Tuesday, March 22, 2016

this Morning, Trying to Blog

Even before this morning's tragic news, I've been disinclined to move to the written word. Unwilling to attend to the impact of having our home listed online, of having a For Sale sign at our gate, I  have been happily distracted by my daughter and granddaughter's visit. I had thought, before I saw the news out of Belgium this morning, to share a photo or two, directing you to follow my Instagram account for the next little while until I get my blogging energies organised again.

Here, for example, is a photo I posted on Instagram yesterday of Toddler Girl from Rome trying on her Momma's shoes. 
Momma loves her some leopard, and I was going to show you a photo I took, my last visit to Rome, of her wearing another pair of leopard shoes, ones I'd bought her when she visited us in Bordeaux last fall
Street Style!
Next, I was going to direct you to R's own blog, where she managed (finally!) to squeeze out a lively post on our Bordeaux shopping expedition and her love for the leopard...

But now I've read the morning reports, the horrors that reduce all of our lives to so much rubble. My anxieties over where Pater and I will live next in this overheated market of a city; my sadness over leaving a home; my excitement about making a new one; my dismay and protectiveness over my daughter and granddaughter's horrid flight; my quiet pleasure in being able to help ease both of them back into comfort; my joy at coaxing my granddaughter to accept me as a (poor second) substitute for her Momma's arms; my eager anticipation of having the whole family together at dinner later this week---every aspect of my life trembles in the enormity of these gross acts of terrorism. Even writing that last sentence reveals my petty narcissism, my privilege.

And yet. And let me be trivial. I stand accused. I accept the label. I have no other way through. The tiny daily pleasures, keeping an eye out for beauty while yet being willing to witness horror, is it not the only way forward? If forward is ever an option rather than a convenient metaphor, an organising narrative to help us keep stepping, one foot at a time, doing the only best we can.

Words are so dangerous, and I'm wishing mine might fade, here, as if written in water on pavement. They're only an effort, I know they're inadequate. May whomever is hurting today forgive me their apparent ease and take solace in their attempt at solidarity. 

And I will leave you with images of yesterday's fleeting pleasures, because inadequate as beauty and love and happiness might be to assuage pain and despair, I find little else to put faith in this morning











41 comments:

  1. I turned on my computer later than usual this morning and checked Facebook. Our son is in DC for work and his comment was the first I'd heard of the terrible news in Brussels. I've read the reports now, shed tears over the horrors and am feeling blank. When I checked my blog feed, I noticed your first line and came here. I don't really know what I'm trying to say except 'yes' to your words. And then I'll be engrossed in the ordinary things of life, dishes and tidying up, looking after a little girl while her mother visits the doctor, and so on. The ordinary becomes very beautiful.

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    1. Yes.
      I hope you had a great time with your little girl. Appreciate quotidian beauty!

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  2. I understand and agree with you Frances.I have family in Brussels ..an early message let me know they were safe before I'd had time to listen to the news. My nephew works on the airport site and a member of his team had passed through the metro station 10 minutes before the explosion ....like you I feel all our concerns are insignificant compared to the effects on peoples lives by attacks such as these.
    So hard to know what to say at times like this without sounding superficial.I will admit to being relieved my family in Brussels were ok and as it's the holidays, the children safe at home with their mum. Hope that doesn't sound selfish.
    Hoping for safer times ahead for all of us.
    It must be lovely for you and Peter to have all your family together in the same city for a while.
    Rosie

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    1. Glad all your people are alright, Rosie -- Impossible not to be "selfish" when it comes to worrying that our family are okay in a disaster. I'm sure that's genetically programmed. One of mine was in the air over Europe yesterday, changing flights in a city not so far away from Brussels, and we were relieved he arrived safely.
      We are thrilled, yes, to have everyone gathering again -- the five grandchildren will be together this weekend and the eight moms and dads!

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  3. The sad thing is that there is so much horror everywhere that you almost become immune. How sad is that. We can only stop and think how lives have been changed for some today and give thanks for what we have. It's so important to keep looking for the beauty. B X

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    1. Yes. And I know that so many of us, besides our appreciation for beauty, for aesthetics, also try to help locally, to build strong healthy communities that offer hope. Small matters, I have to believe it!

