Hayden is my ex-husband’s son, and Gwenaelle is his mother. They feel like close relatives, but I don’t know what the genealogical term for them would be. It’s a long story.
The immigration official at the Canadian border at 3am last night asked me where I would be staying. ‘With friends.’ ‘And how do you know these friends?’
My mind flashed back to those turbulent days of 2002-3 – the separation, my husband telling me he was to be a father, my genuine pleasure at the news, the dream I had about Hayden before he was born, the powerful connection the first time I met him just after my return from Peru, the way Gwenaelle and I had instantly got on, memories of us sitting in the back garden talking and drinking wine together while our mutual man cooked our supper…
How did I know these friends? ‘They’re friends of the family.’
Following on from my comment yesterday on the movie ‘V for Vendetta’, today I was doing some housekeeping of the files on my MacBook when by coincidence I came across a long-forgotten document (in fact, I don’t even remember creating it), called ‘Buddhist Anarchism’. The third paragraph reads:
‘No one today can afford to be innocent, or indulge himself in ignorance of the nature of contemporary governments, politics and social orders. The national polities of the modern world maintain their existence by deliberately fostered craving and fear: monstrous protection rackets. The “free world” has become economically dependent on a fantastic system of stimulation of greed which cannot be fulfilled, sexual desire which cannot be satiated and hatred which has no outlet except against oneself, the persons one is supposed to love, or the revolutionary aspirations of pitiful, poverty-stricken marginal societies like Cuba or Vietnam. The conditions of the Cold War have turned all modern societies – Communist included – into vicious distorters of man’s true potential. They create populations of “preta” hungry ghosts, with giant appetites and throats no bigger than needles. The soil, the forests and all animal life are being consumed by these cancerous collectivities; the air and water of the planet is being fouled by them.’
(Gary Snyder, 1961)
I don’t regard myself as a political person by any means, but something is stirring here. Maybe it’s my recent phenomenal weight gain that has put me in mind of consumerism and over-consumption, made me more aware of the consequences to self as well as to the global society of guzzling more than one needs.
And here I am about to embark on a tour of the global capital of consumerism – the USA.
But I do stress that I have no political drum to beat. I am fascinated by this aspect of North America, but will attempt to do no more than observe what I see, as objectively as I can. I hope that in my Atlantic dispatches I came across as someone who says what’s so, and I will try to use same guiding principle on dry land.