Friday, May 26, 2006


Not a lot going on these days. I mean, I guess I am pretty busy; there always seems to be something to do but all in all, life is feeling pretty normal right now. Maybe it is the weather. The spring has finally come around and therefore the weather is nice enough to leave those winter coats behind. And this of course means there are lots of pretty Pinsk women roaming around looking really nice. And the other day was graduation day which means hundreds of young people walking around in brown polyester school uniforms with matching white hair ties. I am not immune to eye candy. Or maybe it is how normal my work has become. I am used to my schedule and have the work as in hand as it has been for months. Or maybe it is that I am out at the farm regularly and have things in hand there as well. I am not going to go too into the farm right now, if you have been reading me for a while you know all about it. But we have gotten good enough at keeping things moving there that the adventure of it all has given way to practical maintenance. You get better of course and you are always learning, but getting things done is no longer as exciting as it once was.

Or maybe this normalcy is from a letter I got today. The letter was from the town of Pinsk and basically it says that I have been granted residency status. I have wanted this for years. I don’t know exactly how many years because you might say that there is an argument to call 1997 the first time I wanted to stay here. You could also say that it was 2001 when I decided to come over here to Europe and eventually landed here in Pinsk. But in any case, I seem to have finally gotten the combination correct and as of today, I am at last leagally here.

I guess I have been asked two questions over the last four years regularly enough to say that they are defining questions. The first question is why I hit Zaremba and the other is why I would want to live in Belarus. As for hitting Zaremba, well, like Maka said to me one time, I should have hit him harder. But about living in Belarus, well, that’s a more difficult question to answer.

I guess the first answer that comes to mind is that I found something here when I first came about 9 years ago that touched me really deeply. I had always assumed that this feeling came because my family is from here. And as far as that is concerned, I still have not stopped being amazed at how certain things here seem as natural to me as breathing. Culture does get into your bones and DNA and basically, between the inherent cultural philosophy and my connection with the Jewish community here, I feel like a fish swimming in familiar waters here.

But aside from that, I also like the pace here which is much, much slower than it was in the states. Lukashenka preaches stability and though the economic reality of this stability has as many holes as a block of cheap Swiss cheese, because the local population understands the ideology behind the rubles and kopeks, it works even if it doesn’t. And even if I am going too far with that last statement, people here have such a funky thought process in regards to money that it doesn’t matter very much no matter what happens.

I mean poverty is not without pain, but I don’t know that I am really in very much pain at the moment. And that’s what I am trying to say. I feel ok. The weather is nice, the garden is coming along, I have my job in hand, it is interesting for me and I have this amazing daughter. I don’t know what you need to feel you have a life worth living, but for me, I seem to be ok.

Ok, ok, life is not without worries: The west is screwing with the president’s money and have banned him from international travel and in response to this he has banned Canadian and American flyovers. The Russians are asking us for an extra billion dollars a year and are supplying uranium to Arabs for some ungodly reason. The US will never pull out of the Arab world and their presence has strained the patience of the entire world. So, no, there really isn’t any real peace in the world. And even if the wars and killing would stop, we still have no real global answers for poverty, distribution of wealth, dealing with pollution, overpopulation, racial disparities, homelessness, cancer, aids and drug addiction. There is corruption, hatred and greed everywhere and the world gets more unfriendly every day. But still, forgive me my moment’s happiness.

I wrote a poem a long time ago about what are the necessary things for what every person needs. The poem started with the dramatic words I dream of a place where the landscape speaks to me, and ends with the phrase only there will I have finally found home. The four things were that you live in a geographic situation that appeals to you, that you do work that you enjoy, that you have a place to come home to in which you feel free and that you are not alone. Maybe it is better with the poetry:


I dream of a place where the landscape speaks to me
Where the mountains and the valleys
The skyscrapers or humble huts
The great expanses of the open fields
Or the sound of the surf at the shore
Would exist in their way such that there would be
No division between where this picture ends
And my life begins

And during my days I would have such work
That I could love and enjoy
And would be needed by all
So that I would be free to do it well
And without anger or fear for its end

And at the end of these days I might return to a place
A great mansion, a tent in the woods, a boat on the sea…
Mattering only that the place be mine
And that I would be free there to rest and to heal and to dream

And in that place would be a friend
Either waiting for my return
Or meeting me there after a day of their own
With our bond made of such
Only that neither should ever know
The sound of a lie spoken between us

And there we could dance

For in that place at last
I would be home

I really can't be so concrete about things but basically, I seem to have this here in Belarus and for some strange reason, I knew I would have this here the first time I came here. And maybe this is the DNA speaking, or maybe it was the culture, but most probably it was because Belarus is and was and hopefully always will be a place where people all understand that poem and what it really means. Its about resonance and consonance and its about think in terms of your connection to the world around you. Or maybe we all just justify poverty the same way. Or maybe I am nuts, this is always a possibility.

But in any case, Belarus has allowed me to stay and I am grateful as hell because really, I had no desire to try and start over again anywhere else. I like my deal here and I hope that things will be ok and that they will at least continue to be as fulfilling as they have been.

More soon…