Living alone and Brussels [on compassion]

A couple of months ago, a story began. Many stories begin at any given point in time but we rarely know how the story goes on - like the 1001 nights stories - never ending escape and imprisonment. There are stories you would tell in loud voice, in front of people, without fear of rejection, without being laughed at but with a laugh, stories of mystery and mysticism, stories of complicated plots and characters, stories of linear plots and simple characters ...

I was travelling in Amsterdam when a story began. It had been incubating for a while as all stories do - they are collection of light rays scattered randomly, waiting for that perfect glass element that will focus them at the right time, on the right plain. They are just the continuation of past stories - stories scattered when they reached an end of a path, a wall, a mirror. 

Today, walking the streets of Brussels, the story comes to a next chapter. Today, living alone is not something to avoid - one must get out of one's own imaginary shell - a shell that does not even exist - and walk into the guarded garden of common-hood.

Living alone is not about confusion or loneliness or isolation. Living alone is about enlightenment and freedom. I still do not know where the boundaries of my "self" are, I still look to others with uncertainty, I still define my "self" by the environment and by the boundaries of the "other". I still look for the microphone pointed at me (rather than at the important person in the middle of the square), and I still exchange a smile with the chocolate-drugged teenagers, and I know that the colourful clothing is just a scream "this is me, here! stay back and go find YOUR color!". 

I removed the headphones - I wanted to hear the city and the people; I walked the streets, slowly; I looked like a tourist with a camera hanging on my neck (and on Sunday, that's all that Brussels is about); I used the camera as an eyelid - to wink, to show the others that I am one of them smirking shyly at the peeing boy. And that's not loneliness, nor isolation, nor confusion. 

This is empathy and compassion. This is the power to feel anyone, to be anyone, to define your "self" as someone you admire, to shy away from the world when you want, and to help the shy away from shyness, to morph and be morphed, to adapt and be adaptable. In today's culture, we are lead to believe that knowing who you are, and being yourself is a good thing. And yet, we are criticsed for "having changed", for no longer "understanding", for "being stubborn". I do want to change and to adapt, and to mend, and meld and mold. And living alone helps me expand like water and air - filling the voids in between the others whenever necessary, wherever left.

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