I’m checking tumblr out…see how it compares
Please stop by…..Hx
I just received the tragic news that a close relative of mine had very suddenly and unexpectedly passed away at the tender age of 37 years old. Obviously, this has been a big shock to all the family as he was a very well loved member of our big family – always ready with a huge smile and and a big bear hug, the joker of any family occasion, yet a sensitive soul, with a capacious heart. Suffice to say, he will be missed – enormously. He was also an only child and I can hardly even begin to comprehend how that must feel for my aunt and uncle, other than comparing it to the emotional turmoil that I experienced when my sisters and I lost our Dad (very suddenly and unexpectedly too) 7 1/2 years ago – over wrought, hysterical, disturbed, falling apart are just a few of the synonyms I can think of…………put simply: grief-stricken beyond anything I’d ever imagined I could ever experience. But, I dealt with it in my own intrinsic, personal way……I withdrew, voluntarily exiling myself, from the city to the quiet little village that had been my childhood home, and into my Dad’s house, . It was there that I endeavored to process the immense loss, being very selective about who I wanted to talk to, open up to, cry with, say ‘why?’ with………basically, who I wanted to share my grief with.
But a strange, insidious, phenomenon seems to have crept its way into the fabric of our society: the weird and wonderful world of Facebook! Now, don’t get me wrong, I use this social networking tool for all its worth – to market the fine art business I’m involved in, the African expedition and/or to share my images from my travels etc with my family and friends who live far away. But yesterday, I saw that members of my family were discussing the untimely death of our beautiful cousin openly on the public news feed wall! At first I was both angry and dumbfounded by this ‘oh so public’ display of grief…….and I don’t mean that being public with your grief is a bad thing per se, by any means, as we each deal with it in our own particular ways. But, the news feed page of Facebook that is not just read by your close friends and family but by acquaintances, business colleagues, people who have connected with you because you happened to have 6 friends in common, thereby you must have something in common too!?!
It was the oddest thing, watching those little pings of messages going back and forth: ‘RIP cuz J***’, ‘so sad’, ‘need to stay in touch n be a proper family, love ya cuz’, ‘we will be up for the funeral god its hard to say that’, ‘I’m here if you need me hun’ and so on it goes…..I watched, mesmerised (mostly with disbelieve) as this unfold over the course of 15-20 minutes yesterday, right after I made the phone call home to find out more (that was after a very close family member had Skype -messaged me to tell me my cousin had died!?!). And, what was I doing on FB in the first place at this time, you may well ask? Why, because its open on my desktop almost constantly so that I can catch up with friends and family. Hmmmmm…….is that kettle, pot, black?
And now, whilst writing this, I got this weird feeling in the pit pf my stomach and so I checked my cousin’s FB home page and there it is, an out pouring of heart-felt accolade’s to my dearly departed cousin, from his close friends and family; as if he could be reading them right now (in a more peaceful place, I hope). As if they are all having a wake before we have even had the funeral! I have to say though, I am crying as I read them………..he was a very well-loved, popular young man……I hope he knows that, wherever he may be…..maybe there is FB on the other side?
But then who am I to judge how others choose to air their grief when here I sit, writing my own tribute for all the world to read (should they even desire to in the first place and/or even stumble across my little page of thoughts in the myriad of trillions of blogs out there in the ether!)?
In the immortal (prophetic?) words of my cousin’s last ever post on FB (9 days before he passed) at 13.57GMT on 8th June: ‘Closed!’
grieving, confused, hypocritical and contradictory
RIP J.A. – 1973-2010 You will never ever be forgotten
With love, ‘Our Helen’ xxxxxx
I was reading an interesting article recently by a travel writer (Guy Trebay) who still sends postcards from wherever he travels to. I say ‘still’ because it does seem as if the action of putting pen to paper (or card) and writing ‘wish you were here’ is a thing of the past for the majority of us. What with the advent of the electronic postcards – i.e. Twitter, Facebook, iPhones – snail mail seems far too….well, slow. Not only from sticking the postcard in the box and then its journey from the senders location to the recipients location (and depending where you are in the world, you could get back before your postcard even arrives!), but also the physical effort that one has to put in to find the appropriate card and then wrack your brains to find a witty way to compress your travel stories, onto a tiny 3 1/2 x 5″area; aside from the cliched ‘wish you were here’ or ‘wish you weren’t here’. And, don’t forget you have to buy the stamp and stick it on too!
On the whole we seem happy to have shrunk our worlds into the electronic medium of (often round-robin because it saves time) communication and, hey, I am more than guilty of taking the easy option of late. There was a time that I wouldn’t even think twice about sending a postcard whilst on my travels – if only to my dad to stick on his fridge. However, it seems such a shame that we don’t take the time to hunt out interesting, quirky, or cliched postcards; especially looking for just the right card for i.e. your best mate, the one that only they would get the joke or the nuance of that particular card.
As Mr Trebay so succinctly put it ‘Historians of Facebook and Twitter will be left to scrounge around the internet for the fugitive relics of the present communication age’. Not for them the scene upon scene of diverse wonders of far off places – the sun set over the costa del sol, camels posing in front of the pyramids, African drummers on a beach or, god forbid, those ‘naughty’ 70′s cartoon postcards, depicting two old men sitting on their striped deck chairs, eyes popping out of their heads as two young, comically-endowed busty, blonds (as they seemed to have more fun – allegedly!) walk past in itsy-bitsy bikini’s; with some lewd comment written underneath a la: “eeeh, Stan, you don’t get many of those to the pound these days!”
