Friday, June 29, 2012
i have always drawn personal maps of the world and compiled private atlases. some lands of this earth are in my very heart. iceland, finland, croatia. england, germany. the united states. india. they shine and stand out, and it is easy to love them, like one's own children. some other countries are there, too, still noticeable, still lovely, while some are hidden in the fog. although i love them all, like all the children of this world, some simply feel foreign. the whole of latin america, russia, china. most of africa. arabia. spanish is a foreign language to me, as is japanese, or turkish.
my private maps are flawed, and i learn it over and over again. last year i went to prague, not expecting any particular connection. the czech republic was one of the places that i thought will feel foreign. however, from the moment i landed, to the moment i drove across frozen fields towards the airport, i enjoyed every single thing of my trip, and now when i hear czech spoken, i react with a smile. it has nestled in my private world.
in every foreignness, there is a grain of commonness. foreignness is a subjective and superficial feeling. if we give it a chance, any culture or land can become our own. i started thinking about this today, upon accidentally hearing a song. hoy, by gloria estefan. and although i already said that latin culture does not play a huge role in my life, this song touched me, it 'left a mark on my chest'. it made me remember. and it reminded me of how important it actually is to me, and how spanish can be the language of my heart.
then i wanted to explore some more, and look for other latin songs with equal emotional significance for me. and then they just started flooding me over. i decided to point out just two more. 'un amor' shook me deeply. i remembered the late eighties, my late teens, the times filled with love and expectations. it felt like the essence of that part of my life is huddled in this song.
i couldn't skip 'la dolce vita' by anneli saaristo, a latin song sung in 'my' language, finnish. most people probably cannot bear past the first few lines, but i get goosebumps when i hear: 'ja sen mukana laulaa voi onnellinen: lapsi kesän ja auringon'.
this might be a lesson of how futile and limiting it is to draw private atlases. i will probably go on experiencing some cultures as more intimate than others, but will try to be more open to the beautiful variety of the world.