Sunday, October 04, 2015

of here, from there

Canadian Embassy - Trafalgar Square
Gillian Cornwall, c. September, 2015

I came back to England after 32 years away. I came to see my family, to follow the path of my mother before, during and post-war, and to find my own place on this land - the land of my people for generations. I have been told that on my maternal grandma's side, the Jay's were French and that we are related to the author and playwright, Daphne du Maurier.

On my father's side, we hail from England for a number of generations. Before that, it is said we are Spanish.

Basically, I am of European descent. I am of this place but from Canada. My parents moved to Canada for the second time, to stay, when my mum was 3 months pregnant with me. I was raised in Canada in the days of the original six hockey teams. It was a time in which kids played outside all weekend as soon as the chores were done. We rode bikes through neighbourhoods and into the countryside. we knew not to talk to strangers but it didn't stop us from doing anything or going anywhere. I grew up with summer camp, cottages and canoeing. I went to middle class schools with a mediocre education that was supplemented by my parents love for the classics. We knew of the great European artists and writers because of our parents, not because of our national culture and education. My cousin is brilliant in her knowledge of European artists and writers - I am abysmal by comparison in that I have either forgotten or I never knew. I do know my Canadian artists and writers somewhat...

What I am getting at is that I remain divided between my past and my present and between where I am of and where I am from. Maybe I am the best of both worlds with a great deal more to learn and share from my dual heritage. I must remember to tread lightly on both lands and listen more than speak - with my heart as open as my eyes and ears.

"To see the world in a grain of sand
and a heaven in a wildflower
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand 
and eternity in an hour." 

-William Blake, "To see a world..."
(on Blake's stone in St Paul's Cathedral)

-Gillian Cornwall, c. October 4, 2015

On the Thames heading toward Tower Bridge
Gillian Cornwall, c. September, 2015


TALON said...

Gillian, that is truly a trip of a lifetime. It is true--we are so much more than the sum of our parts (and our pasts).

Gillian said...

Thanks Talon! I really appreciate it. I am feeling very fortunate in my experience and to have your interest and input in my adventure.
All the best,

Ellen Best said...

We travel the world and look for ourselves, when all the time we are here.
I hope Daphne feeds your passion to write and you don't leave yourself elsewhere. The unique qualities that you have, make you yourself.
May this journey be the begining. Good luck with all you do.