Windows of wonder

Almost seventy years later I remember clearly how the magic of translating the words in books into images enriched my life, breaking the barriers of time and space… 

Mario Vargas Llosa

 

Thanks to Goodreads I found  this phrase in my inbox. It is beautiful, and one that I can relate very easy to.

Since I can remember, reading a book was a good way to escape from the moment and from reality; it could well mean learning something new about nature, seasons and the natural rhythm that surround us; how to bake or cook something which never ever turned to be as beautiful and perfect as in the pictures; how gazing at the night sky turned into staring at the moon trying to discover the spots the books were talking about; how travelling books fed my hunger for discovering new places.

I can remember clearly how my dad with all his patience taught me to read and make sense of the words with a famous book in Argentina called “Upa” well before I was ready for it and how important I felt when I asked my grandparents if I could borrow a dictionary which  had many pictures correlating with most of the definitions, to copy the words – hence, learn to write.

My whole life has been delicately intertwined with books; I’m no book hoarder but I can say that I do have a collection and within that collection a separate bookcase with the most special ones; those that remind me of a special moment, place, or person.

The few times I have had a book clearance I gave them to my local library and even then, with a heavy heart, only to be comforted by the fact that other people would enjoy them as I did.

My collection of books becomes known and the subject of heavy conversation every time I move to a new house. And when I say, “heavy conversation” this is not only because of the number of books and the weight of such boxes; it is as well because of the amount of swearing involved in the lifting and moving of said boxes and the unkind reminders of the amount of space and dust they gather.

Although I did inevitably catch up with the internet and the wonders of Google and Wikipedia where I am amazed and surprised at every click; I must confess at times this confuses me because of the amount of information given. It is too much and discerning, selecting and choosing takes a big chunk of time.

I remember when I found out I was pregnant, immediately I went to the local library to see what could I find. I explored for endless hours’ websites and more than once I simply shut up the laptop because there was too much to read, process and digest. At least in the library the books were few and I could easily flick through the pages and see if I could find something concise that would answer one question without uprooting a dozen more.

Which – you guess – was a futile quest. But at least two or three books could be something more manageable instead of 1,200,729 results in 0.06 seconds. With 2 or 3 books, I could make better choices. I felt I could choose!

This line of thinking does takes me inexorably to think on how children are being bombarded with 9,623,719 results in 0.40 seconds and the effects those results and the variety have on them. How they are bombarded with ready made things that do not provoke a thought or a sparkle for imagination.

Yes, I hear you say, cartoons do provoke imagination. Children are replaying what they see in their own way and of course they are using their imagination to do so. But have you ever tried to read to a child what he has seen on a screen? Have you ever tried to read to a child something that the child has not seen on a screen? If you give a child the choice to read a book from their favourite cartoon on screen and a book of a classic fairy tale, guess which one will win the contest? Yes, the one based on the cartoon.

My theory for this choosing is simple: because what you read has its foundations on a memory from the screen of something they have seen already. It is far easier to recall an image – or a series of them – rather than create an image built with words.

I for one try – almost desperately – to generate a world with words. I managed to shrink the amount of time in front of any electronic device. I try for my little one to spend more time outside in the patio rather than inside the house where he will test everybody’s patience to get hold of a screen.

I discovered that the time he spends soaking in the bath is perfect for me to read him a short story completely unrelated to his favourite cartoon. And to my surprise, he does enjoy that little time where words create a world.

I cannot avoid the reality we live in and I need my little one to learn about this fast paced world; but I most definitely can show him how to open the little windows of wonder every time he opens a book.

What the waves bring back…

WP_20140528_001

 

It has been ages since l last wrote. Life has been twisted – not to say hellish – and I would definitely say without a hint of a doubt that the universe, this time, was really, really, *really* putting me to the test.

Now that I read what I wrote, I shall say, was it really the universe or was it a direct consequence of my actions? I have no idea. For that, I prefer to blame the universe, a magnificent force that is so huge and incommensurable that is far easier to blame for absolutely everything.

Because, you know what they say, everything that happens to you, it is because something you have done to provoke it, even when you did not realise it at the time…hello! Here it is, in your face, striking back at you with such a force that you may have to take your soul to A&E to recover from a blunt trauma.

And the worse thing is, perhaps when things are coming your way – particularly the bad ones – you wonder what you have done, really, to deserve all this to happen. My answer to this question was, in a few words from a very dear friend “You didn’t let go”.

Yup. Those were the words. You didn’t let go of everything, you kept holding for dear life to things which deep inside you knew they were not worth the effort, and here you are.

My silence was I think overwhelming to the point my friend asked if I was ok, because I stopped with my diatribe of moaning and complaining. And suddenly something happened: I heard. Yes, I heard the silence; I heard my little one – who now is 20 months old! – snoring, gently (he was with flu); I heard the birds outside chirping away; I heard my breath; I heard my friend’s breath. And I think that was the starting point for “letting go”.

From that moment onwards, I will not say the classic cliché that “My life changed” but what I will say is that things had changed. Perhaps because I changed my attitude towards them, perhaps because I stopped seeing everything from a very dark corner and mainly because I stopped worrying for things that I could not change . I “let go” and waited to see what the waves brought back, so to speak.

And the shores were full!! But my attitude was different.  An example: I got an email from a group of friends that I have not seen in a long time. The friend who wrote apologised for not being in touch more frequently and you know, everything you may say in order to justify the absence of news, mixing it with antics of life.

One of the friends included in this group mail answered almost straight away. Another one answered a day later (I know this because as it seems all of the people in this group email made the effort to press “Forward all” when they wrote the reply) and then when I felt like it I replied. And having said this, at any other given time, I probably would take the time at night – when I did have the most precious time to do everything I did not do during the day – and answer straight away as soon as I received the email, with all my excitement telling aaaaalllll my news at once.

But this time it was different. Answering this email didn’t feel extremely urgent, neither necessary; more to it, when I sat down following my initial impulse, I reconsidered  and thought if it was really worth it to use that time to answer an email – a group email. And somehow, my brain told me “no”.

I did answer in the end – and yes, if you are wondering, I did hit the “forward all” reply –  and I wrote on how life was here for me, without dwelling too much into it, congratulating everyone for the news they threw on the reply and presenting my goodbyes.

Few days later I received a reply to my email from one friend, telling me that most of them kept in touch one way or another, and actually they saw each other regularly.

This made something occur to me. If they keep in touch amongst themselves, why they did not made the same effort to contact me and keep in touch with me? At the end of the day I was in the same group of people, we are – or were at the point when we met – in the same boat? Perhaps my time with this group of friends was up and I should move on.

Perhaps I am at a stage in my life where the good friends are the ones who were cemented and nurtured by time and they survived through circumstances that life threw at each other at different stages. And those are friends who are away, across the ocean. Nevertheless regarding time difference and the distance we keep in touch making the most of the technology available to us.

Since I came to live into this island, I can say I have made very few friends, and they are the kind of friendships that are still in the making, but feel “solid” as if we have known each other for quite a long time – and that somehow is reassuring.

Reassuring in the sense that I know I am not an ogre or an unsocial being and obviously I still have what it takes to make new friends.  Perhaps now – as I said before –  I am at a stage in my life where friendship is more than sharing a burden with a coffee in between. A friendship has become more of an acceptance and a frank dialog sharing what matters in that very moment with a sincere and genuine interest and perhaps a “follow up coffee”.

So perhaps is time for me to “let go” this group of friends. It is time to hear more and to wake up in the morning wondering what the ocean is going to leave on the shores, and take it as it comes.