This isn’t goodbye.

So, it’s done. I left Paris. After four and a half years of hell and wonderfulness combined (hint to the postcard below) and two weeks of intense stress. A few days ago I moved back home, sort of, at least for this year. I say sort of because I still don’t feel that way in my own head, although everyone around me seem to be certain of it. And I moved for the funniest of reasons if you know me, me who never in her life made a decent career decision. For a job. (Yeah I know not funny, probably another purely internal thing.) Maybe, that is why it’s one of the hardest heartbreaks, too, the hardest decision I ever took because it’s the first with actual consequences I have to bear. Some sort of sacrifice I had to rationally convince myself into. It hurt so fucking much I really doubt I made the right choice and miss my old what-is-a-career-anyway me. I need to remind myself of why I took this job and why all the old ones were (partly) wrong, often transforming me into a brain-dead zombie. I don’t really care about all that now, though. I can only miss. Till now, I didn’t know grieving over a place is just as hard as over people. You’d say, like everyone around me, ”But Paris is still there, a two-hour flight away, you can go whenever you want!”. But I think that what I’m grieving is far more complex and not repairable with just a vacation. It’s the life I built, the relationship to a home I finally found and then tore myself from. I know it wasn’t perfect and that I’ve been preparing for this for a while, yet it still doesn’t make it easy. I’ll live, I’ll give this a try, because maybe I have to give myself a real try, and then maybe France will have me back soon. Now, just give me some time to digest everything.

Leaving Paris is never easy. Sadness shows you it meant something, that every bit of it was worth it.

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”une femme moderne, quoi”

ramblings on whatever really

During a job interview some time last year, discussing my hobbies and interests, the lady across the table defined me as a ”modern woman” or in her own words une femme moderne, quoi … In the moment, I wasn’t sure if one part of me should be flattered by the implications or rather offended to be so easily put into a cliché, ticking off the box I belong to. Later, I couldn’t stop laughing about the notion, though. I mean, what does it really mean, to be a ”modern woman”? In my opinion, it’s not my cultural, literary, travel, or whichever interests that define it, I mean where would that make any sense?

I read, write, travel, solo or not, watch independent movies as much as the commercial ones, and look for music everywhere rather than just follow the charts, go to museums and theatre occasionally, read Les Inrocks, browse through markets and bookshops, keep up with the social conflicts, tried a bunch of different jobs in my life… And all that somehow makes me modern. I get it, sort of. But – it bothers me that such a word would define such a small fraction of being a woman today (or of my own life for that matter). Most can’t afford the lifestyle, time or money-wise, some prefer a different one. Even more importantly, the scale of our experiences and lives is so broad, that the notion of a ”modern woman” should mean exactly that expanded diversity and nothing else, nothing less.

It’s one of those crutches we use in our everyday minds, I know. I love reminding myself that they are just that, that they are helpful precisely because they cut off two-thirds of the good stuff, the juicy and the mushy, the tangled up and the shy, as well as all of the bitter (all of the pressure it comes with them). That there is a whole world behind them that we can’t see the riches and the anxieties of if we use them too willingly, rely on them to get to know people or life or whatever really.

So, I continue to laugh about it (or grin when it’s more appropriate) and use any opportunity I have to expand its meaning. I can’t seem to use it seriously and without cynicism. It became one of those internal jokes my mind only keeps, until it drops them, to distance itself from my supposedly so cool traits which I and the world would want to define our selves with, but eventually let crumble in its emptiness. Imagine the tone, then…

Let me not even start on the word modern as such… That’s a whole different chapter.

Piece by piece

What is it about that bubble we create when we get to another place? The combination of the distance from the familiar and the newness of circumstances, conditions that make grow different aspects of ourselves. Some we knew existed silently, some we ignored. During every trip, longer than a single weekend, something in me moves towards a certain direction, builds up another foundation in me, brick by brick, an understanding enriches its effects. Yet, I find it hard to pinpoint what exactly that means.

Something in me awakened early in my childhood in one of those semi-exotic settings when my family took off to a non-European destination. Maybe, it was just the first taste of wanderlust. The first time, though, I felt what I now call a bubble was in Paris, 10 years ago. A bubble of new environment, new people, new language you now have to communicate in, new food even, new bed, and a new taste of tap water, all of those things that made the factual number of kilometres, the physical distance from home, felt on an emotional level.

And it wasn’t scary, it was comforting. It became my bubble I kept coming back to, every two years, until I decided to transform it into an everyday one. All because it allowed me to be a different me, a me I chose to be.

Of course, I didn’t change dramatically, overturned everything I had ever thought or done. It just enhanced a part I had neglected. What I’ve noticed since then (which might be a self-evident truth to some of you) is that each place connects you to a different part of who you are.

In Atacama, I felt a peace in me I couldn’t ever in Europe, a dimension of my soul and being I had never touched before, or at least too briefly, the South of France automatically turns up the joie-de-vivre part of me like crazy, and Portugal, oh Portugal always ensures me in my self-reliance, self-grounded-ness (and in that it always has such perfect timing…). Of course, these are just forced outlines, but you get the picture.

So, wandering anywhere lately seems to me like playing with puzzles. Not just we get to find and see another piece of this planet, we might often be able to put another piece into a picture of who we are, too. Some are bigger than others, sure, but none is irrelevant.

This is me, trying to get back into blogging mode – I have a lot of love to share with you from a recent trip to Algarve … 

How I see myself after 3 years in Paris

Three years in the middle of your twenties mean a whole lot of growing up, in a bitter-sweet mix of disenchantment and empowerment. When you spend them away from home, the mixture gains new dimensions, wide and deep. There is no reality check that makes you face yourself in a more radical way, than that of cutting off the familiar. Feeling like those little birds you watched on animal shows, or young wild cats, deciding it’s time to leave the nest and take the maturity test, make your own initiation into whatever life you chose, hunt down the necessities with the four limbs and one head you were born with, making out little by little what your gut feeling is like. Perhaps, trading surviving and living more often than you expected, only now realizing how stubborn you are. Stubborn, stupid, who knows.

Paris put me through tests I could never make up in my imagination. Some I did, admittedly. The bureaucratic kind. All the rest life took care of. Teaching me step by step how strong and fragile I am. Yes, both at the same time. How resourceful and quick to learn, forced to compromise, yet rarely bending, too. How joyful my soul bottom is despite my melancholic surface. How I’m so full of feelings and emotions, the complicated and the simple, it’s sometimes hard to handle for myself, let alone others who judge me as sentimental, but I’m capable of it, or am in the process of learning at least. How it’s always easier to believe in a made-up image, yet the truth is so much more beautiful, even when it is hard, cold and cruel. That there is freedom in truth. How my deep personal roots are connected to everyone around me, how I can stand alone and still continue to reach for others, other human beings sharing my experiences, and even those who don’t.

I see all of it, now, while I’m slowly getting adjusted to the fact that some day I will probably go back. Feeling life might push me that way. Not backwards, though. I know now, too, I will come home different. I’m letting go of what I might want from life and trying to discover what life has in store for me. I’m not willing to force it anymore. If the only way for Paris to stay my home is living a life I don’t find enriching anymore, I rather go back. In someone else’s words: I love this city, but I love myself more. I love people who are my real or chosen family more. Those people who truly matter and know you for who you are. If, by some magical force, my second home is willing to accept me as I am and watch me grow further, I’ll stay.

I now wonder if I could go through such a process of opening up back home, in my comfortable cocoon, I understand fully now the urge that pushed me out of it years ago. Maybe, being more yourself means defining that self less. (It’s like biting your own teeth, a quote my best friend told me last week during one of our ”deep talks” – which one isn’t?) Letting the cage around it melt, brick by brick, and let the seed you clung to grow into a forest. Oh fuck it : I like my sentimentality. It means I feel life from the bottom up and not sleeping my way through it. I let myself fall for it entirely, even when I’m trying to deny it or think it’s not the moment for it.

I still see people dying a little because of the restrictions to their feelings, to their expressions, to their intelligence, to their creativity, to their independence, to their being, every day. Back then, it was the reason for moving to Paris, now, I’ll have to see if I didn’t step into it, enclose myself in a trap, clinging to a cycle that is finishing up. Let life itself show me if the next one can continue here or not. Hopefully, a less sentimental one. Anyway, I’m giving myself time and not apologizing for it.

Another rant post, right, life’s quite heavy this year.

Only Drops

”I don’t know the code, never learnt the basics…” the song kept repeating, letting me sink deeper every second into its groove, into the truth of the words, echoing endlessly now. No escaping the hard, harsh longing they thrust in my face, rubbing in the acid-like texture into my heavy chest. Longing for the answers, longing for simplicity, longing for a flowing life, life getting its way across the landscape like a river, embracing the rocks like a sea, freely letting go like a waterfall, enveloping being like an ocean. No, there’s violence in there I’m ignoring, storms and clashes and carvings. Maybe, I am like water already, rushing into the land, again and again, hitting it straight on, for years, just without the patience of the millenia. I want to see that cave, that refuge, now, breathe in its humid refreshing soothing air, lay down in its calm fortress, at ease, half-, not really sleeping, -resting, half-enjoying its timid vivacity, catching splashes and drops, hearing out for a rhythm of waves, my melodic guarding brothers now. Yet, they’re not. I’m still drowning, beating my head into the cliffs of knowledge and beauty and truth, floating, dancing numbly in their twisted arms, broken in half.

Quicksand

Sometimes, we spin around a patch of sand for months, years really,

walking carefree around its edges,

round and round,

touching tickling blades of grass, we forget,

deviate,

step among the nearby trees, luscious, drying,

and come back,

completely oblivious of its languid existence,

its lively nature,

carelessly step into it, still enjoying the intensive sun,

because there is no shadow,

and don’t even notice we’re in its mercy,

don’t think about how one step reversed the positions of power,

it slowly swallowing us,

while we still believe to be in control,

and it’s too late, too late,

we’re in its trap.

We only realize it when the sand is in our eyes,

and the next second, we are gone.

The loving awareness

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about love, and what it means in our lives.

Not as romantic partnership, but as that perspective which encompasses everything we see, how we see it, how we interact with it. The attitude, the mood, the approach to life. What got me there, of course, is all the negativity, something that has been building in me for years really, noticing how we are pre-conditioned into negative thinking, how much of it surrounds us. Yet, all along I’ve felt we have a choice, that it doesn’t need to be that way.

Yes, the bad things are a part of it all, but do we really need to make them stronger, predominant, make our response automatically grounded in them?

Take the easiest route and just refuse it all, fight mercilessly our reality and only see the mess, the fear, the uncertainty, the anguish, the hate, the twisted games. Be so persistent that even when someone is trying to explain something inherently positive, we try our best to see where it has gone wrong.

Still, it seems that even those feelings we can’t feel freely, go with them, listen to them, accept their existence. Instead, we wave our arms in dismay, whirling and smashing, battling everything around us, insistently barking as starving dogs. Yes, we don’t always see the flowers growing from the damp ground, but mostly we don’t want to step into the mud neither. We let everything pass us by, miss it.

Maybe, that’s why we so often have trouble feeling the real joy, a smile that doesn’t seem like a cynical grin, waiting to transform into a ”told-you-so” laugh.

What if I take another path for a while, embrace my suffering and be patient with it, try a little tenderness with my anxiety, some curiosity and playfulness in the place of fright, let haters their existence and give attention to the lovers, admire the shapes of the clouds instead of missing the sun? Be present.

Because I’ve realized fighting anything only makes me weaker, and sensing it with all my being doesn’t.

I’m curious…

Maybe, change is always at least a bit enriching.

Because, if you’re always saying yes to the same thing, you’re constantly refusing something else, stifling yourself into a tiny place of the familiar and even automatic. Why seeing giving up on something as a sacrifice, then, as missing on something? Since every time we choose, we’re not only saying no to this, but more importantly saying yes to the other. We could be joyfully experimenting and opening up for new things and tastes and experiences and places and sounds and selves. Putting something we’re used to at the side for a while and see what it’s on the other side, learn about another aspect of this world we think we know so well. Making choices with a different attitude, a different approach, with a bit of curiosity.

I was thinking a lot about it recently, trying to make some changes in my life myself, especially about things I may cling too tightly on. Trying to get some lessons from my own experiences, my own little experiments I used to do when I was younger, giving up my favourite band of the moment for a week or two, just to see what else is there. Not least of them, living without meat for more than a decade now, and I remember it started off as a try out, sort of ”let’s see what happens” thing. Or, when I had to give up all my comfy food, all the guilty pleasures, for a couple of months. I did admire my own persistence back then, yet what I was also noticing was that it came more easily than I had thought, partly because I knew I had to do it for health reasons, but partly as well because I decided to actually open up for the world of other flavours, outside of my favourites.

I remember a moment when I was eating an apple, chewing on that semi-sweet, semi-acid fresh texture I had known so well ever since my childhood, right… Still, I felt like I was tasting it for the first time. Because I wasn’t eating sugar and was avoiding some more sweet fruits, the stronger flavours in a way, at the moment, I fell in love with the most common of them all, which I had never really enjoyed before, and that has stuck with me. The lesson of leaving some room for surprises.

