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Tuesday, March 25, 2008


lately i keep trying to think deep spiritual/philosophical thoughts, but it isn't working. my brain seems to be full of frivolous fluff--not an ounce of substantial thought floats in the mysterious ether of my conscious mind. which is really too bad. i enjoy being deep.

yesterday i was having a conversation with a friend (who shall remain nameless because of an outstanding warrant having something to do with the torture of small, white mice) and he gave me some quotes from g.k. chesterton, one of which was a criticism of rudyard kipling's belief that he was superior because he'd traveled. here's the quote:

The globe-trotter lives in a smaller world than the peasant. He is always breathing an air of locality. London is a place, to be compared to Chicago; Chicago is a place, to be compared to Timbuctoo. But Timbuctoo is not a place, since there, at least, live men who regard it as the universe, and breathe, not an air of locality, but the winds of the world. The man in the saloon steamer has seen all the races of men, and he is thinking of the things that divide men--diet, dress, decorum, rings in the nose as in Africa, or in the ears as in Europe, blue paint among the ancients, or red paint among the modern Britons. The man in the cabbage field has seen nothing at all; but he is thinking of the things that unite men--hunger and babies, and the beauty of women, and the promise or menace of the sky. Mr. Kipling, with all his merits, is the globe-trotter; he has not the patience to become part of anything.

i've been thinking about this all day. it's a gross generalization, but still partly true i think. a part of me longs for roots that go deep, but when they don't grow overnight i assume that i must be in the wrong place and then i long to leave, to see something new. maybe when i find that ideal state, city, neighborhood, church--then at last i can dig in deep and let my roots grow. like a tempermental plant that requires soil of certain acidity, particular amounts of salt, i wait to bloom until conditions are perfect.

but that is also a generalization and therefore not entirely true. i tried my best to be part of things in novorossysk, and i think that generally i WAS part of things. if it didn't end up being the place for us to stay permanently it's not because i was being impatient or fussy. in florida i tried as well--throwing myself headlong into things hoping it would take. and it did. just not, again, permanently.

is the world smaller for me because i've seen more of it? i don't know. i've been dragged all over the world since i was in kindergarten, and therefore i have no frame of reference. the point of view of the person who has been nowhere is something i can never understand, anymore than adam and eve, once they knew they were naked, could go back to their pleasant, placid ignorance. it's true that sometimes i feel a sort of frustrated impatience with people whose scope of experience seems so unutterably limited. but do my experiences make me better or more superior than the girl who has lived her whole life in one house, with the same friends and the same unchanging view? has my "globetrotting" made me a better person, a better wife, a better mother, a better christian? i don't know. sometimes it seems far more likely that i have experienced more because i'm stupid and difficult to teach.

hey! i had a deep thought after all. yay me.


Jonathan said...

Hmmm... Amber has lived her whole life mostly in one place. She still has the overwhelming urge to move all over the world. Of course, she has some of the same personality traits you have. But I won't even try to analyze how that relates.

In any case, once you get to Heaven, you'll be able to "sink in those roots." So perhaps you're just hyper-spiritual and instinctively recognize that this world is not your own! :P

We're still praying for you!

contrarian 78 said...

I haven't killed a white mouse in years. I stick to black and brown. Whether that is ironic or indicative of the Balb/C's relative resistance to autoimmune diseases is information that I keep secret.

contrarian 78 said...

p.s. The really scientific way to call a mouse brown is to say its fur is Agouti. None of this provincial nonsense!