- Never underestimate the power of influenza. I needed to do the laundry today, so I went out to get some detergent. The shops were all closed, and the weather so nice – and before I knew, I found myself on top of Sant Pere Màrtir, a big hill on the borders of Barcelona. Funny what one can do while on high fever.
- I spot Polish people from time to time. They are fun to watch; they make dumb comments about other peoples’ behavior and clothes and try to bypass the metro gates. There is only one rule of Pole Watching Game: do NOT reveal yourself. Hilarious.
- The British kids are gone; the hostel is now full of young Japanese. By the way, what’s the thing with groups people wearing the same outfits while traveling? Why look like an idiot among twenty other idiots? Safety in numbers?
Considering the amount of kids in the lobby, I’m glad I took my entire music collection with me. Still, if I knew what awaited me I would’ve probably taken the big, noise-muffling headphones instead of earphones.
Day 12 of my trip. I’m slowly getting used to living in suboptimal conditions. Some things are hard by choice – for example, living in cheap hostels inevitably means sharing your room with obnoxious partygoers who don’t quite grasp the idea that you don’t drink alcohol. At the other side, many difficulties pop up where you didn’t expect them – for example, as I already ranted more than once, I’m completely incompatible with Spanish work/eat/party hours. Finally, there are obstacles one cannot really prevent – like bronchitis.
I thought about this as I was sitting on a bench in a park today, coughing so loud people around probably wondered if there’s another outbreak of swine flu. A question kept recurring: why is it all so hard, and why is everyone around me having fun while I have to summon so much effort just to get through the day?
And then it dawned on me: it’s hard because I chose it to be so.
This trip was planned to be hard. It was a crazy thing from the very beginning, with little to no preparations, no guidebooks, no maps. Basically, I decided to throw myself into the lively Spanish city life without any afterthought. The reason everything is hard is because I’m trying to do everything my way – not the local way or the tourist way.
Why not the tourist way? Because it sucks. I’m not a part of the cheerful crowd – I’m introverted and proud of it. I don’t want souvenirs – they will just collect dust once I get back home. I don’t want anything I can buy, in fact – simply because happiness cannot be bought, and it’s a waste of money, time and life to try to prove otherwise. Tourism is an industry; I don’t wanna be a part of it.
Why not the local way, then? Because I don’t know it, and I don’t have any easy way of learning – except learning the hard way. Take the shops, for example. In Poland, even on the biggest bank/national holidays you’ll find open shops everywhere. Not in Spain. The only grocery I found today was Chinese one, and half of the products the didn’t have a single Latin letter on them.
It’s hard enough already. But I go even further – I’m a hipster of life, and for reasons not yet understood I try to do everything the weird way.
Like when climbing the hill today. I didn’t use the usual approach path – instead, I reached a dead end in some rich suburb, crawled through a hole in the fence and went straight to the top, tearing my jeans on thorny shrubs and losing my footing many times because of the steepness of the slope. When coming back, I opted for the least used path.
Living the hard, non-obvious way has been my goal for some time – but ironically, reaching it doesn’t feel glamorous at all. And even though there’s little to brag about, such little decisions, successes and failures do an important thing: they build the character. Every time I make a decision against the majority, it gets a little easier; every time I succeed, I know I can push things a little bit further.
And even though I may have holes in a new pair of jeans, I’m going to wear them with pride.
PS. We Polish people need to realize how resilient we are when it comes to surviving adversity. From the absurdities of tax system to the extremes of weather – yes, we may complain, but in the end we are alive and kicking. May be we should just cherish this more?