Anyway, my point is – maybe what is on the other side is just as good as what we always stick to, we’re just not as used to it. So, why not try and see and mix things up a bit. Let some fresh air in, into that little chunks of time that make up our life. I’m lately playing along and seeing what a day in some ways different to the habit, to the usual, to the plans, feels like. Maybe, some changes will become the new ordinary, or maybe I’ll just go back to the old. Maybe, the routine will become less written in hard stone, and as light as I want it, shifting in waves, juggling in the air when I feel like it.

Till then, I’ll happily laugh at my clumsiness in the still-in-the-experimenting-phase skills.

How I see Paris after 3 years

When three years pass in the same place, same room, with harshly the same people, we can easily imagine things stay the same, that nothing has essentially changed. Yet, when I was sitting across a girl on the train heading to the center from the airport, with a huge suitcase, a filled backpack, a beret, and a book about the dream city in her hands, while I was returning from celebrating Christmas with my family back to my new home for the third time, I could see that something has indeed changed, slowly maybe, imperceptibly, yet persistently.

There is a certain profundity that links you to the city, while dreams are transforming into a reality, while you’re less and less a stranger and a visitor, a simple spectator, and more and more connected into this web of its core lives. You are not only observing it, flying over it like a bird, peeking in here and there, searching for loopholes, but crushing open the doors and opening the windows, diving right in and swim through all the rocky waves. Some magic curtains fall while you’re slipping into a routine, yet it is then you can start to see far and wide, to see the whole through all the street corners and little neglecting details. It is when you start to love and hate the city at the same time, you really know what loving it means, when the images of it multiple on the whole spectrum of the good and the bad, and eventually steady on a fragile balance in-between.

Your little room, remember getting it was a little triumph in itself, one of the happiest moments of your life, finally having your own place and all, this little room you are now so used to you’re getting tired and sick of its thin walls and bruised furniture. The people who were first just faces coming and going, nodding and cheek kissing out of a habit you learned to imitate, that now make your weekdays and your Sundays smile, and have the power to hurt you, move you. These everyday worn out streets with worn out people you cruise around, that anxiety to get as fast as you can to your destination, running late, forever running late, catching the train the last minute, rushing to get the metro. Yet, at the destination you’ll relax with the colleagues who became friends, have a glass of a Côtes du Rhône red wine and try to get all the subtleties of their favourite phrases they keep repeating – on est bien là, non! – you’d think they’d empty them by now, but you laugh with them and eat some peanuts or cheese…

Still, I think that was what I was aiming for in the first place, not to break a certain illusion and smash the charm, but to break into a reality of a place unknown to me in its truth, the ordinary minus the extra. Not the images, not the expectations, not just the clichés (though some of them are true), not only the postcard views (yet, to some you keep going back to), not the they-said-it-is-sos. More of the I came, I saw, I heard, I experienced, I lived in it all, and still I was conquered! So, I choose to stay in this mess of a city, because lovely it stays, even after a trillion of reality checks. Maybe, it is just that it is me now, creating loopholes in its favor.

Two sides to every human

In a way, I could easily imagine lying in bed all day, eat my breakfast and lunch still in there, not cleaning my own room, and let people visit me while I stay comfy in my pyjamas. Yet, I would just as easily line up for getting up early for a trip pretty much anywhere, reading books and good journalism all day, going to various happenings after, following the expressions of our current culture and joke around with people at dinner parties.

That’s why finishing Goncharov’s novel Oblomov, where the main character literally spends the first part of the story in his bed and his adventurous best friend is his complete opposite, was somehow revelatory. They are the two sides of every human being, two expressions of our will or a lack of it, two moods that reign our thoughts and actions, the two possibilities we’re juggling with all our lives.

At least, I do.

I often feel two tensions, instincts inside, each one of them pulling me to its side, often at the same time, tearing me apart internally. It starts in the morning when I have to get out of the warm blankets and it does not even end when I get back in to sleep, since I turn about a million times with my body and in my mind before the dreamy part begins.

Luckily, I don’t have much of a choice, living alone I have to take care of myself and my superego is too strong to let me not do it. So, I get up sooner or later and make myself coffee (the best motivation really), and then somehow start the day, between reading, cleaning, looking for a new job, cooking, doing errands and eventually getting to my evening shift.

Yet, I think that when everything becomes too much of a routine and we get too comfortable in it, the habit doesn’t numb us much less than lying in bed all day would. Of course, better at least a semi-active day than sitting in front a TV (luckily, I don’t have one) or procrastinating otherwise constantly, but mentally you’re still going to be deadened soon. So, don’t listen to those voices pulling you down every time you try to do something.

The funny thing is I even have to force myself a bit to do the stuff I enjoy. Travel, for example, always starts an inner battle which even when won will leave behind a sense of anxiety before the actual departure. A struggle to overcome, I suppose, which gets easier with time, and especially with a change of place. You have a good reason to go out in the morning, usually sooner than you would back home. Plus, you don’t get caught in a habit, even if you reinvent a bit your routine anywhere.

Maybe, routine is not something to be demolished, just shaken up a bit often with new elements, new goals, new senses to life.

Honestly, Oblomov seemed more depressed than lazy in many scenes, changed too much too quickly when he finally got a good reason to live, and fell that much easier back to his bed when he lost it. I don’t believe that I will congratulate myself every time I get out of bed thanks to him, yet I do see that as long as I keep my curiosity alive, I will be fine and get through my phases. Because there will always be another book I’ll want to finish, another theme I’ll want to think about, another course I’ll want to take, another exposition I’ll want to see, another friend I’ll want to take a drink with, another place I’ll want to explore.

As long as I have both tensions, one of them will keep me going forward, while the other will at least make me rest sufficiently.

 

#hopefullyhealingrant

I should be having the time of my life, right, living the dream ever since I moved to my favourite city. Why am I feeling a growing anguish, an actual anxiety for the past three, and especially last two years? How to say you’re unhappy when you have accomplished what you wished for?

The truth is, I feel trapped. Trapped in this place, trapped in my work, trapped in a certain relationship. I often cry out of loneliness or confusion about life. I feel stranded between two countries, a part of my heart left behind with all the people I love, the other here in the city which I chose as my true home. I miss my family and a few friends like crazy and my only regret is them being in a different town. Still, as much as that tears me apart, getting away from here would, too. I hate the job I have at the moment, for various professional and personal reasons, I got stuck at some travail alimentaire when all I want is to move forward to something more meaningful and better suited for my abilities and personality. I know a certain someone puts an emotional toll on my already fragile mental balance, that I don’t believe I can bear much longer. And too often when I talk to someone, I feel the pressure of my life being something extraordinary, as if it should be all dreamy just because I moved to my dream city. And if I don’t like it, I obviously made a mistake and can always go back. No. If I made any bad decisions, moving to Paris wasn’t among them. And the problem right now is not the disenchantment. It is my own sadness, my own dealing with life.

As weird it may sound, I’m just claiming my right to not be happy. Not as some kind of pity party, because I don’t pity myself and don’t accept nor want others to, but to remind myself that this couldn’t be some kind of a magic cure for everything inside of me. Keeping your dreams alive and even making them true doesn’t make anxiety nor depressive inclinations go away. So, saying out loud ”No, I’m not happy, and I’m not going to pretend otherwise.” is lifting a burden off of my chest.

Let me be clear, again: Paris hasn’t disappointed me. Paris has nothing to be blamed for. I never truly fantasized about this life, or better put, the struggle constantly stayed a legitimate part of those images. I could blame the attacks, and the fear and uncertainty that came after, yet I honestly think it’d be too simple. It would be pointing a finger to something external. I still adore Paris with all my heart, I still enjoy its streets, its culture, its people, my new friends and my new havens, maybe more than I did in the first year, because I have truly mine now. And I need to add moving here wasn’t running away from something, since I sorted out the aversion to my hometown and waited for the time to ripe before leaving. On the contrary, leaving Paris now would be cowardice and ignorance.

Let me go deeper, now. In a way, I stopped backing away from life in Paris, took everything on me, sucking in the whole of it, putting all of its weights on my own shoulders. The first year, the bravery persisted, then I started cracking. The anxiety attacks increased and got worse. In the last year, with all the of the best moments of my life, came the new worst. And it’s then I really got it. For now, still being only half-way, it’s the price I’m paying for the life I chose and wanted to lead, which I don’t regret for a minute. If I fall, it’s not because I’m weak. Wasn’t coming here kind of deciding precisely to be strong?

I got something else, too. Just because you materialized one of your dreams, doesn’t mean everything else comes in easy. There might be a bit of disenchantment here, I admit it.

So, here’s to reminding myself to move on from it. (Un)happiness is a moment.

Ok, end of rant. Till next time.

Rage

I want to talk about female rage

yes

rage

female

not theoretically no

not feminist rage

no

female rage in relationships

that rage that comes out of degrading

underestimating

taking

humiliating

or trying to

making images

of unreal reality

limiting

to an unreal world

putting words in my mouth

not listening to a no

no no no no no

I said no

that rage

when she’s aware of it

she can burn you all

Open up

Reflections after my journey through Québec, june 2017, part II

That thing about travel, changing countries and distancing yourself from your own hometown, the change of perspective it entails. More clearly seeing a certain structure, or in this case, a subtle shifting of a mood back home, a shift you had noticed before, but now seems so much more apparent and comprehensible.

We were talking humorously about the stories and old photos of an Indian fellow traveler, our big hostel group returning from a trip to the falls among the Québecois leaving work for the day, him proudly showing the one with dreads, the other shaven, then another one taken somewhere in the Middle East where he would easily pass as one of the locals with his features, covered with a growing beard. The discussion continued and nuanced and detoured and all the while kept the laughing quality. There was no malicious tone in any of the comments, more than anything maybe the admiration of all the lives that he had lived. The moment still came when it paused and rested our smiling jerks for a while. It was here something so on point hit me, when an American girl said: ”I don’t think we could as easily talk and laugh about it across the border in the U.S., not on a public bus, without some sort of edgy response in the air …” Just because certain nationalities were mentioned? Soon, the feeling of nostalgia encompassed us, or at least me and her. ”I still remember those days when we could, though, I’m happy I got to live them, that I know it wasn’t always so, that this was what America was all about.”

You could ask why the feeling of nostalgia grabbed me, too. The last time I visited America was almost 20 years ago and since then TV shows and news are all I know of it. Maybe, that would suffice. However, my feeling came because America isn’t alone in it, because Europe, and France in particular, are sharing the process. Because I remember Paris before the attacks, not perfect and harmonic even back then, true, yet her comment clarified how dramatically, but subtly, the atmosphere changed for us, too. If a society continually moves on a line between openness and enclosed-ness, we are bit by bit approaching the latter, giving it more space, so to speak. (If I got to see that in Canada, it’s because its preoccupations differ, not because there aren’t any. I’m sure it has its own taboos and disturbances that might for someone make its receptivity fake. For me, it showed our own.)

Why do we let it happen? Scream ”Not afraid” just to let fear entrance our everyday lives in a more indirect way, exchange basic human trust and joy and inter-connectivity for anxiety and more or less symbolic walls. Seeing victims and criminals, only knowing how to judge and pity.  Yet, I don’t want to theorize too much about it, because the more I do, the more negatives I use. I prefer to continue to smile and shake hands and share stories and listen and hug and laugh some more, with whoever crosses my way, rather exchange some sort of false political correctness, need for attention and shameless blaming for a solid inter-respect and an open ear.

Misunderstood

Maybe I could never understand the way you love

how your heart enclosed after her deceit left only a margin of care

how some of your walls fell just to make the remaining stronger

yet my heart expands with every bludgeoning wound

like my pleasure that never reaches the peak but spreads out

circle after circle wave after wave of water rushing widening

hoping not to reach the shore but does with your sudden spike and shiver

splashes inward on the land wanting more never appeased

Maybe you could never understand the way I love

my love is desire and my lust is warmth

my affection is hesitancy and my trust is tension

my arms clutch and clasp while my feet skitter and bolt

Maybe we could never understand the way we loved

that attack of the inner forces every time our skins brushed by

that underground of our grim past and the lack of what’s to come

that absence of deep roots where we could fix our yearning infatuation

those multiple lives we’ve lived parallelly never knowing how to truly share

those moments of comfort and solace when like children we forgot not to believe

those unuttured latent words every time we were about to leave it all behind and weep

Maybe that is why we never knew how to grieve and ditch us

Bumble

I stumbled through the streets where urine and flowers melt in odour quite like ourselves

the eyeliner smirring into eyeshadow the asphalt losing its groundness

that bittersweet sound your lips made last night so lovely so angry

telling promises exist in another world another life another love

but ours is the empty present which will be hers tomorrow and was hers yesterday too

her towel still resting on the handle next to mine the proof of your carefulness still in the bin

mine is your touch on my elbow tonight and your hug annoyed by my cries by my stomach that twitches

I mumbled the wishes the desires the tender affections I mumbled all of my deepest imperfections

I whispered I love you next night in the park that I loved you you know right before you part

your immediate hug longed for the kiss but I surpassed the mist of your partial honesty

I can be first I can be second I can even be third yet being an equal to an opponenent is too blurred

so I’m tearing myself from this anxious instant ripping it apart for an unsure tomorrow

for those streets you find smelly for those flowers you ignore …

for that fragrance of the city that takes away yours

the scent of your laundry expelled from my bed

the scent of your shampoo still in my hair

The mirrored feelings

Reflections after my journey through Québec, june 2017, part I

I could start with so many things, still there was one going back and forth in my mind all along the walks and the bus rides, following me through the streets and the hike trails. Some places open up your heart or soul, other just your mind.

