A moment of serendipity. A leap of faith. How scary is the perspective of a trifle being able to change the course of your entire life? In the past six months I have counted at least six potentially life changing crossroads. In each of them a slightest turn in my decisions could have led me to an entirely different place. Workplace, university, people, city, even countries – in past six months I’ve had three of them to live in.
After being thrown into high-intensity pit of freshness and novelty, meaning a new country, I almost had to re-read my own blog in order to think clearly here. Blindly gathered one-year-old knowledge about clashing with a different culture re-emerged now in a completely new way.
Creativity requires the courage to let go of boundaries.
- You need to adjust.
Don’t expect to have the same habits as you’ve had in a different place. You go to Spain, you do things the Spanish way. Don’t look for your favorite cafe au lait in a first cafe that looks similar to the one from home. Take the Carajillo with best Spanish rum, learn how to make it. Maybe the culture shock people are experiencing when moving to other country, moving for good, is identity-oriented rather than pertaining to adjusting. Adjusting itself is easy, however wanting that – not so much.
- I’ve got a plant in my room.
Sure, I’ll take care of you. I can hardly take care of myself now and I think when I was 8 years old I accidentally starved my hamster to death, but there you are, in a room I rented, moved into. Sure, no problem, you will be the priority now. Maybe a prelude to me having own mansion with a dog and white fence (still on hold though). Funnily enough, not only I started caring for the plant, but the house itself too. Hey, thanks, Plant.
- Race for the 4G
How is it that I wanted the best (as I thought) for me, and instead got a 128kb/s internet speed only, forcing me to randomly stop on the street, waiting for Google Maps directions to home? Even worse, that is a prepaid. I wanted a contract for fast, reliable 4G mobile data speed.
Nevertheless, I’ve seen that slow internet to push me into shoving the phone back to the bag, looking around, speaking up to people on the street. They told me how to correctly pronounce the name of my street, ‘hoarsing’ it in a typically Dutch way. I was finding my way back home by streets looking nicer than the alternatives, rather than satellite-dictated Google way. Found myself a zeer smakelijke koffie just because I was mindlessly meandering through streets and stumbled upon Simon Lévelt shop. Even better, I bought a French press, found an Irish Pub to dance in four days later with a random beardy stranger, realized the 7.50 euro deal for my prepaid SIM was literally the best.
Think I am starting to realize what Mick Jagger and Keith Richards meant by you get what you need.
“pray I’ll never learn from mistakes I’ve made”
It’s funny how the life goes. Once you switch on to the open attitude, say ‘yes’ to more and more things, give more of you to other people, follow every impulse, trust your intuition. You let go of the steer in your life and paradoxically, it gives you control. You devote your time to other people, help them and listen to them, realizing how this is the only way you can have it all.
nor do the children of men as a whole experience it.
Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure.
Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.
To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits
in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.”
Learnt it the hard way, repeated couple of times just to make sure it is true. Had my friend say to me that you keep bumping onto the same people until you learn your lesson. Now, the post is the lesson.
There is a Latin adage of Tempora mutantur, advocated by Heraclitus around 500BCE in ancient Greece, by whole Protestant Reformation in 16th century Germany, and by all of the people in your life that keep telling you “people change”. It was also Heraclitus that said everything is temporary, everything flows. No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.
Any- and I repeat, any place, even this crammed room too tiny for you and your ego, this city too dark and small, this neighborhood too unfriendly can become your dearest home. Maybe it is because you get used to it, or maybe it is more because you grow to become an integral part of this place.
You contribute to this place from the very first day your foot steps in there. By finding your ways around, modifying and molding the environment around you, you start to create it as well. By putting your heart and soul into it, by every poster added to the room, by realizing at some point that this mess near bed, stretching to the desk and chair and closet too, is actually familiar. This is your own organized chaos that says “home”, it is in all the times your bathroom floor has felt you crying, in all the exact places for exact items.
It is also defined by the distance you have traveled to this place, together with the pillow from your home, together with furniture you dragged into this apartment, together with various rules and customs that emerged by themselves as you inhabited this place fully.
It is only you that knows when and how this curtain broke, and how to open the window now without a rattle, or why is it that one door of your closet is always open, whereas other one shut down. Which shelf lacks a nail to hold it properly, and where all your shoes are hidden, what is this lonely hanger by the door waiting for, and what is in the cartoon box inside your suitcase, inside the half-closed closet.
One person once told me a thing about settling for places that seem not enough to you, when you have to lean back in your own room so to move around it, and when you buy certain items that will travel with you to new homes, so to contribute to them as well- seems like it took me one year to finally understand it (and thank you for that.)