As I was walking around today buying stuff like lightbulbs and home made organic soap to bring as gifts to my friends stuck in France for the summer, I was truly, deeply happy to enjoy my last few days of summer here, on the coast of the Black Sea. I used to come here ever since I was a little girl, and even lived there for a while with my grandparents. This little town by the sea had since become my sacred childhood place, where I literally know every stone and have stories to tell about every bench. The place is so secluded from the outside (western) world, that even though I spent every day literally sunk in the Internet for three to four hours, trying to work on my dissertation, leisurely browsing through Facebook and sometimes gathering my creating strength to write here or on my computer, I didn’t feel any pressure from all those things that I now realize draw me back when I’m in Paris. My relationship with food is one great example of how this kind of homecoming does wonders for my well-being. The words “vegan” or “gluten-free” don’t exist here, and when I explained to the guy who sells hand-crafted shoes why I didn’t wore nor ate animals, he asked me if I was in the “Green Party”. I’m not saying I did change my views on nutrition or animal rights while on vacation here, but I certainly slowed down on the fanatism: people who live here, especially the old generation, live by their own rules, those that were of course shaped during the soviet era, but most importantly those that subsisted in spite of the political, economical and cultural winds of change that blew hard on the island of Crimea for the past seven decades or so. Their misunderstanding of my ecological views and vegan lifestyle, for example, are not the same as, for instance, the misunderstanding I’m thrown against in France and all the western world. Food is a matter of subsistance, not trends (btw, I am not calling veganism a trend, I’m just saying it is obviously being made into one), and “organic” is not even a word, because if you want dairy or eggs, you buy it from some old lady who has five chicken and a cow and who makes her own cottage cheese. So when I tell people how I eat, they nod with compassion, thinking I’m just following a diet to lose weight or stay slim. Few of them realize how lucky they are to live in a place where almost everything you eat (I’m talking about fruits and veggies and dairy) is by definition organic, and this is a good thing: when your life is free of struggle, you can concentrate on the important things.
I think most of the struggle we put up with in our daily lives, be it about finding organic food and mastering clean eating or listening to ourselves in order to find what makes us happy – most of this struggle is the one we create. When we listen to others – and especially the “bad kind” of others, a.k.a advertisement, magazines, even our friend’s feeds on facebook, – we lose track of what we really want and what our body really needs. As Baloo from the Jungle Book said:
Look for the bare necessities
The simple bare necessities
Forget about your worries and your strife
I mean the bare necessities
Old Mother Nature’s recipes
That brings the bare necessities of life!
I mean, ain’t that the wisest thing?
To put it bluntly, I know I create most of my struggles when I try to find those “bare necessities” where they simply aren’t to be found, i.e. in magazines or tv-shows. When searching like crazy through the Internet for something Internet doesn’t offer by its definition, that is something unique that suits only me, I am bound to find only disappointment, or worse, the feeling that the problem lies within myself and not google. I used to spend most of my days surfing on celebrities websites only to find the one actress or singer I could identify myself with and this only to measure myself to the standard of her proportions; I used to buy stuff on Amazon, pressing like crazy the “buy in 1-click” button until my bank account turned to red – only to surround myself with stuff I didn’t even knew I needed but that I’d heard somewhere was essential; I used to stare at the tv day and night watching and rewatching shows from my childhood only to give me the
illusion impression that I was at last closing a once opened door and thus was “growing up”. This sounds pathetic and for the most part is.
I guess the main reason I went on creating struggles for myself is that I was always trying to find the “perfect thing”: the search for the perfect pair of shoes made me buy dozens of them, because the subconscious thought that what I was buying was only a temporary fix prevented me from either buying something really beautiful and expensive or enjoy them for what they were – just nice. The search for the perfect home made me unhappy (at first, fortunately) with the one I actually rented and made me fill it with things that were supposed to make it my dream apartment, whereas the space you live in only needs to be filled with things that generate space, not make you feel trapped. Finally, and most dramatically, the search for the perfect man makes it hard to build a healthy relationship with another person: as loving and devoted the man can be, if he doesn’t live up to your
stupid expectations, you can never be happy.
Perfectionism is an illness: it prevents you from living life to the fullest all the while giving you the wrong impression you’re doing everything right and you should only try harder to succeed. When you come to a place like the one I’m in right now, you come to realize perfection is just another gimmick that fades away along with fashion trends, unworthy deadlines and regrets about what you “should have done”. Here the only measure of perfection is how good you feel eating that watermelon or diving in that gorgeous sea. In other words, you finally get the only person who can decide if what you’re doing is perfect is you, or better yet, your inner you. Here is home. Here is the true place where all the dreams come true – those dreams that were born and raised within your heart, not brought sometimes violently from the outside.
And the funny thing is, the finally “perfect” pair of jeans was the one I found in a second-hand store on a rainy day: a classic cut that was once worn by someone and that now had lost all of the glamour and shine of those pieces “you-have-to-buy-now-or-die”.
Jeans are good to keep your limbs from the cold and walk around in comfort. They are just clothes. Everything we put into them – coolness, fashion, independance, rock or whatever – are just thoughts that materialize when applied to a person, not denim.