Maybe, that is why I didn’t feel attached to Québec in any way, knowing I’d appreciate my return to Paris after the third week, despite the beauty and the experience. I was an observer only, and not much more than that. A listener, perhaps, a reader, a questioner. My heart and soul stayed home somehow, waiting for me in the little room, not far from La République. That is why I felt a void, that is why my mind stepped forward. (Whereas in Chile, it was quite silent.) It noticed things, noted them, in asking or concluding, yet always lacking profound sentiments.

So, I’m not sure anymore we always travel with our souls, that is upon the place to take it away, to sweep it off our feet, to steal the pieces of our hearts.

There is an entry in my diary: ”Perhaps I should be more torn apart? No, I don’t believe that.” As if I had to be in some intense emotional time myself to feel a place intensely… Because, I more often than not lacked the real excitement, even in the enjoyable moments, those fizzles in my stomach that launch me on my quest each day, to explore and see, to search and appreciate, and asked myself: ”How do you face this kind of feelings when you travel? Can you blame the destination? I don’t believe that.” (Again.)

I don’t believe in boredom of whichever destination, especially not one as diverse as Québec. Familiar it seemed, yes, in so many aspects, but in so many more it wasn’t. And even if… Familiar is not empty. Where’s the answer then?

I should know by now, travel doesn’t just fill us up, it reflects our void, the void we always take with us and which at home we don’t necessarily have the time to face. I should expect only to hold me up a mirror, to throw right back at me what I radiate out. Rare are the places that push through, that transform the void into a omni-embracing nothingness which equals everything-ness, and where the void becomes a certain calm and not an itching vacuum, a killing kind of hole.
There was one, though, even in Québec, that simple hiking trail, that magnificent bay, just a stone throw out of Tadoussac.

A train ride

Wanderlust sometimes shows in less grand moments than we usually expect, yet it’s exactly there that it perhaps has that special feeling of being completely integrated into your soul. No denying it. Your eyes of wonder and zest.

A month ago, I took a train to cross my own home country and there was something extraordinary about it, because I hadn’t done it for so long, having moved out and all. My own restlessness was somehow eased and pleased. The journey had an aura, a glow, only enhanced by the observation that the train I boarded had a metal plaque hang at the beginning of the coupé ”made in 1971”. I had to smile and internally laugh, though by the looks of the train I wasn’t at all surprised by the information. Then, I found it funny how things had changed, the little warning, saying ”Don’t lean out of the window”, written in four different languages, still no English (Slovenian, German, French and Italian instead). The best of it all, of course, were the views, those views I’m sure my co-patriots ignore daily, not me though. All the green, booming into the first spring showings, and the river, fiercely cutting into the valley.

It was the simplest of journeys, and among the most memorable ones. It made me realize it is wanderlust who opens up your eyes even for the most common sceneries.

For WPC.

Where’s the real fight?

I was recently asked to write an article about the atmosphere in France during the elections and it struck me how the crux of it all seemed to be in a weird dilemma between absenteeism and voting against. To vote or not to vote, to act and therefore go against oneself or simply resign and exclude oneself as an active part of the society. Where can a personal answer stand in such an ultimatum?

Nothing new under my sun, it struck me so strongly precisely because it’s been a personal dilemma since my early 20s (or even adolescence…). I became an idealist too soon, as I once reflected by myself, the values I chose to stand for integrated into my very core so fast, I soon enough realized there is only one place where they don’t stand on shaky grounds. Somewhere, deep and high, out of sight, yet always scrapping on the limits of the mind. I only once in my life sincerely voted for a party and that was all I did when some of my colleagues got far more engaged in the campaign. Why couldn’t I, I wondered even back then. It was during writing my first novel, in one of the dialogues with a fictional character, I acknowledged I was simply too stubborn, too demanding, too individualistic for it. I couldn’t even be a revolutionary, since that so often means prescribing oneself to never-changing directions, becoming part of a machine. Do I doubt values too much in real life?

Eventually, I’ve distanced myself from forming a constructive part of the society which soon meant seeing it as something not my own. Seeing the only possible change in a different society which would have nothing to do with this one. How to explain this aversion, without getting in a fatalistic and negatively nihilistic point of view, disengaging, raging, letting the bad guys win?! Maybe, by trying to show how fighting against something ends up contributing to it. How really fighting for something is the real fighting against. Don’t you still hear the idealist in me? My own ”Imagine”.

It doesn’t sound simple, yet it is even less so. How not to fight against something when it is attacking the most basic values you cherish, so closely it seems to penetrate into those far off deep and high grounds and literally burn them? How to not vote for the lesser evil, even when it really is only the second worst and not an inch better, when the worst of it all is winning? And country after a country is falling into the trap…

I cannot answer. I’m still stuck in the dilemma myself.

What if the real lesson is in-between? Not letting the bad guys win first, however, the day after demanding loud and clear more and better from the less bad ones, all the while devoting most of the time and energy for things that really matter. Somehow, in all the limits we acknowledge, building a new society on the side, with our every action, word, intention. Sounds even weirder, right? I can’t help but say it. It feels it is time, somehow. As scary as it sounds, taking all that responsibility on us (stop denying it). Still, creating something always is. Writers should know. We never quite know what we’re going to end up with, nevertheless it’s always worth it, isn’t it?

How I screwed up my life trying to be myself

… the one thing nobody can take away from you is the freedom to fuck up your life whatever way you want to. – Jonathan Franzen

Explicitly or not, we are all told at many points of our lives from its very beginning ”Just be yourself and find something to do that makes you happy and …” so on and on. But what if you realize that in order to follow this somewhat tricky-ly wise advice you have to reject so many other things you supposedly should do and let go of the things which, as you are told, also matter.

Personally, I wasn’t raised only by my parents, besides the society’s opaque gibberish I’ve had my own fathers and mothers that have shaped who I am today and whose influence I’ve always consciously acknowledged. Hermann Hesse, Virginia Woolf, the beatniks, just to name a few. And after reading them I couldn’t ignore the little quite voice inside of me saying ”You are not what you are told you are”. But who am I then?

I’ve been trying to figure that out my whole life and in the meanwhile I’ve let go of many things I maybe shouldn’t or even mustn’t – at least, I was told so often enough. I was actually taken for a complete jerk in my stubbornness or sometimes looked at a bit funny by those less opinionated, although I was never truly a rebel and never did anything I’d consider radical. Am I really a jerk, though?

I admit I might cling to the truth of Franzen’s quote a bit too strongly.

Being overly dependent on my own freedom and stubbornly determined to pursue it, I wasn’t afraid to just fuck up a few things, because I sincerely didn’t believe they mattered. Not to me anyway and I didn’t ponder on what personally mattered to other people, since my own life didn’t affect them as it did me. (I’ve always been aware, though, even before studying J.S. Mill during my political philosophy class in the first year at the university, that my own freedom ends at the limits of someone else’s.)

So, I decided to study something that was pretty unemployable even before the crisis, although I could go anywhere and study whatever I wanted with my grades – and guess what: I did and at that moment I didn’t care where that would take me. Then, after the first completed level, I decided to stop studying philosophy, because I lost the passion and the curiosity for it by attending the classes instead of actually reading it. Yet, for the same reason I couldn’t force myself to switch courses and study something else, still saying to myself I shouldn’t let my supposed ”potential” determine me. (Look at me being all confident about my abilities.) At the same time, I had trouble doing anything else which could help me get a job if there was no other sufficient reason for it. I feel money alone is no good of a motivation unless you desperately need it.

I’m not going to elaborate all my steps here, but I have to highlight another one. I rarely really invested in a majority of my relationships whatever the nature of them, because I felt most of them didn’t deserve my time and didn’t see a reason to force them. (I’m one of those people who mostly read instead of party and feel quite awesome about it.) It was like I was constantly making selections among my acquaintances and only devoted energy to a few. Sometimes, at the risk of losing good ones, too, because my introvert nature likes to exaggerate people’s pressure. You can be quite sure of course marriage and kids weren’t really my thing.

All the while, I was feeling pretty well about everything, feeling I’m on a right track and all…

However, what I’m asking now is: Did I screw up my life trying to be free and — well be myself, for whatever that means?

Didn’t I act like a spoiled smartass and waste my chances of getting a decent job, a few formal titles and a good pay, a healthy long-term relationship and a regular group of friends I can go on a great concert with (because, really, how pathetic, I always go alone)?

Maybe. I can’t deny the possibility.

However, what I know is: I actually became who I am in the process. I didn’t know what that meant and, truth be told, still don’t precisely, but I started acting like I do. I challenged myself over and over again, escaping the win or lose perspective in everything I did, because it was building me either way. I actually took responsibility for my own life when I threw some of those chances away. My actions weren’t limited by my fears and doubts anymore. Not that I don’t have them – I do every single minute of my day, but their existence doesn’t necessarily imply their control over every step that I take. And I finally started to take care of myself, independent economically and otherwise, and truly appreciate the precious lessons, people and moments of life.

Another thing: taking a step back from the society, makes you see the wrong paths it is taking. You see that just because something is impenetrably declared as a universal truth (or custom), it doesn’t mean it is. There is another quote, so painfully truthful:

It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society. – Jiddu Krishnamurti

Seeing the symptoms is easier from a distance and most importantly, seeing the chance to be healthier as well.

In short, I actually believe I did fuck up my life, maybe because I simply had to. I believe I will never get a decent regular job, have a PhD or a few millions, and I will maybe never start a normal family. — I’m still not sure I desire to. Not because I’m a lazy hedonistic ass, but because I can’t simply embrace the structure of some vague life forced upon me as my own and rather take my own decisions, accepting their consequences, painful or not.

And guess what – I got good family relations, lots of knowledge and wisdom from everywhere, a motivation to live and activate myself towards my dreams, a few of the best friends I could ever imagine and even a relationship so hard to picture just a couple of years ago, corresponding with something in me, as unhealthy as it seems to people around me …

I’m not saying screwing up your life is a good thing, I am saying, however, that for me breaking those walls, risking it was the only possible way to go. Maybe trying out is the one choice we’ve got.

Immeasurable

Isn’t it funny how we measure our success as travelers in numbers sometimes?

How many countries on how many continents, how many towns and cities, how many mountain tops or lakes or islands, how many checks on our bucket list… How many encounters made and connections preserved, how many weeks on the road as a whole or months in a row away from home…

In truth, if it is about any kind of quantity, isn’t it about how much and not how many?

How much we opened our hearts and eyes to the world, how much we expanded our minds and how much less prejudiced our thinking got. How much we started living, how much we have learnt and changed. How much we have overcome.

Until, finally, we realize everything that is left to measure are the countless moments of sincere smiling and pure joy with all the opposite ones that make it all worth while. Moments we treasure not as parts of a list, but each standing alone, embraced as a whole and cherished as a unique portrait of the best in life.

At least, that is what I aim for.

The Dark

And if I unravel spread my wings like petals of a tangled rose

you may say I’m acting heading for a catastrophe

you may find me mad like a wild horse and even more morose

And if I untangle the galaxies in me all the star constellations begging to be free

if I find home right in here in the darkest night will you call for me

or let me be quite alright

will you see the moon heading for an eclipse the Milky Way shrinking in its remorse

will you allow me to be right where this place has always been meant for me

in the shadows and the dusk in the clearness of the desert’s midnight

under the ground of the thousand jungles in the light-less room without a window

because it is here I finally feel it all the limits of my breathing

all the possibilities that hit the mighty wall of this life’s being

where death and guilt disenchantment and despair meet coincidence and antinomy

where shining bright means being pitch-black grimy

Follow don’t follow

I don’t want to follow you blindly

follow my path with eyes wide shut

as if it was only a binding spell to guide me

I’m tearing open the shutters

just because I can

just because they are all around me

preying on my queue

I want them to advise me

but not block my view

I take the blame of falling of constantly withdrawing

of steps that trip and shiver hesitate and run

that dance into the darkness

as if it was their home

I take the risk of never knowing never living in the true

world of peaceful love and content peekaboos

 

Let’s talk honestly about… Loneliness

Loneliness never felt to me like something experienced at certain moments of aloneness or crowdedness, no matter, it is fundamentally something much more profound, basic and even inescapable. It is an integral part of human nature, a sensation enveloping our whole life experience, like a spider web spreading out of our hearts through our whole soul. Maybe that is why it is so hard to accept it, yet that is also why it is so rich and necessary.

We may look at it as a cloud, fogging our emotions and blocking our views, still I feel it clarifies and cleanses our senses often enough. It takes away the glitz and bares open the grounding, the anatomy of things. It sharpens our understanding if we listen to it beyond the sadness it may provoke. To limit it to the negative feeling in your chest, eating you alive, is to not really know it.

To sit with it during dim coffee meetings, songs and TV shows beneath your understanding, moments when everyone is paired up or grouped except you, solitary walks and readings, to feel it even in a hug of a close friend or a kiss of a lover, is to know lonely is fundamentally who you are.

To go from there into the world, from a deep recognition of your being, acknowledgment of a mood you cannot change, is to learn love and empathy, to know others feel the same why and not expect them to fulfill a role which is not theirs to play. To meet them at the crossing, the cusp of your lives’ curves. I sometimes feel it is only from there we can create true connections.

