Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Finding the Cathedral Behind the Movie

Here is Gaudi's Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona

Back from my tours of Europe. Travel is always "broadening." You have to get out of the frame of reference you live in, and sometimes only a new place can give you new perspective. And when you return home, you do not return to the same place. In my case this is especially pertinent, as I am moving from Dallas, Texas to Falls Church, Virginia at the end of this month.

When you travel, you must learn new things. You have no choice. I spent weeks figuring out phones, toilets, eating customs, greeting customs, whether to line-up or just mill about ... 7 countries in 10 days.

It was such a relief to get back in the US and just pick up the phone and dial (press keys, LOL). It went through. The person answered. No codes were needed. The phone line worked, etc.

More on my travels later, but for right now, an interesting blog I came across while researching Gaudi, whose Sagrada Familia cathedral I had the pleasure of seeing in Barcelona, Spain. I don't know what age the writer is but it's a good decription of communication preferences, and, perhaps, generation differences.

In my travelogues, I do a running humor-piece about movies, a bete-noir to me. On the tours, a guide will sometimes say (just an example) -- "Here is the Cathedral of St. Paul. That's where Ben met Shanaya in the movie, "Rest in Peace. I find that a travesty. Also, if you know me, I am an inveterate listener to people and I do not watch television (YIKES!).

The blog is called Gaudi's Cross and Annette writes:

I’m a visual learner—spoken words slip off my mind while written words have greater chance of sinking in—but I didn’t realize just how much I favor my eyes over my ears until I had a long bout of viral pinkeye... my vision became clouded. For days it has been as though I’m looking at life through a foggy windshield. Now that I can barely read or write, now that it’s tiresome to observe the world around me or watch anything on a screen, I realize that these make up the vast majority of my daily activities.

Felix Ortiz says that younger generations “listen with their eyes and think with their hearts.” As I come to grip with my own visual preference, I’ve become aware that my eyes give me more autonomy than my ears. A friend of ours is doing a project called “a month of listening” in which he interviews a different person each day of the month. As I’ve listened to the interviews. I’ve realized that when we really listen to someone, we relinquish control and let them take us where they want to go. I can look at what I want from the perspective I chose, whereas I often don’t have a choice about what comes in through my ears, whether it’s elevator, the traffic, and the downstairs neighbor boy who call out insistently “Abuela, Abuela, Abuela.”

Eyes and ears are complementary but not interchangeable. Linguistically and semantically, seeing is connected with understanding; hearing with obedience.

This struck me because something incredibly insensitive happened on the tour. I'll preface this with the fact that I love children. So much so that I accommodate to their need to run, talk, express their angst or joy, and their inability to sit still, be quiet and look at something inatimate for more than one second.

I know this. You know this.

How come, then, a set of young parents would subject a normally active 5 year old girl to the torture of an 8-hour bus tour involving scenery -- distant scenery, as in through a window -- and a running lecture which people had paid $100 to hear? Does this not sound to you like a lose-lose proposition. What were they thinking? It is age-innapropriate. I wish they would take my EQ for Children course!

We drove through some of the most beautiful scenery on earth, and the 5 year old girl became increasingly bored and loud, eventually shouting non-stop, as only a 5 year old can do. At one point she yelled at her mother, "I'M the one who's talking. Not HER (the guide)." Bored old men slept, bored teenagers had their head sets on or read, bored babies sucked their bottles or slept -- all this can be accommodated to; but not a hyper 5 year old. "Know thyself" and know thy kid.

Someone asked the mother to please keep the kid quiet. She replied, "I can't."

This is not right. As Annette says, you can't turn off your ears. Besides we paid to hear a lecture. It ruined it for everyone and an apology, which was not forthcoming in any way, doesn't work. The tour was over and we had missed it. In a bus, you can't move away, though I did on another tour, when the bus wasn't full, to get away from a bickering couple who found it more important to argue with each other about a phone call, with increasing volume, than to hear what the tour guide was saying about la Sagrada Familia.

These are points of etiquette. When there's something to be heard, turn off your cell phone, and turn off your mouth. It isn't all about you. People are paying to hear someone else sing, or say or play something important. Be an adult. Know what you're getting in to, and then be considerate of thers.

And don't subject children to something they are incapable of.

Please. And thank you.

We can't get back the tour that was taken from us. The sadder part is that the offending parties simply didn't care. I think we can do better than that -- for the good of all -- don't you?

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