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  4. I'm at a loss for words. And that's all I can say today.

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    1. Thanks for taking time to say just that, Marianne. Together....

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  5. The evil part of terrorism is that it causes fear and creates distrust among nations. Toddler Girl is so sweet! We should appreciate that our relative safety
    and comfort is a privilege not shared by most of the people of the world.

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    1. You're right, Mme. It's a privilege we must try to find ways to share. Feeling guilty about it does no one any good, but there are many ways to spread its reach. . .

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  6. You have nothing to apologise for. Your reaction is as it should be, based on love for family. But cut yourself some slack - lot of major life stresses all at the same time recently. Just getting on with normal life is the most we can do at this time. Here in Europe we are finding ways to adjust to realities of violence whilst just doing the daily do. You need an early night. Then up and at 'em!

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    1. Oh dear -- you usually suggest I have a drink, and now I'm just getting an early night? ;-)

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    2. I did consider. But I thought I might be getting a reputation. By all means, wheel out the gin, wine, beer...I am currently teetotal so have one for me.

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  7. People and creatures suffer all over, every day. Luckily, people also love and care for each other, every day. We just keep tipping the balance away from violence as best we can.

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  8. I wrote this mornings blog post before I read the news. Increasingly my morning routines need to be private: stretching, writing, coffee, reading, walking, before I face the world. It is the only way to maintain equilibrium.

    Then, after reading what happened, I felt the weight of triviality descend upon me. Of course I feel sad for all those who have experienced loss and terror. My words and my life offer nothing in comparison. And yet the power of touch, of love, of overlapping influence is great. All we can concentrate upon is our own personal sphere. Do we continue on, hoping for better, doing the best within our own abilities to spread tolerance? Or do we give in to fear?

    We can be grateful for what we have. We can be aware that terrorism exists, it has existed and shocked me as long as I have been conscious of the world outside my own little circle of family, and we must remember that it can touch any one of us without warning. We are not immune, and therefore we share in that suffering, in that knowledge. But we must also celebrate life, and all its privileges, for if we give into despair, we give in to the forces of evil.

    A young(er) woman in her mid-forties asked me why the world was so much worse than it was in her youth, and why we can't go back to that innocence. But her perspective was one of innocence, the world was no better. Even before 9/11, even before the London bombings of 2005, there were terrorist attacks in Europe, the middle east, everywhere. Even today, we probably don't even hear about most of them, despite our nearly instantaneous access to information.

    A young woman (mid-40's) asked me recently what had happened to the world of your youth, of its innocence and caring. I couldn't say. I'm not sure I remember that world. I am inclined to say the world we live in, at least in North America is more tolerant and safer, that it still exists. And yet there are terrorists; but there were always terrorists, at least as far as my own memory, dating back to the 70's can recall. And the horrors of war predate that.

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    1. Ah, Mardel, the length and the thougthfulness of this comment suggest that you've been sorting the same priorities as I have, arriving at parallel conclusions. Yes, I would have to answer that young woman that perhaps she saw selectively when she was younger, perhaps sheltered by a media that could be turned off more easily. And, of course, we have lived a very protected existence in Canada and the US, at least those of us with the combined privileges of class and race.

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  9. Terror attack in Brussels is horrible,so many victims,so sad.....,what to say?I've read all comments and you've said it much better than me. We have to carry on,to live,love,help where we can,symphatise....The attacks are meant not only to kill people but to kill our spirit,freedom,faith,hope,happiness....
    And we have to fight against it,because even when you are in extreme situation ( illness,natural disasters,wars.....)
    simple,everyday things keep you going on......and love for your family and friends
    So,Nana, your duty now is to enjoy with beautiful toddler and her Momma
    Dottoressa

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    1. Thanks Dottoressa, I will do my duty the best I can ! ;-)

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  10. It is a beautiful sunny day here in Victoria and I am so grateful for the smallest of pleasures in light of these horrific events...it makes me want to hug my family and cocoon in our home.
    So many lives lost....and I wonder how we as a society can stop these radicals and their violent acts.
    Fortunately you have ample time now that you are retired to enjoy those special moments with your darling grandchild...and your family.