However, it is the fear that stops us so often. To feel as profoundly lonely … is terrifying. Can we see the beauty of ourselves being the only bearers of our story’s weight? To then try to tell it more lightly, from the responsibility we took on ourselves and not the constant frantic and senseless demand.

It is not on other people to smash the ice, it is on us to crack it, to see through what, I think, is just the first layer of loneliness’ ocean.

The simplest wish

Sometimes, I feel spring wakes up our soul with its desires and dreams, gets us going joyfully again in that relaxed atmosphere of insouciance. It’s the sun, yes. Then, it’s the flowers too. The simplest ones shyfully popping out of the ground, white, yellow, purple. Reminding us life can be simple as well, perhaps. Taking a walk in a local little forest with my grandma I only have one wish. For more of these moments, chatting and laughing, sharing the enjoyment of beauty with the people closest to me.

For WPC.

Fear of dying

I had a dream a few weeks ago that I was dying. My mom leaning over me, saying I had a strange, but fatal disease. Not much time left and all. I woke up in the morning with a hypochondriac and not quite placable feeling that something actually is wrong with my body. Later in the day, a friend asked me what I would have thought about my life if it had been true. For a minute, I forgot the paralyzing impression the dream left on me and let it produce some kind of reality check.

In the middle of another bad period of the year I took a look at my life and surprising even myself a bit replied ”You know what, I lived. I haven’t done everything I desired or should, but I don’t have real regrets, because I tried and did my best.” Best of all, I made a few of my vague dreams come true, I loved, made friends, saw a part of this beautiful planet and I was never afraid to think, sense and discover. I’ve had my moments of inspiration, joy of appreciating and creating, and I’ve had my share of indescribable pain, loneliness, anxiety that I chose to fight with all the love that I posses.

I’m far from being perfect or even being fairly good at this thing called life, but I did at a precise moment of my life make a decision to make something out of it, to let it surprise me and let myself feel some enthusiasm for it. I remember that moment clearly, sitting on the kitchen floor at a dark autumn hour, only my dog watching another one of my breakdowns. I was so close, yet I’m here, fascinated as ever. And since then, I’ve read and written more than I’d imagined and been lucky in so many things and especially people. The people I met and loved. Some of them leaving me completely broken, bruised and crushed. Others inspiring me profoundly. (Most of them, both.)

Just a few days ago, I was saying to myself ”There is no phoenix, it’s only ashes that float and float…”. Even so, hasn’t falling apart made me who I am? Would I let go of it if I had a choice? Because isn’t that exactly what’s fueling my zeal so often, as hopeless and twisted as it may sound?

So, another friend told me she had read Scorpio are most afraid of dying. I didn’t agree. I definitely, even at my lowest, don’t want to die, and that – believe me – is a sort of progress, yet fear? I think as long as you truly live, not just exist as the saying goes, fear of death somehow eludes you and is replaced by a more genuine interest in actual living.

When you don’t remember to relax, take it easy.

The cut between the summer holidays and working autumn that has now transformed into a chilling winter seems more brutal than the one during school years when the classes and the tests began.

The cut between the summer holidays and working autumn that has now transformed into a chilling winter seems more brutal than the one during school years when the classes and the tests began. Or is it just a lack of relying memory? Now, the time when I relax is the time when I rest, catch a moment to breathe, lie down and watch a movie. It’s getting harder to read with this rebellious short concentration, to write is a miracle rarely fully realized.

In summer, though, I actually took a whole day to get away and walk the anxiety out, meditate at a distant grassy spot, I could take my shoes off and splash the sea water around me, I was reading a complicated essay collection that got my brain cells going.

I’m glad I took a photo of those moments. They just reminded me to make a plan and escape the unbearable hardness of the morning commute I somehow became a part of. Work itself is not the problem, its omnipresence and overwhelming-ness is. Its insistance on consuming all of your energy and efforts, so that your personality and joyful passions are slowly vanishing into nothing. Wake yourself.

Etretat, Normandy, France.

For WPC.

I choose love.

I’m done, I’m over responding with hatred and anger and scorn and fear and cynicism, I’m just done. I choose love, even when that means silence, even when that doesn’t necessarily mean hope.

I could comment on the unbelievable-ness and the awfulness of the week and then correct myself by saying ”no, the year actually” and then correct that again, with two years and then a decade. Yet, with the news that shocked, but not really surprised the world a couple of days ago, something else crystallized in me. I’m done, I’m over responding with hatred and anger and scorn and fear and cynicism, I’m just done. I choose love, even when that means silence, even when that doesn’t necessarily mean hope.

Maybe it is the other news that really did shock and devastate me, the actual and not only a symbolic death, the hardly bearable loss of one of the most gracious men I ever leaned my ear to, which cemented that in me. With his leaving, I’m choosing to grieve by taking his lesson and carry my humanity with all the honesty I can posses, the melancholy and the joy, not the cruel, but the heavy freedom, trying in my way to be, smiling, singing and dancing even though the news is bad and it all looks grim, in the midst of chaos and darkness, accepting the cracks and so letting the light come in. There are so many things I can think of to say, but all I really want to say is Thank you, thank you for the music and most of all, thank you for your being.

We can cry for losing a great man. Still, we can’t say we lost a great soul, until we lose ours. That is why I accept this world as my own, but not the society they impose on me and the values they seem to represent. Not by rejecting really, but only by standing for something much more real and much less monopolistic. Love.

P.S.: I feel I need to clarify what I mean by choosing love. Not some kind of ignorance and isolation from the world, nor the passive acceptance, the inertia or the lack of criticism. However, it is a change of a place from where we choose to criticize, act and react to the world.

Bludgeoned

I’m far more on the non-aggressive side, I’d maybe even call myself a pacifist. Yet, I have those moments when I get knocked down by an invisible force or a very present person, bludgeoned on the inside. And that hole that is left in my chest screams for that same weapon to be used on whoever, even myself, again and again if necessary, just because I need some specific action, right? An answer. Well, as an introvert I usually ignore that urge and respond differently, with isolation, more or less complete one.

The violence that could be produced is left with one single target then, the target I eventually get some compassion for. After all, I know her so well. I know how she struggles and survives. For two decades, she’s been winning battle after battle, alone. Sometimes, she breaks numbly and dumbly, but sometimes she howls to the sky she doesn’t want to die, so please stop tempting her, prays through the darkness and the pain, prays like she actually believed in something.

I let her cry and let her go silent and worry about friends later, I let her drink her beer. Then, I show her the books and the trip plan and the music, I watch her dance and sing, and see her collapse again on a specific song and the next one. I see her on the station the following day, thinking why there is something so definitive about taking a train, why it seems pure leaving somehow, even more so than the plane. She won’t enjoy the trip, it’s not time yet, but she will go through it and let herself have a few moments of superficial joy.

Then, comes the rest and the slow lonely healing. The moment when the bludgeon is finally put back on the shelf, not yet forgotten, but not anymore ready to use. I remembered the words and the melodies and the sun. I’ll celebrate the birthday by myself, to mark the end to another battle whose scars still bleed. I know better than letting someone else be my savior.

Market

Markets, city markets, where everything that can be offered gathers: food, music, people with their voices, products, bargains, styles, street fashion in the glamour of wear, stalls as an ornament to the brick streets and enclosed squares, food, food. People with no fear, no shame, no affiliation, no subculture, each individuality on full display, blending in this mass where no one is threatened by no one. Bourgeois bohemians at every step, each hippie in its own way; wearing disco-gold from neck to legs, afro haircut as a crown; elegant gown to the ground; come up with a hair-colour and you have it; your ordinariness is always too noticeable. They carry me, without touching, tow me with them, to them, invite, attract me with their glances, moves, calls, singing… in an instant they grab me, flavours, smells, colours, bland kitsch. Here, while walking, I’m kissing the whole city so passionately that our mouths hardly touch, the movement of our tongues so insane that they fail to intertwine, hold, let go, come, get lost, the sound almost prevails over touch, a play of closeness and distancing, a play of attracting and directness. That’s why I rather never stop, I listen to the indistinguishable conversations, sentences planted into a foreign context, words repeated after a few meters: cheap, cheap… I turn when they try to sell me their CDs: it’s hip hop, reggae music, you know… only taste, grab something here, something else there, don’t allow to appropriate a thing. An odour of grilled meat, of fresh cheese, grilled vegetable, fresh fruit, the taste of sweet at every step. Folk music in adorable acoustics, concerts following the principle of ‘’give what you give’’, buy, support, clap, whistle, walk on. Retro knitwear, warm coats, chequered shirts, coloured dresses, light sleeveless t-shirts, wool for the shoes. Jewellery, silver, gold, iron, plastic. Life that expires in the moment one turns away into a hidden alley around the corner.

Original (= Slovenian) text here.

For Discover Challenge: Flaneur.

It’s been 2 years, Paris. I’m still here.

From a tourist to a full-time Parisian? Peut-être. Never lost the wonder, though.

I actually forgot the exact date of my official move to Paris (yeah I know, how utterly unacceptable and disappointing for such an important event of my life), but I do know it was in late October, sometime after the 20th and a bit before my birthday. So, that means I’ll be celebrating two years of my life in Paris any day now. What a story to tell. To mix things up a bit, I decided to join the challenge and tell it almost wordlessly… And for the actual word-ful story, I’ll have to write a book someday.

From a tourist to a full-time Parisian? Peut-être. Never lost the wonder, though.

 

 

 

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After rain comes sun. #paris

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Last summer days in Paris ❤ #tuileries #paris

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Cheers, my dear friend and my favourite lover, and to another one or two! Thanks for the adventure! 😉

Isn’t honesty the most graceful thing you can be?

Willingness to be in touch with integral parts of our personality or our feelings or our lives, refusal to withhold or discard them only in the name of tact, is what for me constitutes grace.

They say suffering can wake us up, sometimes. It makes us face the inside of our self we’d rather avoid, it makes us realize once and for all (but not really…) who we are and what we feel, more profoundly than we could ever get to know it in the good times. Some still turn away and ignore it. Then, there are those who not just not deny it, they embrace it, they own it, they carry it as the vital part of themselves that it has become. Not in some empty pathetic sentimentality… If suffering is graceful at times, it’s because its expression comes from that brutal truth of life, that simple honesty.

Artists are the key to understanding it. Those performers who shook their audience with their unapologetic being. Whatever they show and give is real and untrimmed. They give it all and they give it the way it is. Imagine Nina Simone or Amy Winehouse. Even at their lowest, they didn’t lose the gracefulness of who they were. However, I doubt everyone can see that. What if honesty hurts? Is it less valuable?

Nevertheless, if it’s graceful, it’s because it’s not all black, it’s because it transcends the suffering and brings to life beauty. It’s a whole of many colours, yet simple in its sincerity and straight-forwardness. Profound joy can bear it just as well. Willingness to be in touch with integral parts of our personality or our feelings or our lives, refusal to withhold or discard them only in the name of tact, is what for me constitutes grace. To simply be, in triumph or defeat, as a field of flowers or a tornado.

The richness of personal perspective in travel

…there is a side where, because of feeling unlimitedly everything in us as it is here and now, we allow the place to touch us in ways it otherwise couldn’t and reveal layers of its own being we’d otherwise ignore.

Sometimes, we can’t explain why a thing appeals to us, means so much or seems to be so close to what we are internally, even if it is just for a precise moment of being that passes soon. I find the same pattern to be true when I travel. There are parts of a country or a city which are objectively true and lovely, but our perception still definitively defines them. Who you are during your stay to some extent influences how you see, and vice versa. It may sound egocentric to think about a place this way, yet there is a side where, because of feeling unlimitedly everything in us as it is here and now, we allow the place to touch us in ways it otherwise couldn’t and reveal layers of its own being we’d otherwise ignore.

Maybe it is because I heal so often while traveling, leaving home in a midst of a turmoil, not having any other choice than to feel extremely vulnerable and sensitive. It happens then in those precious moments we chase like lovers and hunt like lions that I open up to a place and the place consequently opens up to me. At least, it feels that way.

Cities aren’t always friends with gentle hugs and kind whispers along those cute streets of messily perfect buildings and cool shops, sometimes they force us to remind ourselves of dark sides and forgotten traits, they can permit us to express wholly. Frightening at first, but liberating always they give answers in the form of questions. Streets we can’t imagine to walk otherwise than alone, in the surprisingly dimming light of noon, streets coming to life in their sincere ordinariness. And then views which literally and later figuratively put thoughts in perspective. Thoughts we project into them.

Is that wrong? To see ourselves everywhere, you’d say. I’d deny it every time. Because we still know the existence of it independently of how we look at it, nevertheless we let our sentiments flow and not enclose our senses to the experiences and our internal ears to stories the place might want to tell us.

Maybe I saw Lisbon heartbroken and Atacama depressingly anxious for a reason. Because that is how I could make that soul connection. Maybe that is why Paris still has so much to say, so much to disclose for and in me. Because it is here I most unreservedly am and feel.

The list of things I had thought I’d never do – but did

Because it might be just as inspiring to look back to your used-to-be wish list than it is to always just keep adding stuff on it. Maybe. At least we see how sometimes life is only the choices we make and the stubbornness of our will, and other times it surprises us by itself. I’m personally trying to feel its openness and less and less of the contrary. It feels more natural to think of it as a flow than to see it as our prison… (Not that I’m denying existence to certain limitations.) Because things may seem distant in the future and possible at the same time.

