It happened two weeks after I came to Menorca. I went to the beach, I was writng and I noticed mysterious stairs. I followed it, went past a restaurant and discovered a street with many beautiful white row houses. A nameplate said: Passeig Maritim. While walking I saw a giant cactus (opuntia ficus-indica, Indian fig opuntia) with still green fruits called prickly pears or tunas. This plant was as big as a double me! I met a white cat with a collar and wanted to talk to him. He was busy catching a jumping creature and when it jumped close to me I was able to stroke the cat. His fur was very different from the fur of the cats who used to live with me. Does he wash himself less often because he does not feel like it when it is so hot? Does anybody spoil him with fresh products from a local butcher’s, egg yolks and cottage cheese? Is his fur burnt by the sun, lashed by the wind, thickened by the salty humidity?
Passeig Maritim led me to some ruins: big foundation, many light yellow or light brown-yellow stones, typical of Menorcan construction. I saw a path trampled down in yellowed grass. The path ended on a wild beach: there was the sea, the horizon and nothing else. What a view! What a space for the mind! One bag on the beach, one person in the sea, one dog with his owner in the distance. The sea, the sun, peace and quiet on an island beset by tourists in summer. If there were any doubts left whether it was a good choice to live in Es Castell they disappeared right that second. I cried and laughed at the same time. Passeig Maritime became my hermitage.
I enjoy walking to Passeig Maritim very much. One day I saw cows there. That day there were two fishermen, two Caucasian types including me and cows. Passeig Maritim is in the wilderness.
Invariably, coming back from Passeig Maritim is like leaving another planet. Once, there was a seagull flying so close to me that I had the impression of looking into her eyes. Seagulls on Menorca seem to be bigger than their Polish sisters. She was black and white. Like my cat. The seagull said: I am your cat. Everything is your cat. All is one. Seagulls symbolize freedom. They are able to fly wherever they want. These incredible species live at the border between the firm land and the water. In their apparently small wings there is an enormous power to survive. Seagulls are little, adamant travelers who never change their itinerary because of the weather. Sometimes you think: the wind is their servant. Sometimes the rains seem to increase their determination.
“There are none happy in the world but beings who enjoy freely a vast horizon,” – said Damodara.
December 12th. 12.12.12 at 12.12. Although it is so special this year I am not going to write about my birthday. I am going to talk about the weather. Phil in Groundhog Day asks: ‘Did you really want to talk about the weather or were you just making chitchat?’
This year I go jogging in shorts in December. IF I go jogging. It is not as hot as in August but it is nice. It is considerably cooler after the rain. Now I am at home, the terrace window is open, I am wearing trousers and a fleece jacket. In order to achieve the same level of thermal pleasure in Poland, at this time of the year I need to switch on the heating and warm the house. And close the windows. However, the feeling of warmth in my body in Poland is similar to its Menorcan equivalent and different from the feeling from August on the island. It is this kind of chill that whispers to your ear: ‘let’s have a hot drink’ or ‘I wouldn’t mind some chocolate’. Does it mean that there is always going to be hot vs cold, even in hot countries? If yes, is it so because the body gets used to it? Because there is a program in your mind set for a certain amplitude? On a colder day, a month ago I saw a local girl wearing double cap (fleece & wool).
When I talk to people about the weather in my new country I tell them about shorts in December. I do not mention the fleece jacket in the very first sentence. That can be the source of the halo effect: it is so warm there. Which is true, too!!! Was I under the halo effect when I was dreaming of living in Spain 20 years ago? I remember envying the inhabitants of Madrid and saying: your life is so awesome, you never experience cold. And they answered outraged: what are you talking about?! Sometimes in Madrid it is even 2 degrees centigrade! When I came to Tenerife I landed in the hotel in the morning. After the trip, without having slept well, I was cold. I said: it’s so cold, let’s turn the heating on. And my partner said: there’s no heating, darling. It’s a hot country.
Wanting a country without heating equals saying to the Nature: do what I want. In Joachim M. Werdin’s opinion the way you perceive the temperature reflects the way you use energy in your body. He says: concentrate on your inner energy. Center on releasing it in the form of warmth and you will see the difference soon. Visualize well-being and health. Focusing on a symptom can increase it in your imagination. Feel and see a source of warmth inside yourself. Imagine your body emitting warmth like a bonfire. The very reading about hypothalamus and thermoregulation warmed up my hands.
I met Violant – a girl from Menorca whose life is connected to Bulgaria. She went there to study cello and complained about the weather in Sofia in summer: so hot and so dry! Violant is used to Menorca’s humidity. By the way, today 76%. It inspired me to think: humid or dry, hot or cold, it is always about me. Solely about me. After I take the shower the mirror is misty for a longtime. I wipe the mirror like Andy at the beginning of The Devil Wears Prada. In Es Castell and in New York it can be too humid in a given bathroom at a given moment. “Wherever I sat, there I might live, and the landscape radiated from me accordingly.”
It turned out my life was well organized. Before I left to Menorca it took me only one week to move my material world to one little room. Step by step. Without getting rid of tons of garbage. Memories of various situations kept coming back to me as part of saying goodbye to what I was going to leave. Like in a movie: the protagonist is doing something and the voice off reveals their reflections about the past.
