This photo was taken in the floating village of Chhong Kneas, Cambodia. When I took it, I knew I was taking a photo of a floating Catholic church, what I didn’t know at that time was that I was also taking a photo of a floating school, an English language school that was Vietnamese as the floating village was, for the most part, a Vietnamese floating village in the heart of Cambodia. I only found this out after selecting the photo for today’s post and had blown up the photo in order to check out all the elements in the photo. It’s interesting to find out what comes as a gift when least expected.
Of course, after choosing the photo, all plans that I had to continue bringing ideas from Hollis’s work, Mythologems went out the window, so to speak. It then became like wandering through a dreamscape, trying to identify the pieces and see if there is something there that would give a bit more light about self. So, I then looked at the parts. I wasn’t exactly raised as a religious person in a deeply religious family. What religion there was present was more about form and superstition rather than about doctrine. That sporadic surface approach to religion was within the container of the Catholic church. Neither my grandparents nor my parents used any form of logic or explanation to explain the random visits to a church or the random following of church rules such as no meat on Fridays. Religion in the Catholic church wasn’t passed on to me with a solid foundation that nurtured a rich belief.
And the school? Well, a similar story to be told. I did go to school in a fashion. By the time I was of age to go to high school I had missed almost as much school as I had attended. And, I had attended over twenty different schools in four different Canadian provinces. It wasn’t until the second round of grade seven that I actually attended one school for a full year. By grade nine, I added a fifth province to the line-up and finished that grade back in my home city. High school was attended in three different schools with the last two and a half years at one school. Still, attendance was an issue. Though I got excellent marks in a number of subjects, my attitude and poverty meant that university was out of the picture. The grades were there, but the foundation was very shaky.
In this photo, the school is larger than the church; but, like the church, it is a floating school. Floating suggests that both the church and the school are not grounded in consciousness, but are expressions of the unconscious, much as my grounding in the spiritual domain and the cognitive domain were experienced as unplanned, unconscious happenings. Though I am French-Canadian, most of my upbringing was in the English language as was my schooling. I was a stranger in a strange land as I played with cousins and experienced extended-family activities in the French language. The school in this photo is a Vietnamese school meant to serve the Vietnamese children who lived in this floating village on a tributary of the Mekong River, the Tonle Sap River. A school in a strange land in a foreign language.
As I look at the photo, I realise that though this is really as scene of the outer world, a scene from Cambodia; the image gives me a sense of comfort with being “less grounded” as I am better able to hold the tension of “not knowing” the answer of life, that I am comfortable enough just living the questions of life.