Today is Ash Wednesday and I promise to argue less and smile more…
This is an odd way to start a post on my blog. So let me explain where this statement is coming from. The last seven days have been a humbling but eye-opening and self-elevating experience for me. Here’s why…
Firstly, I got two very strong reminders of how brittle life could be and how we should enjoy every single second of it and be grateful for the moments that we have to share together with the people we love the most. In less than 48 hours, my dad went through a scary accident with a gigantic icicle that hit him after falling from the frozen roof of a building near his office (it’s been an unusually cold winter in Europe this year), and was then hospitalized due to acute respiratory problems. In another 72 hours, he had already undergone a complicated, four-hour-long surgery.
Suddenly, I started feeling as if the world had stopped spinning. In one instant I was working on my new DJ set on a uneventful post-Valentine’s Day Wednesday evening, looking forward to my upcoming weekend trip to NYC. In the next instant, I was standing as a silent and helpless witness to all the drama going in my parents’ lives, thousands of miles away, and the only thing I could do was to wait for updates from my mom via texts and phone calls.
Since most of the above-described drama unfolded while I was already on my way to NYC, the best option for me was to keep a stiff upper lip and go about my schedule in the Big Apple, pretending that nothing had happened. Deep inside me, I felt terrible for having dinners and drinks with friends, going from party to party, while my dad was in the ER at the hospital. But on the surface, I knew I could not do too much more at the moment. I also realized I could actually help my parents by sparing them any additional reasons to worry about me. Therefore, I “toughed” it up and just went along with my life (secretly praying for a miracle and anxiously waiting to hear good news from home). That created a lot of confusion and controversy deep inside me. But it also made me realize that instead of whining about all the mishaps in life, I could be better off (and make the lives of everyone else who loves me much easier) by enjoying what life brings me at the spur of the moment.
Lastly, while in NYC, I had the great opportunity to meet some very interesting new people. People that belonged to a sub-culture that I would never before have imagined hanging out with. On Saturday night, an artsy friend of mine took me on a tour of her beloved Williamsburg neighborhood – the vintage, chill, hip, punk-infused area in North Brooklyn that has become a permanent and world-renowned part of New York’s pop culture. We started with a book writer’s birthday in a vintage-looking bar. Then, we proceeded to a painter’s underground party in a deserted warehouse. We closed the night at a 100-people-strong rave in a cavernous converted loft with bicycles hanging as decoration on chains from the roof.
Those three night experiences had one recurring theme – at all venues, I was constantly running into hipsters. Those who know me well are aware of my not so positive opinions about the ever so trendy hipsters – until recently I even had a draft post saved on my blog ridiculing their fashion tastes and obsession with the Apple brand. So, in many ways, that night I was given the chance to go behind “enemy lines,” secretly spying on my fictional “adversaries.”
And there came the eye-opening realization. As much as I resisted the urge, I actually enjoyed speaking to my “enemies.” Most of the hipsters were extremely intelligent people, all graduates of some of the finest colleges in the country. I was impressed with the ease with which our conversations flowed from painting to photography, to audiovisual art, to my childhood favorite Labyrinth movie with David Bowie, to Nicolas Sarkozy and the French political system, to religion, to DJing – the list goes on and on. Most importantly, instead of immediately and blatantly asking me where I came from and, even worse, wrongly assuming I were Russian or something, my new hipster friends found a very unobtrusive way to ask me about my origins at a much later point of our conversation. And surprise, surprise – not only did they know where Bulgaria was, but they were also familiar with several towns outside of Sofia. Mind you, that all came from people who did not specialize in foreign policy or international relations, but instead were painters, sculpturers, photographers.
Needless to say, the moment I got hold of my iPad on the morning after, I rushed to delete the half-drafted post ridiculing my new friends, the hipsters.
So… to circle back to the opening statement in my post — today is Ash Wednesday, and one of the traditions associated with this holiday is to shed a negative old habit and embrace a new positive experience. As I woke up this morning, reminiscent of what had happened in the past seven days, I made a vow to be less argumentative and judgmental (i.e., shedding the old habits) and welcome whatever comes in my life with a smile on my face (i.e., embracing a new experience).
What are your Ash Wednesday resolutions? Please share in the Comments section.