Sunday, March 15, 2009

Personal Space

People, people everywhere!

In the village round house.

The more the merrier!

You are never really alone. Not in an indian village. There is no concept of 'personal space'. Actually, the Ye'kwana language does not even have a true translation for 'privacy' or 'being alone' as a positive thing. The translation is a negative, like 'lonely'. Something sad. Something to be avoided. Something dangerous, as being alone is an invitation to the evil spirits to come and attack you. Especially 'Canaima'(the death angel) who flies around at night, looking for some poor soul who is alone. Canaima will set in and give that person a beating and death within 3 days. That is why no one would ever think of walking around the jungle alone, even to go down the path to the river alone is risky.

I share all of this, so that you can understand how different the culture is in regards to privacy. We had NO privacy. Our home was always open, and often full of people. We even had indians standing around looking in our windows most of the time. Especially at night. Our house had large windows to afford us with light and cross ventilation. But with our lights on at night, we were watched by the entire tribe. We were their entertainment, ' Live, in Technicolor and Surround Sound'. Even in the house, under the palm roof, with no inside ceilings, what was said in one room was heard through out the entire house.

Being very aware that our entire lives were under scrutiny, we had to discipline ourselves at every moment. Even when speaking English or Spanish, our body language, facial expressions, and reactions were all being watched. They wanted to see how a christian re-acted to things, we needed to show them patience, love, gentleness...self control. Christ in us.

My husband and I learned to not show our irritation with each other in public, and we were always 'in public'. If an issue came up that absolutely had to be discussed in private, that meant, going to the river, getting in a canoe, paddling for 10 to 15 minutes to get out of hearing range from the village, in order to have a private discussion.

Frankly, not many things are worth that effort! By the time you get done paddling, you don't have the energy to argue. Or it no longer seems important enough, you may even forget what had annoyed you to begin with, or, you find yourself alone and don't want to waste that precious privacy in anger.

I think every married couple ought to buy a couple of rowing machines and make a rule that before responding to one another in anger, you both have to row for 15 minutes!!!!

In the village.

In my home.


Pilar Stark said...

I like that 15 min rule. I am sure my husband would be glad to hear that I implented that rule :)hehe.

Mrs. C said...

I love this post! LOL I could just imagine scheduling arguments for "canoe day" each week.

Julie said...

Wow, that would be challenging! I had to laugh about the canoe for two. Yes, that would make you think whether or not the ordeal is worth the boat ride or not! I guess a forced delayed reaction isn't a bad idea in a marriage.

Anonymous said...

If I did that, I would transfer my anger from my wife to the canoe!

Anonymous said...

I couldn't survive in that environment. I need my space.

Betty said...

That would cure me, and my temper for sure! And my weight problem too!
I don´t know how you did it!

Ken, Christie, Camille, Caroline said...

Okay, that settles it. We're getting a canoe.

Kathy said...

This is so interesting! It must have been a little hard to get used to at first. Were you self-conscious at the beginning? Did they want to touch your skin and hair? Do you and Clint, out of habit, take a 15 minute walk now when you want to talk? :)

Tammy said...

I think many a missionary's wife has failed in her job as helpmeet to her missionary man because of this one issue: personal space. No one told her that she would have to give up her personal "rights" on the mission field!

Sounds like living on the river blessed your marriage. We could all use a canoe ride to cool off before speaking to our spouses! :o)