Experience

This is the continuation of last weeks post about my deep conversations with women significantly older than me, in particular my mum and the farmer’s mother. There is something else about age that I admire, apart from the ability to say wise things. It’s the experience people have.

The farmer, whose mother I visited last week, once told me about her passion for wool. In the summer she is on the fields all day long, but comes the winter she and her husband withdraw into the house, heat it, and he paints and makes Indian music, while she works with plant textiles and wool. She told me about the different kinds of wool, and which one you can use for blankets and which one for clothes, how it is water-repellent and isolating. I just sat there and listened and wondered how so much knowledge can have space in somebody’s head. I was looking for my own knowledge but the result was more like a mix of everything, a patterned world view with almost nothing particular. Apparently it takes time to experience all these details about wool, so that you can share it in the passionate way that the farmer did that day.

Weeks later I found myself sitting in a basement which had at that point become a cozy venue with seven people in the audience and one man on the guitar, singing his rather American songs about broken relationships and love and the Middle East and propaganda and him walking into a pub at night next to the railways which were out of service. It was nice to be there and just listen. And he would charm around and make these typical singer songwriter stories. (“The next song is called… The ladies in my audience always think it’s a love song but actually it’s about the housing crisis in the US.”) And he would tell us most of the stories of most of his songs. How he talked about Levis Jeans to a boy in a train somewhere in the Middle East. How he went into that pub next to the dead railways with his friend and later he just had to write down what he had seen and then realized that it was a song. How he ended up at a delicate show in India. Small scenes from a life that is simply long enough to contain all these stories and have some of them digested into songs. I figured he must look back at his childhood in a very different way than I do.

I like talking to people who are much older than me. I prefer listening to them. I admire their experiences.

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