Daughter and Mother

Posted on 15 November 2004

Daughter and Mother
Daughter and Mother,
originally uploaded by Barbara Y.

“The Universe is worked and guided from within outwards.
As above so it is below, as in heaven so on earth;
and man – the microcosm and miniature copy of the macrocosm
- is the living witness to this Universal Law and to the mode of its action.”
-Madame H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, 1888

Who is the mother? Who is the daughter? If I define “mother” as “educator”, I’d say that, throughout our eighteen years together, Gill and I keep exchanging roles.

As I write this, another thought comes to mind – that of Adrienne Rich and her idea that truth is complex. I see that sometimes Gill and I are both mothers and, at other times, both daughters.

She sent me an email yesterday, after a discussion with two fellow journalist students the night before. Like me, Gill has no great love of reading about world events, especially politics, in the newspaper or on the internet. She wonders if it’s all right to follow her natural bent. “Yes,” was my response.

I have felt a lot of guilt over the years about not reading the newspaper that comes to our door each morning. I’ve tried but, in truth, it bores me. I would never have admitted this a few years ago. I felt stupid because I knew little of what was happening in the world and what I knew came from Rob. “Oh pathetic little housewife,” played through my brain.

And then I discovered through writing, through living in France, through extraordinary friends, that I am not stupid, that my passion lies elsewhere, is more personal. I love reading about body and mind. I love fiction and poetry – usually written by women (but not always) – that speaks from the personal, that shows me another way of interpreting the world.

I probably sound like an idiot trying to discuss this topic but what the hell.

It takes all kinds to live in this world. And there is so much to learn. I can’t take it all in. There are only so many hours in my day.

So the way I’ve come to accept my limitations is this. I have divided the people in the world into two types. (This is probably not original but I now own it.) Some look at the world – the macrocosm – and filter what affects them personally. They see from the outside to their inside.

I see the world as a microcosm – the personal – from my inside to the outside world at large. Sometimes or probably often I don’t think about the world at all. I just trust that I’m part of it. I start from me and see how the outside world thwarts or encourages me. Others first look at the world and see how it thwarts or encourages them personally.

It’s useless feeling deficient. I must listen to my own words. Rob said that the most interesting news stories are those told from a personal point of view. I learn about the world beyond myself through listening to Rob and those of my friends who are passionate about the news, who see the larger picture. I allow myself to sit quietly and not contribute. There is nothing wrong with preferring the oral tradition, there is nothing wrong with being ignorant.

I remember one night in France, a number of years ago, when four intellectuals, four PHDs, sat around discussing philosophers that I’d never heard of and feeling like an idiot. I envied their European educations, their knowledge, their quickness of thought. I introduced a light-hearted topic and one woman present laughed and called me a fool. I ran from the table. Later she told me that it was a compliment.

Since that time, I try not to judge myself or grade myself (Helen Luke’s idea). I am not always successful.


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