I am a woman. There is an international day to celebrate me and I knew nothing about it until this year. That is odd.
For my second time in only four months I traveled to the museum city with my father. This time I noticed there were women and men carrying bouquets and floral arrangements everywhere we went. Everybody seemed happy. That’s when they told me it was international women’s day! I was even given flowers, well wishes and a gift. Apparently it’s very different from Mother’s Day, although the celebratory offerings are pretty much the same.
Because of the friends we have there and the wonderful time we have when we are together, St. Petersburg has become one of my favorite places to visit, but being in Russia this week was very sobering.
I have traveled to other countries ever since I was a teenager and I think I understand to some extent the luxuries and conveniences that many Americans enjoy but consider they are entitled to, are necessities or completely take for granted. I live in a fairly rural area with very clean water, low crime, beautiful homes, lots of vegetation, abundant wild life, plenty of shops, relatively nice neighbors, the list could go on and on. I have a reliable car and a safe place to park it, there is food in my cupboards and heat in my home. Seriously, I live like royalty. Even with all this at my disposal it is too easy for me to be ungrateful and discontent with my life. Some TV show personality said it well. He was a master at manipulating people to get them to invest in his scheme and he said it was easy to get their money. He said, “I don’t have to take their money. I just have to make them fear they are missing out on something.” To me, that is the perfect description of the American Debt Trap. As long as advertisers can keep the general population in fear that we are missing out on something we will always go into debt for it. We’ll keep paying more than we can afford just to make sure we don’t miss out on what they are selling. What would happen if we all just said NO and stopped to enjoy the life we already have?
A cross street in downtown old St. Petersburg and the beautiful view from my Sokos Hotel room. It is one of my favorite parts of the Russian trip. http://www.saint-petersburg.com/hotels/sokos-hotel-olympic-garden/
Russia is in a difficult position and its people, who have just begun to enjoy some sense of freedom, happiness, hope and affluence are now concerned about their immediate future. There exists in one country at the same time the old generation who knew uncertainty, lack, oppression, difficulty and terror as a way of life and the new generation who has had a taste of hope, happiness, a disposable income, comfort and convenience and will be hard pressed to give it up. It is a country in transition and struggling to find a new way to be at peace with itself.
So, this month with war at its doorstep and probable hard times being pressed upon them once more, the Russian people I saw and talked to were happy to have a long weekend off work and a reason to celebrate anything. I certainly mean no disrespect, but I don’t think it was women in particular, but more the actual holiday itself, that they were celebrating at least this year. They had four days off work and were expected to go to a restaurant, have something to drink and bring flowers to their mothers, wives, daughters, teachers or coworkers. They were smiling, laughing and chatting on the metro and in the streets because it was Friday and they didn’t have to come back to reality until Tuesday, never mind what might happen with the Ukraine in between.
After 24 hours straight of travel I am back home with my family. International Women’s Day is over and I had to leave the flowers and my Russian friends behind, but I am celebrating all the wonderful things I enjoy every day and the people past and present who have worked so hard to provide them for me.