Saturday, September 08, 2012

Iquitos, Peru: Choosing Life

In the Modern world I live in, as a rule, I think it's likely that within an hour of chatting with any woman I meet I will hear something like-- if not exactly: "...a woman's right to choose...." They don't even mean "abortion"; they simply mean that they are conforming to the norms of the Modern, that these women are social people who follow the rules as determined by most, i.e. that most people say and therefore most people say. What comes is a lack of children, partly due to birth control, partly from abortion, partly from lack of real friends and commitment; and much lack of babies coming from a serious fear that babies will simply wreck ones life. In fact, I know personally only two women of my generation who had kids, one of whom is an alcoholic pot-smoking only child living in a basement on the dole. He was supposed to be a "designer baby," the one child his divorced mother could raise to be perfect. The other I know and have known, those women had no kids at all, preferring to pursue careers so they could live meaningful and fulfilling lives.

Recently in Iquitos, Peru I chatted with a European of my generation who has three daughters, two of whom are childless. Her daughters are in their 40s. "Yes, these people have a lot of children," the lady said, "but they don't do anything with them." I think she means what many Modern women seem to mean by that: The kids aren't designer babies off to Harvard at 18. No, babies in the Amazon are mostly just babies, and they grow up to be Peruvians in these here parts, sort of like Sarah Palins in the jungle. They are family people. They have jobs. They live private lives without saving the rain forest. They don't run up massive student loans they will never repay. They don't get M.A.s in Hostility Studies. People in Iquitos and elsewhere in the Amazon and the Andes and the Chaco, (from my experience so far) are private people who have families who don't save the world at all. They just live. They live in families and are, for whatever reason, pretty happy. Not all, of course, and it prompted me to talk to a man who works in Iquitos at an orphanage/halfway house for young women, that story to come later. Till then, I live with a family and watch them living life.

I see children all over the city and beyond, and parents tending them, and children living. I don't get it. In the Modern world most people seen to spend their time working so they can then go out and complain about life having cheated them of all the good things they deserve, capitalism being the main source of their woes, Republicans specifically attacking in "The War against Women," and those women Republicans who live outside the Freak Show being cunts who should be killed, women such as Sarah Palin, she who has too many children, none of whom seem destined for Harvard Law.

The complaint, "They don't do anything with them...."

But all in a matter of minutes one can find a child who doesn't need to be an up and coming Harvard Law student. One can be a child and still be pretty cool.

 Of course, one would have to have children rather than abortions to see this.

I see it from a distance, finding myself laughing out loud from joy.

I don't think I would actually want a trial lawyer baby. I think I'd rather have a happy baby.

But that might not happen if the baby mimics my moods, as some do when they see me brooding over not much at all.

I might end up with a neurotic baby who acts much like me: a member of the Freak Show. Kids learn. They learn from their parents and others around them.

I don't know what it means to learn from others at this age.

My host family's baby.

It's almost entirely a mystery to me what kids are.

They seem to pick up on everything around them, including my moods that I don't seen to be aware of.

 Moods I don't want to be aware of.


But even if I am sometimes depressed or miserable in my musing I must still be laughing much of the time because I am surrounded so often by such wonder as families and babies.

I'm old and it's probably too late for me, but I do think I would love to be a father at last.

  A gentle reminder that my book, An Occasional Walker, is available at the link here:

And here are some reviews and comments on said book:


Carlos Perera said...

You've written a beautiful essay, life-affirming even if a little melancholic . . . but what thinking man isn't made a little melancholic by the tenor of modern life?

Your essay reminded me of the wonderful line in _Dr. Zhivago_ (the movie, not the novel), where Strelnikov has decided to release Zhivago, and asks him in parting, "And what will you do with your wife and child in Varykino?," to which Zhivago replies, "Just live." Even as an adolescent, Zhivago's reply struck me as an elegant statement of a profound philosophy. In the end, the world shall belong to those who, "just live." Perhaps Jesus had something like it in mind, when he pronounced in the Beatitudes, "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth."

God bless those who "just live," like the delightful little girl of your photos (and her family).

Dag said...

I just lost a long response, so I will try again later. Sorry for the delay.

Dag. Iquitos, Peru.