Saturday, March 17, 2007

Peace of Mind

Edward Weston said that with “peace of mind and an hour’s time [he] could make great photographs.”

The jet lag is finally over, after a week here in Roma. I’m up early while everyone else is asleep. It is quiet and critical issues from work are fading from my mind.

Being a grandparent is more difficult in some respects than being a parent. I am trying to embrace someone else’s parenting methodology, which may not be my own.

Now I want to have my own children again so that I can see if what worked before will work again. And maybe I could do things correctly this time. But I realize that the result of great parenting may not be a guarantee for great kids. And would I miss the ability to spend a day by myself? Being busy doesn’t create either peace or time.

We are surrounded in Rome with great achievements. For the most part, I believe it was the men who did the buildings, aqueducts, art, literature, etc.? What about the woman? Whatever that was done with the children created a culture with great integrity, love of beauty, and discipline. I envision long days for the workman and the artisans. But what about the kids? Who tended to them? The women? I once heard that it took the average Parisian woman in 1900 fifteen hours a day to prepare food for her family. What would it take the average Roman woman 1000 years ago? And how did they take care of the kids?

In some third world countries, the kids are born and then, on that same day, the woman is back in the fields with the babe in a sling close to their mother. The Roman woman must have had to work day and night sweeping dust from the house, preparing meals, and tending for the sick and elderly. All of this was a critical, if secondary, role to enable the city to be built. Certainly the women were responsible for both feeding the workers, and for raising the future workers.

I imagine a very abbreviated childhood for the Roman youth. The boys were apprenticed early and their future was laid out for them. The girls took care of the younger kids until they had kids of their own. Today we say that kids grow up too fast. Compared to what? Ancient Rome?

Did anyone have peace of mind and an hour’s time back then?