Among the many cities in Europe, that have a special flair to offer, Venice occupies a special place: like none other it mirrors the classic orient, the old friend and foe Constantinople. A walk through Istanbul’s spice markets leave a sensation of India in your nose, and the classic silt shops in nearby Bursa bring back long-gone images of silk caravans moving through the deserts of China and central Asia. China’s new architecture mirrors San Francisco, whilst Vancouver has a touch of Chinese soul. A walk through parts of Queens reflects the optimism and charm of a late 19th century and Art Deco Europe, and Port Jefferson reminds Denmark.
If I look at my family, I find my own Kaleidoscope. My two elder sons, of maternal Turkish and paternal Bavarian blood, could well be Croats from Ragusa. My son Carl and my daughter Sarah, look either Portuguese or Moroccan – their mother being from Africa’s Congo. Tara, my little daughter, looks like a blonde Circassian, her mother being a warrior-tribe Kayan from the island of Borneo.
What could be noteworthy and astonishing about this? Not much, really, apart of the fact that my children’s physiognomy equates to the people who live roughly half-way between the father’s and mother’s birth places. In fact, our world seems to be a laterally gradual shifting mix of various genetics and cultures, like streaks of different colored fresh marble cake dough spiraling in a baker’s pot.
Perhaps, there is even more to it. We tend to see ourselves as individuals, separated from others by any measure. Is this view correct? When I met my third wife in Borneo, I loved her from the first moment on as she brought back to me souvenirs of my long-gone grandmother.
Despite of originating from very different cultures, the approach to life by these two women felt just so strikingly similar. When I was young, I used to be critical of my father- his somewhat lavish and often misplaced generosity, stubbornness and sometimes a sense of neglect. Now, getting older, I start to see my Dad in myself, whilst my youthful characteristics have passed on to my sons.
What could be the meaning? Perhaps we’re nothing but mirrors of each other, individually and culturally, offset by time and space, but returning back somehow to the same spot as a meandering river does in a broad valley. Qualities we see in others – those we love and those we hate – will reappear in us, as our own fleeting characteristics will reappear in others.
As long as our stream of life is filled with love and tolerance, rather that egotism, we can hope that the good things we knew and felt will come back to us – whilst accepting our physical ephemeris and hope for spiritual eternity.
© 2008 by Franz L Kessler