Dennis Jones is a Jamaican-born international economist, who has lived most of the time in the UK and USA, and latterly in Guinea, west Africa. He moved back to the Caribbean in 2007. This blog contains his observations on life on this small eastern Caribbean island, as well as views on life and issues on a broader landscape, especially the Caribbean and Africa.







**You may contact me by e-mail at livinginbarbados[at]gmail[dot]com**

Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Book Is Worn And Tattered, But Let's Turn Another Page: Good Bye To This Decade

Decades come and go every year, but we save the special hoopla for the years that end in 9 and the years that start with 0. I should have spent more than a few days of the Christmas holiday ruminating about what has happened over the past 10 years, but I really did not except in the most natural and fleeting of ways.

I look at my Dad, now in his eight decade and wonder how much of his time he remembers and still enjoys. As he talks, with no sense of time ending, he drifts from boyhood, through manhood; through marriage; through childbirths; through work; through deaths. It's all been a lot and it's not over yet.

I look at my in-laws, themselves into their seventh decade. One has a new knee so may be able to run for another 70 years. They've celebrated 5 decades of marriage, and have one child to represent each decade. Their grand children range from less than half a decade to just over two.

I look at my children: one has seen two decades, the other just over half of one.

We all talk about times past and history merges with the present to make a glue that will pass through our lives for centuries. When we sit at meals and can see three generations around the table that is a wonderful measure of what the decades mean.

When those of us in our middle years try to stay up with the spring chickens in the fold, we can only turn back the clock slowly. When the young ones bounce back ready to go again, we are searching for embrocation and ice--not for our drinks. We older ones sleep in the middle of the day, just like the younger ones: we all need our energy recharged. While they rise slowly from their slumber, we get ready for another set of tasks. They watch and learn that this will be their role one day. We share what we know and what we do, in play, in cooking, in speech, in behaviour, in worship, in all things good.

We are not able to understand what has changed for the worse in the world in which we live. Many aspects of life seem so much easier now than decades ago. Water runs through pipes into all parts of the home, not just to a stand pipe in the yard or down the lane. We can cook on gas and not have to rely on log wood. We pickle through choice, not through need. We can freeze and keep things cold, without having to wait for a truck to deliver blocks of ice. We can shop as if it is a routine part of life rather than a set of special events. We can imagine studies in the finest of schools and universities, without wondering if we are fit to even say their names. We can dream of leading our countries and their institutions, even if we are from families that no one knows. Our girls and women are at least equals with any boy or man, and wont let them forget that.

Through luck and diligence and the choices picked along various paths, we have not ended up as villains on this Earth. We don't beat up and rob people. We don't throw our garbage all over the place. We try to show respect and compassion for other people. We give of what we have, as freely as we can. We accept others' offerings, but understand that not all are fortunate.

We are strangers in strange lands, and sitting prettily at home in the lands where we are born. We travel to places whose names many cannot pronounce. We eat food that used to be available only to the rich and famous. But, we love our simple and local fare too--maybe even more. We have our herbal medicines for every sickness, and want to know our doctor as someone we know and trust, and remember growing up in our town.

We are simple people and strange for being so. We are people of the Caribbean, with its mixture of shades and racial backgrounds. We are proud to have been born in this blessed realm, no matter what horrors preceded us and befell our ancestors.

Decades come and decades go. What we take forward each year does not really change that much, but we build on what we have, and like the rings of a tree shows its age, the layers we add each year are our strength. So, here's to building another layer and to gaining more strength.

Have a blessed and wonderful New Year in 2010.


acox said...

Memories of the past is our foresight into the future.

Have a Happy and blessed New Year

Martin said...

Well said, Happy New Year to you and your family and may you all make many more rings.