On neutral territory

The shared reality is the only material we can work with. There is no long term escape from that.

And so, when I meet people who believe that they can overcome, ignore the outside world and the rules of the society by hiding into the depth of their own world, wrapping themselves in a particular ideology, I become pensive.

The past few days have been quite strong for me. Meaning that I had to deal with a wave of old decisions and had to review their validity. I was in a very intense state with myself and so the outside world reacted consequently. People from the past time reached to me asking if all is fine.I wasn’t and I chose to wait before saying anything.

As much as I prefer sincerity I despice the over -dignified- self -deprecating martyrdom.  I believe that martyrdom is full of paranoid visions which do not work well here on Mother Earth, in the offices and other people populated containers around the world. This is where we have to concentrate and find the middle way. This is why I also believe that politics is important. It is making our reality.

When I was a child I wanted to be as strong mentally and emotionally  as Jesus, as kind and as selfless as him. Then, after reading  a book  about Francis of Assisi I wanted to be like him, I wanted to go to a monastery.

My vision of life was much influenced by a Baptist friend I had. My mother used to work with her mother in the Tuberculosis section at the local hospital and so we became friends. We would  get donation boxes from the Americans. Sanitary supplies, caned foods, toys, colored pencils.

One time, a teacher who was also organizing different things as the school, put me on a list and so, one winter day, I remember walking through melting snow and dirt,on an empty street, dragging my bag and heavy boots. They gave me a box with strange sweets and a letter from a possible pen friend. I wrote to that happy, unworried foreign girl but never got an answer.I still have the smell in my nostrils, of the box opening. The smell of a happy  childish life to which I did not have access. I remember being reluctant going to get that box but my mother told me go still and what does a child  do. The pain of disregarded human value and honor was starting to boil in me. I could not understand why my mother did not see that.

Now I know that she was more concerned with keeping us alive and if someone gave you something for free you take that and say thank you. No shame.

My parents went a few times to the weekly baptist meetings, I was there too. They even made me participate in the chorus and I sang one time with them. The words coming out of me where in praise of Jesus but in my heart I knew that something is not right, I knew that I was doing it only because my parents were thankful for the help we got from the baptist congregation and the american donations. They were thankful for having found a group of people who accepted us. Us- people coming from the world, poor and in need of salvation.

I hated being saved, I knew I could do it my own, I knew I had the determination of Jesus and Francis all in one heart.I needed no Salvation Army.

Why wouldn’t my parents feel the same?

We went visiting the saved family in their nice apartment,with shiny parquet floor, located in a quite part of the city, right next to the local market and the police station. A 3 stored building with private garaje and a court at the back for the children to play in safety.  They had a big kitchen and foods that I had never seen. Even soluble chocolate. My friend had a room of her own, toys and, most of all, coloring books. I loved those. I would put myself on the floor on the tummy, while my parents were discussing in the kitchen,  and I would fill the empty spaces with colors.

One time, in order to stay over night I had to take a bath together with my friend. Even at that time I was feeling ashamed of my physical presence. Remember my wish to be like Jesus? Jesus is only soul.

I was made to believe that I come from a dirty world and so my body is and can do dirty things, where as, her, my friend believed that she is a princess. She was dressed like a princess, with beautiful clothes from America. I remember that, after washing ourselves in the bath tube, her mother came in, wrapped her in towel and carried her away.

I had to take myself out of the water and get dry.

I also remember one moment when I went back from school to the apartment of this friend. I ate all, most of the cookies that her mother made. They were hidden under a white cloth in the guests room, were you don’t enter often. I remember even now the emotional  hunger which caused me acting like that. My mother also baked often, she is  a trained pastry chef also, who worked in a renowned restaurant before me and my sister were born, but it was not the sweetness of the cookies that I was craving from that small age, it was warmth and security.

I remember being punished for that.

Now I spend most of my time in this office and I get to feel people surrounding me, feel the energy they carry.

And I want to be Jesus again.

Meet L.

He is a black, French speaking colleague. I don’t know where he comes from. I know that it has been along way for him to get here.You can see it on his face, in his eyes.  I don’t know how old he is. I did not ask. He is vary agile when it comes to escaping any personal exploration. He is eating all the time.

He has a small daughter and a giant Russian women as a wife. L speaks Russian also. It is a bizarre moment to hear a black man speaking in Russian. Because not common. Even more bizarre because he uses the feminine gender when referring at himself.

When you ask L.how he feels he will always say, happy to be here, I love this job! Which leaves the others in consternation and nothing to say. They can’t imagine why in a million years would someone love a job, any job, not to mention this one when you have to deal with minor harassment over the phone applied by people who know less than you do, just because someone si paying you for being there. He loves it. He loves the chance to be there far away from his mundane life.

One time a group of colleagues were making fun of him because he was wearing a sweater from the Czech Army. A dark green sweater with the Czech  coat of arms on the front left side, where the heart is.  Especially one colleague (who is expressing his personal frustrations by bullying others)  was laughing at this army coat asking him why for god sake is L. wearing that?

L. ignored him, as he does when he does not understand what is going on or why is he again at the center of attention. Other times he would just burst into a loud laugh, all of a sudden, when everyone else is sitting absorbed at their desktops or talking on the phone. He might be watching something funny. And the echo, the imitation of L’s laugh will come from the other side of the office, generated by the talented soft bully. And the day does on.

After the army coat episode I asked L. if he was fine with those who make fun of him, if he doesn’t get hurt. He just smiled and said nothing. From that moment, on the days when we have the same shift, he would come close to my desk and start talking to me in Russian. I still understand Russian even though my speech lost a lot in fluency. But it is fine, he just wants to share with someone his thoughts. And his thoughts revolve around one thing-the decision to be happy all the time, to see only the good things, to observe only the full half of the glass, an example which he is using all the time.Repeatedly. He says that we only have to do that, ignore the negative things in life and life will become a happy stroll on the beach.

I asked him, what about taking in consideration the negative things also and learning from those, they are part of the reality as well, a great deal of the reality. He somehow avoids this topic and slides to the happy perspective.

He doesn’t aknowledge the fact that the quality of this work is often scarce, doing stupid little things repeatedly, which summ up create a bubble of discontentment in those who have to get things right afterwards. L is concentrated in staying happy. He is eating.

He gave me a visit card from the church he is going to.It seems like a Baptist church.  He spread around the office booklets about violence, bullying. One time he came in with a big bag full of packs of crackers and he spread them around too. People took them laughing at the idea.

L. is acting like Jesus but does not feel like one. He is, like most of us, walking the very narrow line between desperation and surrender.

I am inspired  by his courage to see life in bright colors but I am also saddened by his refusal to take part in the reality shared by all of us. The reality  of Aleppo * for example, or the refugees, or the jobless all over the world, or the reality of his home country where he is not, or Moldova, or simply the reality of our office where a job is waiting to be well done. A job paying for our rents and food.

Jesus on Earth*

*I have a colleague in office the from the very bombarded Aleppo. A strong, intelligent and warm person.

*Than you Alexandru Volosin for allowing me to use your insightful photo. Thank you for accepting the invitation to collaborate.


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