Wednesday, November 3, 2010


It may serve as a comfort to us, in all our calamities and afflictions, that he that loses anything and gets wisdom by it is a gainer by the loss.
~L. Estrange

Today I've been thinking a lot about things that cause discomfort and things that bring solace.  Discomfort is often caused by separation from the very things that comfort us most--family, friends, and loved ones who are our rocks in times of trouble, the routines of daily life that are known commodities--whether picking up staple items at the grocery store (yes, thank you, I know exactly what brands i want, and a lip gloss will not cost me $22) or getting a document printed at the university (about 40 minutes for my first print job at the UniGe... now that I've got things down, I think I can do it in 5-10).  Small, seemingly mundane things take on new meaning in an unfamiliar context.  

A few things that have brought me comfort in the past few days?  My discovery of Lay's potato chips, peanut butter, and M&Ms available for purchase in Bern (I know--ridiculous items, horribly bad for me, but alas... I'm American. :))  Tea and real conversation with a kindred.  Halloween festivities with new friends.  The promise of a real, homemade Thanksgiving meal.  Skype/gmail conversations with my besties.  Sunset over Lac Léman.

Then there's the news of the mid-term elections... Russ Feingold didn't get re-elected?  The House is now dominated by the Republicans, while the Senate remains controlled by the Democrats?  A country divided. Hardly comforting news, this.   

But maybe there is some comfort in it after all--America is founded on a democracy, and the people have spoken.  I don't agree with "the people's" decision, but then again it's their right to vote, and my right to disagree with the outcome.  We have a right to express our opinions freely (unlike some countries), and America has sent a message.  And those of us who don't agree with the message should take heed.  As Estrange says, if we lose and gain wisdom, then our loss is gain.  It's change we can believe in.  There are still two years to work to correct the damage wrought by previous administrations... and doing that together is the only way to succeed, really.  All politics aside.

On a personal note, I am continuing to embrace all that Switzerland has to offer, transforming my temporary loss of country and "dépaysement" into wisdom (hopefully! though I'm not planning on growing a white beard in the process) and indescribable benefits.  The passage of time will bring me all too soon to another departure... and there will be loss and gain all over, comfort and discomfort when I return.  But also the knowledge that yes, I can.  :)  

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful post, Mary (as always). I am not sure it is the "people"'s decision as much as corporate American at its best. Someone said: "Now that corporations have the same first amendment rights as individuals, candidates can be bought. You can't cry over the lack of fiscal conservatism and elect a candidate that spent 5 million dollars merely to be elected." That sums it up for me!
    I mourn the loss of Russ Feingold and worries about WI when I know S. Walker is the governor. However, I too believe that we'll find comfort somehow.
    A bientot, ma belle!