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    1. Enjoy that sunshine, in your garden. . .

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  11. Please don't ever apologise for your writing or for the way you live your life. I believe we owe it to the people who are suffering today to stand up and say that we will not have life made smaller out of fear. Life is meant to be good - I truly believe it. The ones who want us to live in fear will have won if we hesitate to celebrate the beauty of every day - if we stay home out of fear they have succeeded in isolating us, person from person, country from country. Reading about your beautiful granddaughter, seeing beautiful images, thinking about your beautiful daughter (never met, but appreciated) doesn't mean I can't read about and feel horror at what happened in Belgium today. It means, though, that I won't give way to any darkness. I'll look for the light, the smiles and the beautiful ....... and I'll travel.

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    1. That is a lovely belief! I try to share it, that life is meant to be good. . . Beauty and kindness and love help to shore it up.
      Light, smiles, travel. . .

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  12. I keep typing comments and then deleting them...yes, it is hard to find words but silence doesn't feel right either. As often in times of worry and sorrow, the other parts of life just chug along...

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    1. Yes, they do chug along, thank goodness, and they acquire joy again as they do, and somehow that gets integrated with the worry and sorrow. It's astonishing that that truth is also part of our quotidian human existence, but it seems to be. Resilience.

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  13. Whilst watching the mounting horror on news feeds, I remembered what someone said - I can't remember who, but probably at the time of the Paris attacks - 'Look out for the heroes who rush to help in these situations, sometimes as great risk to themselves.' I don't think it's helpful for us to focus on the evil intent, that's for others. But by focussing on those who do good, it helps mitigate our despair. P.S. On a more trivial note: I was going to write 'heroes and heroines' but I've never felt this latter does justice to female heroes... Elizabeth

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    1. Elizabeth, I posted on this last November, as did many others, I suspect. The quotation is from Mr. Rogers (a much-loved American children's entertainer) who quoted his mother's wisdom that in a disaster we must "look for the helpers." (that early post of mine is here and has the full quotation: http://materfamiliasknits.blogspot.ca/2015/11/look-for-helpers.html
      p.s. I agree with you on the word "heroine." I feel the same about "actress" and prefer to insistently appropriate the word "actor" to both genders, refusing what seems a diminutive, patronising concession of a word for the female version.

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  14. Always entirely dislocating when a tragedy strikes in one part of the world (or even one's city) while we "go on".

    And in that spirit, my comment concerns your remark about "overheated market". I hope you benefit from a good profit on the selling side, which may assuage that (I realize both properties are not in Van. but the rarity of the house and location of the apt. will, I hope, work to your advantage.)

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    1. Yes. this is what it is, "entirely dislocating." Other commenters have suggested I shouldn't apologise, and I don't know that that's what I'm doing so much as trying to find my way back to where I am.
      Ugh, the market is nuts here, and we can't do anything until our house sells. Trying to stay positive and not panic -- at least we have our 500 square foot-hold.

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  15. I'm finding it hard to respond to this post in part because you've articulated a lot of the things I was feeling yesterday about my own privilege, but I haven't quite developed the comfort with the label yet.

    I hope you have a wonderful visit and lots of happy moments with toddler and co.!

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    1. It's not a comfortable term, and as we move through all the challenges of our daily lives, sometimes it's hard to feel the privilege, even if we acknowledge it intellectually. I suspect we're only hardwired to deal with a fairly immediate context....

