Odd Memory

As a kid, I had a very strange reaction to the news of death. When I heard that somebody had died I wanted to laugh, and my lips created a creepy grin that shocked me, myself, infinitely. I knew it was wrong to smile, but I couldn’t help it, I felt like laughing.

First time it happened when I was in the second grade. The teacher entered the class and stood at the blackboard. Some boys in the back of the room didn’t notice her and kept giggling over some stupid joke one of them had made.

“Who can laugh on such a tragic day!” the teacher suddenly yelled. The boys in the back of the room got quiet, and the rest of us looked up at the teacher in silent surprise. “Don’t you know that a member of the government died last night?”

I didn’t. But when I heard it I wanted to laugh. I didn’t know why, it wasn’t funny, and the teacher’s angry face looked scary, but my mouth betrayed me and started creating a smile. I bit my lip and lowered my head to hide my face so that nobody could see it and think that I can laugh on such a tragic day.

The teacher decided that I was deeply moved by the sad news. She came up to me and stroke my head. That was tough: I wanted to laugh even harder.

Years passed. I don’t smile at the news of death anymore. On the contrary, I get upset when people I love leave this world. But when I think of that day when the member of the government died I still can’t imagine what was in the teacher’s head and why she expected small kids to care about some total stranger’s destiny.

 

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My Two Cents

Today is Blog Action Day and everyone discusses inequality. I guess I can add my two cents.

I believe we all are not equal to each other. And I’m not only talking about social differences like economical status of your family or your race, ethnicity, religion, gender etc. These characteristics are obvious, but to me, they don’t really matter because they don’t describe a person behind all those social labels. I truly don’t care about them, but I believe in inequality although I see it from a different perspective.

Inequality makes life interesting. We are not equal. And when I say that I mean we all, from the very beginning of our lives, are given different abilities. Some of us are extremely talented in mathematics while others are totally hopeless in adding three to one. Some are born athletes and others can’t grab a ping-pong racket properly. Some paint from childhood and grow up into great artists and others never learn how to draw a simple line. We are not equal. But is it bad? Not at all.

Inequality makes us different, and this is a wonderful thing. If we all were the same, if we looked the same physically and had the same pack of skills we would want to do the same, we would have one profession for all of us and we all would have to live the same life. It’s hard to imagine a society made of mathematicians or athletes only, but that’s how it would be. We would be a planet of multiple and extremely boring twins. Who needs that? Nobody. Such a monolithic society would never survive.

Inequality has another side that’s called uniqueness. If you are not able to do something that others do so easily and you envy them day and night it still doesn’t mean you are worse than those ‘lucky’ ones. It just means you have your talent hidden in another place. And if you cling to the idea that you are not equal to those who can do something you can’t you will never give yourself a chance to find out what makes you different, what makes you unique and special.

So I would say don’t care about being similar or equal to somebody else in anything, from social status to everyday habits. Find what is unique about you, what you have that nobody else has, and your inequality to others won’t ever bother you at all.

 

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Twenty-Four Are Enough

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When people say, “I wish I had time for this or that,” it usually means they don’t really want to do this or that. Yes, time given to us is limited, and every day contains only 24 hours, no more, no less. But the way we use these hours shows what really matters to us and what doesn’t.

When I don’t find time for something it’s because I am not interested enough to squeeze it in, and even if another hour or two were added to every day of my life I would still spend them doing something else. I would choose to do what I love, not what I claim to love.

Many years ago, when I studied at the university, one of the professors told us about a scientist whose name I unfortunately forgot (but it’s still a true story). That man never lost a minute of his life. If he had to spend fifteen minutes on a bus he would open a French vocabulary to learn some new words. If he had to stand in line in the post office he would read a book about insects (he was a physicist, but flies and cockroaches were a sphere of his interests too). When he had five minutes or even one, he always used it for some meaningful purpose, he read, wrote, studied and so on. And, as a result, he achieved a lot in many different areas of human knowledge.

