Hamlet

To be or not to be. Is this the question?
It seems to me that if you question
your answer clear is: To Be.
The very act of questioning
is an act of being.
Today at least to me so seems.
But Hamlet’s time was maybe different
and simply questions did not count.
Have we progressed to simplicity
in a more complex world?
Or have we regressed to complicate
what is simple and has always been?

To be or not to be…
Alone with your questions.

Cherry Blossom

I am obsessed. There are two ideas that have obsessed my time and energy these days. They are not new. I have had them for quite some time. But what brought them to blossom was my recent trip to the USA, my participation in a seminar on liberty and my ever growing conviction that the Americans are right – what you do is what you are.

This happened in the season of the cherry blossom. Washington D.C.’s prime time for love confessions. I knew about the cherry blossoms from Reni. She told me a story once about being on a date watching the cherry blossoms. I thought it was very romantic. The fact that I can’t remember that date’s name only means that love needs more than confessions to bring fruit. But I now understood how beautiful a setting the cherry blossoms are. And more than

that I feel like something in the air during that trip infected me with enthusiasm and new energy to make things happen.

Since I came back I acted on ideas I had kept in me for some time. Enough time thinking whether or not they make sense, doubting if the efforts are worth it and enjoying the procrastination and insecurity that often haunt my projects. It was time to confess to my ideas that I love them and I am ready to have them grow.

Idea One: During my research at the national archive I came across a memoir written by a Bulgarian trader and business leader Hristo Yotsov, a guy nobody knows much about in Bulgaria let alone abroad. His book is a gem for it presents a classical liberal viewpoint generated in Bulgaria as opposed to imported through an American NGO post-1989. It is not the view of an economic theorist or philosopher but the view of a practical man whose philosophy is all the more impressive because it reflected his own experience. Accounts of the economic history of Bulgaria often tell us that the dominant culture in the country is anti-capitalist and anti-market, state-dependent and state-reliant; that liberalism was introduced from abroad and capitalism was imposed against the heart of the Bulgarian nation. But entering into the life and memoirs of Hristo Yotsov offers us an alternative point of view, opens up a debate by giving evidence that the pre-WWII Bulgarian society was not a homogenous anti-capitalist tribe but included powerful voices speaking economic freedom in a local language.  The book is fun and exposes not only state incompetence but the author’s own process of learning by doing. I think that publishing his memoirs and making them available to a wider audience is a good idea and I have started acting upon it.

Idea Two: Poetry and story telling are my passions for a long time. I listen to The Moth podcast, a attend poetry readings every time I have a chance but those do not happen very often. This year around May 24th (The Day of the Cyrillic Alphabet) I am planning a literary event in Varna, my hometown on the Black Sea. I will gather young as well as established writers in the nice atmosphere of a bar and have them share their ideas and emotions through language. I want to see people stand up and share their creativity; open up their hearts and offer their stories to others; to make us laugh or cry and thus remind us of the boundless glory of humanity.

D.C. cherries are in full blossom for about 14 days. What will happen to these ideas in reality is up to the market, I mean up to other people’s attached value to them, not just mine. I needed to share the feeling of blossoms that has obsessed me in the last two weeks. And before I return to my more mundane work on chapters 5 and 6, I have just one more Idea three:

A love confession, when it is awaited and welcome, makes you feel capable and encouraged to go ahead with your bravest ideas. Makes you want to give, to reach further, to extend yourself. It leads to things following. America, with its tempting promise that anything is possible, reminded me once again of how enabling it feels to be with friends, to be who you are and happy. I took her confession with me into the Eastern European spring where lake Pancharevo is still half frozen. And started doing, I got going and soon things will follow. Not all trees blossom with the cherries and not all fruits are ripe with the strawberries but if you love something you will live up to it and see it complete, you will be what you do and you will be happy to be obsessed by it.

30 years old

I am born on the second and everything comes to me double or in half. The serious and the fun of life pull me in opposite directions, between ought and could I struggle deciding while my doubts build up as self-criticism.

When I was 15 I thought that by the time I was 30 these things would pass, that I would know better what I want, can and ought to do and somehow what I couldn’t figure out for myself would present itself to me from the outside through experience or through a person, whose experience would complete me in the exact way I wanted to feel complete.

I think this has been my biggest illusion so far. Not because it is impossible for someone to complete me, to be what I want but cannot, to speak with my inner voice, to be the pillar of my self-doubting genius… This in fact happens more often than you think. What is an illusion is that at some future point I will be more complete and more myself than I am now; that doubt is a sign of some kind of un-readiness. Like they ask a little kid “what do you want to be when you grow up” as if right now it is not anything yet.

