclosure. I no longer feel that way. Not that I have any horrendous hidden secrets but there is a certain level of information, of intimacy that really is none of anyone’s business.
There is a certain dignity to the old Stiff Upper Lip. It means that yes I have problems and challenges and I shall look after them. The whole Suck it up Buttercup idea is along the same lines, though a little more expressive.
What is responsible for our fall from dignity? I believe it is the ‘Media’, especially so called reality shows that are in my opinion horrid. Talk show hosts also contribute to this nonsense. Come on the air, wail about your problems, cry about your circumstance, and we shall reward you. What is the reward you ask? Well its some degree of fame I guess. I guess but I don’t really understand.
Back in the fifties or sixties there was a television show called ‘ Queen for a Day’. I only watched it once because I saw people degrade themselves spilling information to gain the most sympathy. It turned my stomach at the time. I had no way of knowing the future held a whole society of ‘poor me’ and listen to my tale of woe.
When people were more dignified it was not a case of not being able to confide in someone, but you didn’t confide in everyone, and those you did go to kept your confidence for to not do so was shameful.
Some people today do carry on their lives without tell-tale drama. Jodi Foster is one that comes to mind immediately but there are lots of others. I have friends that ‘carry on with a stiff upper lip’, that ‘suck it up buttercup’ and do so with grace and dignity. I think we need a little more dignity and self-respect and no I don’t think I want all my secrets known, not because they are horrible but because they are mine.
How do we begin to change society as a whole? Can we even do that or is it okay to carry on and hope someone else will want to follow example?
Yesterday I posted a letter written by my uncle, who was fourteen at the time, to his brother, my father who was in the army.
My uncle was a pack rat and when he passed away his basement was crammed with all kinds of treasures, that my cousins had to sort through. Amongst his belongings were three letters.
The other two letters I have are from my father to his mother, my grandma.
I have no idea where overseas he was when these were written. The letters are on official Canadian Army stationary and are fully intact with the original envelopes. The first letter was written April 16, 1943 and the second May 2, 1943. Reading the lingo of the day they make me think of a scene from a black and white movie. They also give me a perspective I wouldn’t otherwise have of this boy who would become my father. They touch my heart as a mother, as a grandmother and as a woman. I don’t see this boy as my father. He is a young man who enlisted too young and went to a war that left permanent marks.
He loyally signed up with my someday to be my Uncle Harry who when he returned from the war would marry my Aunt Elaine. My aunt is the last aged member of that generation and she tells me to this day how awful the war was for these teenagers. She says they were different people when they came back and I can see she mourns the loss of who they once were. When I lived in the USA I dated a man who had been in the Vietnam war and while he was a wonderful accomplished man he still carried memories that invaded his dreams.
I have felt for a long time now that the only casualties were not those who died. Living victims. I think it is wonderful that Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome is recognized but I do not know if that recognition makes it any easier to deal on a day to day basis.
Whoa! That was a surprise melancholy trip. Now back to the letters that are not at all downers. The second letter does show just how homesick this boy was.
Anyway: April 16/43
Hi Mom how are you doing? Fine I hope. Now here I am to make a request. I need some more toilet soap and would be very greatful if you could get me some and send it to me. The limey soap gives me a rash of something.
I found out where Bobby is so as soon as I can get a leave I am going to see him. O’ yes I haven’t had my leave as yet but am sure hoping. I expect I will need it if I don’t go crazy waiting. O’ yes haven’t received any cigs yet but am hoping for that too. Well must go to bed now.
Tons of Love
PS a X (hug) from me to you.
Hi Sweet Heart and how are you doing? Fine I hope. Say do you know something. In 49 days Mrs. Gingerich’s dark haired warrior will be 19 and I have heard from some ot the fellows he is going to get drunk, really pie eyed for about 2 days. Well mom I guess I didn’t need to remind you of that awful day. But I guess you can remember it.
Well enough of that. Well today is Sunday and like the good boy I am, I never wen t to church, and you know I was worried but I don’t know what happened I just didn’t get to church. Well here I am beside a nice fire and having a swell time. I was thinking what a swell time a fellow could have if he were home for awhile. it would be swell. I’d like to meet all the new friends we have now. It would be swell.
I am not an American however I do have strong links which include having resided in Texas for a time, good personal friends, and of course about 60% of my blogging commentors. I have said more than once that I left a part of my heart in that wonderful state and it is true. Geographically you are our nearest neighbors, but the heart of America is more than friends or readers or one state. The whole world is going through some rough times and certainly the USA as much or even more than some.
American Thanksgiving is a pretty big holiday with the very source of it being about Thanks for all we have and all we have is not something that can be counted or displayed. Sometimes it is enough to give thanks for just being.
I met some pretty fantastic people from the other side of the border who went out of their way to make my life richer, and some who still do today.
The heart of America resides all around the world in every country. For all the grumblings and stereotyping and political and religious hoohaw and seeming discontent there is strength, dignity and compassion. There are many without food, homes, or love in all our countries. Lets remember them – and for all who whine about what they don’t have, please give thanks for what you do have no matter how small or meagre.
This is a day that Americans traditionally celebrate and give thanks. Just to let you know there are others like myself that give special thanks today just for knowing you.
Wait. That’s right my friends. I find just waiting it out works most of the time. None of this ‘the tough get going’. I suppose when I was younger and had more energy the ‘get going’ part was easier. Inspiring and energizing even. But oh my, now just waiting it out seems smarter.
The saying is attributed by some to Joseph Kennedy, legendary father to President John F. Kennedy (1888-1969) and to Knute Rockne who was a football player and a pretty smart man (one of his most famous sayings was, ‘Win this one for the Gipper which was famously used throughout early era movies.)
Now the idea is that when difficult situations arise, people of strong character don’t just lie around and complain but get going to solve the problem, which is fine for all you energy sodden folk.
I used to take the need to get going rather seriously but with the wisdom that comes with years I have discovered most things either resolve themselves or at least present a clearer easier solution when considered. Sometimes old-fashioned ‘pondering’, which, is pretty low energy requirement, works much better. Leaves the mind open to possibilities.
Getting going is such an aggressive approach, even more than the mighty oak which is less aggressive but more resistant, and I prefer to act more like the willow tree gently bending in the winds of life.
See there I go again making it sound like I know what I’m doing; that in the spice rack of life I am sage (get it? Get it? Sage/wisdom/smart)
Sometimes it is a wait and ponder situation, and sometimes when events are moving quickly and you fear you have lost control, just picture yourself in a tiny round silver saucer sleigh, hanging on firmly to the handles flying down the slippery slope of life, eyes closed, waiting to stop and having faith that you will survive the journey. No point in worrying after all there is more than one way to win a battle, be the victor, skin a cat,…well you get the idea.
So here I sit at a precipice able to write a history for my sons and grandsons but opposing
there is the living of life. My days are full and I love it. My heart says it is important to take the time to write. At the end of the day I am tired. Projects sitting waiting completion but I embrace the quiet.
Life is wonderful and I realize I want to tell a story but age is a tiring thing. I have learned that giving all to the moment is wonderful. The joy of entering the world of others, specifically children is enticing and for this moment in my life it is as it should be. Sometimes the living out does the telling.
Perhaps there will be time in the future; perhaps I will find a way to accomplish both but
for now the living is more important than the telling. Now pops up the thought that if everyone felt that way there would be no history for someone must tell the story.
Hmm perhaps, just perhaps I can do both. For now it occurs to me….both is desirable.