  1. Living in Paris. The youthful dreams that we dare to keep alive… and then one day we say ”Ok, I’ll wait no longer!” and move. Just like that. And once you do it, you have to keep going.
  2. Speaking French fluently. Almost. Hey – I can communicate!
  3. Seeing Alex Turner live. With The Last Shadow Puppets, not Arctic Monkeys, but I’m an equal fan of both and Miles Kane is just as well hot as hell, so… yes I saw my teenage crush live and was pretty close to the stage, too. Who cares about growing up, khm khm?!
  4. Attending real music festivals. With friends, alone. Austrian, Slovenian, French. Can’t believe I used to be awkward about going to a single concert by myself and now my ideal idea of having a good time is a solo enjoyment of a 3-day music festival. Glastonbury is still waiting for me, though.
  5. Traveling alone. Yes, it used to be unbelievable, too. I think I used to call (female) solo-travelers brave actually. Funny that I now roll my eyes when others describe them that way.
  6. Backpacking to South America solo. Yes, I did it for only three weeks which is a minimum of a minimum, I did it in the most comfortable country maybe, but I was there. It started. It didn’t take too much nerves neither.
  7. Reading Virginia Woolf in the original, English version with all the difficulties of the subtleties of language, but – I was right – all the more charm of her flow than the translations. Not that they are bad. I mean, they try and mean well.
  8. Falling madly in love. Like you know, flying high, you know what I mean… Intense. All consuming. And inevitably short. The impossible attraction and a certain kind of surprising connection.
  9. Writing as in finishing a novel. The count for now is two. If they ever get published or not, if they are any good or not, I persisted and poured my heart into it. Got the guts to (successfully) submit my short stories, too. Writing and getting my writing out is feeding my soul.
  10. Being a waitress. Yes. It wasn’t on my wish list, you can guess. However, I would never in my life believe I could do it, me, a shy, extremely introverted and quiet person who never wishes to approach others, ask, speak, receive attention. Yes, we can change, not in the core, but so that we function and are alright with the situation. We learn so much in the process and occasionally even enjoy it, because we might be lucky enough to meet awesome colleagues (and clients) there.

And I’m only, almost, 26. Still got a way to go.

Fierce

you’ve just had your heart broken in Paris.
it’s a pretty nice place to have your heart broken in, don’t you think?

you’ve just had your heart broken in Paris.

it’s a pretty nice place to have your heart broken in, don’t you think?

you think about your strolls in those cute districts

when he still held your hand in his

gently caressing it

after a movie and a dinner telling you to take him home

because it’s cold and he could use some tea

a tea became your warm torso wrapped around his

his hand on you and soon he was in you

he fullfilled your body, right? he made you feel wanted

when he grabbed you in the dark and kissed you like he’d been missing you his entire life

your stomach ached at the sound of his voice and knees shivered in his hug

his presence overpowered the rest

but let me ask you

did your soul sing because of who he was?

was your heart on fire because of his?

didn’t it bore you sometimes how he numbed your mind so often?

remember those walls you had built?!

there are still there standing strong around your heart and your mind and the very core of your soul

the only ones that fell are those in the middle of your body

good. now you know what profound pleasure is.

but seek empathy that can transcend it into more

bring you where you’ve always wanted to be

burning running dancing wildly adventuring and shouting

because you are not an angel a decoration or a puppet

you are a mighty presence you are a person beyond anyone’s desires and expectations

loved for who you are first

and if changes come they are secondary

first are the presents of these moments when life is lived and not waited for

those moments of companionship that doesn’t fail because of a few traits

you’ve just had your heart broken? did you?

a scar isn’t a massacre

it might heal or it might not

and if you bleed slowly you will not die

and if you bleed intensely you will transform with the cycle of your body

be careful though when going sad to a supermarket

pasta and alcohol and cookies and ice-cream …

rather have a solo slow dance later or evoke the rocky

no — the punky yearnings of your fierce steps and rising hands

you are allowed to be yourself

eternally

A day in the life of an expatriate?

As much as I can love my new life and all it has given me, I have to accept the fact I excluded myself from the everyday life of most of my closest people.

A single moment is enough to scare the shit out of yourself. I don’t get it. Why did I break? Running down the stairs in tears, on my way to the last vacation dinner before taking off to my favourite city again. Why is saying goodbye suddenly so much harder than before?

Emotionally speaking, moving out and leaving my hometown wasn’t really difficult. I felt I had nothing to lose. It was one of those moments that come once in a while in your life when things evaporate and it becomes clear there is a decision to be made, the one you might always look back to as the one that changed almost everything in your life or the one that suppressed a powerful urge you had lived with for years. It was getting late to still not be ready and I didn’t choose to stay. I needed the experience of actually doing something and being independent and this need alone was enough of a motivation in the general emptiness I was perceiving. I relied on a quiet assumption me getting out of a micro-community won’t affect neither of the parts brutally. Maybe I was right.

It’s been almost two years since then. I’m well settled in the ordinary life mixture of errands and fun in the new town or better massive city and I have no actual wish to abandon it, no matter the occasional fatigue. However, yesterday, on the last night after three weeks at home (the longest period so far) I cracked. Can I really understand why, besides the fact that leaving people you love is never easy?

Only if I remind myself of noticing a growing anxiety and even paranoia in the past few months.

As much as I can love my new life and all it has given me, I have to accept the fact I excluded myself from the everyday life of most of my closest people. Not as much that they can’t be there for me (although yes, that as well), but even more that I’m not there when they need me. That I’m missing out the good stuff in their lives and don’t support them through the worst. All I can offer are words fading through space. The feeling grows and too often a chill of what might happen alarms me out of absolutely nothing. The clock is ticking and what if some day it will be too late?! Of course, it’s not completely rational, never was.

With no regrets, I still can’t get rid of an impression what I did was purely selfish.

So, there came a day in my life as an expatriate when I looked at the life I’ve created abroad and asked myself if it’s worth it to still insist. Is the mission I’ve been on completed or was it just the first part? Can all the new relationships here really make up for limiting the most important ones back home? Most importantly, which of the two lives means more to me?

I don’t know the answer yet and my sensitivity is only confusing me.

It is in the eyes.

It’s through them you realize someone’s place in your life, their soul as they say and what this soul can do to you. There’s the beauty and the terror.
There’s a grief and a recovery.

You know what I miss so often? Someone who looks me in the eyes and sees me as I am. I’m not talking about trusting conversations or secretiveness we sometimes play. What I mean is just one look and he understood something about me everyone else had failed to notice. Does it matter then what we actually told each other? All the things we didn’t say out loud?

Even if this wasn’t my illusion and it is actually possible, are we strong enough to withstand it or do we run away from the intrusion?

Because eyes are powerful. It’s through them you realize someone’s place in your life, their soul as they say and what this soul can do to you. There’s the beauty and the terror. Although sometimes mild or ambiguous, sometimes funny and pleasant in a momentary recognition of something in common before the words are spoken. Moments when a simple look can tell you the course of the relationship you should have with this person. Moments when you get to know where the truth lies.

I remember the sparkles of their eyes, people I met for a day, staying at the same hostel or doing the same tour and sharing that particular day’s experience, those sparkles that made us want to talk to each other. Trust them. They take you places and connect you with adventurers, provide you with late night debates, glasses of wine, observing stars, a temporary intimacy, more important than any while being on the road.

I remember the profundity of the others, those with whom I shared days after days, wishing they would last an eternity. Those blue sad wanderers, those green bold challengers, those brown gentle admirers.

It’s in the remembrance of those eyes, in the dark of the nights, lying on a single bed and catching shadows on my walls, I forget they are no longer present in my life. There’s a grief and a recovery.

My personal ultimate self-care list

or The list of things that make me happy

or The list of things that make me happy

They are too popular, I know, and mine is going to be a cliché to many as well. But hey, it’s my reminder when I’m felling down that there are things I enjoy and appreciate in life. So, why not?

  1. Read. Read. Read. Novels, short stories, poetry, essays; literature, philosophy or quality journalism. No matter, just surround your mind with meaningful words regularly.
  2. Write. You know what, right? Sit down and reach within.
  3. Plan a journey or a trip. Remind yourself of places you want to visit, or do a research for new destinations.
  4. Go on a journey or a trip. Discover and embrace the adventure on the way.
  5. Listen to ”your” music. The classic favourites or the new best songs ever, I bet the next best act of the moment is around the corner.
  6. Sing. Who cares if you can?
  7. Dance. All crazy and with your eyes closed.
  8. Go for a walk into the heart of the city. Meet your lively friends the streets.
  9. Enter the cinema for a good movie, the surprising European one or something of completely random interest.
  10. Buy a ticket for a concert, or two, or three, and one for a festival. And then be excited a month, a week, a day in advance, until the night when everything falls back into place again.
  11. Read out loud in French. Nobody’s listening to your false accent, flow with the melody.
  12. Look at the sky, into the clouds. There is always some inspiration or calm or just beauty up there.
  13. Watch a sunset (one day try a sunrise as well), the slow descend of the sun, all the shades of yellow and red, the burning lines and shadowy clearness.
  14. Observe the plants and animals. Tree in the middle of a busy square, a buzzing meadow, little bugs on leaves, spiders on walls, a dog passing by, a cat following you with its gaze from a balcony.
  15. Caress animals, touch wood and plants, smell flowers and inhale the scent of herbs.
  16. Eat fresh fruit, and dark chocolate, and sorbet ice-cream. Or pasta with your favourite absolutely green vegan pesto.
  17. Have your morning routine in peace. You’ll be grateful (and everyone else around you).
  18. Drink water. A sip there and a sip later. Refresh yourself.
  19. Buy yourself flowers.
  20. Nurture your whole body with a nourishing cream.
  21. Put on a funny brooch, colourful earings or your everyday rings.
  22. Make yourself a simple, but delicious lunch.
  23. Tidy up your room. Make some space. You live and breathe in there.
  24. Smile.
  25. Laugh out loud, really loud, ignore anyone’s annoyance.
  26. Draw and paint. Colour!
  27. Look at the present. All is here and all passes. Whatever suits the moment.
  28. Fill your notebooks. With quotes or your own ramblings. You actually do go back to those some day.
  29. Make yourself some grandma’s herbal tea. Or have a glass of wine. Depends on the mood.
  30. Allow yourself to say no… and yes.
  31. Write a diary. Again, you do go back to those memories some day. Lessons are well preserved that way.
  32. Sleep. Take your time for it.
  33. Dream. Asleep and awake.

Waw, it’s a long one.

Good, life is good.

For Discover Challenge: The Poetry of List-Making.

Luxury in present tense is simple

Maybe luxury isn’t something we strive for, but something we are surrounded with already.

Maybe luxury isn’t something we strive for, but something we are already surrounded with. Talking from a privileged perspective, we already have that life full of things escaping a strong definition of absolutely necessary to stay alive and the rest, there only to give us a minor or a major pleasure. Even more, it seems luxury itself is escaping a permanent definition, and it is this which perhaps defines it most accurately.

Wouldn’t you say as well it changes with a certain perspective and the minute we pick another, items that fall into its category also change? Not just because for me luxurious is represented by a personal library, shelves boosting with books and music albums, a quality sound system, a few pretty and not cheap-looking handbags, an abundance of almost violet raspberries from my grandmother’s garden in my childhood and a Peruvian mango in the midst of Atacama. And for someone else it is some other exotic food and more or less expensive drinks, a dress or a watch, education or a room of one’s own, it is family time and seeing friends in person after years of absence. It can be so many things from individual points of view.

But sometimes it changes, because the world does first. Because the circumstances we live in change so dramatically that some things stop to matter and many other previously basic become luxury. Life teaches us the lesson soon enough, however should we live in fear of losing, of some Earthly, Society or History forces taking our life of ease away from us? It is not this I’m trying to say.

Yet, personally, I will cease seeing luxury things as something I desire to have in the future, as things I wish to pile around me. Although I will probably never stop piling books on my shelves and memories of travel in my mind. I will try to see it elsewhere as well, in the things already present. Does that make me an ascetic, try-to-be-monk or a defender of a minimalistic style of life?

I don’t know, I’m not trying to be anything. I’m just writing this as a personal reminder to try to change my perspective from time to time, to know I’m one of the lucky ones and see luxury in a glass of fresh water, as I used to say, and the comfort of my own bed.

Gosh, I really do become a smartass sometimes, don’t I?

via Daily Prompt: Luxury

No muses here. Just people.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with being a muse, quite the opposite, to be inspiring is a privilege. Nevertheless, I believe it’s wrong to be reduced to one, to shrink one’s existence to a dependence on the other.

You’ve heard those stories, right? It’s mine as well. Most of my young life, I’ve read I could be a muse at best. What if I don’t want to stay one? What if I come to realize that position can only give me a restraining passivity and empty adoration, while I don’t desire to be a cold statue, but an alive and kicking humane person?

The muse’s story is not her own, so I refuse to wish to be one. I’ll find my own inspiration in the richness and the beauty of this planet’s surface, the sky above it and the touch of its grounds that penetrate further, of our minds and dreams and sentiments.

Now, I know and read better. I can make my own story with just as burning enthusiasm.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with being a muse, quite the opposite, to be inspiring is a privilege. Nevertheless, I believe it’s wrong to be reduced to one, to shrink one’s existence to a dependence on the other.