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  16. Mater/Frances...crazy busy here, too! But want to share email I sent to Alison Watt this morning.
    "Alison...want to affirm that the Brussels event will NOT change my plans to join you and Kelley in Espedaillac in September. Furthermore, my sister, her husband, and children who live in Brussels and work for the American embassy there are fine. As you can imagine a flurry of emails were rapidly exchanged yesterday and we are relieved to know that my sister and her husband who take the metro to work had already past the station where the explosion occurred and were in their offices.
    The two kids are "in fine spirits". There is no school today and the embassy has only called my brother-in-law in. My sister will get to have a mommy/kids day.
    As with my original plans, I will be visiting them in Brussels either before or after Espedaillac.
    Having a busy week here but these moments make us pause and remind us that life is to be lived to its fullest. My sister says she is attempting to do the normal things. I am most thankful for my family's safety.
    Hope you are well...
    Charlene Hisayasu"

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    1. First of all, Charlene, how relieved you must have been to confirm that your sister's family is safe, although they must be shaken.
      And how wonderful that you will be going to Espedaillac AND getting to have time with your sister. Sounds as if this is the beginning of some very positive changes in your life -- Brava!

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  17. I share your feelings about Brussels (and your doubts about how to go on from here). I also felt the same a few days ago after the attack in Istanbul (the second incident this year)and the bloodbath in Ankara. Not to mention the daily news from Beirut, Damascus, Kabul, Bagdad...
    In this country, for several weeks the evening news have been showing me pictures of tens of thousands of people being stuck (literally!)on the greek-macedonian border, in the rain and cold wihout food, shelter or medical care. Expelled from their homes by dictatorial regimes or civil wars, they have been excluded and abandoned by some of the richest societies in the world (including my own). Often I feel paralysed by so much suffering. But refusing to see or enjoy the love or beauty around me will not heal any wounds nor feed anyone. I rather think that I should try to turn my privilege - being safe, warm, well fed... - into a source of strength (or indignation?) from which to help, share or fight as much as I can.
    P.S. I have been pondering a longish comment on your move, but I'll leave it for another occasion.
    Have a lovely time with your family.

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    1. Yes, I do think we have to keep looking at the positive, not denying our privilege (which would help no one) but using its strength to help others. Here in Canada we've been so lucky to have a new government willing to expedite aid to Syrian refugees, but there is still so much to be done, everywhere. . .

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  18. Other friends, Pondside and Eleonore in particular, have already expressed most eloquently what I find myself thinking.

    These events of death, destruction and misery happen everyday somewhere in the world. As a Westerner, to be caught up in such a tragedy is sheer, random bad luck. And as we cannot change that then it behoves us to carry on living our small lives with as much grace and goodness as we can so that, if our path does cross with those of evil intent, then that at least shall remain.

    Hope this doesn't sound insufferably priggish or pious. We're two major airports and an entire ocean away from our children and our loved ones at the moment. And this will not be for the last time

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    1. Not priggish nor pious at all. We're similarly separated from one of our families . . .

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  19. It seems to be a part of life & always has been . I grew up in England needing to be aware of the IRA & later having my car checked over for explosive devices each morning on arriving at work . A colleague was in a wheelchair after a bomb exploded under his car . Surprisingly we didn't live in fear & the atmosphere was like any other workplace . In my experience it is human nature just to get on with it & don't let the ******** get you down . Change your life & they've won .
    Wendy in York

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    1. Yes, and the Bader-Meinhof gang during the '70s. . .
      I have no intention of changing my life and I will continue to travel to Europe regularly. I was in Paris last May and October and would be there again now if circumstances allowed. Brussels is on our list of cities to see, and this week's attacks won't change that. I do pause, though, over the appropriateness of posting, sometimes, when a wide swathe of people are newly in pain -- it's the balance between carrying on and showing sensitivity, I guess. . . just keep trying to get it right.

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  20. I have felt uncomfortable posting about new shoes, or a blossom in the garden, or a biscuit recipe, on days when the news reports a ghastly atrocity, however, beauty, love and happiness ARE sometimes all we have. If we stop seeing the beauty in small things, in loving our family and friends, and feeling happy, really what do we have left? I am not ignoring these vile events, far from it, but I work hard to keep my inner life calm and peaceful, and (to use a phrase from long ago!) spread the love. X

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    1. Sounds as if we take a similar approach, balancing the witnessing we are called to do(for me, at least, turning away, ignoring, isn't ethically tenable) with the appreciation of the beauty and the nurturing of love in our immediate circles.

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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