Wednesday, January 7, 2009


It's only a feeling, usually not based on a single fact. Everyone has untried recipes for an ideal life in an ideal world. An Eldorado, a prosperous land, a free continent -- briefly, a paradise. Each of us has a private vision of paradise (although let me say that I tend to believe in mass production and consumer taste in this case too) but we all have the same feeling. Pack a few things and go, because nothing is easier than abandoning the agony of workaday habits and setting out on the unknown quest for an imagined ideal. Unlike those who always had had the opportunity to go and try their luck anywhere in the world, we are always anxious at first. We are eager.

For a love at first sight, the best medicine is a thorough second look. So, too, as tourists or business travelers, we don't gaze at everything the way we did the first time; focusing our eyes, we discover a world that has been patented over and over again. They too -- those with addresses in paradise -- have their human problems. They too have something to complain about. And, what is most astonishing, they too have a fantasy of a paradise -- of somewhere else. Thus, drinking bitters in a jazz club in London, or standing in front of the ever-present McDonald's, this one in Paris, we are unexpectedly struck by an idea so outmoded that pronouncing it aloud is pointless. Namely, home is home. That's it. No explanations. I'm just a visitor here, but I'm at home at home. I'm only a guest here, but there, at home, I can be both guest and host. Plainly, we begin to warm the idea of returning home. The first compulsory autopsy at the anatomy class is no slower in making us feel that we have seen just about enough -- and now is the time to go home!

We return home and, full of eagerness, we tell our story. To be honest, awash in the flood of our own words, we may miss the fact that they (that is, our listeners) are not really listening to what we (the travelers) have to say; it is going in one ear and out the other. They have their own chronicle of problems, which, as a matter of fact, are now also our own again. Before we can stop speaking, those day-to-day problems have become ours. Once again we we travel in overcrowded trams or metro, frustrated by local news in newspapers and global one in TV, we argue....

If our memory works, we may soon recall examples and comparisons. The new, freshly mixed and constantly growing feeling will begin to surface. If we are determined enough or should be so lucky as to have our superiors on our side, when the time comes, we shall once more be on our way. And come back again. Driven by a pendular feeling, swung by equal forces from shifting poles.

After all, we feel sincerely happy 10,000 meters above the ground, in a plane that is taking us towards our fancy new paradise, or back to our re-invented home. This, finally discovered, paradise is nothing else but what we feel at 10,000 meters feet. Regardless of the fact that even the longest flights end by landing on solid earth. Consequently, intercontinental jets transport not only passengers and their cargo, but also tons of unregistered and undeclared hopes and emotions. Looked at it that way, it can be no surprise that a plane sometimes crashes.

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