Beauty and the matrix

My dad was always guided by the instinct of being correct. And in his philosophy, this was an act of proving wrong to all those christians out there who used the label of “christian” just like today’s teenagers use the names of whatever MTV star they need to be worshipping as to be cool and in the know. My dad was the closest thing to a revolutionary that I ever known, considering the standard background he and everyone else his age came from. He is exceptional. And I had the privilege to grow up near him. It brings me to tears to think of how pure and amazing he was compared to all the ridiculous, hell-like shit people all around when I was growing up. I say “he was” because I’m afraid he might have burned down his revolutionary light. He is still an exceptional man considering for how long he kept his ground, but I’m afraid he got tired. He blames it on his age, I think he’s using his age as an excuse for stopping to constantly float against the current and just let it be.

The direction of the floating is not essential. What is important is that there is barely no grain of evil in my father. There are many good people who eventually get corrupt by the norms of being the best, not entirely, but just enough to be accepted in the game. And then it’s a slippery slope really.

My mother is an angel. She’s so full of energy that many times she might seem a bit too stingy. But she’s soft and nice and a 14-year-old girl inside. She loves flowers and nice little picnics, she loves to see people sitting peacefully, especially people about whom the media and word of the mouth created the image of burglars, rapers and noisy music people. She is filled with positive energy from seeing all those walking stereotypes going beyond all that was thought of them and just spending time peacefully.

She loves nice little toys, everything cute really. She always blamed us for bringing kittens in the apartment and not taking care of them, when she is the one who brought the first kitten we ever had. It was the 90’s. My sister and I would get one pair of jeans and one pair of shoes to wear for 2 years. My mum would buy all kinds of filling grains on half kilos. Our school was making my parents buy expensive (at least for many of us in those times) textbooks as to get better education and my mum would be the one to always fight about it with the richer parents in class. She would say that her kid can study well even with less colorful books. She wouldn’t mind the more colorful books, but she couldn’t afford them and that would have created a big divide between the ones who can and cannot afford them.

Well in those times she brought Forgetta home. That kitten was so small, it would get lost in our underwear drawer. I barely remember it, I’m afraid in those times I was still a very egocentric child. My sister was too young. So it figures that my mum was the one to take all of the care and also play with the cat.

When we were living in the family dormitory, we used to have a balcony. In that balcony, a family of pigeons made a nest. A white beautiful she-pigeon and a grey he-pigeon. They would lay eggs, we’d see the young chicks appear and then they would fly away. I think we had a few generations of pigeons at our balcony. I think we brought some of them to the village. I could have been maximum 6 years old, but I remember when one time, the pigeon parents did not return home for quite a while; then the mother came back, all beaten up, chewed almost. My mum took care of her, gave her first aid. I remember the green brilliant tincture on the white wing. I remember with what care my mum was nursing the bird, almost feeling every pain the bird was feeling. My mum and my dad were speculating about what must have happened that both birds were attacked and how the female escaped. It got better soon, but I think the father never returned…

There are a million things I don’t know about my parents. It is still not very clear how they first met. Legend has it my mum was reading a book on the beach of the Consomolist lake and my dad, inclined to intellectual things from nature, was impressed by that and went to talk to her. Many shady details ahead, there is the wedding proposal, where my grandfathers, meeting for the first time, end the wedding “agreement” by singing Romanian patriotic songs on the terrace. And from there on, it’s never been a fairy tale. It’s been lack of money, frustrations, seeing all the world you knew disappearing in front of your eyes like it was the matrix and Neo finally won. Only you don’t know how to live in the new world. Nobody knows. My parents youth was very much alike American people’s youth today – you’ve got the right way and the wrong way, the success stories and the national acclamation for being the best at the game that everybody shared and whose rules are very clear. Everybody wanted to seem like the model the media was promoting, you can even catch those poster grimaces on their faces in your parents old, black-and-white photos.