The truth is that at 30 I am just as whole and complete as I was when I was 3.  Back then I fell off the stairs of our old house chasing a balloon, maybe the earliest memory in my life. I had no doubt that if I bend just a little more I will reach it. But as I did something pushed me from behind and fell right onto my head. Things start failing from the most unexpected direction while you are looking elsewhere.

As a very young girl I wanted to be a flight attendant because they travel everywhere for free. Never took this idea seriously enough to pursue it but there was always a kind of balloon I set myself chasing around the world and back. I always come back. The flights often turned out free too – for competitions, internships, conferences, fellowships… so even without being a flight attendant I have made at least one of my dreams come true. You just need to trust yourself. And be curious.

I am not only born on the second but I am also called Vera (Faith). Vera has not only flown but also has smashed quite e few balloons, an eyebrow as well. I have scars from bikes, from dramatic falls in less than sober conditions; I have fallen on my head most often when someone drops me on a dance floor… So do not count too munch on the perfect half. Count on your own whole times two! Because the more scarred the more whole it is. And what if you don’t fulfill someone’s expectations? “What is meant to fall on your head won’t hit a stone” is what my grandma (Vera) used to say. But it is not that it falls onto your head, it is rather you fall onto it.

I regret nothing I have fallen onto, because nobody made me fall. Nobody owes me and nobody is at fault. The only bites I have scars from are the bites of the epilator. This could however change if another dream of mine comes true  – to have a dog.

People are my weakness. And my strength. There are people who without knowing or wanting have influenced my path in a cosmic way and for whom I am thankful to the universes.

I do not find a common language with all but if I do, I don’t stop talking. With time conversations become shorter. People tend to adjust to their surrounding to a certain extent and if you leave them with themselves for long enough they come back to that one person you met in the beginning. And me at 30 feels like me at 15 but I no longer take my self-doubt so seriously. I am pretty sure that even 15 or 30 years from now my own searches and memories will pull me in opposite directions. If I know something from experience it is that experience does not kill. That’s why I take advice halfway. Knowing that people often advise you to do the things they didn’t, things they regret they never tried themselves, things they still secretly dream of.

Experience helps to recognize yourself in a situation but it does not tell you what to do and what to settle with. I do not know where this knowledge comes from but it is much less conscious. Experience makes you a part of more things, helps you understand more people but only rarely helps you make a rational choice. Because the way it works it destroys your previous ideas of normal, good and sensible and opens up more possible paths than you can take.

Things get more complicated with time. And if sometime ago I have thought that the grown ups know better it was because parents never share with us their dilemmas. As a result we learn not to decide and to think but to act according to authority. Until we decide not to.

Disciplined action is sometimes failing me. I catch myself in long thoughtful sense-creating and sense-searching meditations. Meaning rather than sense. While time goes by. When time goes by where does it go? What does the past turn into and how does the future thin out? Occasionally something turns your whole sand clock upside down and everything starts from the beginning – love, work, space, plans, the multitude of real numbers all is taken to another orbit at least for some time. The old times sink somewhere and sediment like nature makes coal, oil and sand. Nothing is lost after all. The sand sifts from the upper to the lower chakras and back but the glass is of the same volume.

When I was born I was a little less than 3 kg. but I had big feet. I think this was a sign for travels. I am thankful to my mom for teaching me to speak, for reading me stories artistically and taking me to recitals; when I started writing this and that she was often my first reader and always encouraged me to share my writings with more people.

Words have opened me many doors and rolled me out many sails. I am not too good at sports. Not that I cannot move, but I cannot compete, cannot lose calmly and this means to never see myself win. My dad was right not to encourage me into sports.

The hardest of all questions was “what I want”. The most important however is “what I can”. I have tried many times to do things I cannot do, that just aren’t me. I wanted to be a doctor but I didn’t get into medical school because it required learning by heart the biology words. I didn’t even consider applying to university with history because I cannot reproduce somebody else’s words unless on stage.* Now I am writing something historical with my own words and cannot imagine another way of doing it. I wanted a piano but there was no space for it in our apartment. I wanted to act in theater but I was accepted in the English language high school and I had to learn a hundred words daily. At school we had a choir and festivals, we would always sing and dance folk songs. The best was when we played Macbeth in ninth grade and everyone told me I was a great witch. I also took guitar but it too fell behind the priority of studying for university entry exams. Not that I have overworked myself so much but I tried not to get distracted from my “serious commitments”. Art is a strong attraction but I obviously do not take it as the serious part of life. Still, speeches come to me like nothing else, all kinds, anytime, without thinking them too much.

Misguided it is to feel insufficient and trying to be something you are not often leads to falling after a balloon. But I know no other way of knowing reality then with my headfirst. For now. Let’s see what awaits me in the thirties, what will sediment and what will burst. I know already and for sure that there is no need to compare myself to others except to my own self – halfway, at three or at fifteen times two. Thank you for being with me!