The professor told us about this scientist to impress and force us to follow his example, to read and learn and improve ourselves nonstop, every minute of our lives. I don’t know if anyone took it the way the professor expected. Many students decided the scientist was just a cuckoo, and nobody expressed a wish to follow his steps. I was intrigued by the idea of not losing time and convinced that 24 hours can be used in a very productive way. But come on, do you really want to live like this, keeping a textbook in every pocket? I don’t. You can add a hundred hours to every day, and I still won’t find time for so much learning because no matter how I claim I want to know everything the truth is I don’t really care.

Twenty-four hours are enough for everything I do, now, today, in my life. And when I don’t do something it’s not because ‘I don’t have time’. It’s just because I don’t really want to and I need to have a solid excuse.

 

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When It’s Time to Talk…

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The more the merrier, they say. But I’m not sure they’re right. The more the noisier, that is a fact. When a big joyous group gathers around the table and every its member talks at the same time, impatiently interrupting others or simply not listening to anyone but themselves, that is fun, maybe, but surely it’s not a conversation. It’s a polyphonic or rather cacophonic concert for a well-trained ear. I witness this once in a while when it’s time to celebrate someone’s birthday.

l prefer more intimate meetings when in a small circle, over a cup of tea, you can discuss for hours whatever it is the area of your interests, from the latest fashion news to the nuances of semantic difference between comma and semicolon. Believe me, the latter can happen. I even remember that I myself talked about it once.

Inner monologues are also a good example of informative pastime although they are not a conversation, technically. They are pure rambling and blabbering (this post is not an exception). And what else could they be if there’s nobody to interrupt you or object to your flawless arguments? You are always right when you talk to yourself. And you are also the best listener ever because you wholeheartedly agree with yourself, no matter what. And if suddenly you hear another voice inside you that has doubts about something you have just thought it means a monologue turned into a dialogue, your mind is split and you are a bit of schizo. It’s probably time to visit a shrink, or two. The more the merrier. Or that’s what they say.

 

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Rebelling in the Rain

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Image Credit: lesley-oldaker@Deviant Art

It was his fourteenth birthday, and he didn’t want to go home even though he was all soaked through. Since he never listened to the weather broadcast or his mother he wasn’t prepared for this sudden, though predicted downpour that now was hitting him with its big and heavy drops.

He didn’t care. He stood in the middle of the street and watched people hide under umbrellas and hurry away to get under the roof as soon as possible. They ran to their safe spots, to their dry worlds.

He looked at a couple that shared a small umbrella and, huddling, tried to speed up the steps, but instead of walking faster they waddled clumsily and stumbled every so often. “One shelter for two never works,” he thought. “That’s how they feel home too. Their love is as awkward as this run in the rain. It’s all a big lie.”

He looked up at the grey sky. The water flew down his neck, and he felt its cold touch under his collar. “You are bullies!” he cried at the clouds. “Why do you make us suffer?” The clouds ignored the question. “I won’t let you win!”

A man, scurrying by, threw a scared glance at the boy and then immediately looked away.

“Keep running!” the boy yelled at the man’s back. “He thinks I’m crazy. But I’m the only one who is not,” he told himself. “I’m right, and I won’t leave. The rain makes all of you hide in the stuffy cages you call apartments, in the small worlds with annoying routines you call life.” He lifted the collar of the wet jeans jacket and shivered.

“I’ll stay outside. Yes, I’ll get wet, so what? No big deal, I won’t get cold. And even if I die of pneumonia it still will be better than pretending that I’m happy.”

“It’s better here, outside,” he kept convincing himself. “I’ll walk along the streets, I’ll be among people, and I won’t feel lonely. I’m one of them even though they don’t realize it, they don’t recognize me in their blind haste.”

“I’ll stay. Maybe the rain is not a bully at all, maybe it’s just a reminder that you can’t hide from what’s inside you, from the pain that eats you, no matter how strongly you wish to avoid it. I’ll stay. I won’t go home. Nothing that waits for me there can help me. I don’t want to see their false smiles. I don’t care about their stupid cake. I don’t need their fake love. I don’t care because they don’t care.”

The rain let up. Passers-by kept running past a small wet figure frozen in its desperate try to prove the point.