That’s why I find there’s something uncanny about being an eager reader of classics as a young girl. You know it. You come across all these characters, building their personalities and living fearlessly or somehow profoundly and if you don’t pay enough attention, you only get to know the men.

It’s not really that there isn’t any strong female characters. Still, they aren’t there to tell their own story, but generally to be one of the pillars on someone else’s path. It takes some conscious alertness to what you choose to read next, willingness to search and change the pattern. It’s not hard, though. Not at all.

My reading-life challenge was the usual, I guess. After Hermann Hesse and André Gide, there came the Beats, the ultimate idols of zealous life and autonomous nature. A woman as a muse, angelic or demonic one, as an absence and ignorance, and then… What exactly is she supposed to be? Undemanding fervent lover, abandoned wife, untalented lost daughter, locked up mad or endlessly patient mother, their source of pleasure or a mirror, a platform to bounce off ideas, if at all…

What about the meaningfulness and individuality, embeddedness of her own voice in its creativity? What about her own impulsive yearnings for the road and the experiences?

Of course, it’s there. Always has been. Getting louder like a Janis Joplin’s roar in its climax.

So, I’m assigning to the other end of the tradition. Reading, writing, traveling – living.

Don’t know exactly where you’re going

When you’re focused on that one or a few things you absolutely have to see, then you forget about the fun and the view you might enjoy on the way there.

I’m not used to follow the to-do lists even if I do usually check them before departure-arrival time – just to get the sense of what to pay closer attention to. But there is one to-don’t I always comply with: don’t know exactly where you’re going.

It’s not only about the anti-adventurous spirit of precise goals and the narrowness of top-sight lists. It’s a fact: you ignore most of the city and definitely miss its point if you’re only interested in its monuments and the famous streets, statues, museums, cafés or whatever. When you’re focused on that one or a few things you absolutely have to see, then you forget about the fun and the view you might enjoy on the way there. You stay blind for all the possibilities, for the true face of the streets, for the essence of the city that is hiding right in between the main scenes.

You may walk through the same streets and look at the same things, but your attitude changes with the determination and precision of your goal. You don’t see the streets themselves, you only see them as a means to an end. I actually believe that even when you arrive at your destination, you only see what you expect to see and in any case you miss what everything is all about.

I can declare that with such confidence, because I’ve been there and done that. I felt safer at the beginning of my solo-travels if I knew exactly where I was going and what I would see, if I felt my time is clearly organised between several things and very importantly my day filled with activities. We always fear of being inactive, not to see enough and not to visit them all in the short amount of available time. Above all, we fear of being bored, especially when we travel alone. It’s a bitter irony that these are the reasons we end up missing things out and not savouring as much as we could.

One learns that pretty soon, though, if she continues to travel. I did too. I only needed a few days in a beautiful European metropolis to start my lesson of getting lost in city streets and letting my own intuition guide me. It was then I discovered their mood, their treasures, and my personal favourites.

Now, the only decision I have to make in the morning is to choose which quarter I’ll be exploring that day. Then, I only have to walk there (or take the public transport if it’s really too far) and see where the streets take me, not worrying at all about the top sights – they’re usually quite impossible to ignore anyway. It’s as simple and as delightful as it can get.

Yes, I’m afraid, yet grateful.

I’m afraid of the threat just as much as I am of our response to it.

I’m afraid of the world I live in. The wars, coups and attacks, the people’s comments and political agendas, the omnipresent power of money and greed. Sometimes, when I stop for a second and actually read the news I’m reading I become the child at 8 who only wondered and could never understand. No, I still don’t. I get anxious and terrified, I could cry, and do when I let myself, about all the complications we put ourselves through when life can be so simple… I learned, like everybody, to live with it, to be grateful that for now I’m here, in a so far still privileged country.

Nevertheless, the knot created in the night of the finishing hours the 13th of November last year, didn’t disappear, but is only growing with every new brutal headline I come across. I’m stupefied by the fact that some people have to live with these kind of threats daily and still manage to survive, have the will to survive. I sometimes just want to escape to a cabin in the far-away woods where the atomic bomb will at least catch me unexpectedly, in the midst of my solitary ordinary joys.

I’m afraid of the threat just as much as I am of our response to it. That I cannot simply dismiss my mother’s fear that someday in the near or not future the borders in our precious little Europe will close for good, while I’ll remain kilometres away, not being able to reach them. Is it an exaggeration? That the far right will win and dreams of community end for good, forgetting about the faces of the humans we reject.

I’m more afraid of our reaction to attacks than I am of themselves. The violence threatens me with death that I have accepted as a part of life, not matter how (unl)awful I may find its circumstances that stay well beyond my world of comprehension. The policies, enforced in their response, are the ones that ruin everything I believe in and force me to live in a world I do not accept as my own. If the year seems like a Quentin Tarantino film, as the internet ‘joke’ goes, we cannot afford the same distance we have while only watching.

It was on a free music festival at the city hall when something crystallized for me and yes, I realize how narrow-minded that sounds. A day after immigrants got evicted at Jaurès, the North of Paris, with new attacks going on in Germany and Afghanistan, with the latest one in France still echoing in our spirits. Security was more than tripled since last year, closing streets around it, checking bags and scanning everyone at the only entry, leaving only a couple of exits. On the first day a few days before, I was almost enraged by how they destroyed our joy and left us with a feeling we aren’t allowed to continue our lives normally, cancelling some events for ”lack of security” and limiting others, although I understood very well why all that caution. On the last one, a certain view cemented in me.

We so easily bought into a perspective, a logic of culpability and punishment in their totality, including everyone in advance, because no one can be trusted anymore. We answered with more fear and defensiveness, only rejecting, just as we rejected refugees and are now almost ignoring their predicament, giving guards, forces of order for whatever they may be, the power over them and ourselves. Letting all that happen for our mere survival, not even freedom as in some previous revolutions, an inch or two of a protected land, stepping into a vicious cycle of temporary non-solutions where all eventually gets infected.

So, are we really going to let them win? Proving their point better than they ever could? Isn’t it becoming clear that running away from our own responsibility isn’t an option anymore? That bloody bandages don’t work?

Yes, I’m afraid, yet grateful. I survived the 13th of November 2015, although I was meant to be at the Bataclan concert. I had a place to go, a sanctuary when fear crippled my limbs and darkened my heart, clutched my stomach, comforting hugs and voices, childish smiles of sharing escape the next day when streets were still haunted. I saw Paris in the January of 2015 with its first non-political response when République was a place of hope I’ve never seen before, a mass of celebrating a diversified unity quite like no other.

I had my doubts about it then. Now, I wish for it, I wish for unity celebrating differences, a unity that doesn’t exclude in the name of a mystified We, in a world where individualities interminglingly enrich each other.

I wish for those smiles that occasionally welcome one on our adventures, journeys across the world, when our obvious distinction from the environment or just as apparent disorientation cause spreading hands of help and efforts of communicating, understanding even through the barriers of language. Those smiles of curiosity, born from that part of ourselves where we lack the resemblance and fed by the other where we don’t. I wish for those smiles on our faces right now.

Because it’s not about ideas and values and systems and political parties, in the end it’s about humans, personalities, stories, faces, eyes and smiles on the other side.

Details grow with age.

In every detailed wrinkle the rose wears proudly and beautifully she can see there are lessons and experiences that never die inside of us.

Sometimes, a girl buys herself a rose after a certain celebration, hangs it upside down beside the window and leaves it there to dry for a month or two. Then, she puts it in a vase with another which she got as a gift, as a permanent reminder on her shelf, the first standing effortlessly, the second invariably reposing. In every detailed wrinkle the rose wears proudly and beautifully she can see there are lessons and experiences that never die inside of us. (For WPC.)

rose2Do you really wanna know,
About these lines on my face?
Well, each and every one is testament to
All the mistakes I’ve had to make
To find courage

– Villagers, Courage

 

 

The frailty’s shadow play

There is power, even more importantly there is humanity in embracing fragility and it is there we can sincerely approach and trust others.

Beauty always seemed frail to me. Just as life, it is of an elusive and melancholic nature, even more: it seems to be built on a certain kind of weakness, maybe even helplessness. For me, there is always some sadness in beauty, just as much as there is no sadness without beauty. I once shared this belief with someone and he replied that was because we found beauty so much bigger than us. I felt there was more, though.

It is a paradox, yet this play of indirect contrasts shows us how profound joy and profound sorrow coexist in the world. How separating one from the other is somehow cruel and sinful, and most of all it is blind and sturdy.

The more I live and open up, the more I experience, the more I travel and discover, the more world I see and people I meet, the more I feel that is true. Whether it is out of a desire to advance, a quest after earthly pleasure or a reluctance to accept mere contentment, the result sums up to the recognition that saying yes to life is confirming its entirety and cuting off pain is denying it. It is funny it was just as much through traveling than reading all this finally fell into place for me.

Is it not the same with our personalities and relationships? Somehow, it is often our weaknesses that not just make us who we are, but incidentally build our genuine strenghts as well. I know people consider me weak, not confident and consequently easy to manipulate, but they do not realise it is in my shyness, silence and distance I find and form myself and that is why their advances so often just bounce off if they do not come from sincere closeness. There is power, even more importantly there is humanity in embracing fragility and it is there we can sincerely approach and trust others.

Because is it not in the middle of our intimate sharing of frailty we find love, ultimately?

Take the weakest thing in you
And then beat the bastards with it

– Stars, Hold On When You Get Love And Let Go When You Give It

The under-appreciated moments of being on the way

I remember how I loved the journey, the act of being on the way to somewhere, as a child. It was the moments of observing the world around me I adored so much.

I remember how I loved the journey, the act of being on the way to somewhere, as a child, always being a bit disappointed at the moment of arrival when it inevitably ended, even if I sincerely wanted to see my destination. It was the moments of observing the world around me I adored so much.

There was a certain unconscious thrill and a conscious delight in the calm back seat of the car, going to my grandmother’s or being on a trip in an unknown country, devoting all my attention to the passing scenes of the streets and the highway, fields and forests, people on their errands, sneaking a peek on their balconies or through the windows. All of life seemed available on the plate to my eyes, thoughts and feelings. It was a meditation of sorts, maybe it was even an escape. The afternoon bus ride home from school, with my headphones on, as a break between lessons and homework, friends and family. No matter how much of a routine it was, can I still see a message in there, in how I savoured it ritually every day?

How in those moments I let everything be as it was, I let myself be as I was, letting gently go at each moment the scene that passed or the thought that arose. Feelings sliding from one to the other in a perpetual flow, the physical movement of the road somehow translating into their fluidity. Yes, life stopped in a way, got away from everyday duties, yet it was more than that, it dedicated itself only to that present which didn’t even feel like waiting. You see, I didn’t see the purpose of that half an hour in the stop where I got off, but in those minutes alone.

I sometimes wish I could see life itself that way, not obsess about the goal of it. Of course, we need a sense in it, and maybe we sometimes need to rush around blindfolded, numb and unaware. Nevertheless, I sometimes want to have that feeling that we will somehow get there, wherever it is, that it doesn’t really matter, and that all that really does is that we savour this moment in front of us, because it is beautiful in itself.

I usually have it while I travel, but then again, it might be just because it is a retreat from ”real life”. And in a certain way, I was in this mood when I moved to Paris. Everything was so unsure that the future didn’t matter, each moment was a bitter-sweet battle I treasured and then knowingly lost. Now, I enjoy my ordinary days, still the questions creeped in. Where does this lead and does it have a final goal?

Maybe we aren’t even truly supposed to have a mindful mood all the time, who knows?! I miss it, though.

I think that is why I need to flee and take an actual journey every so often. That at least for that one or a couple of days those questions don’t weigh on me and I only enjoy the moment I am given, focus my whole awareness on the taste it leaves on my senses and the sentiments it awakes.

More so, maybe that is how I will learn to finally extend it as well.

Will vs. Strength

The more you go through, the more you can go through.

Why we push ourselves out and go live somewhere without a proper safety net, putting ourselves in situations where things aren’t as self-evident anymore? And how can we keep up with all the challenges, surviving things one after another and still see sense in it all?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about a change of phrases that could lead to the change of perspective. They say it helps to motivate yourself if you say ‘I want to do this’ instead of ‘I need/must… do this’. But what bothered me is the ‘I can’t do this, this is just not possible for me to do…’. Is there really anything, besides things limited by physics and ethics, that we genuinely cannot do?

Maybe we should start saying ‘I don’t want to do that’ and lift from ourselves the burden of incapability, defeat and fear. Let us know that if we wanted to, we would somehow manage (because truth be told we always do when we have to), but are deciding not to – for whatever reason. We have the freedom to say no to things, but if we decide for ourselves what we want to do or not and in the same time know why, we might perceive ourselves differently and feel much stronger as well. We could take back the responsibility and the freedom to choose without the pressure of fear.

There has been so many things in the last few weeks and months that I had to go through and by that I mean overcome totally by myself that I started wondering where the limit is. I said ”I’m done, I’ve had enough…” and collapsed so many times that I, as they say, simply stopped counting. Even the simple idea of me learning new things about myself and my personal strength became unbearable – I didn’t want more of these wannabe lessons and trials I couldn’t believe in anymore. But I still kept going. Somehow. Not sure how.

