solitude

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The other day I walked by Madrid´s Gran Via. I’ve never felt any special emotion for the city where I spent most of my life. Since I moved out to the pheripherie ten years ago I had never missed its streets or squares. Sometimes I just have a feeling of nostalgia for those parks like islands that outlines the wonders of a quiet and isolated existence. All my life I have been an extroverted and outgoing person, but also I have always known that it is just a mask meant to hide my insecurity, a blust flight forward that some misunderstand and think it is self confidence, ambition or pride. None of those belongs to my own self. The truth is that the interaction with the others hurts me. Therefore I have chosen to live in solitude restraining more and more my friends circle. It would be absurd to call it arrogance. I do not relate with the others with contempt, but I have been hurt so many times that I do not want to expose myself to new disappointments. I am bipolar and my emotions are like a most delicate glass that breaks easily in a thousand pieces, digging into the flesh, causing deep wounds. If the psychic pain was to leave traces on the skin, mine would have the appearance of a brutaly stabbed canvas. I do not mind my days being the precise replica from one another, echoing over and over the same routine; like eternity, where nothing occurs where there are no sufferers, no regrets. Few things happen in my life: the garden trees loses their leaves in autumn and blooms in spring; the sky lightens or deepens announcing the seasonal change; the wheat fields changes from green to yellow and stained ochre, when man digs into their womb; the kestrels lurks the pigeons and sometimes kills them, bloodying the sky; dogs howls with primal ancestral fear when hearing the bells of the Church; suddenly a ring of sheeps, a distant sound of a stream. Each morning the mirror reminds me that I am getting older, I see new silver-gray hair and brownish spots on my skin. When going for a walk I rather choose less frequented areas. There is an asphalt road painted in red with street lamps and pine trees at the sides that flows into a pond where ducks and swans likes to swim. It is the favorite path of families with children who visit the village for the first time. It is a short, lively walk, where outsiders salutes to each other, putting aside the fears and reservations of the city. I always take this walk in the morning when it is higly unlikely to encounter someone. When arriving to the pond I like to watch the ducks and swans swim peacefully, sometimes they get off the water waiting for someone to throw them food. From time to time they fight, but their quarrels are usually brief and bloodless. To some extent, they resemble human beings, though in our species the brawls become war and extermination. The natural mechanisms to suppress violence are gone displaced by the pathologies of our culture which encourages the destruction of the other human being, which condemns those who are different, which opposes our desires, or simply invades our space.

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Most of the time I prefer to walk through rural paths, almost deserted roads. The Castilian steppe does not provide shade and freshness but instead her lavish endless horizons evoke the immensity of the sea. In fact, the subtle movement of their veil of wheat and barley resembles ocean waves of low magnitude and dreamy sound . Their huge void does not make me feel insignificant, but lucky. Nor do I experiment the feeling of being a tiny point in the midst of an incomprehensible enormity. Nature seems to be infinitely more kind than human beings are. Nature is not made to measure man, because man is not the measure of the universe and his role is not to accommodate things to his size, but to witness the greatness beyond his ability to understand. Nature is an inscrutable mystery. Reason only manages to shake its surface, throwing words, drawing ephemeral waves. A feew weeks ago I went to Madrid and took a walk, and I felt empty. The main streets gave me sadness and desolation. The prostitutes and beggars bared the profound lack of solidarity of a society that violates the responsibility to reach out for the hopeless. Some beggars were addicts; others seemed to be alcoholics, mentally ill, or simple workers unemployed who had exhausted their benefits and had spread a carton on the ground, with no other company than a dog or a cat who dozed in their arms. Their eyes reflected defeat, abandonment and despair. Their black hands and dehydrated cheeks were everyone´s sin, but almost nobody gave them attention, assuming that their misfortune was as inexorable as a flood or a fire. Only the miserable sight of a seventy years old lady was able to arouse the pity of passers-by. She was well dressed and had her hand shyly outstretched. Perhaps because her appearance was still not so faded many looked at her as someone known, almost as a warning about what could happen to them. Some stopped and gave her a few coins. Others gazed aside with horror, the kind of horror that gives back a mirror in which we see ourselves with a horrible deformity. Is it possible to love solitude and cheerish feelings of fraternity? I guess so. I never lost the capability of feeling sorrow and profoundly touched by others misery; neverthelss I avoid human contact because it almost always gives me pain, anxiety and disturbance. My solitude is not absolute, because I’ve known love, friends love, family love. And yes, my environment is reduced to a single person who respects my need to live apart from many things. Who does not overwhelm me, who accepts my oddities, excuse my faults, and shows tolerance with my contradictions. Our coexistence could be called shared loneliness. During my brief foray into Madrid, I took the metro. Stepping down the electric stair I came across a young-looking University that was in the opposite direction. Slim, with his boyish face, blue eyes, sleepless and sad gaz; took me sometime before I recognized myself in him, thirty years ago, thinking about the future, my future with mix feelings of fear and hope. I did not know then what life held for me, but I almost knew that pain and sorrow would be with me forever. Waving my hand I tried to draw his attention, but the young man disappeared upstairs, blending with other travelers. Now I am glad that he did not repair in me for I would have failed to save him from any disaster or dispair. His journey into solitude was as unavoidable as for me the returning to my daily aloneness. Teaching him to love solitude and envision the void as a way of completeness, my words could not have kept him from a long and unkind learning.

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RAFAEL NARBONA

(Traducido por Begoña Zabala Aguirre)

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