A post written on a frenzic day (so excuse the errors) in May that sort of got lost…
A personal reminder, in a way.
Maybe it’s usual and something everyone goes through to have a personal crisis about 6 months after you leave home and start a life someplace new. The initial enthusiasm wears out a bit of course and then you feel that even though the many basic things are already figured out, too much – everything is still missing. Where’s life, you know? Someone I met here defined that as ”lack of structure” of any kind, because everything you have and do seems to have a temporary or insecure nature. I’m not sure what brought it up for me, since I’ve already had so many crisis in my life and with all their differences they are all in some point or another just a repetition of an ancient story. As always it burst out at the least appropriate moment and as always it hangs around much longer than you think it would, long after you think ”you’re good now”. Even the lessons stay the same, but still you feel the urge to shout them out loud. So, I will.
I’ve been living my dream for half a year already and a part of me still feels like I’m stuck at the same place I was last year. When I’m lying in my bed, staring at the ceiling, listening to the newly discovered favourite French band and thinking about the past day, there is always this strange surreal feeling about something being somehow off. Is it true? For real? Isn’t that just a bit too much? Would you believe it if somebody told you? …
Because that part truly is still stuck in the past. And I need to say to it every day: ”No, you’re here with me, in Paris, in your own room, with a job that actually pays the rent and all the other costs, you walk the Grands Boulevards every day to work, you go for a walk on an easy Sunday afternoon by the Seine and buy your books at Shakespeare&co … you, you, you. Right f*** now!” And when I say it out loud, it sometimes still seems hard to believe. If I didn’t stop to phrase it and look at it straight in the face, I probably wouldn’t even feel half of its beauty and strength. The strength that de-paralyzes the overly cynical and fatalistic part of me and says ”Just move! Go! Do! – Share!”.
Because as cliché as it sounds, it may really all come down to gratitude in the end (I still have to get this tatoo done – as the best reminder anytime and anywhere.) Not only because of appreciating how and where you are right now, the good feeling itself and living with what you have. There’s also this other side of it we often don’t see. The side that says: ”Here’s everything you’ve already been through, everything you’ve done, everything you are – believe me when I say: you can do this, too, and so much more!”
And there is another side of it I would like to point out : maybe, just maybe (I’m not trying to be a smart ass here) gratitude it’s the key – not just for our personal happiness, but about moving our butts as well and trying to see everyone as our fellow humans, maybe even facing the unhealthiness of our society and of the rules we follow everyday without even noticing them anymore. (Ok, now I guess I am a smart ass…)
While writing this, I realized how much of the tough lesson this time was mostly just seeing all the harshness of the situation for somebody else and much less feeling my own. I’ve noticed already how watching the SDFs of Paris and beggars on the metro had a strong impact on my perception of the city, how I couldn’t help but notice how their number has significantly risen in the past years, how life for so many people just seems to get worse by seconds. And how most people just watch and feel irritated about it. You know, it sort of bothers our good days, doesn’t it, and it certainly doesn’t help on a bad one… Don’t we already have enough stress in our lives? It’s not like it’s our fault… etc. And then, I got a letter from an old colleague asking me if there is any way I can help a refugee, stuck in a huge foreign city, just like I was supposed to be only a few months ago. And as I was reading it I realized even more strongly how lucky I am, so much so there is no way to parallel my own challenges back then to the ones he has now.
We all seem to forget day by day that we belong to the lucky ones. We forget there are so many things we never have to think about. That even if we are not among the privileged ones of our (”Western”) society (I admittedly am, however), we probably are the privileged ones. And I am not writing this to make anyone feel bad or guilty, because I can tell from my personal experience that bad conscience doesn’t help anyone, at least not unless you move your butt about it. That’s the thing, though. Feeling guilty often seems to have the opposite effect – the over-analyzing and hence paralyzing one that leads to inaction. We all seem to rationally know we don’t really have the right to complain, that everything we complain about feels more like an old lady sighing about her uncomfortable back pain while she’s sitting and angrily shifting her position on someone else’s broken arm, but that doesn’t move us anywhere, does it? Or maybe, it’s just me…
Anyways, as paradoxical as it sounds, that’s why I’m not going to let go of my tradition to drink one, two, sometimes three or even four glasses of wine at the end of the work week. Because a part of it is always saying thank you for/to something or someone with every single sip I take. And I never run out of things — no, usually it’s the opposite that’s the problem. And it almost never happens I don’t end up crying at the end of the evening out of all the happiness I feel for everything I got to experience in life… And at least for that moment right then, I can forget my spleen and all the anxiety that seems to follow our footsteps on these harsh streets of the brilliant, but dusty and bitter European metropolis. I can say ”Ok, tomorrow I will try to be better.”
Because as they say, the least I can do is try.