Is it really all just motivation? That idea you have in mind on why you’re doing this and why, in a way, you don’t have a choice anymore once you made your decision. Now, you’re here – deal with it. Now, you cannot give up. And to be honest, you know quite well why – because you don’t want to. Because every fibre in your body says it’s not time yet. Because you’ve developed some weird trust in yourself on the way here which you now can’t let go. Because you now know you can do this and you choose to do it again and again and again.

And so, the more you go through, the more you can go through. Personally, I find this one of the most valuable lessons in life.

Autonomy in all its glory

I’ve been too stubborn about it, like a blindfolded hurt buffalo thrusting my way through every relation I had, family, friends or love, it didn’t matter. All they had to know and what I wanted to feel was the eternal I don’t need anybody, any-F*-body, ok?

If I had to personally define autonomy (it’s the daily prompt, yes), I would say: ”that independence from anyone and anything as the one single thing I’ve strived for my whole life”. I’ve been too stubborn about it, like a blindfolded hurt buffalo thrusting my way through every relation I had, family, friends or love, it didn’t matter. All they had to know and what I wanted to feel was the eternal I don’t need anybody, any-F*-body, ok?. You can guess it all pretty much went wrong, except my precious family and a few friends who somehow saw through my walls to the core that they, God knows why, appreciated. I was lucky.

I’ve reached my autonomy quite closely in the past year, moving to a foreign country, going through the basic bureaucracy, finding the appartement and a job, the financial stability that followed and allowed me to take care of myself alone (which is still far more than most of my generation can say, unfortunately), and then starting to create life around it. All the while, hearing comments from people: ”You’re so brave, how can you do all of this on your own?!” and never really understanding their meaning. I mean… I was sort of used to it, you know? Ok, not to the bureaucracy and the stress of finding all those things that are self-evident back home, but in a way I was used to being on my own. It was tough and exhausting and so awful sometimes, but it didn’t bother me for real. I wanted to be on my own in this, that was the whole point of it, after all. (I do admit, though, I had the moral support from my family, even if miles away.)

But then, there came a certain point. A point when I became too tired to deal with anything. Often even too bored and sick of everything to force myself to go out alone – an unbelievably horrible point for someone who usually enjoys the most going to concerts, shows, museums, cinema or on trips when going alone. When more or less minor problems started, from losing my job to struggling in a certain relationship, I all of sudden heard myself saying ”I don’t want to do this on my own anymore and why would I have to? I’m tired of being alone in this.” It hit like a metal basketball right in the left side of my skull. I felt like I was losing a part of myself, I felt defeated even, and with every passing day more confused. Did I screw it up completely, or what?! Wasn’t this exactly what I wanted?!

The thing is, however, it never happens all of a sudden. That part of me who still felt the need to connect with people was always there, and I just suffocated it too stiffly by putting all the importance on my independence from them. I didn’t see how relying on someone, letting them help you or at least be by your side, has a whole spectrum of variations and always moving limits I can keep re-creating with them and in that way allow myself the autonomy and the interdependence at the same time. Like everything in life, it is not black and white and we should never make it that way.

I’m in the learning process now, I guess…

The hidden pearls

That’s the thing with travel. The best and the most memorable moments catch and refresh you unexpectedly like a shower of rain on a steamingly hot day.

That’s the thing with travel. The best and the most memorable moments catch and refresh you unexpectedly like a shower of rain on a steamingly hot day. They smooth your mood like the soft comfort of your own bed after a long series of hard-working hours. They are pearls found in the field of grass. Admittedly, it is the all-of-a-sudden-ness and the contrast that highlights their beauty.

I remember a grey day in the middle of October, somewhere between Cappadocia and Olympos, in a town with no other obvious landmark or a must-see sight than its own melancholic feeling, sneaking around the corners of blackened houses. I remember our own fatigue and weariness after a night spent on a bus that seemed to swallow the remains of our enthusiasm. The clouds were pressuring low on our heads and the raindrops had no sympathy for our clothes.

We expected nothing more, nothing worth mentioning. We were just waiting for the weather to pass, for the time to come when we would get on the road again, in thoughts already on the pretty beaches of Olympos. But we had to eat and fortunately enough our guide treasured in his soul the everlasting excitement — and the knowledge of the region. We let him lead us,  knowing there is no escaping following him: the hills and paths of Cappadocia taught us well.

He brought us to a small cosy restaurant on a not-really-busy street and we sat among the dirty walls, behind simple large tables with jars of water in the middle of every one of them (no one dared to drink it). Our laughter fuelled by curiosity filled the air between the seats. I remember looking at other girls, wondering who would check the toilet first (one of them later returned shaking her head with a smile). We had no idea what was about to be brought before us, we were only aware of our own longing bellies.

Two meals soon came, followed by murmuring response of a common ‘yuuum’. I was glad to be a vegetarian immediately after the first bite. Even others were for the first time envious when they tasted the non-meat option of the menu, despite the tasty chicken on their plates. It was simple baked dough with lots of melting cheese on top, but it left such a deliciously amusing sensation on my tongue, it left me wondering what else was in there. I wasn’t sure I actually wanted to know.

It still seems improbable, but this stayed in my memory as one of the most memorable meals of my life to this day. I sometimes ask myself if it can really beat the pad thai on Koh Lipe, the falafel with its amazing red sauce in a tiny Parisian shop, the veggie burger on one of the London markets, the uncountable flavours of Tuscany. It is definitely up there somewhere in my mind with all of them and more, locked as the symbol of hidden and unexpected treasures on the way to everywhere.

Oh yes it was a pearl found in the field of grass – of the dry yellowy one for that matter. But what travelling with a whole bunch of precious stones you came home with teaches you is that sometimes these stones are the grass itself, no matter what colour, size or thickness, doesn’t it? — Oh yes you do learn to be all sentimental about the meaning of life when you try to assemble these footprints of the past, but why avoid it? It spices up your life like that secret ingredient I’ll never know.

Joie de vivre

I’ll never forget that weird Saturday afternoon 8 years ago when I arrived to Paris, alone for the first time…

I’ll never forget that weird Saturday afternoon 8 years ago when I arrived to Paris, alone for the first time, driving with a stone in my guts to the 19th arrondissement where I was staying, but not sure how to feel really, me – a petite and timid teenage girl.

I just stood in the middle of the room that was meant to be my home for the next couple of weeks, looking at my own hands, not sure what to do next, somewhat nervous, yes, but mostly just confused. Should I unpack or go out, eat something or find the nearest metro station? After some time had passed without any kind of specific action from my side, I heard the old lady’s voice, shouting my name with her harsh tone and strong French accent, saying she was about to go to the market. ‘’Would you like to join me?’’

My face turned into an indecisive grimace – no, I really wasn’t feeling particularly social at that moment and hanging out with a little stereotype of a severe French Madame was not my idea of a relaxing first day. I was afraid to be impolite though, so I shouted downstairs a gracious OUI – J’arrive!

The decision turned out to be a confirmation to the ancient advice Say yes to things. No, she was still making me uncomfortable every step of the way, her face features that made even a friendly smile look like a patronizing pat on one’s shoulder, the way she carried her shopping trolley bag that reminded me of every single prejudice people might have about the proud Frankish nation. But it was the atmosphere of a small street market that erased the frowns and smoothed my nerves.

The Arabic vendors with their energy-full laughs, the smells and the flavours of fresh fruit, so much sweeter and richer than the ones at home, the sounds of people yelling their offers, tooting cars, the sea of folks, the burning sun in the absence of a calming breeze. Everything transformed into murmuring music for my ears, a colourful painting for my eyes, into fullness of life for every single sense I might have (more than those five, I believe). On my first solo-traveller day, I got to feel the best of what you can get when you dive into a city and its life – that is the life of its own residents.

Thus, it is because of Paris I love London and its fabulous, world’s best markets. No, it is because of Paris I keep falling in love with cities, period. (Even my own humbly lovely Ljubljana.) Yes, it is because of Paris I love the city life, the street life: the life.

All because of that moment when I first truly experienced joie de vivre.

The dark side of the thrill

There is a point in solo-travel when you get uncomfortably nervous.

There is a point in solo-travel when you get uncomfortably nervous. It only comes once in a while and you can recognize it right away by the feeling it leaves in all of your vital organs and on both sides of your limbs and you can separate it from sheer excitement by the squeaking sensitivity in the back of your head. And it’s not the same as simply being worried about missing your flight because of the bus delay and constantly checking your watch. It’s much nearer to the reaction of your guts when a somewhat odd guy sits next to you and just doesn’t stop talking and asking you for your phone number or time to meet-up. It’s the point when your desire to walk everywhere and get lost in the unknown streets turns against you.

It sometimes happens in Porto, on your first day there, only a few hours after you arrived and found an empty hostel bed at the last minute. It probably happens just when you start to love the rough side of the city, its messy mood and buildings with a character. It always happens after the night falls and when you still aren’t anything near your intended location. You know: when you come to the same place over and over again, not sure which turn you already took before, looking around for someone, but the square is empty and street lamps hardly shed a light on its corners. You have no idea where you are really. You realize your map (if you have one) is of no help at all. Then, your intuition plays a funny trick on you, saying you should take the darkest and the narrowest street of all.

So, you do. And guess what: it was right, as always. In ten minutes or so, you’re already taking a shower, forgetting about the intimidating feeling you had not so long ago, improving your mood by mute whistling. Because that’s how it goes: if you’re lucky enough to pass that point smoothly, you never think of it again with that same nervous feeling. While remembering it, you always confuse it with the exciting bits and believe they are all the same. Your memory only keeps the thrill.

The Mysterious Ways of Intuition

Do you ever wonder how intuition works in mysterious ways? How you can sometimes just know things after the first glance and sometimes the first impression completely misleads you… So, how does it work?

Do you ever wonder how intuition works in mysterious ways? How you can sometimes just know things after the first glance and sometimes the first impression completely misleads you…

I couldn’t see my best friend when I saw a shyly vivid blond girl sitting in the first row on our first day of high school, but then I immediately knew I had to speak to a guy I met in a hostel just by observing his movements on my first night there. I’m still glad he did two evenings later, because he was one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met.

I almost didn’t send my application for the job (and was near to cancelling the interview later) which I at the end got and am still very grateful for, because it was the reason I was able to stay in Paris for a whole year (and counting…).

However, I knew from the very first step that the street I was walking on would once be my home. And indeed, a year later I’m doing my groceries and laundry right there and living just around the corner from it.

So, how does it work?

Is it just us not listening to it? Does it sometimes mislead us on purpose? Or, is it sometimes simply not there?

Or maybe it’s never there and it’s just us believing in something and working for it, making it a reality, our reality?

I can’t decide.

And maybe, it doesn’t really matter in the end. If we just let life be.

What Chile gave me

”This is what happens when you travel.” ”No,” he said. ”This is what happens when you open up.”
Atacama, this is for your gifts.

”This is what happens when you travel.” ”No,” he said. ”This is what happens when you open up.” I didn’t answer, because what he said was so right it stood strongly on its own. I needed to come all wrecked to this desert, to this magic little place in the middle of South America to see the stars in all their clarity for the first time in my life.  And in their shining tirelessly and obliviously to our attention, I heard a conclusion to a certain story. Atacama, this is for your gifts.

I was merciless to Santiago atacama2during my first week in Chile, finding a few places I adored and feeling a strong apathy towards everything else. I came wounded and the city buzz and violent chaos couldn’t cure my fragile weakness and mental emptiness. Not this time. Markets, street art and a certain hill attempted bravely to do their thing, but their powers faded after a couple of concentrated moments. And then came the Monday I happily left it, but feeling the knot of anxiety growing inside of me all along the 24-hour ride to San Pedro, I thought to myself I was getting into something I was even less ready for. I do not have the energy for dealing with all the unavoidable tourism agencies, I’m a self-organized solo-traveler, please no. When I think I almost canceled it and went straight to Valparaiso, I can only be grateful for my occasional stubbornness.

Because I came, I saw, and I was conquered.

Right after getting off the bus, I felt the welcoming vibe of the town in the form of a local who, occupied with his own clumsy grandmother, but seeing my fatigued confusion, kindly showed me the way to the main street … twice, the second time even before I approached him myself again. In that empathetic smile, followed by a confirmative nod, I could already see there are places on this Earth not even tourism can ruin. At the hostel ten minutes later the same positive energy was lightly flying in the air, enveloping the colourful cushions, hammocks, steel structures and canvases. On my last night, sharing glasses of red Chilean wine with local guides, I was thanking God strongly for the exact same reason. Funny, how many times during traveling through an unknown country one’s agnosticism fails.

Yes, there is no place for an empty atheism here, feeling the strong power of nature in its vastness, beauty and a certain kind of timelessness that shows in a form of an atacama3imperceptibly slow change to human eyes through a long un-narrated history.  In its nothingness that is ever so full. ”Welcome in the middle of nowhere,” said our guide with a satisfied look and glow in his eyes, during our first stop on my last tour that Friday morning, after a bumpy road-less ride. All around us was only a never-ending stone and sand of the Andes plateau, somewhere in the distance there was already a salt lake waiting for us to see it, but right now, our glances rested on that eternal emptiness that was shining more calmly in its perseverance than those always buzzing lights of our vacated cities.

