05 June 2010

The Spice of Life

Variety's the very spice of life, 
That gives it all its flavour.

William Cowper The Task 1785

I am quoting William Cowper today, instead of William Shakespeare. As with By Any Other Name, my Shakespearean-titled blog about identity, I will be taking a break from writing Continual Journeys for a while, the reason being that there is so much variety in my life at present and I really want a quieter life.

My writings will continue on Quieter Living and Ancestors Within. On all four of my blogs, your comments will still be truly welcome and appreciated. I would love to hear from you.

You may also wish to contact me by email: writetovia (AT) gmail.com for a more private form of correspondence. And if you have been following Continual Journeys or By Any Other Name, you may wish to do the same with one or both of the others to keep updated.

The spice of my life

My creative journeys are tremendously absorbing at present. My artistic projects and writing pursuits require far more hours each day than are available to me. My research continues apace. My mind is filled with ideas. Life is opening up new opportunities and it is difficult to make choices. So, join me on Quieter Living if you would like to know more.

Another reason for the title of today's blog post is that it relates to something I hope to write about in more detail on my Ancestors Within blog over the coming weeks, namely the role of spices in my own heritage. Do you know much about their role in yours?

My husband's heritage also has a connection with the spice trade, especially his and its association with the Venetian Republic. World trade had its basis in the spice trade for a very long time. It was the source of our now "globalized" existence.

Even if other activities have now overtaken spice at the centre of world trade, we are all affected by the financial and commercial activities of others, however indirectly. Perhaps if all businesses were run on the principles of social enterprise, we might not have any financial crises in the future.

Affording spices

I have been fortunate. The investment strategies of the angel one (my husband) and I always err on the side of caution. This probably places us as more trustworthy financial commentators than anyone whose wealth has been depleted over the past few years. Perhaps we are even more trustworthy than those financial experts who may still have far more wealth than I am ever likely to possess in my lifetime, even after their loses.

What are the "spices" in your life? Today, it is not expensive to buy most spices. What is rare and wonderful today and difficult to purchase without great wealth? In my view, many people in the "advanced" economies of the world live in more material comfort than even the richest Renaissance Merchant of Venice (A Shakespearean connection this time, not a Cowper one!).

So, with variety being the spice of my life, as long as it is achieved with caution, I know how I will approach to the future.

 Now I will switch off this computer for a while and have some quiet time in my debt-free, simple way.

I hope your various continual journeys will be wonderful.

04 June 2010

Moving Onwards

My travels have taken me to many parts of the world.  The only way I can make a difference, to assist just a few people in need, is to be in tune with where I am now and live a simple life. Do you do the same?

I am not sure if the woman above, in my African picture from 1994, saw herself as rich or poor, or happy or unhappy. I wonder how she is today? How are her family? What might their lives be like?

I wonder how much more traffic congestion there is on the streets of India since I took the above picture in 1985. Does Jaipur still have charm (something I would not like to see changed)? Is there still the mixture of poverty and opulence that I witnessed (something I would like to see changed)?

How much has changed for the better or for worse in Iran since I was there in 1985? What hopes for the future might this woman have had? Perhaps her children and grandchildren are contented with their lives today. Who am I to know one way or the other?

The two little boys in my picture above, taken in Nepal also in 1985, may be adults now but there is a possibility they have not survived. It is something I will probably never know. Were they happy and successful in school? Did their parents have the means to support them adequately? Perhaps they now have children of their own.

And what of the people of Pakistan? They were certainly mostly very pleasant to me in 1985. Would they be the same now if I travelled from Iran to India through their country in the months ahead, just as I did in the 1980s?

I wish transport companies in Australia would have the artistic inclinations of Pakistani truck owners. I am not sure if the people of Pakistan still make their vehicles into works of art. Do you?

In contrast to my explorations of southern Africa, on the back of a truck in 1994, I also travelled in style across Switzerland only a few weeks later. I love cruising on the beautiful turquoise waters of the lakes, looking up at the mountains and enjoying the architectural treasures of the country. I had a first-class pass for the boats and trains.

There is probably quite a lot of poverty and despair in Switzerland, even with its reputation as a financial centre. I climbed some steps in Bern in 1994 and found my way partly blocked by a couple of heroin addicts who were injecting themselves.

I also felt uneasy around the railway stations in some of the larger Swiss towns. Would I feel more comfortable in Switzerland today?

Even in Australia, my home, I can still feel unsafe or uncomfortable at times. It is probably quite common to feel disillusioned or fearful when hearing the news media's headlines, or hearing a speeding driver nearby.

This picture, above, is of Mow Cop in England. It is a landmark that I think of as part of my own heritage, especially as it is one of the most interesting places I see near my mother's home when I return to England and when I leave. I took the above picture when I was returning to Australia in 2005, having just said goodbye to my mother, not knowing when I would next see her.

Mow Cop, in contrast to many other tourist attractions, began as a fake and became something of real worth. It started as a folly, built in the mid 1700s as a summerhouse for a wealthy landowner. It resembles the ruins of a non-existent medieval castle and now is genuinely worth visiting, even just for the views over the surrounding countryside.

Today, though, I must move onwards. But where to next? I really do like to stay quietly at home, here in the town of Dorothea. My journey will probably take me no further than the Internet for much of the time, as I shape and reshape my work as a writer, researcher and social entrepreneur.

I wonder how many people now spend their afternoons leisurely sipping wine in Piazza Navona in Rome. When I took the above picture in June 2007, I had no awareness that there was such a thing as a subprime mortgage. I am fortunate in that I have never lived in debt, nor travelled in debt.

Yet I don't know what the future holds. I try to live within my means. It is quite easy really to choose a simple life, at least it is for me.

As someone who has already travelled widely, and someone who has already had twenty wonderful years of married life, my aim is to give hope to others who are trying to overcome despair, difficult relationships and other challenges.

Perhaps you have a better understanding of the world than I do. I hope you do...