mum's rants

A castle, community and culture

On a beautiful Saturday morning. The first glimpse of blue sky since our arrival. I sit at the long table in the bar of a beautiful old german castle in the idyllic countryside. This castle is the home of a multicultural community. Some of the members are friends. Some of the visitors are also friends. We are here to make more friends and deepen those that we already have.

My family is dispersed around the globe right now so I have lots of time to think.

Sam, Lizzy and Abi are all in Orkney with friends. A trip that Abi organized and found great travel deals for all. Lizzy is starting her correspondence school from New Zealand while there. Not the greatest timing. I think New Zealand school will be good for her. A lot more relaxed. They are all so clever (proud mama sigh).

Dad is on his way to join them. He left for Koln yesterday. Sharing the driving with an ill driver/traveler/biker/philosopher/friend who was on his way to help some members of a rock band with scheduling issues. From Koln Andrew will fly to Aberdeen and then take the ferry to Orkney. He is on his way to sort through some things we had left behind in a space that will be sold.

That just leaves me, Hannah and TJ. The girls rush off each morning to play with a fellow tck (third culture kid). He arrives promptly at 8:30 each morning. Oops, I better go wake up TJ so she is ready.

Thinking about the community in the castle. Thinking about the different cultures here. Thinking about other communities and individuals we have been with. What are the similarities. What are the differences. Thinking about my birthday party and the conversations when 2 completely opposite individuals get together.

So, what happens when you take an american hippie who has lived in a self-build bus or old american rv for 10 years and never stayed at a campground and you put him in the same space as a german/swiss man who lives in a new house and has never taken his factory build vw campervan out without staying in a campground. You get very interesting conversations, changing paradigms and a smile on Debbie’s face when I wake up in the morning.

This is the rubbing of shoulders. The wearing down of rough edges. This is a broadening of our worldview that helps us feel alive. Sometimes it is fun. Sometimes painful. Sometimes we laugh through our pain. Sometimes we cry. Always, we are changed.

Thinking about the good and bad that individuals carry. The good and bad that cultures carry. It seems strange but poetic that our greatest strengths share the room of our greatest shortcomings. Cultures that carry strength can become intolerant of weakness in others.  Cultures that carry beauty can become hedonistic and soft. What about easy-going?  Does that share the room with laziness? Does promiscuity share the room with love? What about my culture/cultures? Easier to see other cultures than your own.

Makes me think. What helps us swing to the good side of our culture? Our country cultures. Our personal cultures. What swings us to the bad?

I have time to think this morning. My family is dispersed around the world. They are rubbing shoulders with other cultures. Learning and growing. Laughing and crying. Broadening their worldview. Time for another proud mama sigh.


The Insanity of Artists

Hanging out in a castle last nite. A real live castle outside of Dresden. The castle is a collection of about 6 buildings and grounds in a complex in which the other half contains a Denny’s wannabee pub, a suburban like ice cream parlor and farmer’s market shop that makes the perfectly predictable and safe day outing for the family from the big city or suburbia that suburbanites around the globe would be perfectly at home in. Need help visualizing it? Think parking lot full of clean, new, shiny sedans, randomly placed farming equipment, new furniture that has been intentionally distressed to look old and peach, the colour peach that rears its ugly head out from the 80’s when you least expect it.

Hanging out at the “Denny’s Wannabe” we feared the worst on the other half of the grounds.  We were pleasantly suprised. We found normal people and normal living. Well, normal for us. In the public area we found ornate ceilings, peach sheets and a bit of “Tammy Faye” with the black and gold toilets. Beyond the public areas we found families hammering together random bits of wood to create important objects like helicopters and boxes and boats. mismatched patio furniture in the back, randomly placed mattresses and plastic cars in the hallway. Real people with long hair and mismatched clothes. One look and we saw that they were “our tribe”. We should have known. Not let the Denny’s scare us. So many of our friends have been telling us we need to come here. Friends that are not impressed with fancy buildings but by real people, by people living out the free, yet sometimes insane, life of an artist.

We talked late into the night echoing each others thoughts and finding more and more people we both knew and loved. Thoughts about art being a language that transcends the boundaries of mere words. So many words have lost their meaning through misuse that art is becoming a more efficient way of communicating truth. This is because art, many times, has a mind of its own. It will communicate more deeply and with greater truth than even the artist intends.

The conversation started my mind spinning.

If art is a language then what makes an artist?

Earlier this year I spoke with the father of 4 musicians who I considered very talented. “It isn’t about talent”, he said, “They practice hours each day”. I spoke with a potter as well. “What makes a great potter?” he asked, “The sheer quantity of clay that goes through the fingertips”. How many artists have echoed the words, “talent is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration” or “2% inspiration and 98% perspiration”. One of my favourite songwriters once said, “The songs are up there, the question is do I have the courage to pull them down”.

If perspiration and courage are factors then what makes an artist?

Many of the most “talented” artists are broken. A bad childhood, mispent youth, illness or abuse shadows many artists. I refuse to put brokeness in as a requirement to being an artist. Maybe brokeness is just one path to what is needed.

I have a theory. You know how I love my bizarre theories. Maybe what makes an aritst is freedom. If it is a language then we all have it in us somewhere. The difference is that through need or strength or perceived insanity some of us rebel against what is considered “acceptable” and declare ourselves imancipated. We refuse the boundaries and what is deemed normal and permisable. All too often we must be broken to rebel to this level. To daily throw off the cages of “the good life”. To not care is we create something that is “pretty” but  to declare truth in ourselves and the world, as we perceive it. The better we do this the greater our reputation of “insanity” while living and “brilliance” long after we are dead. To create art is to expose our souls for all to see. Not caring, if only for a moment, about whether it is understood, accepted or rejected. It is an insane undertaking.

Am I taking this too far.

How about spirituality? The trappings, institutions and rules of religion remain long after spirituality has left the building. Is becoming more spiritual, intertwined with rebellion and freedom from acceptable norms of conduct and thought.

Are the two related?

At Freakstock now. Andrew seriously contemplating getting a mullet….. again. Drinking lots of tea with old and new friends.