 

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Photo Challenge #29 “Passing Through”

 

The Tank Travel Dream

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When I was a kid I read a lot of sci-fi, and one of the books impressed me so much that I wanted to repeat a trick described in it. The idea of the story (the author’s name and the title escape me now) was that if you find a building that has not changed at all and has stayed untouched for a certain period of time you have a door leading into the past. All you have to do is enter this place, convince yourself that you are in the chosen period (the book’s character was hypnotized for first couple of times, and then he learned how to put himself in trance on his own), and go out to the street some years ago. As simple as that.

The protagonist made several trips to the end of the nineteenth century, fell in love with a beautiful girl and decided to never come back, even knowing about all the dramatic events of the twentieth century that lay ahead of him. Love was worth it, he thought.

I wasn’t looking for love in the past. I was only amazed with the idea that a simple building can be a door into another world. I shared this thought with a friend of mine, and then together we started running round the city and looking for a place that might suit us. We weren’t lucky. There were some old buildings, of course, but they were reconstructed or half-destroyed. They wouldn’t work. Finally we found something. It wasn’t a building, it was a monument. A real tank that stood in the middle of the square as a reminder of the Second World War.

“We should get inside,” a friend of mine said. “The tank is the same as it was fifty years ago. We can go to the sixties and have fun.”

I agreed, we could have fun in the sixties, and I already started thinking what I should wear to look modern in the past. But we still had to find the way to get inside the tank. I suspected that the hatch cover might have been locked, but we couldn’t be sure until we checked. The problem was we couldn’t climb up there, the monument was too high. For a couple of days we walked around the tank like hungry cats smelling fresh fish, trying to figure out how we can bring a ladder and get in, not attracting anyone’s attention. Should we do it at night?

Then suddenly doubts crawled in. I thought that yes, the tank is exactly the same, nobody disturbed it for years, but the dust inside must have changed. Every molecule matters, the book said. Can the new dust be an obstacle on the way to our adventure?

A friend of mine had her fears too. “What if we just get insane?” she said.

“What do you mean?”

“What if we get in the tank, convince ourselves we are in the past, then go out to the present, thinking we are in the past because we’ve gone mad?”

This was a very complex concept for me. I was only preoccupied with the possible dust disorder. Still, the magic was ruined: I knew she didn’t truly believe it was possible, and I, deeply inside, didn’t believe it either. We walked around the tank for another day, and then dropped the idea to climb in. Our doubts won over. Plus, we never found a ladder. But I still think it would be cool to go to the sixties or just to see what’s inside the tank.

 

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The Dog City

I live in Santiago, Chile. When I first moved in here I was shocked by the amount of street dogs. They are big and small, they are everywhere and they seem to own the city.

If I ride my bicycle and there is a dog, sleeping on the road right in front of me, he won’t move. He won’t even open his eyes to see who is it coming to run over him. He knows I will have to go around trying not to disturb his sweet dreams. He’s sure of his power, he knows his rights.

Dogs here, almost all of them, remind me of Dude Lebowski, so relaxed and lazy they appear. They don’t even seem to seek food, ever. They just wait for it to be brought to them. Once I witnessed a funny scene. A woman was staring at a dirty spaniel and repeating in surprise, “He won’t eat bread! He won’t! And he’s a street dog!” The simple truth is that dog lives at the corner next to a Chinese restaurant. He thinks he guards it and thus earns a living. Why should he eat bread as if he were a panhandler?

Santiago is full of restaurants, and, apparently, every dog has its feeding spot. The owner of the green grocery where I buy fruit told me that the huge black dog that lives at their corner eats apples and cucumbers. Obviously, some dogs in Santiago are vegetarians. Maybe they even organize meetings and manifestations to attract attention to the high level of cholesterol in the dogs’ blood. Who knows what they talk about when they gather in groups and run around the city?

In general, dogs are friendly or simply indifferent to people. Only once a dog barked at me, and it wasn’t a street pooch. It was one of those hairless angry pets that are so small you can hide them in the pocket; they always show off to impress their owner. Thank god, he was kept on a short leash.

The street dogs are not like that, they are usually peaceful like Tibetan monks. They have some quarrels between them, of course, but they don’t provoke conflicts with humans; they don’t mind us to live near them. And they teach us to look under our feet, constantly, since their shit is everywhere, and if you don’t want it on your shoes, you have to be careful.

 

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