Thursday, August 31, 2006

200 posts later....

Happy two hundredth post, Blog!

I recently re-read the novel Crow Lake, and unfortunately, I don't have it here with me and I forget who the author is. If you get it, you should read it.

But first let me spoil some of the parts for you.

Essentially it's about a girl who grew up in Northern Ontario. She is from a farming community and she was 'the one who got away'. She left her family behind to study and become something great, all the while feelng sorry for the people she left behind because they couldn't get away to school.

All my life, I've been a reader. I love books. My shelves are full of them. I can't count the times that I've been so enthralled with a book that I couldn't put it down and when work or life forced me to, it was the only thing on my mind.

I've always despised when people won't see beyond what exists in their own back yards. I've never really had the opportunity to go outside my back yard. Travelling and seeing the world isn't exactly an option when you grow up on a diary farm. In fact, I've never been anywhere. I've never been on a plane or smelled the ocean. I've never been to Disney Land and really? I don't have that great of a desire to go.

I do, however, have a gift for feeling and seeing the things that I read about. Case in point: last winter I had the opportunity to go to Niagara Falls. I was dreadfully disapointed because it was exactly the way I saw and felt it in books and on television. A bunch of water. Yep, it was a whole Hell of a lot of water and it certainly was pretty to look at. But it was exactly the way that I'd read about or seen in commercials.

I digress. I've never been out of my back yard and my whole life I've read books and pored over novels. Sure, I got outside to play with the boys, hang out in the barn, work on the farm and outside. But I would always be with my light on at two, poring over a book that I couldn't put down. My whole family is this way, in fact, and I' m glad for it.

One thing I've read about my whole life is further education. Novels seem to romanticize becoming educated in ways that I can't really describe. They talk about the professors, the books, the knowledge that is at your fingertips, all there for the asking. My pastor at church said he loved university for the lively intellectual debates and the fact that no matter how outrageous your ideas are, someone is there to listen to them. Novels I've read speak of how important getting educated is and how those of us who are fortunate enough to go can change the world.

I've yet to encounter a group of people who have a genuine craving for knowledge. It seems that we are all there in class, tired and somewhat cranky, just going through the motions. I've also yet to come into contact with people who know exactly what it is we can do with this knowledge we've gained or where it can take us.

I feel duped. I feel as though all the novels I've pored over my whole life that promised me so much out of going to school have lied. They didn't tell me about the crappy living conditions. They didn't tell me that my professors would all be bored old people who are putting in time while they pay attention to the papers that they really care about getting published. They didn't tell me that rather than spending long hours studying late at night, I would need to devote all of a few hours to every term paper I've written.

The girl in Crow Lake is forced to go back to her family at one point, all the while looking down her nose at the poor sods she left behind without an education. They are farming, doing janitorial jobs, building furniture, and she is the heroic sister gone off to do great things.

And of course, as it happens in most novels, an event in her life occurs that has her looking at things in a different light.

I won't say that I'm unhappy that I chose pursuing a degree as an option. I think that if you want to get a degree you should. I think that if you don't want one, you shouldn't. I will say that no one ever told me the truth of the matter. I'm glad that my whole life I grew up, from the first time I read Anne of Green Gables and wanted to go to school, I had an idyllic view of it.

The thing that Crow Lake did for me was make me look beyond my own back yard. All two hundred acres of it. Because I see these people with their fancy cars and their McMansions, living piled one on top of the other for going on three years now. And I've thought, how absolutely stupid of them. I've wondered why in Hell anyone would want to live this way. I've looked down my nose at people who I've thought were thinking that they were happy in their suburban or urban landscapes, thinking that deep down I'm the one with the answers. Thinking that I'm the one who has it right.

When really, I'm not. I'm just me. Living the way I don't want to live, piled quite literally in my city apartment on top of a group of other people who I'll never have contact with even though we share the same roof. It boggles my mind to think that within miles of the family ranch live a number of families whose children I know and who's lives I've had a part in. It boggles my mind that I live in the city on top of a larger number of families and I've no idea who they are or how they can stand my presence under their roof.

I guess my point is that no one is necessarily right, and no one is necessarily wrong.

We are all just being, and that's ok too.



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