Lets not deprive ourselves of this ancient(ish) ritual (apparently, the first souvenir postcard was printed in 1893 in the US) , nor the pleasure of our friends or family picking up their post, shuffling through the usual generic brown or white-enveloped bills, boring circulars etc, only to come across a flash of colour in the midst of it all and with a personalised note, just for them, written in ink on the back to-boot.
How refreshingly old-fashioned, I say.
HJ – May 25th 2010, NYC
Just back into the city after a blissful few days up country, dog-sitting for friends in their wonderful house by a lake – the lake being at the bottom of their garden!
What a contrast, being back in the noise-polluted streets of the city to the tranquility of the countryside…..surrounded by woods, wildlife, star-filled night skies, the full moon reflecting off the lake, and…….quiet stillness at night, until the dawn chorus sets off and the woods and lake come alive once again.
Back to the city and the constant drone of the huge air-conditioning units around the apartment block, the cacophony of the 24/7 traffic, horns blaring down 6th Avenue. I lie there at night waiting for the blissful few minutes when the air conditioning re-booting, wishing that I could fall asleep in those brief moments and escape the constant electronically-induced hum. The white noise of the city.
So, it begs the question: why do we choose to place ourselves in situations where there seems to be no respite from the perpetual drone of city life? Is it to distract ourselves from standing still and really looking at ourselves? Do we think that we are missing out if we are not in the hub of it all – whatever ‘it’ is?
Would living in the country eventually present its own version of that perpetual drone? Quite possibly…..but then I’d rather take a chance, even in these uncertain financial times, and build my castle in the sky, surrounded by the constant hum of nature, over the oppressive concrete canyons of a city any day! Or, better still, a tree-house in the bush, by the balong, in West Africa but thats another story…..
But then……..I always have been a country girl at heart so why fight it.
HJ (May 2010)
PS and the best part is, is that we get to go back to the country in a couple of days and savour its delights for another week or so! Better get my architect’s head on!
Image: Hellyj-2010 (Central Park, NYC, April 2010)
Mothers laughing, as their children run beneath the trees,
trying to catch the blossom
as it falls like little cherry bombs, exploding on the ground
around their feet.
HellyJ – April 2010
Two of our A Short Walk In The Gambian Bush team members. Five of us walked 928km around The Gambia with two donkeys, Neil and (p)Hadley from Novemner-December, 2009. You can read all about our expedition and adventures and see some beautiful images from Jason Florio (and a few from yours truly) on my other blog www.adventuretravelblogs.com/700miles
Image: Jones – The Gambia – 2009
How true……….. UN report, Aug 2009 (Economist.com): 6 million people starving in Tigray…….. (Ethiopia).
Coca Cola certainly weren’t referring to 6 million starving and water-starved people. 6 million sales in 1925!! Just imagine what their daily sales are today. I haven’t been to Ethiopia (yet) but I was recently in another extremely poor 3rd world country – the Democratic Republic of Congo in Central Africa.
The Congolese rate of inflation is over 50% so you know that a bottle of a bottle of cocoa cola is not cheap. When the average Congolese person earns around $40-100 per month – those that are working that is (not to mentioned the thousands of homeless street children)……….there may be as much as 70% of the population not in ‘formal’ employment. I wonder if the bread-heads at Cocoa Cola in their cushy, air-conditioned, 1st world offices in Atlanta, Georgia, in the good old U.S. of A ever consider what their adverstising means to the average person on the street in most of the countries that they stick up their multitudes of giant billboards?
Perhaps they should send out a CC delegation to Kinshasa, DR Congo, to hang around Avenue Kasa-Vubu for a bit? Then again, they would be driven there in their hermetically-sealed 4 x drives from their hermetically-sealed $350 per night room at the Hotel Memling where a bottle of water costs a mere $3.50 and breakfast is bargain at around $30!
Hmmmmmmm……something not quite right with this picture………..more on this soon……
Avenue Kasa Vubu, Kinshasa, DR Congo, Central Africa (copyright.2009.hellyjphoto)
Kinshasa, DR Congo, Africa (copyright.hellyjphotos.2009)
for updates on the expedition
Where: The Gambia, West Africa
When: November-December 2009
What: To circumnavigate The Gambia, West Africa, by foot from the ‘Gardens for Life’ project in the Western Division of the country and returning there approximately 8 weeks later (see map pg8)
Why: A Twofold Expedition:-
• An Anglo/Gambian journey to preserve, through photographic and audio means, a modern account of the people and stories of rural Gambia. This collection of pictures and words will lay the foundations for a unique multi-media interactive website to be used as an ongoing tool to conserve these oral histories and current observations of life in The Gambia by Gambians. The photographs taken along the way will also be used to produce a, first of its kind, fine art ‘coffee-table’ book of The Gambia.
•‘Gardens For Life’ (an Eden Project) charity, which help to educate, support and encourage schools and children around the world on how to create gardens and grow their own food. GFL also have a number of these gardens in The Gambia. Therefore, the walk will be a fund-raising tool for the charity and the Gambian schools, through sponsorship and donations.
•Who: Jason Florio, Helen Jones & local Gambian’s, Abdouli Janneh & Mohammed Njie
please link to my ‘other blog’ www.ashortwalkinthegambianbush.wordpress.com for further updates.
this is what has been keeping me busy lately……expeditions are a full time job!! please pass the link around as we will need as much support as possible (and a wee bit of sponsorship for the walk too……more on that a little later on). Thank you! Hxxxx