Thursday, July 1, 2010

Sister Pond

There’s something about speaking a language you don’t know well that makes life seem simpler, more straightforward, less complex. Suddenly, talking about everyday things like where you live and how many people are in your family is SO interesting. A simple conversation becomes a cultural exchange, a linguistic challenge. And as the Russian language slowly comes back to me, I feel so satisfied with myself for my little victories in small-talk, of all things.

I wonder if, for me, part of it is that speaking Russian takes me back to a previous time in my life when things really were more simple and life really did seem black and white.

Last night I went to the English club that the missionaries hold each week. I chatted with people in Russian afterwards for a long time, and found myself falling back into patterns of conversation and even of thinking from my missionary days. All my complex questions about life and God and the universe seemed so far away, and for a moment, the world was black and white again. It was so easy to invite people I just met to come to church and to sincerely hope they would. And the whole experience felt like a relief, like a return to childhood of some kind.

But that’s just it – it’s a part of my spiritual childhood, a part of my history, not of my present. My mission was a foundation, a jumping-off point for my adult life, and just like my childhood, it inculcated many good things that I’m grateful for, but it also sowed the seeds of misconceptions that have caused me pain as I’ve tried to sort them all out. There will always be fond memories, nostalgia, and the longing for lost innocence, but I don’t know if you can ever truly go back. And I'm making peace with that.

Not to completely switch tone, but since we’re talking about nostalgia, here’s a video I stumbled across of a Russian singer singing “Where does childhood go?” It’s truly horrible. I should probably be embarrassed for posting it. But it's fully on topic -- and fully Russian.

No comments: