Today’s installment of abc’s is C. C is for creativity, cooking and carpe diem.
is for Creativity
The goal is not to make something everyone will love; the goal is to get excited, and make a thing where something was not before.
What comes to mind is the Meret Oppenheim-Brunnen in Berne. That is a postmodern fountain created by the German/Swiss artist Meret Oppenheim in 1983. It is more or less in the center of Berne. It is a cement pillar with water spiraling down the sides. At first it was just an unattractive cement thing that created a lot of polarizing discussions. Tear it down! How could the city actually pay for something like that? Ugly, ugly, ugly. Many actually thought it was some kind of ventilation system for the parking lot next to it.
Well, they didn’t tear it down and the fountain has since grown. As the artist envisioned or perhaps not, it has changed. Thanks to the formation of tufa (a type of limestone) and lots of moss, the original form is no longer even recognizable. The city of Berne has to occasionally remove the stone so the fountain won’t collapse. But it’s still there creating discussion or being ignored.
I saw a report about the fountain, interviewing the nephew of the deceased Meret Oppenheim (1913–1985). He said she would be outraged at how the fountain was being cared for. He emphasized how his aunt would not be happy with the tumor-like growths on the fountain. On the other hand, an art historian said that Oppenheim knew exactly what would happen to “her” fountain. They should let nature just take its course until the fountain collapsed.
So, in the end, it looks like Ms. Oppenheim made something very few love. Obviously she was excited about creating an oasis in the asphalt desert. Putting something where nothing was before. That is Swiss creativity.
is for Cooking
Recipe: A series of step-by-step instructions for preparing ingredients you forgot to buy, in utensils you do not own, to make a dish the dog would not eat.
My mother always said “if you can read, you can cook”. She didn’t consider herself the best cook, but none of us died from malnutrition. As a wedding present, someone gave us the cooking book: “The Joy of Cooking”. Some of the recipes in it had a lot of the ingredients I had no idea what they were. The ones I did recognize I usually didn’t have a clue what they were in German. So, very often I ended up with a dish that was so bad, not even a dog would eat. Occasionally not even the very trusted Swiss cooking guru Betty Bossi could help me. Almost hopeless.
But, hanging around my sister-in-law and time, proved to be two very helpful ingredients. I learned some basics. Then started with some very simple meals and gradually built up from there. With, of course, the occasional setback, but always moving forward.
Once, my parents came to visit us, we went on vacation. We boated down le canal du Nivernais in France and often did our own cooking. At the end of our trip we had odds and ends of food that we hadn’t eaten. Ben and I fixed up a “gourmet” meal without any recipes that was not only eatable, but good. My parents talked about that meal years afterwards. Eureka!
is for Carpe diem
Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.
How true. As far as I can tell, that saying is spot-on for the majority of Swiss. They are a folk of “doers”. And, learn as if you were to live forever, yes, that too.
The Swiss are champions in taking courses. One of the large grocery store chains expanded into what they call a “club school”. They give classes in language, fitness, creativity and management. Actually, you name it and you could probably find a class in it.
As I’ve mentioned before, language is big here. I know people who have taken or are still taking Spanish, Russian, Japanese, English, Danish, Portuguese or Finnish. My accomplishment of taking French pales in comparison.
Here, in Switzerland, people can and do dish out a good deal of money for their future if they think it worth their while. We gave a yearlong multimedia course that was mostly Saturdays. A friend tried to export that course to Germany. It seems there, if your company doesn’t pay for the course in full, then you do not take it. That course completely flopped in Germany.
Evening classes, weekend classes and further education flourish here. We taught computer classes. The companies those people worked for paid for those courses. Once there was a woman in a course who didn’t want to be there. Her boss made her come. She said she was tired of learning. You can imagine her shock when Ben said the day he stops learning, will be the day he dies.
So be like most Swiss and carpe diem, seize the moment and live your life to the full.