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We Love Only What We Understand

Beata works as a qualified primary school teacher, a councillor for drug and alcohol addiction and a farm caretaker for organic olive grow.

Once upon a time in a small Dutch town

an young girl wanted to change her life

an young girl wanted to change her life

She met a stranger, an art dealer

who took her to Paris and opened the door for her

to new exciting life full of imagination and creativity


Theo patiently taught Jo how to recognise a masterpiece

in painting while supporting new artistic ideas and trends

She was wondering about his strange brother

he worshiped but she never met who cut his own ear

and send it to his brother with a short note full of frustration

of not being able to finish his painting to his own satisfaction


“He is a true genius, my brother Vincent,” Theo told her:

“The world just does not know it yet.”

And then one day Vincent stood in their doorway and Jo

lied her eyes on him for the first time.


Those fleeting serendipitous connections of ours…that allows us to feel the comfort of strangers…especially those who are profoundly different to us…


Not long after Vincent died destitute in poor French countryside

and Theo never forgave himself not to be on his side.

He died himself one year later and Jo with her newborn baby she named Vincent in her arms returned to her small Dutch town.

She opened a boarding house to support herself and her child

she adorned with paintings of Vincent van Gogh no one seemed to value at that time.

she adorned with paintings of Vincent van Gogh no one seemed to value at that time.

She became an art dealer in her own right.

For the rest of her life promoted Vincent van Gogh, a tragic

beautiful person and painter he was.


The reason any of us, now two hundreds years later

are so familiar with Vincent van Gogh, his life and his art

is because of Jo Van Gogh, his sister in law and her long life pursuit

to make him and his art accessible to anyone and everyone

as Vincent always wanted.


He was an artist of people and for people.

She knew it straight away

when she met him for that one time.

They were kindred spirits after all.


Those fleeting serendipitous connections of ours…that allows us to feel the comfort of strangers…especially those who are profoundly different to us…

In this profoundly different pandemic covid-19 times

Jo would never left for Paris with Theo. She would never meet Vincent and one big genius would be lost to us all

Jo would never left for Paris with Theo. She would never meet Vincent and one big genius would be lost to us all

"Attitudes to strangers are changing more rapidly than ever before,"

a fellow hiker I met on 'Larapinga' trail winked at me when I got up

from my resting place before he managed to place his backpack

on a rock nearby and waved him goodbye.


I looked up at the elder man in surprise

I was long past the Jo's onset of adolescence

that bursting desire to interact

with all sorts of people,

particularly the strangers.


My escape from a city to a long desert hike

meant I was running away from interactions

intimate or social,

how he could not see that?


An elderly couple appeared on my path

descending from a hill

Their small backpacks indicated it was just an one day hike

And I looked back at an elder man who decided to follow me

with an unsaid question: "Where is your life partner?"


I saw him shrugged: "I am a widower,

the kids all grown up,

time is no more scarce,

just you have no one to share it with

any more."


"Sorry but I have no time

for unforeseen liaisons,

that my professional duties

require on daily basis

at work,

this is my only holiday

I need to be left alone."


He chuckled climbing the hill behind me

in even steady stride: "Wait for an old age,

when frailty seeps in

in your retirement

the joy of a random meeting

may mean more to you

to winning a Lotto."


I stopped to catch a breath

adjusting my big backpack with supplies

lasting me a week in the least

and shrugged: "I have another ten years in me

to keep my managerial

position..."


But he was not listening just gazing down on the flat shrubs

bellow musing: "Just a smile, or a chance remark

that might lead to an unexpectedly

deep conversation ,

a mutual understanding

that is life worth living

even if the fellow hiker is never seen again."


"What was your profession before you retired?"

I asked suddenly and he smiled to himself:

"I was a science teacher, the best job you can ask for."

Today, in the age of covid-19 and Zoom

strangers haves assumed a role as a looming source of infection.

strangers haves assumed a role as a looming source of infection.

I often think of that retired science teacher I met on my pre-covid hike.

There is a scrap of an old serviette in my pocket

he wiped his mouth on after we shared our dinner

that evening on the highest point on 'Larapinga' trail

I used my little stub of pencil to dot down few notes

of his speech he gave to his last classroom of students

before retiring.


I look at it often when I feel stuck and lonely

in a long Melbourne lockdown,

two hundreds days and counting,

his words are just more imminent.


How to raise new scientists and future thinkers?

Many of our children are born natural dreamers

and quiet observers of life

sitting at the back of class noticed barely by anyone.


Concerned teachers and parents constantly

bug them with quizzical questions,

afraid that those quiet underachievers

will miss out on opportunities, jobs,

big money and comfortable life

we all envisage as the picture perfect life.

And yet they are observing us and the world

with their critical inquisitive eyes ready t

o make a difference when their time comes

and this is the speech we should give them.


We teach our children that their first duty

is to get enough money, place and fame to their name.

We forget to ask them: 'What is this truth you seek, what is this beauty?"

We should teach them to be neither criticised

nor flattered out of your position of constant exploration

and enquiry about the world.

Make yourself necessary to the world

and mankind gives you bread

and human perpetual affection in nature, art and hope.


If you feel in your deepest soul

you were called upon to seek the truth and beauty,

be bold, be firm, be true

for the hour of that choice

is the crisis of your history.

See that you hold yourself by the intellect,

so the domineering temple of the sensory world t

hat creates the extreme need

for the priests and science

never stops you

from exploring and questioning

everything and everyone.


Meet people face to face in every opportunity

that is the only way we can influence each other

break down the boundaries

grow and change

for better.

How our post pandemic world will look like?

Do we stumble back into a world of accidental collisions?

Do we stumble back into a world of accidental collisions?

My own Australian government is asking the same question of its people right now.

"Do you want to open the borders and live with the Covid-19

and fear of being infected by strangers passing you on streets?"

Or

"Do you want to stay closed to outside world with continuous lock downs

until the world is free of the Covid-19?"

The people of Australia are united in their answer of their desire to meet

strangers on their streets once again despite the danger of an infection

because those fleeting serendipitous connections of ours…

that allows us to feel the comfort of strangers…

especially those who are profoundly different to us…

One of my dear Indigenous friend I met face to face in pre-covid times once told me...

In the end we will value only what we love, we love only what we understand, we will understand only what we are taught. Those teachers we need to meet face to face...

In the end we will value only what we love, we love only what we understand, we will understand only what we are taught. Those teachers we need to meet face to face...

Love means respect we show in the Covid-19 times by vaccination and face mask wearing...

so we protect those we love and those strangers we do not know...

so we protect those we love and those strangers we do not know...

Comments

Beata Stasak (author) from Western Australia on September 18, 2021:

Thank you my dear Shauna my dear friend and a writing buddy, your encouragement is very important to me:)

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on September 14, 2021:

As always, you deliver a powerful message by way of story-telling, Beata. Your stories are thought-provoking and eye-opening. I always enjoy what you have to say.

Beata Stasak (author) from Western Australia on September 07, 2021:

thank you Liz for your kind observation yes it is always good to look back so we can focus better forward:)

Liz Westwood from UK on September 02, 2021:

I like the way this narrative spans so much time. You make some interesting points as you journey up to the present time and face its challenges.

Beata Stasak (author) from Western Australia on September 01, 2021:

Thank you dear Chitrangada, I came back to add something important I feel it does not need to be said but then maybe some people out there are still not aware of it:)

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on September 01, 2021:

Hello Beata!

An interesting, insightful and engaging read, full of words of wisdom. Some thought provoking observations by you. I liked your pictures too. Good to see your post, after a long time.

Thank you for sharing. Stay safe.

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