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18 months in Poland. Laying the foundations

...for whatever will come next!

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This past Monday marked the passage of 18 months since I moved to Warsaw. I figured that after writing a post celebrating 6 months and then 12 months here, I might as well write something on another landmark as I sit in a nice, quiet square nearby my place, enjoying breakfast outside and watching life slowly unfolding around me. Musically, I chose Josh Rouse as my soundtrack provider for the moment.

Going back to what I wrote in those two occasions I can't help but smile. It's always easier to look back at our past with the eyes and knowledge of the present. After 6 months here, I was writing about notion of time and disruption in our lives. I didn't know then what life would bring, but now I clearly feel like I have already lived 3 completely different lives in Warsaw and I'm about to start a fourth one! In my case, 18 months seems like a lot of time, as during that period my routines changed radically, several times. And that's actually something that I love, the fact that I am discovering the city through different angles, different lifestyles, different experiences and different people. Like I wrote before, just by changing little things in our daily life, we can influence our perception of time. For example, lately I have been practicing tennis twice a week with a polish friend, usually early in the morning. The club is by the river, so it has been almost perfect to ride along the Vistula under a beautiful early morning sun. Besides that, I get to pass in the river front of the Old Town which is actually quite beautiful with the Royal Palace and a big fountain.

Those are little, simple moments that make all the difference if you are open to notice and experience them. At the same time, being on the tennis court is always a source of happiness to me. No matter what, tennis has been a pillar in my life for the past 25 years. Another thing to be grateful for.

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Like I mentioned above, these past 18 months can be separated in 3 periods that can be generally titled Ecstasy, Reality Shock and Desolation. I think the titles are self explanatory and constitute a cycle that has ended. As I look around the square now, I wonder if I'm finally able to break the series of cycles in life or if I finally built some physical and mental foundations that will stand and resist vigorously to any future shakes or oscillations. Then again, only time and future will tell.

Back to Warsaw, today. I've been asked a bazillion times: "Why Poland?", "Why Warsaw?" "Are you crazy, to leave the ocean and move here?". Polish people are paradoxically proud and at the same time not proud of their country. I've been saying lately, after putting to sleep the ideas of leaving, that if one manages to be truly happy and in peace with his/her life in Poland, then he or she can surely be happy in at least 80% of the world. The funny thing is that I started saying that as kind of a joke and to my dismay, most people seem to agree that Poland is a tough place to live. I don't think it's that tough, honestly. Winter is hard, fucking hard, but it's not like Poland is the only country in the world with tough winters. My impression after all this time is that polish people like to live in the future, always looking forward to something, almost blindly believing that anything will be better than their present lives. Basically, I get the impression that people complain about the present, want to forget the past and hope the future will be better. Personally, I try to live in the present, I value my past and I don't really lose much time planning or thinking about the future. I'm always enjoying the moment, any moment as much as possible (sometimes even too much thus exhausting it), but at the same time I like to remember my past experiences and people. Regarding the future, I'm just curious to see where life will take me and for how long.

At the same time, and as the entire western civilization gradually collapses, I feel that here existence is still conflicted between deeply enshrined catholic values, a communist past (and overall a recent history of subjugation and control) and the wild invasion of capitalism. It's just my opinion, but I can see that quite clearly in people of my generation (early 30's). I feel people are a bit lost as they start to question more and more if everything they have been told all their lives is actually true or if there's something more in life. You might say that it's like that for everyone in this world and I agree, but here it's clearly more visible in here. I believe that there's a "polish mold" that fits a huge majority of the population. One might even add that it boringly fits most of people (sorry for that). At first, I was a bit frustrated with the fact that was hard to find like minded people here. But now I decided to embrace those differences and enjoy, as a kind of outsider, the whole process of change here. Rather than try to change people or an entire society (obviously impossible), I will simply exist as freely as I can, according to my own beliefs and opinions and make the best of life. Yes, it's possible to be happy here! :)

As I'm about to finish this post, I found out that Chris Cornell (Soundgarden) has died. A stark reminder that life is really fleeting. So yes, let's fucking live, shall we?

Much love to all.

Posted by ZackMeursault 04:56 Archived in Poland

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