Its culture: the fruit of its life, the product of its own efforts in thought and art. This culture is not international. It is the expression of the national genius, of the blood. The culture is international in its brilliance but national in origin. Someone made a fine comparison: bread and wheat may be internationally consumed, but they always bear the imprint of the soil from which they came.
For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfil themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farmboy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow. Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life. A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail. A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live. When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. Let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent. You are anxious because your path leads away from mother and home. But every step and every day lead you back again to the mother. Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all. A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one's suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother. So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.
Patriotism is a thing difficult to put into words. It is neither precisely an emotion nor an opinion, nor a mandate, but a -- a reflection of our own personal sense of worth, and respect for our roots. Love of country plays a part, but it's not merely love. Neither is it pride, although pride too is one of the ingredients.Patriotism is a commitment to what is best inside us all. And it's a recognition of that wondrous common essence in our greater surroundings -- our school, team, city, state, our immediate society -- often ultimately delineated by our ethnic roots and borders... but not always.Indeed, these border lines are so fluid... And we do not pay allegiance as much as we resonate with a shared spirit.We all feel an undeniable bond with the land where we were born. And yet, if we leave it for another, we grow to feel a similar bond, often of a more complex nature. Both are forms of patriotism -- the first, involuntary, by birth, the second by choice.Neither is less worthy than the other.But one is earned.
Don't put down too many roots in terms of a domicile. I have lived in four countries and I think my life as a writer and our family's life have been enriched by this. I think a writer has to experience new environments. There is that adage: No man can really succeed if he doesn't move away from where he was born. I believe it is particularly true for the writer.
I have learned that if you must leave a place that you have lived in and loved and where all your yesteryears are buried deep, leave it any way except a slow way, leave it the fastest way you can. Never turn back and never believe that an hour you remember is a better hour because it is dead. Passed years seem safe ones, vanquished ones, while the future lives in a cloud, formidable from a distance.
Maybe your country is only a place you make up in your own mind. Something you dream about and sing about. Maybe it's not a place on the map at all, but just a story full of people you meet and places you visit, full of books and films you've been to. I'm not afraid of being homesick and having no language to live in. I don't have to be like anyone else. I'm walking on the wall and nobody can stop me.
When a tree is polled, it will sprout new shoots nearer its roots. A soul that is ruined in the bud will frequently return to the springtime of its beginnings and its promise-filled childhood, as though it could discover new hopes there and retie the broken threads of life. The shoots grow rapidly and eagerly, but it is only a sham life that will never be a genuine tree.
Vivo en los Estados Unidos y soy chilena, sangre, voluntad y memoria. Al llegar a este país me obligaron a llenar un formulario en el cual había una casilla referente a la raza: la primera alternativa era blanca, la cual iba a automáticamente yo a marcar, cuando leí más abajo la palabra Hispanic. Me pareció una enorme incultura por parte de los funcionarios gringos ya que lo hispano no se refiere a una raza, pero abismada comprendí que por primera vez en mi vida me expulsaban de mi propio nicho, de lo que creía mi identidad natural y objetiva, aunque entre una norteamericana y yo no mediase la más mínima diferencia física ( más aún en este caso específico: soy pelirroja, hasta me parezco a ellos ). Ni que decirlo, marqué con saña el segundo cuadrado y cada día transcurrido de estos seis años me he ido apegando más y más a él. Cuando camino por las calles de la ciudad, a veces me da la impresión de que todos mis antepasados están allí, en la pulcra e impersonal boca del metro, con la esperanza de llegar a alguna parte. Todo chicano o salvadoreño despreciable es mi tío, el hondureño que retira la basura es mi novio. Cuando Reina se declara a sí misma una desclasada, sé exactamente a que se refiere. Toda mi vida ha corrido por este lado del mundo. Mi cuna real y ficticia, el lugar donde nací y el otro que fui adquiriendo, lucen oropeles muy americanos ( ¡ no acepto que ese adjetivo se lo atribuyan los del norte! América es tanto la de arriba como la de abajo, norte y sur tan americanos uno como el otro). Trazo los dos puntos del continente para señalar los míos y agrego un tercero, éste. Dos de ellos resultan razonablemente cercanos, y luego, inevitable, la línea larga baja y baja hasta llegar al sur, hasta lo que, a mi pesar, debo reconocer como el fin del mundo. Sólo los hielos eternos más allá de esa tierra. Allí nací. Mapuches o españoles, fluidas, impredecibles, vigorosas, allí están mis raíces.