The accumulations of my recent past are ending their days in the recycling center (which is indeed a landfill site – I have been corrected) five miles east. Years ago, I sold my past to strangers in sidewalk sales to put together a future in a small country a continent and an ocean to the east.
I emigrated to Wales because my future was here. Not until after I arrived, did I realize that my future was, in fact, my ancestral past – at least a quarter of it. New Worlders have so many ancestral pasts, we have a wealth of cultural choices at our fingertips. I chose to seek the wealth of my paternal grandmother – a woman of mystery whose ancestry was a misguided assumption based on her place of birth: Pennsylvania.
I do not write about Wales because my mysterious grandmother was Welsh and not Amish, although this misrepresentation provides a significant impetuous for my choice. But, the fact that I am 1/4 Welsh gives me some cultural permission to poke around in this country’s history and language.
My grandmother’s parents/grandparents left Wales to seek a future in the New World, leaving behind the chains and shackles of a society that gave them little hope. My reverse journey had the same foundation. This process of discarding what we no longer value seems only possible when we perceive Paradise is not where we are, but over there: Gwynfyd. That place of greener grass.
And yet, what we have left behind never releases its hold. My grandmother gave many of her children Welsh names. My children have Welsh names and dual citizenship – in case they want the choice of retracing my path and following in their great-grandparents footsteps.
I can say they will have no difficulty discarding the chains, shackles and accumulations of their pasts – everything of value in their world is electronic. DR and I, on the other hand, cannot part with their drawings or school projects.
We are of the physical world, they of the digital. The iPad poses only one dilemma for them — its immediate availability.
For me, I must consider that, when it too is no longer of value, I will have to consider taking it to the dump to be shipped to India or China to poison the futures of children whose chains and shackles are too real.
The ability to discard, to walk away and begin again, to recreate oneself: this is really a gift. My own brief visit to Wales and my strange sense of connection through a Cardigan Welsh Corgi whose love we enjoyed for years make this piece even more evocative of a basic sense of human decency.
Thank you, Kenneth. Some call it Recycling. Or Re-creation. Or Resurrection. Rebirth. We must do it – I think it is part of the life cycle – if we are not changing, we are dying. Thank you for commenting and for your thoughts about my writing.