“You’re a product of your interpretation of your environment,” my friend Zoe
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.’
And the camels galled, sorefooted, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
and running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.
Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kiking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arriving at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you might say) satisfactory.
All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.
Words of wisdom from Jada Pinkett Smith
This talk really made me think. It’s a much a better question than where are you from?
I’m always fascinated by the young people I do workshops with, quite a few are from different ethnic groups, they love asking me where are you from? And when I ask back they always say “I’m from Glasgow but my parents are from…”
The question “where are you from?” often gives us a preformed picture of the person. However, identity is a fluid thing. It’s often more influenced by the cultures we are familiar with than place. Even individual places within a country have very differing identities. So asking “where are you local?” gives us a better picture of who the person is and what their cultural references are.
Where am I a local? I’m local to Glasgow, via London growing up, birthplace in Nigeria and brief stint in Vienna :).