It is quiet out this morning. Even though every morning is quiet to some degree, the air seems still and I can actually hear the river rushing by from across the road. That is, when I am not typing. A few birds are singing and it is peaceful. The kind of sounds that remind me of walking in a forest preserve as a child. Growing up in a large city like Chicago, experiencing 'quiet' such as this was nearly non-existent. There were always noises in the city and suburbs. You could always hear traffic and sirens and other everyday noises that our consciousness filters out. It was rare to hear 'nothing' except the few sounds of birds and critters. Perhaps that is why I notice it.
When I was a child, we used to have annual family picnics. Usually they were held sometime in June, but it was probably the only time of year (except for weddings and funerals) that we saw our extended family. Our cousins and second cousins were there, as well as my grandmother's sisters and their families. There were also lots of people that I didn't really know, as the second cousins and family members brought their current boyfriends/girlfriends, etc.
One of the highlights of these picnics for me was to take a long walk in the woods. I remember walking as far as I could along the path and I would imagine that I was in another world, far away from the city. Even though you could still hear the sounds of the traffic, it was faint and far away. The sound you would notice most was that of the birds and the humming insects and the crackle of the leaves under your feet as you walked. I simply loved it.
It was then that I knew that someday I would leave the city. I wanted to live in a place where that peace and quiet would be the norm and I could sit and just 'be'. Away from the chaos of traffic and people and noise and clutter.
Today is Memorial Day in the United States. Living most of my life in the US, I will always consider myself an American. Even though Canada has embraced me as one of their own, I will always keep America in my heart. But there are no rules that say I can't love two countries, are there?
I am not from a military family. As a matter of fact, my family has been a bit shattered for quite a while. As I look around today and see the many, many 'blended' and shifted families, I kind of feel like I blend in a bit better. That wasn't always the case. As I was growing up in the 60's as a child of divorce, I realized even then that there was quite a stigma attached to it. My best friend's mom used to frown on us playing together because my mom was divorced. We had to sneak around to be together most of the time and while she gave in sometimes and allowed me to visit, I always felt the judgement hanging thick in the air. I am sure she wasn't the only one who felt that way back in 1969.
I suppose I am thinking about this today in particular because as I am browsing my computer this morning, I see the many, many photos of fathers, grandfathers, uncles and even aunts who have fought so bravely and sacrificed so much for the freedoms which many of us take for granted. I think I am speaking of North America in general when I say this. I believe that as time passes and we move farther away from the days when our own freedom was truly threatened, it is more difficult to understand what it was like.
My own feelings of being prejudiced against in the 60's is minor compared to what others have fought against. The youth of today, who haven't really felt a 'real' threat to their freedoms, can't imagine what it would be like to have to do things like ration food. They have grown up with us as their parents, offering them more than we had ourselves, and while that is noble in some ways, I can't help but think it can be detrimental in others.
It seems much messier now, this world in which we live. I think that many people who are my age or older long for those times that were perhaps simpler. There is good and bad in every day though and I still believe that we need to decide for ourselves how each of our days will play out. We do after all have the freedom to choose. Many brave men and women died to insure that.
Back to my quiet morning . . .
Today's post (as you may have guessed by now) is not about creating. In today's post I want to express my gratitude and thanks to all the brave people who fought and perished so that I could have the choice to create. I do think of you and I do remember what you have done for me, my family, and my countries.
You left the comfort of your homes, your loved ones and your families to face unknown horrors. Many of you did not return. Of those who did, many of you suffered damages – both physical and emotional – that no one would ever be able to understand.
If it weren't for you, I wouldn't be able to sit here each morning and listen to the river across the road, or listen to the birds singing. I wouldn't be able to spend each day doing what I love to do and sharing the joy of creating. I wouldn't be able to go to sleep at night in peace, feeling safe and secure in my home. Because of you all, I have a good life.
Many, as we know, do not.
The world is a very trouble place. There is much that is 'wrong' and many that are suffering. When I see the hardship and sadness that so many experience on a daily basis, it makes me realize just how fortunate I am. My problems don't seem as big. My hardships not as difficult. It is all because of the sacrifices they have given so we can all live better lives. Our veterans.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart. May we always remember you all.
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"