No, I couldn’t get away from the healing power of nature here, ever since I got on the first tour with two optimistic and helpful Americans and a bunch of Chileans, mixed with Brazilians, by my side. When I finally got my feet set on the dusty paths of the Moon Valley, caressing the salty rocks with the end of my fingers and the extra-terrestrial landscape with my pupils. The peace of your soul comes in the form of gratitude and acknowledging your own luck, sitting at the edge of a stone and admiring a sunset, colours painting their tones on the dehydrated soil. Looking forward to getting up early after a sleepless night, just to go all the way up to the 4000m and feel the cold wind messing up your hair while you’re trying to convince yourself that this time you are not looking at the high-quality National Geographic poster. No, the Red stones and the lake and the Volcano are right there at the sight of your own eyes and camera. But relax and don’t take too many pictures, it’s the living memory of the moment that counts, leave some space for the stones of the Rainbow Valley and some breaths to take away to the Salt Flats and the flamingoes…

Until the evenings come and you share a talk over a fire with some French, New Zealanders and Germans, or music enthusiasm over a beer with Chileans who escaped Santiago for the long weekend. Until the last evening comes and you end up at the end of the road from town, after a long-awaited home-cooked meal and a couple of glasses of wine,  feeling the sand everywhere under your clothes even when only sitting still, getting it into your sticky hair when you lie down to see the sky better. And there they are then, the stars, the constellations, the Milky way. And you once again start breathing. You found the joy you had been looking for, running hopelessly through the streets. You feel content, finally, for a moment at least.

And then you hear: ”Some people, we travel the world to open ourselves up and then we return home and see some of us are able to do this right there on their doorsteps. But ultimately, there is no right or wrong … There are only different ways for love to get to us.” And you silently agree.

Because you chose your path, now you can peacefully follow it and feel the love flowing in and out of you all along the journey. Because you are good and always will be.

I realized why I like Paris better than London.

It’s far more honest – it doesn’t hide its ugly truth from you by a series of misleading disguises. Here, you see the dirty side of the city every day on your way to work, home, party… you walk past it and can never avoid it, no matter how fancy the quartier is supposed to be. You can smell it on the public transport and on the streets, it hits you right in the face when you least expect it to, you hear it blazing through your headphones, ever more loudly, getting harder and harder to ignore. No one really tries to erase or cover it. They can only try to push it aside, but it always stays in sight. It might be hard to bear this two-faced metropole, but at least there is no pretending, no artificial curtains to make you believe, to let you live in an illusion that the brilliant show is all there is.

So, yes, I choose this brutal reality in all its duality over ”one-sided” hypocrisy anytime.

Pushing through the blizzard

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…

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.

Why Paris?

For me, it is the diversity, the variety, the richness and the serenity in it. No other city has so far fascinated me as much with the infinity of quarters, avenues and parks that I keep discovering, all so very lovely and so individualistic-ly Parisian.

At the first glance, one of the easiest questions one can ask me is: ”Why Paris?” It seems so obvious and intuitively self-evident, that I can’t help but hear a rhetoric tone in it. It’s when I try to answer it that I find myself in trouble. I start uttering nonsense after nonsense, feeling pretty naive, thinking I must have fallen for a tourist attraction or some cliché or the artistic history… But after a minute or two, I realize the question gets the answer it deserves and satisfy myself with a stereotypical rebellion: ”Because it’s simply stunningly beautiful and I feel good here!” However, isn’t there more, much more? To be perfectly honest, isn’t there everything here?

I so often find myself walking through some random streets I usually don’t know the names of and couldn’t specifically point to on a map, mutely saying with a sigh or almost singing: ”This is why I love Paris.” Of course knowing quite well what I mean by it, but would find myself in the same muttering predicament if someone approached at that precise moment and suspiciously demanded: ”What is this this you’re talking about?” I would probably feel the same old sentiment that words don’t quite do it justice and just pathetically point to everything that would pass us by, to the buildings and the cars, to the people and the birds, the clouds above and asphalt ground below us, even to the dirty air surrounding us. And that is all I could really do. You have to feel the love and the joy of the city and its life, simply stop asking questions and experience it. Yes, here I am again, the same old me, servant of words, selfishly exclaiming line after line I prefer the five senses over them.

This time I will make an exception and try to describe what it is about Paris that is so enchanting and so very much intoxicating. Not by pointing out specific buildings or streets, monuments or museums, parks and river or canal banks, not by claiming it is the people who make the city what it is, although I could easily do that and it would all be completely true. I’ll take the other road, the abstract one which likes to generalize and pull out of the city its very core. At least the core it represents to me, since every single person would probably point out something else as the one thing that defines and captures it.75010

For me, it is the diversity, the variety, the richness and the serenity in it. No other city has so far fascinated me as much with the infinity of quarters, avenues and parks that I keep discovering, all so very lovely and so individualistic-ly Parisian. Each one having its own face and personality, but still joyously and proudly shouting from the top of its lungs that it is a part of the city, that it belongs to this particular labyrinth, and that it is to this city it owes its soul. It’s hard to miss this golden thread that connects them all, running from La Défense to Champs-Elysées, through Quartier Latin and Montparnasse all the way up to Belleville and La Villette, making another turn to reach Montmartre. They are all unique, though, and that’s what captivates me even more. How can one city have so many profiles and colours?

I know every city has its chic and its rough side, its blink-blink and its grayness, its black’n’white and its rainbow side, and all the shades in between, but what is so amazing in Paris for me is that you can find yourself in the most anonymously random small street, far away or just next to the attractions, through and through in love in what you see before you, falling deeply into the charm of its own spirit or only amused by the scene, but never cold and numb. Just step out of the room, open your senses and you’re there – no need for a map nor smart directions, just get on your comfortable shoes and walk, feel the city under your feet and watch the life passing you by…

Yes, I love this city so much I can’t help but get all pathetic and sentimental about it. I suppose I should feel the stress of it and the crowds in it as nerve-wracking, people so often murky and almost rude as depressing, its cold winter weather and the unbearable heat of the summer as unsuitable, but I can’t. I love the rain and the wind, I love the swearwords and the groans, I love the subtle dance through the sidewalks and the metro exits in the rush-hours. Most of all – I love its perpetually bubbling chaos which represents to me nothing less than pure excitement and life at its fullest. And that just may truly be inexplicable.

But — why?!

What does traveling or moving to a foreign city/country change? Isn’t it just an escape, a temporary illusion that your problems might resolve themselves there, that you might get to be a better and saner person in another place?

What does traveling or moving to a foreign city/country change? Can it change anything, really? Isn’t it just an escape, a temporary illusion that your problems might resolve themselves there, that you might get to be a better and saner person in another place?

A lot of people were asking me these questions when I started talking about moving to France, just because I feel better here. ”Why do you? I mean – it’s just a change of scenery, how can that change you? You are still the same unstable emotional wreck…” But — wait, no: I’m not. Well, I am in a way, because it’s never possible to truly escape oneself. I still have my downs as well as my ups, I still feel melancholy as f*** most of the time, I still have to fight with my passive aggressiveness, I still feel stupid and silly and weird and well not normal and mostly just out-of-place… But I change. Something in the deep shadowy place at the bottom of my personality shifts. Something hidden before lifts up towards the surface and takes its place under the sun. And something else can maybe take the well deserved break from its everyday working hours.

How can you explain that to someone who has never traveled or doesn’t understand the sense of travel?

I don’t think you can. I feel it is something you have to experience, not with a trip or two out of the city, not by going to an island and lay on a beach all day long. No. Go explore. Go see. Go listen. Go just — all out. Go out of what it is well-known to you. Go out of what you find ordinary. Because when you do that, you can’t act normally anymore, you can’t be the same old you, with the same old habits, routines you’ve perfected in years and years of practice. You are faced with different situations, you communicate in a foreign language, you walk through unknown streets, hell – you sleep in an unfamiliar bed and can eat completely bizarre food. You simply have to change. You have to bring out aspects of who you are you otherwise never would.

And : you meet people. How can that not change you? You realize you can create an incredible bond with someone you just met a minute ago. All of a sudden you’re sitting there, making jokes like old friends, you share meals and buy each other drinks, sometimes in the middle of a night you trust them stories you’ve never told anyone, you spend the whole day together and say goodbye the following morning, not knowing if you will see them again. Believe me – that changes you. It makes you feel grateful for every single person you get to know, even those who bored you like hell sometimes, telling anecdotes you just couldn’t laugh at, and even those who annoyed you at breakfast, before you got to drink the very first sip of coffee. Or sat there beside you on the bench, on your worst day, when you were about to cry, and just didn’t want to stop talking… Because : you learn.

And mostly: because it makes you realize there are people out there who get it. People you don’t have to explain why why why…! You can just say ”because I want to, because I feel like it, because it makes me feel good” and they won’t roll their eyes or look at you in a funny, pitiful way, but smile ”So, you’re like me then, nice.” And if there is a whole community of people out there who get it, of true personalities who follow their wildest desires, then why care about those who don’t? I can try to explain to them how travel teaches you things you can never learn otherwise, but if they cannot appreciate that, why bother?

So, what I’m trying to say is that I think it’s pretty much the same when moving abroad. It’s just an extension of travel, a long-term exploration that faces you with a whole new level of unknown situations. And it does that when you’re on your own, with no background story, attaching you to the place, with no backbone of people, closest to you. It’s just you, building your life from scratch.

Oh yes, you change, oh yes, you go all out. Because once you’re there, you don’t really have a choice anymore.

”It is important in life not to be strong, but to feel strong, to measure yourself at least once. If you want something in life, reach out and grab it.”
Christopher McCandless

Take music to the streets!

I have to ask: Do you imagine London markets without music? Port Vell in Barcelona? Lisbon or Paris metro? Jardin de Luxembourg? Sacré-Cœur? Prešeren square, Tromostovje, Čevljarski most in Ljubljana?

I know you can, but I don’t want to. After seeing and experiencing them with awesome melodies and rhythms, that is how I always remember and hear them.

Folk on Brick Lane, salsa and reggae at Barcelona docks, a girl with an acoustic guitar at Terreiro do Paço station, l’accordéon in a metro train, classical piano in one of the pavilions, a high-powered Italian guy on the stairs that lead to the basilique and countless acts at my best known places in Slovenia: from gypsy to country, from African drums to jazz saxophone, from people who have it – that special something, the energy – to the ones that… well not so much.

I have to admit: I’m not a huge fan of Barcelona. It’s a lovely city with fantastic energy, but I prefer Paris or London. But it’s the best city as far as street musicians are concerned. The best, really! All the tourists in Park Güell drove me crazy, but the fact that there was an interesting or excellent musician/band on every single corner captivated me. And I still remember every single one of them: the fado band, the bossa nova guitarist, the blues singer, the crazy hippy electric-guitarist, the trio with the most passionate and charismatic female voice I heard in a while.

Music is what defines the city’s atmosphere for me and leaves the long-lasting impression on my personal vision of the place I’m in (hometown included). And after all the lessons in walking through various, mostly European cities, a fascination with street musicians and their quality has only grown bigger and higher in my soul. I might be biased because of the adorable acoustics of charming streets, but aren’t artists in truth the ones who make them so delightful?

Mundus or Why I travel

For if the sense of myself being alive is not about the travels, adventures and experiencing the world in its fullness, what is then?

There are a lot of things that impress me in life. A melodic song on the radio that stays in my ears all day long and makes me smile every time I whisper its tones, makes me want to dance in the street. A simple sentence that conveys the sense of beauty in just a few words. A cheese-pie, especially my grandmother’s one, sweet, crispy … mhm … delicious. A magnificent cathedral, pyramids, Buddhist temples, mosques… Faithful people who can believe and pray to something never seen, never heard, never touched. Or sometimes it is just a simple glass of water after a long hot summer day.

But still – there is nothing like nature, despite the comfort, convenience, accessibility, accommodation and luxury of the human world. A scent of meadow in spring, daily sunrises and sunsets, all blushed, frozen trees, covered in snow, extraordinary shapes of clouds, blueness of the sky, waves, lonely island in the middle of a huge ocean with a small palm for its charming decoration. It seems so effortless, but so incredibly fascinating, marvelous, divine.

—- And here I was, somewhere in Africa, few kilometres from Mombasa,savana standing in a van while driving on a bumpy and dusty road, watching the landscape, trees and grass of savanna, flying birds, termite mounds. I was relaxed, enjoying, not worrying at all. (I did not think about how I was maybe destroying all that just by being there – all safari tourists forget that.) I let the wind to mess up my hair, the sun to warm up my skin and the red dust to change the flavour on my tongue. It did not matter really. No one could see me, no one could judge me.

The sun was slowly approaching the horizon when I heard someone calling: ‘Look, look!’ I turned my head and, not far away from the van, I saw a group of elephants, all red because of the soil. Well, that sounds like a real cliché but it sincerely was like a dream come true. While planning our journey to Kenya, the most important goal I had was seeing these amazing animals live. Now, they were there, just few metres away from me.

slonWe stopped to observe them closely. The father looked concerned about the audience, he felt insecure so he soon led his family across the road and further away, into the safe haven of tall bush. Since the male was anxious, while trying to protect his family, he came closer to the van. The driver frightened and quickly started the engine. The scene was over.

It lasted just for a few thoughtless moments but it was breathtaking. Just a few seconds of feeling happy, light, when you feel like a part of the nature even if that is a lie. When I returned home, I chose the photos of the elephants as the background on my computer and saved them on my iPod so they could be with me every time I felt blue, remembering me about the things I experienced and about what makes life worth living. For if the sense of myself being alive is not about the travels, adventures and experiencing the world in its fullness, what is then?