Thursday, October 5, 2017

Where and When

Written by  Celeste Woloschuk

When I was in University, a friend of mine, let’s call him Johnny, posed a question to the group of us who were having lunch together and talking in the University café. He asked: “If you could live a life anywhere in the world at any time in history, where and when would you like to live?”

Well! You would have thought that someone had all given us a million dollars with the level of excitement at the table. Almost immediately, ideas were flying around. Some wanted to live in ancient Greece, particularly around the time of the great philosophers. Others wanted to live in the Roman Empire anywhere from the year 200 BC to 500 AD (the question of where became the topic of debate here). Others wanted to live in the Middle East at the time of Jesus (we were all theology students) or in, well, most of Asia and Eastern Europe at the time of Genghis Khan and the Mongolian Empire, or in Africa when the human species began to take form.

I personally found the idea to be intriguing. Anywhere and anytime… the possibility of it all was enchanting. My immediate thoughts brought me to ancient Greece, to the Roman Empire and to the Middle East as it had my colleagues. I added ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia to my list (for the mythologies and the architecture), to China at the time of the building of the Great Wall, to Scandinavia at the time of the Vikings, and to Canada (specifically the prairies) around 1300 AD, just to see what it would have looked like before European settlers came. The list could have gone on and on.

In the end though, when my turn came to respond, I chose Canada in the 21st Century, with the life I have now. Around the table, excited expressions turned to confusion. One person laughed, saying ‘ You can’t be serious?’ Another said my imagination must have been broken or that I wasn’t feeling very adventurous that day.

I looked at them, smiled and explained that, while I had no doubt that the experience of living in another place and time would be incredible and unforgettable, the here and now has been a very blessed place and time to live. I have access to shelter, good food and clean water in abundance. I live in a stable and peaceful society. I have access to education (from childhood to institutions of higher learning) and publicly funded healthcare that doesn’t call for leeches or bleeding me. I can worship without fear of persecution or danger. I can (and do) vote in democratic elections! For goodness sakes… my home has central heating and indoor plumbing! That alone makes it worthwhile.

My comfort aside, I had another reason for choosing the here and now: there are very few places and times throughout history where being a woman was as free and rich in opportunity as it is for me here and now. I, as a woman, have the freedom to choose where I go in life and what I do. I can go to school. I can vote. I can get a job and earn money that is equal (at least theoretically) to what is earned by my male counterparts. And, perhaps most importantly, no one can try to sell me or marry me off for livestock, position in society or political gain!

Another friend at the table, let’s call her Suzy, who was the only other woman around the table and the only other person yet to respond, looked at me, smiled and said “I was going to say the same thing.”

I live a very blessed life. I was born into a middle-class family and have wanted for nothing. I received an excellent education and have been blessed with health (and good healthcare when I have been ill). I have a family and friends who love me dearly and want what is best for me. I have two wonderful and exciting jobs in a work place I love, working with people who are respectful, encouraging and so very helpful. I live in a beautiful city and a great country. And I have been surrounded my whole life by people who have done their best to teach me to be a good and kind human person. I am very blessed.

And so, this Thanksgiving, I won’t struggle when people ask me what I’m thankful for. I already know.

 

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