Oh wow. It's been a rollercoaster of a christmas time and one seriously strange beginning of the brand new year. And once again, I have found myself asking the same questions over and over again. Does it make you weak if you still, after having been proven time and again otherwise, refuse to believe that in order to survive, you have to turn your heart and soul into granite? Is it weak to cry over having your trust broken? Would you be a stronger woman, a stronger man, if you just didn't care? Would not caring make things that much more easier? And finally, what does it take to make one stop just giving a damn about love and just settling with 'this-will-do'?
I was going to say that I don't know, but I do know. Having your heart and soul being put through nine levels of hell in a one relatively short life-span, and still surviving with a heart that does more than just beat and a soul that refuses to give up, this is not weakness. And no Virgil here to guide us lesser mortals either. How fitting, though, that Dante made the ninth circle a place of ice, housing those guilty of treachery. Yeah. If you did not guess it already, this is not going to be one of those posts full of joy and pretty things. I'm already talking about Inferno here and I've only just started. Blimey.
William Blake - Dante's Inferno
And not caring? Sorry, can't do that. Call me a bleeding heart liberal if you wish, but can't do that. Not an option. You know, there was a time in my life when I thought that was indeed what I had to do, and by god did I do my best to get to that point of just not caring. And I failed. Miserably. So now I cry, I laugh, I walk into doors out of sheer happy absentmindedness. I love, I get angry, I stomp my foot and shout. I can walk up to pretty much anyone and not be intimidated by their money, their power, their possessions. Because these things do not matter. And don't get me wrong here, poverty is not pretty. There is nothing beautiful, nothing romantic about poverty, but above a certain line, making a living turns into greed, and there's nothing beautiful in that either. And besides, according to Dante, it would land us smack bang in the fourth circle of hell.
Now, I'm all for freedom of choice. We all have the right to choose the life we want to lead. To choose what it is we want to hold precious in our life. Is it kindness, generosity, love and honesty or something altogether more cold, more suited to this icy world of self-promotion and everything-for-sale mentality? It's spend more, right now, buy your way to happiness, that I see everywhere around me...
Yes, I have chosen never to be one of those people. I am aware of that. Simply by choosing moldy old literature as my specialty, by choosing academia instead of more commercial pursuits I have also chosen a way of life that will never give me the possibility of blind commercialism, but this was a one informed choice. This is what I want to do. This is what makes me happy. And I count myself lucky that I get to do what I love to do, for a living. Granted, it's not much of a living moneywise, but it is a living, and it is enough. And I do know what I am talking about. I did take the world of commerce for a spin there and believe you me, we were not a match made in career heaven. Me and books, me and writing, we are.
Which reminds me, this morning I booked myself a lovely, tiny little loft in Brussels, Belgium, for my oncoming trip there in March. I will be attending a Brontë Society - weekend there, and am going to include some wandering-around-time into it as well. I mean, just look at these...
Pretty as a picture. That's Brugge, also in Belgium, and since I will be going to Belgium anyway, I could not possibly pass on an opportunity to see this beautiful little town. And so being it that besides books, I also love traveling, I really do consider myself lucky that I am able to do that as well. Granted, there are no luxury hotels, no fancy cars and gasp-at-the-bill trendy restaurants, but you know what, I am much happier in a rented little apartment like I managed to find for myself now. I have two feet that work most of the time, and getting 'lost' on foot is in my opinion one of the best ways of finding unexpected joys in any given place, and not that I don't like eating out, but I do believe that price and quality do not always go hand in hand in that respect either.
And being on the topic of traveling, I just now tore myself away from looking at tickets to Dublin. Been meaning to go there for a long time and what better time than now, seeing as I really need to air my brain out and I have an old friend living in there who will undoubtedly show me the 'merry old ireland'. And I get to take a peek at the Book of Kells, which has been tempting my imagination for a loooong time. Oh, and the Daughter has decided she wants to go to Paris. Yes, my almost-four-years-old wants to go to Paris. With her Mommy, her Auntie and her Grandma. A girlie trip, she says. To museums, she says. To flea-markets. Wow. Can't imagine what next. Mommy I want to go to New York, maybe?
See, books and traveling, and what do you get, me, happy as a clam. I'm even smiling as I write now. From the ninth circle of hell to smiling about Paris, not bad, not bad at all. And the thing is, I do appreciate, I do value it when people do what makes them happy. What makes them content with their own life, whatever that may be. Me, I am what I am. I do what I do. And yes, I do believe in love. I do not believe in settling. I have loved in my life, and still love, and will never stop doing so. It is what makes us what we are. Just a few days ago I was asked on a date. Out of the blue. And I am mildly curiously searching myself for how I might be feeling about it. So far, not much, but who knows. But until then, love might not be all you need, but you know what, it is enough.