The silence is nurturing me. It is a different kind silence, it is profound. It enters my skin going deep into my blood, into the stream of consciousness.
After having spent so many days of fear, tension and hurrying up, this is healing.
I am at the Moravian Library, the main library in Brno.
Throughout the years I have always searched for a library. Mainly because I want to read and to have a place where to go and be in the presence of the silent people and the richness of silent places.
Also because I can not afford buying books all the time. Thus, I went to the Goethe Instituts in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong. To the main Library in Shanghai and in Hong Kong. To find them was an entire adventure that enriched my life. To find the way through these big cities, which metro line or which street to take, how is the procedure of registration and if it allows you to lend books, how to explain what you want and what are you doing in their country-these are all memorable moments for me.
After arriving at the destination for the first time, the next times I usually went on foot. It felt like walking through a movie. All those strange people, gestures, smells, the wind and the heat, foods, fruits, different languages that one learns to understand even if not speaking the words. I used to do the same rout over and over again and it always felt fresh. Maybe because I needed some kind of routine when all the rest was quite chaotic.
This time in Brno the universe played a joke on me.
One day I went walking, a friendly introductory walk through the city, trying to feel it. My goal was to find the library. Knowing that I will be here for a while finding it is a must. There is no Goethe Institut, though. I planned the route and with the map in my hand off I went. I walked up and down, took the apparently correct turns but nothing. At a big crossroad I got tired and went back.
I did not find it.
And I know why.
There is usually one moment-the giving up moment that I have to pass through in order to get to the destination. In Shanghai, where I spent the most of time, it happened many times. I was doing these long walks in order to get to a certain place for a casting or after the casting to release the pressure, but at a certain moment I just gave up and went back even more tensed. Being far away in a different country, on a different continent among people talking a completely different language and avoiding you as a sign of politeness, is kind of debilitating sometimes. It made me feel like a monster.
During the last 2 weeks in Brno I have been looking for a place to rent, also running around to get different documents with the occasion of the new job, also trying to understand what is this job expecting from me and what can I give. It is a triggering time because, as much as I do not like to admit it, I do feel the need of a place of my own. A little room where I can be. If I don’t have this place the rest is not making any sense. I feel lost and confused. For many years, the library, any library , was this place.
During these days I became more aware of the condition I would very much like not to be in. Homeless.Lost. Dirty. I saw drunk people on the streets and it hurt. I do not want to fall that deep. I am so sorry for them. They also faced the giving up moment but never tried again. Why?
One morning on my way to work I bumped into a yellow, a sick brown-yellow-ish man, who was carrying an empty supermarket cart with him. The odour he spread was death like. I do not want to become that estranged. I do not want to abandon my body and be just spirit, or be only body. I am looking for the balance. But these days I feel like I am walking the limit. Just one step in the wrong direction and the harm will be done.
After days of surfing the pages of announcements I found a place where I felt that I could rest my bones and soul. It has a price that I can pay if I get the job up and running, which is another concern of mine. It is clear, the Zeltingen experience gave me a rough,valuable lesson leaving me kind of bruised and doubting my power to live.
I got the permission from work and went to see this little place.
Guess where is it? Across the library, that’s right! Remember the day I went searching and turned back at the crossroad? I was so close! The library is just a few meters away but I couldn’t recognize it. My mind just shut down and gave up.
The giving up moments are important and we should not avoid them. These are moments of truth. Many of us do all sort of things just to avoid these awakening moments and it is a pity because our lives become a ping pong game between fear and avoidance. I fear, I avoid.
Whereas the way out would be to step ahead and see what happens.
I just did it last week. You know about my reluctance with phones, getting or making phones. You know also that I have put myself in this situation on purpose. So that I would be obliged to face it in order not to lose the job and become homeless, dirty and hungry. I give myself something to work on.
Because of the confidentiality clause I can not expand my explanations but I am quite sure that the task received by our team was not accidental. It involved a lot of calling to different countries asking if everything was alright. At first, as I was new and did not understand very well what the task was about, I stopped to listen and to understand. There was also pressure. One colleague was doing it pretty well (in her mother tongue). The team leader congratulated her openly. What happened with me?
At last, during the last week I just started calling and doing it. I called in English speaking countries, in Italian and German speaking countries. I couldn’t care less about the quality of my performance. It was important to just do it. To step a little further and see what happens.
What happened was that appreciation and support came my way. They understood that I am not joking around. Every second counts as long as you give it value.
My message to you from the depth of the silent library, after days of turmoil and fear:
If facing a giving up moment (I can’t do this, it is scary), stop for a moment, acknowledge that you are confronting a tough one (this is difficult for me), give it some time (it makes me feel lonely and stupid) try to understand the reason (it is difficult for me because…), understand that it blocks your development (I want …., but….is stopping me) and do give it a second chance (I will try again in different way).