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Yet another Nationalfeierdag has passed with fireworks and crowded places. The bridge is healed, the tram is getting ready, constructions still rise everywhere and the population of Luxembourg is growing. I saw yesterday a sea of people, much more colourful and diverse than 8 years ago when I arrived here. Luxembourg is changing, is growing. There are so many cultural activities, networking events that flourished in the last year that I heard many times people saying: “something´s happening”.
Though a part of me already lingers for a piece of lost paradise, the lost paradise of quietness and long walks on empty streets on a Sunday evening, some other part of me tells me that now is a good time: a time for renewal, for hope. Something´s happening, and I think that what we feel are the tectonic movements of our society moving towards a new decade. I heard this somewhere, that the cycles of the world last for about 10 years. And somehow it’s true: why else would we talk about the 90´s, the nostalgic 60´s, the lost 20´s? Though in the core of it, human nature doesn’t change, we indulge in the hope that society does.
I remember also a story of my own about cycles. It was probably 2006 and I was friends with a woman who used to work for the library of the university who had a passion for astrology. She wasn’t the naïve horoscope reader, and, in spite of what one may think, she had a lot of knowledge about stars because her father was an astronomy professor. She was just throwing a symbolism on the astronomical events. So, one day, at a coffee in this old room smelling like old books she read my natal chart and she told me that Jupiter (or Saturn) was about to move in my sign in the following year and this is a cycle that will last for about 12 years, that soon I will undergo a huge change in my system of beliefs. Right, I said… and I moved on. However, as Saturn (or Jupiter) started to move towards the constellation of Scorpio, I did start to change beliefs. I was in my 20s and, as I found out later, there is a psychological equivalent for what was happening to me, and it´s called the “social identity crisis”. Just to give you an example of beliefs that left my constellation that year: the belief that God only resides the Orthodox Church and that he counts the number of times you do the sign of the Cross, the believe that the entire world has something against my nation and the belief that we are all soo different, the idea that sex is shameful, that moving to another country will be a failure.
The fact is that I didn’t just changed. It was part of a process, part of a journey. All that helped back then though, was to take the changes from the environment and try to swim on the wave. That year Romania joined the EU, the economy was up and things were looking good. And then the financial crisis came and we were faced with new challenges. I remember the wave of concern. Where I was working it was like the end of the world was coming. And yet we survived.
And yet the prophecy turned true, not because of Jupiter or Saturn (or maybe, who knows) but because it was time to.
And this is how I felt on the evening before the National Day in Luxembourg.
I attended this play by Serger Tonnar with refugees about refugees: Letters from Luxembourg. This is an emotional journey through concepts like “freedom”, “God” or “home”. It shows the human face behind this term “refugee”, with satirical glimpses on the bureaucratic system. It shows people who miss their loved ones, who ask themselves questions of identity and escape a sea of water to drown in a sea of paper.
But the simple fact that this play was put in place is a step ahead. I watched the dedication and the emotions of those people through the glass of my own becoming and I feel grateful to be the receiver of this artistic act. I am grateful to see people putting a piece of their heart out in the world, expressing, creating in spite of tough things they went through. Having the chance to do so, is already a seed of freedom that we can grow.
Yes, something’s happening. We now have a comedy scene starting, a poetry scene coming behind a little bit more shy, we have festivals, art events and open air concerts. For me they all are linked by an invisible thread which is the need for expression and creativity. In this part of the world where our basic needs get met, the need for meaning starts to show its shy head. I know that still the majority lives in the hamster wheel of “eat-work-sleep”, but there are more and more people who reach out for more, for something to feed their soul with.
If I say that it’s already a very positive thing, because you don’t know it but I was born and raised a pessimist. Me acknowledging that there is hope for our generation is like an acrophobian saying that he might consider sky diving in the coming year. At least this is the effect that these tectonic movements had on me: they turned me into an unexpected optimist. Don’t worry, there is a downside to optimism: since I’ve become an optimist, I tend to go out without an umbrella. Which not always works.
Don’t get me wrong: there are still a lot of problems happening around. There is still hate, there are crimes, stress. There were 3 major accidents on construction sites and there are still refugees welcomed with suspicious looks. There are still poor people on the street and there are those who get fired without explanation. There are still burnouts, oh there are more burnouts than ever, in fact. But I also found more people rising from their own ashes than ever. As I noticed from my life experience, for someone or for a structure to grow, either one has to learn from the others (and how do I know, most people don’t have the capacity to do so as we are never encouraged to), or to get to a place which is so uncomfortable that one starts to feel the need to get out. Sometimes we need to go down to hell, like Dante, to walk our way up, through purgatory to paradise.
And the road from hell is a long road uphill. Like these valleys that surround Luxembourg and its plateaus. Sometimes you seem to have reached the peak but you didn’t and you get down again, deeper in a new valley, and then you go up again on the old fortification towers and so forth and so on.
But when something seems to be happening, we can still look with curiosity towards the future and maybe… maybe if we have the courage, to look for what we can contribute to this change.