It took me a while to actually get to this blog. I think that I had been pretty regular about producing these things but this last week I have definitely been remiss. I could make a lot of excuses. I could talk about that I was away for three days when I was in Vilnius for my visa. Or I could say that with the change in the weather, the farm has sort of erupted with growth and consequently with work keeping things in order out there. And of course the bureaucratic deal. And all of this is the truth, but I think I should just say this and hope that it is understood:
I have been really busy lately.
And so consequently I have not been able to sit down and type one of these out. And I will be frank, they don’t, these daily blogs I try to get out, they don’t really take all that much time. But I do need to head over to the internet, sit down, write out the theme, the outline, hit the main points of interest and then fill in the text. Yes, I admit, I do have a plan for these things and also I do fallow one of several formulas in the writing. I am not ashamed of this. Inspiration is great but no matter how grand it still only comprises a minute amount of the actual time and 0% of the actual work of production. And yes, I do love the work.
But still, even if I have become a bit bureaucratic in my approach to writing, I guess sometimes it is simply difficult to find the energy to do it. This is probably true for whatever you do, but it is certainly true for trying to make a written esthetic point three or four times a week when your life is in chaos, your time is not your own and you don’t have enough money to live. I mean, perhaps you agree that all of this would in fact make it a bit more difficult. Or, perhaps you don’t.
This same thinking applies by the way to the new book, which I have also begun again in earnest. I don’t know exactly how long ago I mentioned that I was into writing a second book to go along with Being Had, but I know that it was at least eight to ten weeks ago. Would it have been better if I had had the chance to have enough peace in my life to work on such a project as this? Yes it would. But I didn’t have that time or that peace, and so I didn’t have the chance to do that writing. And this is exactly just like why I have not had the chance to make this essay for the last few days. But now I have and here it is. And also, I seem to have the opportunity to go back to work on this book. And I am grateful for this. No, it will not be easy, but I think I have a worthy project and I think I have something to say and some things to show people and so, yea, exactly like I have said, I am happy to have the chance.
And that I have found the energy today is, hopefully, at least a sign of good health. I mean, it better be because you must understand that softening earth around 500 square meters late flowering potatoes is really hard. Actually just doing the hoeing would be hard enough but the lateness of the potatoes I mentioned was caused by all of that rain we had all April and so consequently it is double or triple work just trying to dig through the concrete like mud that the potato patch has become. And then there were all of the weeds that were choking the strawberries, also caused by the water, and the transplanting of the tomatoes and the spraying of the trees… I wanted to get this out but really, I simply could not find the energy to put together the thought.
But I am of course digressing. This wasn’t at all what I had in mind. This blog today wasn’t really supposed to have anything to do with writing. Well, I mean I think I wanted to use the writing as a metaphor. Something like: Writing to me, as with pretty much everything I do in my life these days is both a task and a pleasure. I don’t get much from this blog but what I do get is worth what I put into it. As is working at the farm and of course living here in Belarus. You have to take the good with the bad, the bitter with the sweet. That was what the blog was supposed to be about.
So to get right down to the point what I would like to say is that I am actually kind of glad both to have the opportunity to do this, to write these essays and to have been able to blow it and miss the last couple of days of doing it. It is like in that movie ‘Little Big Man” when the grandfather makes his prayers to the gods for his life. “Thank for my victories and for my defeats.” he says ‘Thank you for giving me my first woman and then for taking her away. Thank you for the sunshine and for the snow, for the feast and for the famine.” Or something like that.
What got me to thinking about the theme of this blog was a couple of letters I got from a pair of friends. Both friends have been supporters of mine, but this first friend wrote to me this really great letter telling me how he is happy to be associated and that amongst other things, I seem to appreciate things more than most people he knows. Interesting thing to have someone tell you about yourself. The other has now decided that I am full of shit and told me, though not in so many words, that he had grown tired of me and had begun thinking that I was playing some sort of game. Interesting how these things work out. You get both sides of the coin in life, don’t you?
So not really being a masochist, that comment about appreciating things made me happy and also made sense to me. I actually noticed this myself after seeing the new Star Wars film. I was completely blown away by it, but friends from the states who saw it were quite blasé about the experience. I thought they were nuts. How could you not think that THAT wasn’t special? This simply had to be about what sorts of lives we are all living. Obviously things are slower here; we simply do not have the same sorts of stimulations as in Europe or the States. We have a lot of adversity here don’t you know. Life is harder.
And maybe this is why I stayed in Belarus in general. No, I have not been staying specifically because it is harder, but maybe I have stayed because the difficulty itself makes you appreciate a bit more the things that life does have to offer. Actually I think that this was at the root of the culture of the former USSR. And as I have said more than once, there is something to be said for it.
So you know you do need to take the bitter with the sweet. But what can I say to these two assertions about my character and personality? Yes, perhaps we could have replaced the cabbages I grew last year for only a few cents but what has it been worth to eat our own? I was three-and-a-half hours with the stick in my hand just trying to fluff up the ground around the potatoes yesterday but yet to me it still felt good just to see that the plants are finally coming in and that they are looking healthier and more full of life. But am I appreciating what chances we have to take care of ourselves, or, as my other friend implied, am I just playing a game here?
Well, this question is hard to answer. Both letters came from people who have taken an interest in me. I don’t think that it is personal because I believe I have done what I could to be a friend to both. And I have been honest with them. But over the course of time, one has soured and the other has not. Why? Well, and again I am sorry for the excuse, but probably that the one who has stayed on has been to Belarus, has a connection with the place and knows first hand about what the life here is like- and that the other probably couldn’t find the place pretty much explains it to me.
Or maybe I am wrong. Maybe it is not about how hard life here is at all. Maybe the world really is all light sabers and telekinesis outside of here and it is only me who has missed the boat. Just me and about 10 million others who also don’t have such amazing chances or opportunities. Sorry, no flying space battles and other such interesting things here. Some of us wait years for a single chance. And others simply never get a goddamned thing.
So do I appreciate things? Yes I do. Yes, it is about having to take things seriously and not being dismissive. Yes, I do take pride in my work and yes what I do here is more than just a challenge. To call it that would be an insult to my time. And no, this is absolutely not a game, this is life, this is our food; I need to do what I do these days and that my words occasionally fall on deaf ears is just a part of it. To me this is life. And no, this is not what I wanted when I came here but yes, I still want to do this. And yes, maybe I could even say that I like to do it but really, I think the truth is that mostly I do it because as of this moment, we have no other choice. It is life or death, just like it is for everybody here. And if life and death isn’t interesting enough, well, maybe we have become a little too jaded. And if that point didn’t get home, well, I hope it is something to think about at least.
So in the end, yea Kyle it is like this: All we can do is be thankful for what we have received. And so to you, for all you have done, all I can say is thank you. Really, thank you. And while I am at it, I would also like to say thank you for that other letter, and the other insults that I have received. Thank you both for the praise and for the insults. Thank you for the opportunities I have been offered and for those taken away. Thank you for the times when I was seen as a friend and thank you for the times when I was seen as a burden. Thank you for all of those who have heard and thank you for those who have turned deaf. Thank you for those who play on, and for those who quit. Thank you for the Good times and for the bad times, for the wins and for the losses, the truth and for the lies. Thank you for love and for happiness and thank you also for pain and tears
And thank you for reading this blog. I do appreciate it.
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