My word of the week.
I began writing this post last night in my dimly lit loft and to the sounds of French radio which I’ve started listening to as a rule at any given opportunity, in the belief that by being surrounded by conversation, I’ll pick up more of this language by osmosis.
By 10pm, I was so exhausted from translating sentences in my head as the announcers moved (at pace) to the next topic and my eyes rolled so far into the back of my head that I had to put the iPad away before saying goodnight to the cat who stares at me from a distance from his window in a neighbouring apartment, and call it a day.
Yesterday I went to the cinema to see the much anticipated film, Dunkerque. As I sobbed through spitfires, gunfire, haunting music and Harry Styles, I gave myself a mental pat on the back for stopping at Eric Keyser Boulanger for a croissant earlier that morning. His napkin came in handy as I clenched my movie ticket with one hand and wiped my eyes onto the pastry ridden tissue, with the other. I felt a bit bad for the very thin woman beside me who clearly hadn’t stopped for pain au chocolat and a free napkin, as she sobbed into her hands and wiped her nose onto her sleeve. The rest of the cinema was filled with French people who sat upright and staunch, leaning back and muttering ‘merde’ from time to time as they gripped the arms of their chairs in a fashion usually reserved for trips to the dentist.
Two hours later, I emerged into daylight, blinking, overwhelmed and full of contemplation before going for a much needed café in a café (this always makes me laugh as I imagine drinking a building within a building- it’s the small things). One thing that doesn’t make me laugh is nazism and fascism, and as I sipped my coffee and watched people hurrying by, dodging circus performers cartwheeling down the street as they did (not as unuasual as it may sound), I contemplated the news that has flooded my screen in recent weeks. I wondered how on earth, over 70 years after the plot for this film was played out in partial reality, we still have people in positions of power- namely the supposed head of the free world, along with a lunatic from northern Australia- who are still supported as they take passages from Hitlers book of Nazi ideals.
I spend much of my life alone and in my own thoughts, and as much as I don’t want the content of my writing on this site to be politically motivated, nor do I want to give airtime to negative people and topics, it becomes increasingly difficult not to, particularly when I have a lot of time to weigh up the past and where we are today. I can’t help feeling plain disbelief that fractions of the human race still support people who seemingly seek to be devisive, rather than inclusive.
Which takes me back to the process of gradual or unconscious assimilation of ideas and knowledge- osmosis, and I can only concur that much of what I’ve just spoken about comes from the powerful tool that is media in its many forms. I take an interest in written media and probably read more than is healthy for a mind that is only capable of processing one thing at a time. I am particularly challenged when it comes to concentrating, and often have to tell myself (outloud), ‘one thing at a time Pin.’ I read a lot of vitriol cleverly disguised as ‘fact,’ as well as plenty of positive pieces – often peppered with a sort of wanderlust or romantic ideals but, when picked apart and not taken entirely literally, the positive pieces (not so much the vitriol) are helpful in building an increased perspective, which I hope is getting healthier as I get older.
Five years ago, I left a relationship and I haven’t entered another since. Not because I don’t want to- I love company and being a grown up playing house, but simply because another hasn’t eventuated. Throughout the past five years I’ve been promised the world under wild headlines (I’m talking social media here- not the Guardian), ‘Girls- you can have it all,’ and ‘Susie X has her first baby at 700,’ and ‘My perfect life; how I managed to buy a house, have nine children, a husband who loves me and I’m only 24 – I’ve got it all.’ These types of articles, much as they are inflated to sell papers and advertising space, can be perplexing when you are in a section of society that has been labeled ‘single,’ and the only other people in that ‘section’ are also single and (often) female, heading towards forty and working too much. There are also men in this ‘section,’ but they are quite often married and pretending to be single. Then there are the headlines that read ‘My single life- the opportunities it brought me,’ written by females who are now married or in a relationship- they are pictured holding two healthy and alarmingly clean children, and they write triumphantly about the importance of ‘being single and loving it, you are not in a waiting room, you are your own boss.’ Yes! My own boss!
If I were to believe everything I read on these types of forums (or any media forum really), I could by now be an anxious wreck riddled with all sorts of anxieties and fears. Rather than take all of this too seriously, I have turned my attention towards the opportunities that come with being an independent person with half an operational brain in my head (the other half is still trying to translate what the guy said an hour ago on the radio). Yes, I feel anxious from time to time, but I’ve chosen to land myself in a fresh landscape to challenge these anxieties. In this landscape, I wear culottes and big shirts, and my lip trembles when I open my mouth to speak, because I haven’t got the freedoms exlcusive to youth on my side required to speak a new language, and my day revolves around completing tasks that can often take hours longer than they should, as I stubbornly refuse to give in- I will jog in french, laugh in french, go to the post office in french and buy a cabbage in french.
I’ve started reading French newspapers (one of my sisters laughed at the seemingly simple nature of this sentence yesterday), where I do a page a day- conjugating every verb in each article and translating words that seem poetic and descriptive. Interestingly enough, the news in another language seems to make about as much sense to me at the moment, as some of the news written in my native tongue.
Osmosis is a funny old thing as it grips our minds without us even knowing, which inevitably leads to related behaviours and reactions to situations. Repeated patterns of mining knowledge and gaining ‘facts’ can form both great and dangerous factions in any society. If what we are delivered is vitriolic, fear mongering and negative- naturally we will see lunatics rise to power, just as if we believe all we read on ‘lifestyle forums’ to be true, we will see increased levels of disappointment.
I find written media powerful, exciting, strange, biased and challenging, and I relish in all sides of it as I aim for a better perspective and understanding of a diverse cross section of views. In my opinion, and with osmosis playing its sneaky little part, this approach has to work as we aim for a less devisive and more inclusive world.
Pictured: my favourite part of the day, morning coffee in my window.