Random thoughts on a Wednesday

I felt like I wanted to post something, but I didn't know what to say. I thought about it for a while and then I went and dug up some old photos, to share a few memories of mine. I don't know why or what for I am doing it, but here we go.


For several years friends of ours had me stay on their farm during school holidays; I must've been around 14, maybe 15 at the time. Looking back, I'm really not sure why they had me there, but I look back on that time with great fondness: getting up early in the morning to cut hay, bring it in for the horses, clean the stables, being taught to ride in exchange.

It's one of those things that reminds me about the importance - and value - of investing time and effort into kids, even if they're not mine, to let them experience and learn and grow as a result. I learned a great deal during those farmstays, mostly about independence and reliability and responsibility and respect.

I haven't been in touch with the couple who own that farm, I don't know how they're doing, but I wonder if they know how I appreciate the time I had with their horses.

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When I was 17, I spent a summer working as a "doggie au-pair" in Finland, taking care of 4 dogs whilst the owner was on frequent overseas trips.

Looking back, I wonder how my mother let me do that, how she found the trust to just let me go - encourage me to go - and live in a foreign-language environment on my own like that, but that, too, taught me about independence and self-reliability, something I remind myself of when I let The Kid go and do things, even when some part of me thinks, "Gee, I hope he doesn't hurt himself there..."

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For three years I did dancing. That taught me about the value of hard work! 

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The things I learned through EYP - European Youth Parliament - are a little difficult to put my finger on. It was in many ways empowering, and in many other ways confusing, but mostly, I think, it simply put me in touch with fascinating, strong people who I was then able to observe as they powered through life.

It is much easier to have a can-do attitude and to think, "I can do it!" when people around me are doing that.

In fact, it's one of the best ways, I think, to learn to achieve - to surround myself with people that achieve.

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(I hope my friend doesn't mind me putting this photo up here like that.)

I grew up in a relatively poor mining town, close to Russian border. The hills you see in the distance are residue waste from processing of oil shale. Oil shale gets mined from underneath the ground, processed into oil and various chemicals, turned into power (as in, electricity) and what's left - a fine, toxic ash - is poured into heaps like that.

Done in Soviet times, little effort was made to keep the industry safe, both for people nearby and for environment in general. I mean, check this out (The Man is still astounded by it, having learned this fact years ago): not far from where I grew up there was an open-pit, radioactive waste pond 30 metres from the sea. 30 metres! (No wonder my endocrinologist says there is a higher incidence of thyroid issues in that region.)

These mountains of ash on the photo above have very little isolation between the ground and the waste, so for years the stuff has been seeping into groundwater; empty tunnels underneath the town collapse occasionally and damage structures on-ground - this, for example, is a local tennis court which overnight developed a ditch on its side:


And having grown up in that region, where thousands upon thousands of immigrants were "planted" during Soviet times - genetically speaking, I am only a quarter Estonian because the rest of my family are actually from Ukraine and Siberia - it makes it interesting to see what Russia is doing now. 

And it also makes me a little cautious of big political words when economy and industrial progress is discussed, because though times are different from what it was like in the Soviet Union 50 years ago, that stuff above is my experience of what people then live with once the industrial "progress" is past and what's left are the consequences. 

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And to finish on a high note, how grateful I am to a friend of mine who dragged me along on so many of his trips, whether it was summer or winter, and for the moaning and griping he must've endured on my side of things.

Just like those adventures above - working in Finland, helping out on a farm, travelling to EYP sessions - all of these camping trips taught me, little by little, how to take care of myself and how to put up with stuff in order to get the bigger, more important stuff done.

And it may have sounded a bit far-fetched had anyone told me this 5 years ago, but all those gripey "Man I hate this mountain!" walks up hills, and melting ice in the mornings to have water to drink, and putting on boots that have frozen solid have actually made me a... better parent.

3 comments:

  1. I wish we lived in the same island at least. I would love to know you in real life! So hope you are feeling well x

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  2. Mann! You inspire :)

    PS. Dancing! I would never had guessed that of you.

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