Thanks for starting this discussion, Cathy. I've often "put down"
Irish wannabes - phony accents, Robin Hood costumes, etc... and have,
of course, been "above" all that imitation stuff. I've also been
wondering what it is that sparks the imagination of so many people
(especially here) when it comes to Ireland.
While I was in Scotland, people in the islands told me about how they couldn't
understand WHY Americans wanted to become Gaels. While they were talking to
me, I found myself getting very quiet and wondering Why I was there. I
am, after all, American.
Several of you have been talking about your pride in being an American.
I'm not too sure I feel that. In fact, my experience here in Los Angeles,
is to find myself in a very mixed-up town where my own sense of community
is pretty much the result of my own actions, and it is somewhat restructured
every day. My family is spread out all over the country --- a fact which
has left me feeling like a person without a country. What I Am is a Musician.
That's a strong identity marker for me, but also interesting in the context
of this discussion.
I have visited Scotland 5 times. I have now some very dear Scottish friends,
including a Gaelic family who refer to me as one of them - a member of their
family. My experiences continue to leave me feel Very welcomed, with an
expanding circle of friends and acquaintances. Also, believe it or not, I
always owe them letters. So I've found myself in fairly profound
discussions with friends here who have Not had those experiences - but
are definitely as nice and bright and more beautiful, etc., than I am.
Let me add this ... I have no thoughts of being or becoming Scottish, a
Gael, Gaelic ... any of it. I have also been the world's worst dilitante
when it comes to learning that language ... I do not know it, so I have
little sticker papers all over my house with Gaelic words on them, and I
try to use them as often as I can. (Sorry if that's embarrassing on the
list --- I don't have the courage to write to Gaelic-L and get it wrong ...
not quite yet.)
But I haven't Really played music in Scotland. I play the piano and
percussion instruments (not the bodhran yet), which aren't especially
traditional. So I haven't ever been a "star" - or "shown off" my chops.
I also haven't ever threatened anybody, or imposed my foreign aesthetics
on my new friends and "family". I loved Selma and Paul's emphasis on the
word "respect". Obviously!!
I also agree with Lori's insistence upon "politics" as being important.
I've been writing to people today about a lively conversation we had here
Sunday night - until 4:00 a.m. My Swiss friends are seeing the Latino
situation in Los Angeles with quite different eyes than I see them here,
as a employed, white, resident of Los Angeles.
Sorry this is so rambling ... Perhaps staying "open" to the different
ideas and ways of life is how to be "open" to deeper understandings of
those ideas and places and people that arouse our passions. I guess I
hope for as little excess baggage and agenda-pushing as possible.
Bill McGee wrote
<One of the best definitions of an educated person I have ever encountered
is that he or she would be able to be fully at home and comfortable at
any time in any place.
I'm not convinced that this is the result of education, Bill. I'd like to
think that it has to do with being fully at home and comfortable with
ourselves. And I'm not sure we learn much about that in our American
lives. Perhaps exploring our dreams gives us a chance at full lives..
and a rich education.
Last night, when I asked anyone from GL for a Gaelic translation of
Good Luck, I received a phrase that may belong with all of us: (thanks,
Go ne/irigh an bo/that leat (May the road rise with you)