26th of April 2020
To whoever is reading this
I’m not sure why I didn’t write last week. I wanted to. But the only thing I wanted to write was not for the internet. It was just for me, and maybe a close friend who would understand or just sit with me in this thing. It wasn’t a bad thing. Maybe that’s why I found it so hard to share. Sometimes it’s easier to write the painful stuff and not care who reads it. The good things feels so much more fragile. Like they could crumble away and disappear if the wrong person touched them by accident. Or like I could undo them just by mentioning them. Sometimes I think if don’t hold my breath and stay perfectly still till they have settled and learned to trust me, they might run away again. So when they show up I decide to be careful and slow and not just jump into sharing anything. I recently ret “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint Epuréxy and the chapter about the Prince needing to tame the Fox comes to mind now. Last weekend I had this thing that I was finally ready to write down and believe in, but I wasn’t ready to share it with something as big and scary as the internet. And I kept believing I would find something else to write about, but I just didn’t.
There is an old ruin on the edge of the town I live in. It’s small, there isn’t much left of it. A few walls. A few room with no roofs. A few stairs and doorways. It’s right next to the highway. And there is a constant noise from the traffic. But it still feels like magic and history and the kind of place that isn’t really real, but something out of a book. There are lots of trees around and you can hear the birds singing, and though they never truly drown out the sound of traffic, they do make you forget about it. On summer evenings the bats fly around, if you have sharp eyes or sharp ears you might catch a glimpse of them or hear them. A few years ago I went there all the time. I spent the summer reading Harry Potter there. I found a nice spot, where I could bring my bag and my book, and sat there reading. I brought snacks and sodas and once after my last final that summer I even brought sushi and ate dinner there.
You couldn’t ask for better atmosphere for reading good books, than an old ruin and I love that place. So this week, feeling like I had gotten stuck doing nothing again, I packed some lunch and a book and walked the half hour it takes to go there. I sat in the doorway on the first floor, where I almost always sit to read. It’s not the most comfortable ground to sit on, the stones aren’t very comfortable, but it’s the best place to sit and be alone even when there are people visiting the place. There is another doorway on the other side that is much more comfortable, and I move there, in the late afternoon when the sun no longer shines on my favourite spot and I get a little cold. I am much more out in the open in this other doorway, but the people visiting the place are always nice about the reading stranger. Sometimes they ignore me, other times they say quick hi and move on with their exploring. This time there was some boys from the school across the road. They look very curiously at me for a while and then went back to playing. One of them said hi and asked for my name so I told him my name and asked for him. Another boy found the place I was sitting and came by to give me a dandelion he had plucked. I doesn’t take much for them to realise I am not scary or intruding. And my weird purple hair usually makes kids think I cool.
I read “Momo” by Michael Ende. A book everyone should read. Especially the people with no time for reading. It’s about this girl, Momo, living in an old abandoned amphitheatre (I almost changed location to the local amphitheatre and read it there, but the ruin felt better and just as appropriate), who is very very good at listening. When the locals stop visiting her and acts strange, she discovers these men in grey who are steeling peoples time. Not because they have the power to take it from people, but by convincing people they are wasting their time and that they need to save it. So the people hurry and hurry and stresses along with no time for any of the things that matter, because they think they need to save time in order to have time later. So Momo who isn’t fooled by the men in grey has to find a way to stop them and give the people their time back.
It’s a very beautiful story about time and how we spend it. We have 86400 second every day and we control how we spend it. We don’t gain another second by being in a hurry. And this book shows this better than anything else I have ever read. It feels more relevant than ever as our society is so much in a hurry to earn money and asking us to waste out attention.
Reading this book now was so important to me. And reading it at the ruin was a very good choice. I needed to get out of my apartment and I needed to get out in nature. I have been to stuck in my own head and in this one place for too long. That makes it hard to remember how important it is to stay in the present and do what I can do while I have the time for it. I get so focused on the future or the past. Mostly the future. I want to know what happens when the world isn’t shut down because of the pandemic. I want to know if I can come back to work. I want to go back to work. I want to travel and see my friends and do so much. And I feel so trapped. But I am not. The ruin is still there. My books are still on the shelves waiting for me to give them attention. I have internet access and therefore access to learn almost anything I want to. My balcony is a great place to sit when I want to go outside but doesn’t have the energy to go anywhere. And all the thing I want to do that is impossible right now, will still be there when the world open up again. And in the mean time I know I am learning a lot about the possibilities I had before and about the things I just took for granted. And I feel grateful that it seems most of the world is having similar experiences.
All this is to say that reading this book was such a good reminder of what I wanted to do with this blog. Be Here. Be present. And walking out to the ruin to read was being Here. Not just attempting to find Here, but actually being Here. For a long time now I have felt uncomfortable in front of the screen. No matter what screen and what I am doing with it. No game or movie or YouTube video, no social media or even writing takes me to the place I want to go. I personally find myself using it to escape and to distract myself. Something that brings me so far away from Here. I am thankful to live in a time when I have all this information at my fingertips. I am thankful that technology allows me to stay in contact with my friends and family during this time. But mostly I just want to turn it all off and find a way to live without it. Return to myself and my present and the world around me.
It’ll never be that easy. And maybe it doesn’t have to be. But listening to that call inside me and trying to do something about it feels like the right choice for me. And I can do that for myself and still be happy that all these options exists and know that they help people in a way they don’t help me. I’m just concluding that it doesn’t work for me. I hope it works for others.
Whoever is out there reading, take good care of yourself and the people around you. Thank you for your time.