Walking down the street an old woman sees a piece of twine on the ground, bends down, picks it up and puts it in his pocket to preserve it.
Scene of other times, times when even a rope could be useful, how to tie an old cardboard suitcase for example.
Today, anyone who needs a piece of rope buy a whole roll, then forgetting it somewhere, as cardboard suitcases do not exist anymore. Today you buy a trolley or the newest Samsonite seen on TV, even if it is for only one trip.
Adaptation? Consumerism? Progress?
Perhaps the European single currency (euro) has made things worse here, then the international crisis, but if we go further back in time, economic difficulty begins with the advertising and worse with the loss of values, in a broad sense, which over the years hit our society.
For values I also mean anything concerning the little things, like that piece of twine collected from the lady. Meantime, commercials push people to wish what they do not have, to replace, to keep up with the times.
Although because of this my relatives criticize me, I do not throw away things easily, and I like to preserve and collect useful things if I find them abandoned, even if it is just a nail or an used flowerpot.
My grandma said: “astipa che truove” (as to say preserve and you will have at disposal), and we were a family that could not be considered poor or needy. It was our lifestyle to be different, and mainly the value you gave to things…. the shame, if there was, was not for dressing a worn cloth or for not owning a car.
Trouble shared is a trouble halved, some would say. Maybe!
Some time ago, on a sidewalk, next to the trash cans, I saw a large mirror thrown, abandoned because there was no longer useful, probably. It was a beautiful mirror-style eight-shaped and I not deny the instinctive urge to pick it up and take it away before some street urchin on duty had broken it, or that garbage collectors could take it away, but the shame prevailed together inability to carry such a burden alone.
I only can guess what that old woman or any other person lived forty years ago would say…. period when any item was not thrown with such ease, and there was a sort of family and domestic recycling. I guess if one of these people of old times had the opportunity to come back to life today, he even could live off with the use of everything (still good and usable) is thrown away and that we see down the street or in the rubbish bins.
And to think that nowadays someone is addressing a holding company in order to have a dishwasher or a plasma screen, at any cost.
Erri De Luca is a Neapolitan novelist, translator and poet, some years ago described as “the writer of the decade”.
He is self-taught in several languages including Ancient Hebrew and Yiddish. Although he never stopped writing since he was 20, his first book has been published in 1989. Many more books followed, best sellers in Italy, France and Israel, his work being translated and published in Spain, Portugal, Germany, Sweden, Holland, USA, Brazil, Poland, Norway, Danmark, Romania, Greece, Lithuania, and more and more. He has himself translated several books of the Bible into Italian and explored various aspects of Judaism, as a non-believer.
What I post today is a poetry entitled “Value”, taken from his “Opera on the water and other poems” of 2002, of which I’ve tried to do a decent translation. In a world where many values are gone lost and where many small things have no more value, this poetry becomes very current. Hope you like.
I consider a “value” all form of life, the snow, the strawberry, the fly.
I consider value the mineral kingdom, the Assembly of the Stars.
I consider value the wine until the meal goes on, an involuntary smile,
the weariness of those who has not saved himself,
two old people who love each other.
I consider value what tomorrow will be worthless
and what today still has a little value.
I consider value any wound,
consider value saving the water, repair a pair of shoes, silent in time,
rushing to a cry, ask for permission before sit down, feel gratitude without remembering the reason.
I consider value the knowledge of where is the north in a room,
what’s the name of the wind that is drying the laundry.
I consider value the voyage of a tramp, the reclusion of a nun,
the patience of a convicted, whatever is the blame.
I consider value the use of the verb ‘to love’ and the idea that there is a creator.
Many of these values I have not known.
Walking down the street an old lady sees a thread of string on the ground, bows down, picks it up and puts it in his pocket taking it away.
Scene of the past, times when a simple string even could be useful, to tie an old cardboard suitcase, for example.
Today, those who need a piece of string buy an entire roll then leaving it who knows where, while the cardboard suitcases exist anymore, we buy a Samsonite trolley or the last publicized on TV, even if for a single trip.
Adaptation? Consumerism? Progress?
It possibly has been the new euro currency making worse the things and then the international crisis, but if we go back in time, the situation about economic difficulty begins with the massive advertising (TV?) and worsens with the loss of some value which over the years hit our society.
For values I also mean also the one about the little things, like the piece of string collected from the woman.
Although my relatives criticisms, I do not throw things away so easily, keep them and gather some good object if abandoned, even if I find a simple nail or an used flowerpot in the street.
My old grandmother said: “chi trova astipa” that in Neapolitan means “who finds must store” and we were a family that couldn’t be defined poor or needy. It was the life style to be different and beyond the value given to any goods, the shame, if presents, was not for those having worn clothes or no car.
Well…. A trouble shared is a trouble halved.. .. somebody could say!
Time ago on a sidewalk, next to garbage cans, I saw a large mirror thrown away because of no use evidently. It was a beautiful mirror in a eight-shaped figure and I don’t deny the instinctive urge to take it before some urchin broke it or the garbage collector took it away, but the shame was over, together the impossibility to carry such a burden alone. I only can imagine what the old woman could have said or any other person just living forty years ago, when things were not thrown away so easily after the use, especially if still good and usable, and there was a sort of family recycle. I think that if such a people could be here today, he/she will have the opportunity to live on a private income coming by all the things thrown away.
And thinking of…………. the one that is asking for a loan just to have a dishwasher at any cost or a newer plasma screen to show at the friends.
In this day and age where strong is the lack of any valiance and ideals at any level, also the “TIME” often loses its value. For young people anything is relative adaptable and repairable: what importance may have five minutes late or six months more of age for a thirteen-years-old ?!
Which value may have one minute for a very old people, one hour for a newborn or one year for a lifer?
Here is some extemporaneous thoughts that let us understand as time is important:
To realize the value of one month, ask for it to a preemie. To realize the value of one week, ask for it to God Almighty To realize the value of one day, ask for it to a butterfly. To realize the value of one hour, ask for it to two lovers waiting to meet. To realize the value of one minute, ask for it to who missed the flight. To realize the value of one second, ask for it to an emotion. To realize the value of one hundredth of second, ask for it to the silver medal winner.
Therefore, (ri-)give to the time its right value aware that any second is important.
The past is history, the future remains a mystery, the current time is a gift and for this we call it present!
To realize the value of one month, ask for it to a preemie.
To realize the value of one week, ask for it to God Almighty
To realize the value of one day, ask for it to a butterfly.
To realize the value of one hour, ask for it to two lovers waiting to meet.
To realize the value of one minute, ask for it to who is missing the flight.
To realize the value of one second, ask for it to an emotion. To realize the value of one hundredth of a second, ask for it to the silver medal winner.