Crushed by the City

photo Luciano Mortula /

I don’t remember why I wanted so much to live in a big City. This idea blurred like a painted face blurs under the falling rain drops.
One of the biggest drops was New York. The implanted in my head symbol of an unlimited freedom and the better world crushed me with its strangeness.
I was twenty, first time on another continent, first time in New York. Alone and excited, in the center of so different for me reality.  I came from another place, just for one day, to see the city of my dreams.
It  was 23 years ago but I still remember the feeling of crushing with so many unexpected experiences. Falling into the human mass squashed between huge buildings and moving usually in two directions made me feel deprived of connection.
I lost my way and direction but I couldn’t find anyone willing to help me, or at least to stop and listen to my question.  It seemed that the mass, though human, was made of individuals passing each other deliberately avoiding contact, pushed by ceaseless haste of the minds which were miles away.
I thought that the only thing I could do was to get into the rhythm of this automatic movement like a marching soldier or a worker at an assembly line and that it would take me somewhere. So I did. I moved forward realizing that the freedom I longed for turned out to be led to absurd. My ability to act was somehow paralyzed by the fact that I stood face to face with an immense hugeness towards which I was nothing.
I walked bombarded by sounds deafening my own thoughts, watching large billboards which seemed to attract attention to the things least important, inhaling smells and fumes which have stolen the rests of oxygen.
I passed all types of men and women, all sorts of poverty or richness… Those who “succeeded” and those who didn’t have or didn’t want to have anything anymore to offer on the market of human qualifications. It looked like they gave up the group march and found their place on the street. They were lying there against the walls, covered by newspapers of which the bolded headlines  informed how to sell one’s personality…

For last 13 years I have been living in a small Belgian village. I love the pieces of space around, the unspoiled by the human hand skyline, the scent of flowers, the swoosh of trees and the faces of staring cows… And my pets, observing me every day with the utmost interest.

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