But then we all got saved from the matrix and thrown into the pit. In the pit there is not food and soon enough we start eating each other to survive. Then somebody throws brochures in the pit; they are of such bright colors, we’ve never seen anything like it before, they are featuring amazingly, almost unrealistically fit people with haircuts and clothes so strange that it very much captures our attention. And the only text on the brochure is saying “if you can’t afford to buy this, you’ll never be as good as the people in the pictures”. Now the old notions of “good” and “bad” are not valid anymore in the pit. So let’s take these notions and replace the void. Thus the post-soviet culture was born.

My parents survived. I dare say they were vegetarians, because I know of no situation when they went forward by devouring other people. Needless to say, this has affected them, but they’ve dealt better than the rest in the pit. The prescription of a family in the matrix was not great – woman became huge, talked about how much of an alcoholic her husband was while steering in an aluminium pot, man met with other men to drink vodka like shooting a 100 gr was an Olympic accomplishment and talk about wives like they had a donkey instead of a human being in the 4 square meter apartment; I don’t know what to say about kids growing up in this environment, it probably takes its toll, but I consider my childhood very happy. Mostly because I spent it in the village.

I have a difficult time dealing with the real world. It would have been way overdue to deal with it by now. I sometime came across as a weirdo to other people, mostly because all they said seemed some distant privileged world bullshit to me, but slowly-slowly I learned some of the bullshit and how to care about it.

But what I missed most in my upbringing was learning how to be evil. I can be mean, no problem, but this happens mostly when I loosen up very quickly with a person and feel like they’re part of family, or yes, I don’t realize it and I am mean sometimes for no reason. But being evil on purpose is difficult for me, knowing what is the correct way and behaving against it to fulfill a purpose, with hurting other people on the way – it’s just not right… And when someone behaves like this towards me, I am really disturbed and hurt. I can barely handle it.

I blame many of my difficulties today on my parents. As much as I think of it, I never remember one evil thing that my parents taught me. Never an evil thing that I heard them talking between themselves. Never one conspiracy… Maybe they tried, I don’t know. But I was raised in an environment that taught me fairness and respect, without ever being rigid or lacking kindness. They never taught me that I should be better than others in spite of what I have to do for that. They never asked me to beat anyone at anything. These concepts were never so important. I simply don’t remember a time when they said anything that would represent bad people. Or successful business people for the matter. There was a lot of negative talk, but it was about blabla stuff, nothing including other people and how to out-smart them.

I thought for a while that this is blue-collar mentality – be fair, do your job well, be a hard worker, respect the elderly etc. Now I think these are all amazing values. But not in the context when your work is somebody else’s profit. Slaves also had food and shelter and some (very little) time off. I don’t want to draw an insensitive comparison here, but let’s face it, standards of living have increased in the countries that had slaves some time ago. So, assuming that there would be slaves today for ploughing, they’d still be using a tractor instead, but operated by a slave. Someone who made no profit and had no liberties. Blue-collar and most of white-collar today make no profit and, although they have the liberties, they rarely get to use them because if they don’t work that extra hour, they won’t even afford that lodging that was granted for a slave. Yes, slaves were brutalized, but today this is a matter of human rights enforcement. There are many democracies out there in the world where you get away with most crimes because you’re rich/powerful.

This writing began with a sincere admiration for my parents and developed into some other discussion. I think they are related. But I’m not going to try to link them. All I can say is that there is genuine goodness and that I was blessed/lucky to have lived it. I think most people try to not vocalize the principles they’ve been built on because of the gram of shame that remained in some societies. Most people I know are like that at least. Trying to be civil. For different reasons though.

I don’t know where and what I am, but I know that I came from two pure, idealistic, although different natures. I’ve barely ever met people like my parents (and some of my extended family) and I think they are a rare, disappearing species. I think they are as hippie as any people with their background would be. I love them anyway because they are my parents but I love them even more for being so amazing, for being the kind of people who I later came to idolize from books, movies and thought discussions. I am so happy to come from them  and to be built by them. I wish I’d known my grandparents and I think I miss the valuable things we kept leaving behind us when moving from adolescence to the matrix, from the matrix to the pit and then on our way to get out of there… It might be that more physical baggage survived than moral baggage. But the beauty is that we can recreate, rediscover and relive any of the distant echoes of light reaching us. We just need to keep soft enough to be able to absorb those beautiful rays.

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