Monday, December 16, 2013

The little things

So, my dearest People of the Journal. For once, there is actually no purpose to this entry. It’s just about the little things that happen daily and that make a bigger difference than estimated. Whether it’s good or bad.

Like the time when I was on the subway a week ago, rushing to work. Well the subway was rushing, I was just sitting my ass in there counting the minutes, cursing at myself for running late again. I must reiterate once more the fact that I was born late and this is a genetic problem with no connection whatsoever to my dedication and loyalty for work. HA! Moving on… I was on the subway when the conductor comes on the speaker to announce that due to a suicide case somewhere along the line from Unirii to Piata Victoriei, the traffic is a bit slow. I’ve been in Bucharest for seven years now and this is the second case of suicide I hear of in the subway. So I automatically shift position in my corner, jammed by the crowd filling the metro at such an early hour. My eyes roll over the people sharing the same fate as I am. Not a ripple of a feeling on their faces. The voice in the speaker makes the announcement again and this time I take a more careful look to make sure I haven’t missed people’s reaction to this, otherwise tragic news. But there is nothing. People continue to stare in their phones, watch emptily out into the darkness of the subway tunnels, read their books or chat away with their mates. Nothing. As in nothing. Not even the mere look of annoyance caused by the delay in the traffic which people usually hate in a big city, because everyone has to be at work on time and any such problems piss everyone off. It’s a time is money attitude where I live. Or it’s a “is there anything else that can go wrong” attitude. And if it’s none of the above at least the “come on, it’s Monday! Do I really need this on top of that?” kind of attitude. But there was nothing.

And the irony of it all is that people who are attempting suicide, in most cases, they are not eager to die. They are just desperate to attract attention. It is very sad that in that subway I was on, the old lady’s gesture (as I later found out) attracted 0 (zero!) attention. Not even the crease of a brow, a smirk, nothing. How sad. No one even mentioned it in their conversations across the hallways through the passage at Unirii. At some point when my mom called as I was waiting for my connection, I felt awkward telling her about this as I felt people would stare at me of why do I even bother to mention such an unimportant thing? Luckily, a guy next to me got on the phone as well and I overheard him telling someone the whole story. How sad.

It reminded me a lesson I learnt long ago when I first came to Bucharest. How lonely one can get in a city so big and full of people. No one really has the time to stop and help with whatever, less take the time and notice that you are sick, or sad and pop a question and make a difference. I almost was hit with a stick by an old lady one time when I tried helping her because she thought I was going to steal her bag. I saw a guy, drunk and half naked, lying unconscious on a sidewalk at the corner of a 5 star hotel in downtown Bucharest. In mid July when the temperatures would have melted even concrete. It’s not in our hands to judge, but we shouldn’t let people die just because we know it’s wrong to drown your mind into alcohol. The lady at the reception did not react to my plea to do something about the man until I enhanced the idea of their image being affected by a drunken lying feet away from their fancy door and expensive guest cars. Next moment, the police and the ambulance were there to help the man away.

The examples are countless. Unfortunately. Still, every now and then I still see someone giving their seat to an elderly person or a pregnant momma. Someone returning a lost scarf or a smile when they hear apologies for having being stepped on their toes in the sub. Every now and then I see someone watching over children as they cross the street playing and every now and then I see people saluting each other as if they wake up to life, even if it lasts for a brief moment.

There is still life and humanity in us and we shouldn’t let traffic and stress take it away. It would be a pity if that happened. So please make an effort to be more aware of your surroundings and have the courage to make others see that you care and are simply trying to help. As a last example – and I’m only mentioning it because it taught me I wasn’t as crazy as I thought I was – on my birthday last year, I had a bunch of flowers in my hands and just as many gifts. I could barely keep straight but no one even offered a seat on the sub. So I bounced on my feet to keep from falling whenever the conductor hit the breaks. Eventually as I was passing from one sub to another a young man came forward, placed himself before me with hands up in the air as if I had a gun and was about to use it. He said “I’m sorry. May I help you with that?” I did not expect that so he immediately felt the need to explain further. “I don’t plan on running away with any of that, really. But you look like you could need the help.” I was so friggin happy I wasn’t the only one who had gone through such experiences when you feel the need to explain people you’re not there to harm them! I smiled my widest brightest smile and I said “Yes, please, thank you.” He carried some of the load to his stop and then I took it from there. I remember I called mom to come meet me at the subway because I knew I wouldn’t get lucky a second time during the same day. I mean it only happened once in seven years haha. I can’t ask for more than that!

