Gyva Lithuania

Gyva Lithuania”

Land of water and wood,

of witches and whiteness,

ancients and patience.

Flat lands of high hopes,

dreams and screams,

in creation.

The raw heart of Europe,

Gyva Lithuania.

Jem Bendell, Vilnius, August 22nd, 2007

lithuaniaAuthors notes: After a week in Lithuania, part business, part pleasure, part personal exploration, I wanted to capture the earthiness of the country. It has some unusual characteristics, explained to me by my host. Its language is very ancient and incorporates a lot of Sanscrit, it escaped some of the early Christian conquests so has some pockets of pagan thinking, and it only recently opened to capitalism so there is a mixture of local trade and international connection. It seems not many people know about the place, or can get there, as it’s not an ethnically diverse country. It had to wait a long time for independence, and there is a greater sense of calm about the pace of change than in some other parts of central and eastern Europe. People are thinking a lot about the potential for the future… it seems an optimistic country, but there are pains in the birth of their new society… problems with a whole generation working abroad, and a lack of social protections at home. Lithuanians point out they are the geographic centre of Europe, if we consider Europe stretching up to the Ural mountains. Perhaps the rest of Europe might learn something from this fresh, raw, heart of a continent that is only beginning to recognise its true size and diversity. Some Lithuanians I met have this implicit understanding of Lithuanians’ role in the region. One weekend I was chatting with a two ladies about what their future environmental lifestyle business would do, possibly starting with an organic shop, and we brainstormed on names. I suggested words related to life. We settled on “Gyva”, which means “alive”. I looked it up… it is derived from the Sanskrit word which is sometimes spelt “Jiva”, as used today in India, that describes the eternal life in living things. So it will be gyva… when its launched… I’ll check in to every so often to see how they are getting on. Gyva sounds a bit like viva, so i used it that way in “gyva Lithuania”. And I call Lithuania a land of water not because of the rain, which gives the country its name, but because of the lakes… there are so many small and medium sized lakes dotted amidst the many pine forests; a fisherman’s paradise. All these things are in the tiny poem. My favourite Lithuanian talked about treating words like essential oils: getting as much in to as little. That’s why i like poetry. (or it could be im too lazy to write long poems… hmm)…

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