I’ll start with a disclaimer 1: All is true, apart from one fact, we never had a samovar in our house but I’d like to imagine we did. :)
Disclaimer 2: My name is Viktorija. I’ve been living in England for the past 9 years, I’m Latvia born and bred, my first language is russian and I’m mainly russian & belorussian (but also a bit ukranian, polish, jewish and most likely something else I am not aware of) illustrator and creative. And I do spend a lot of time asking myself these questions when thinking about heritage: Who are you? Where do you come from? Where do you belong? Is it about language? Is it about blood? Is it about geography & territorial arrangements? Is it about connection to people? What is your heritage? What are your heirlooms?
I don’t have all the answers and I don’t think I ever will and I that’s ok.
But I sure do have a lot of shiny precious heirlooms!
As long as I can remember myself, I remember gathering with women of my family around a dining table, long after we had eaten (all the men would disappear somewhere) but we would stay, drink many cups of tea and talk long after midnight. It is at that table with four generations seating next to each other I received all three of my heirlooms and the best gifts I could wish for.
First is the gift of imagination.
My beloved great grandmother, grandmother and Mama would tell me all sorts of stories and fairy tales. They all believed that inanimate objects had souls (in a very charming, pagan, folk tale kind of way). That we might be watched by mystical creatures at all times, that our homes were inhabited by kind & naughty spirits, that being kind and respectful to everyone and everything around us is very important. They would read me stories, sing me songs and daydream with me, I could be a ballerina, a horse rider, a poet, an artist… There were no boundaries. The more we imagined, the more we shared, the closer we became.
Second is the gift of time.
There is no more expensive, more fleeting, more fragile, more important gift than someones time. My family always had time for me & I learned to have time for my loved ones. That’s a heirloom more precious than gold.
The third gift is attention.
The disappearing art of giving someone all of your attention is very special to me. I’ve learned it around that table with my great grandmother, grandmother and Mama. Listening to all of them, hearing them and being heard. Learning that we all have different voices, different stories and that we might not agree with each other but we will listen with all our attention & we will care with all our hearts.
When someone is giving you all their attention, you can feel it instantly, there is that magic moment, shared experience that will never leave you and probably will make your life more beautiful and meaningful. :)
So here are my heirlooms and thoughts. What about you? Who are you? Where do you come from? Where do you belong? Is it about language? Is it about blood? Is it about geography & territorial arrangements? Is it about connection to people? What is your heritage? What are your heirlooms?
All images and text © Viktorija Semjonova.
Thanks so much for joining us, Viktorija!
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