Have you heard about “microaggressions” that come in the form of “microassaults” and “microinsults” and “microinvalidations?” You may not know those totems of pain by their formal names, but I’m certain, at times in your life, you’ve felt their sting and, perhaps, even employed a few of them.
One sunny morning in Pau, one of the neighbors came to take some plants for his garden. The elderly gentleman in the photograph on the right is Monsieur Romanov — a descendant of the Romanov family, rulers of Russia from 1613 until the Russian Revolution in 1917.
I’ve always found it odd when people you work with, or collaborate with, or may work with in the future, use the phrase “getting into bed together” as a business condiment as if to somehow oddly sexualize what is, in fact and deed, a working relationship that is, if anything, asexually platonic by necessity of average function.
I wonder why there is a need to make a business contract a personal and intimate formality in such a dramatic manner. Private relationships are bound by blood and emotion and decrees of love and passion. No public business should operate under any of those terms. I always wonder why that “in bed” phrase is so important for some people to utter during a negotiation or in a team spirit meeting.
As you know by now, I spent some helping clear out the aged aunts house at Pau. The upside of this was that I was offered my choice of the goodies on offer — i.e first dibs on the treasure. There was one thing I particularly wanted, and I had the perfect space for it.
The piece looks unassuming — like a tired old door — which it is. In itself, it is an interesting object — showing its history in the layers of paint and the markings where the ornate hinges were once placed. It was recovered by Mr P’s aunt from a derelict nunnery in the south of France.
The second contributory fact for my 80 day absence was the premature closure of Mr P’s family house in Pau. Mr P’s aged aunt’s health had deteriorated to a stage where she needed more in-depth care than his equally elderly mother could provide.
We have always been aware that this situation would arrive in the near future — but were caught napping when it rapidly loomed upon us out of the blue and we had to take a dash to France.
Finding a suitable nursing home for elderly people is difficult at the best of times — finding one that accepts patients with Alzheimer’s, and provides compassionate understanding care for them, is even worse. Luckily, we had the help of one of Mr P’s brothers who took care of most of that for us . A deal was struck he would sort out their aunt and we would sort out their mother.
A suitable residence was found for their aunt, not far from where the brother’s family lives — which would enable him to visit her whenever he went to see his daughter and granddaughter.
We then had the task of packing up mother and her possessions and returning her to the apartment in Lisbon.
Life has changed for modern children. When I was growing up in the Midwest, you sought freedom — and if it wasn’t granted with a bicycle, then you found other, more nefarious ways, to run away and play far away from your doorstep.
It isn’t that way any longer. Today, kids are protected and driven and supervised in organized sports and cultural events. There’s no spontaneity now because there’s fear of the unknown and danger in the creative. No sandlot baseball. No football games with self-set boundaries and special scoring. Everything is regulation. There can be no divergence from the norm.
We’re creating a society of young people who are risk-averse and too frightened to set their own agendas and follow their own, unblazed, pathway. Fun is the new mysterious stranger. “Do what you want” is the new monster under the bed.
How many of us live to be defined by our possessions? How many of us find value only in what we have achieved and won and coveted? I wrote about this nagging issue of human governance on November 22, 2006 — “Worthy of History: Only Expensive Things Survive” –
The perversion of the historical accuracy of how our ancestors lived, and how we currently live, is created by preserving only expensive possessions — tokens, icons, valuables – and in the purposeful construction of indestructible architectural monuments used by the privileged few.
History is skewed by this preservation technique because it only pretends to tell future generations how people actually lived. When we visit museums we are only seeing what the powerful majority of the culture of that time deemed important enough to save and pass down.
We only get to know what they thought was worth saving and inevitably those things are the expensive, the pretty, the unique and the tokens of the wealthy. Even pioneer and Native American museum dioramas are idealized with hardy items and the most beautiful things. The ordinary is forsaken for the power of the inherent value in the preservation of the perceived best.