As for the other small things. I saw a very dear colleague of mine from primary school. That means we were colleagues in school from 1st to 8th grade and after that, we haven’t seen each other for 15 years. We were among the tallest kids in the class and we got along so fine back then. We found each other on FB a year or two ago and learnt that he’s now married and has a wonderful son who takes a lot after him. He was in Bucharest for the past days for some training program and we finally met after all this time. We met at Starbucks and the moment I walked through that door and saw him stand up, it was as if I had never left the classroom 15 years ago. I forgot he was really that tall, and he seemed to have forgotten I was really that small. Haha. We were kicked out of two places that night because they wanted to close shops but we still weren’t done with all we had to say. I had so much fun, beyond expectations. It’s just another reminder that some things change, but some never do. No matter the time and the lack of communication, the emotions and the thrill of a beautiful friendship don’t go away because of distance and growing up. It’s so lovely to see that happen. I felt like a kid again in the middle of adulthood, work and a life of responsibilities. I wish I experienced that more often.

Another small thing. Emily. Haha. A small thing making a big difference all the time. Every now and then we set dates on Skype and we spend at least 3 hours chatting away. God knows what! Everything and nothing. Sometime we just eat together, or do research together, or read and comment as we read, without even looking at each other. Sometimes we say nothing as we are focusing on other things. It’s the kind of friendship were we don’t feel the need to fill every minute with words. She’s the only person I could have at my side and still be able to write or read and not be bothered by it. Then again we have the kind of humor and retardness we alone can understand, even though I do believe that if we ever came up with a book written by the two of us, it would be a major hit with a lot of people. Because we allow ourselves to think idiot childish things and not feel guilty about it. Without feeling less responsible with our daily lives and jobs. These kind of dates are the little things that charge my batteries. Sometimes it’s to release the pressure, sometimes it’s to find comfort, sometimes it’s to chase away boredom. And sometimes we just miss each other and want to nag at our busy schedule keeping us apart. But whatever it is, no matter how little we share during the day, it’s important to know that she is there to share with in the first place.

One other small thing. We lost so many incredible people during the past weeks. We, the world. Paul Walker, Nelson Mandela and now Peter O'Toole. My heart goes to their families and friends and to all those, who just like me, have appreciated and admired from afar their work and dedication. You say perhaps, we don't know much about them, other than what we read in magazines. How can you be attached to someone who sometimes, especially with actors, are nothing but a PR image. Well, I say, like in every day life, you have a gut feeling that tells you differently than what you read in tabloids or see in movies. If you like someone, you just do. Maybe they never won an Oscar and their movies are not the best. But you just do. I was not a no. 1 fan of Paul Walker even though I did not miss most of his movies. But his death was tragic and so unexpected that I would've felt the same if it had happened to my next door neighbor. As for Peter O'Toole and Nelson Mandela, I guess I shouldn't even mention the talent, the cause, the many years of their lives dedicated to their believes and jobs. So here is a little thing that even though has no direct connection to my life, still marks me. 

I’ll conclude this short list with Grasu. He’s a small round 7 kg thing (HA!) who literally makes a difference every day. He has my personality, but also is a very independent guy who knows no weekends and official holidays and feels the need to wake me up at 7:00AM, every day. Every day. But I love him. I love his unconditional love, his understanding of my needs and his devotion to me. His lack of blame over my work schedule and coming home late, his patience when I need to work even at home and not play with him as much as he’d want me to. But most of all, I love his humanity. I haven’t taught him tricks, I have just treated him as my equal. I sit at the table, he’s invited to sit with me. I nibble on something, I also give him some as I would with any of you. Sometimes he likes it, sometimes he doesn’t. He is just very intelligent, caring and communicative. I believe I could leave him with plenty of food and water for two days and still the thing he would suffer from most would be loneliness. He’s my kind of cat.

I know I can come up with more of these precious little things, but I don’t want to make this longer than necessary. You got the point. So take a minute at least once a week, look back and dwell on the little things that made a difference for you. Even the bad things can empower you and teach you something, if not about yourself, then about the world we live in.

Maybe that won’t change anything, but it will make you aware of the observant spirit lying in you, living, breathing and feeding off all these little things. And trust me. It’s this spirit that keeps us going.


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