My decision was also an accumulation of freedom: I can speak several languages; my parents are in heaven, they are not going to need me when they are old; I tested what it is like to spend holidays alone; my cat is taken care of;
much body work taught me how to practice yoga on my own and to be independent of my beautician; I don’t dye my hair and my favorite body lotion is olive oil. Add to this my disappointment with material things and my hermit soul. Writing attracts me so I don’t need a huge office.
One day, I was downtown and I had to answer the call of nature. I thought to myself: I can wait till I get back home. And the second thought was: There’s not going to be ‘home’ soon. At least not the way I understood it that day. Neale Donald Walsch says: Home really is where the heart is. And if your heart is centered on God, you are ‘safe at home’ everywhere. In this day and time of continuing change, many people find themselves moving a great deal, and constantly having to try to make yet one more place “like home.” Yet home is a quality you bring to a place, not a quality that a place brings to you. Let yourself feel at home anywhere and people everywhere will welcome you always. And isn’t a place where you are always welcome…’home’? So feel good where you are right now. That’s mastery.
I was in a dither sometimes. I suppose I know where this feeling came from. I felt calm and the inner critic led me into temptation: start worrying, you have found the courage to leave everything behind you, so panic, freak out! From time to time after confronting my inner critic I needed a two-hour-long nap. I have trained myself to stay calm. It’s not innate, not acquired but trained. The remains of what is innate and acquired beg for survival.
Sometimes I was very tense. I wondered: Where is the joy of making old dreams come true? Where is my peace? Where is the relief after finding this or that solution? Anyway, the solution to a problem will create more new problems.
In order to keep a record of my belongings I have pictures taken. I watched them and cried. Fear of the unknown? Attachment to what I saw in the pictures?
It was an interesting experience to confront my choice with other people’s opinions. In other words, it did not serve me to spread my idea. People were curious, evidently, and asked me questions that confirmed that they did not have a clue what such a decision is bound to.
When exactly are you leaving?
Where are you going to sleep?
Are you going to work?
If this and this, what will you do?
Are you running away from something?
In the film “Mar adentro” (“The Sea Inside”) a frustrated girl who looks for the meaning of her own life reproaches a quadriplegic for wanting to kill himself in order to escape from life. People talk about themselves. Always. Including me.
A similar thing happened with the book. I said to various people that I was going to write a book about my approach to learning languages. Then they seemed to make it a sort of point of honor to call me from time to time and ask: How is your book doing? They did not offer their condolences when my mother passed away. They did not wish me Merry Christmas. We had not met for 6 months or so, then they saw me on the FB and without either Are you doing all right? or What a lovely day today!, they wanted to know whether I had finished my book. I was furious. My reaction told me a lot about myself.
Of course, there were exceptions. Generally, empathic, courageous, open-minded people who believe in me, draw inspiration from what I do and – as far as the book is concerned – people who wrote a longer and/or more creative text than a master thesis.
Consolation came from unexpected sources. One day, one of my friends told me about an 80 (sic!)-year-old couple from Australia. They sold all their possessions: their house, cars etc., packed two suitcases and went travelling. They don’t know where they will be tomorrow. In fact, nobody knows that. If I am today in Es Castell, I cannot be sure I will be here tomorrow. I can only assume that. They assume nothing. I take my hat off to them.
I used to cry a lot while closing the Polish chapter of my history. Ego loves being sad, missing one cat who died of leukemia and the second who has been multiplying I do not know where. And the third I was going to leave with her new family.
“Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.”
For many years I have had the impression that I am Spanish born accidentally in Poland. Only I do not believe in accidents.
In 1992 I spent almost two months in Spain: learning Spanish in Madrid, visiting the EXPO in Seville and the Olympic Games in Barcelona. That stay influenced my life enormously in two aspects.
Firstly, thanks to the EXPO I realized that for me – a born philologist - an international fair would be an outstanding place of work. That is why I applied for a job at the most important international fair in Poland. When I got the job, I left my country – Silesia and went 400 km away to live in Poznań.
Secondly, it turned out that the Spanish climate was extremely favorable to me. When my Spanish friends learned that I was going to attend language classes in Madrid in August they were sure I was crazy. ¡Estás loca! Everybody leave Madrid in August and go a la playa because it’s so hot. And I enjoyed it a lot. 42 degree centigrade in the shadow. Fortunately, nobody forced me to stay in the shadow.
So I decided to come back and stay in Spain. Nevertheless, during all those years my dream of living in Spain did not come true in a spontaneous way and I did not adjust the reality to my vision. What I did was spend my holidays here several times.
In the meantime, I discovered my entrepreneurial talents (you know what they say: better a genuine pride than a false modesty) and founded my company – a language centre. By the way, I made a draft of its first business plan on a beach in Torremolinos.
Last year I had an epiphany and understood what had been hindering me since 1992. Then I had two options:
1. to say: now it’s too late
2. follow the path I saw 20 years ago.
Obviously, I have chosen option 2.
What you say is what you get.
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world ; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.”