[written on April 13th 2016]
Here I am again, writing on a Wednesday night as if I intended it to be the day of the week on which I let it all sink in for a bit. Which by the way is a lie – I probably haven’t let anything sink in to what I would consider an “appropriate” degree yet. “Poco a poco”, my new flatmates keep telling me. And that’s just what I’m trying to do – little by little, getting used to this surreal adventure I’m on right now.
It’s basically my first real week here in Barcelona since I wasn’t able to do virtually anything (again: a lie) because of being sick during my first week. Things have been moving pretty quickly and – most pleasantly – smoothly: I started my Spanish course on Monday morning and moved into my official new home in the evening of that very same day.
Speaking of the latter, it’s a rather big apartment for Spanish circumstances, I’d say. The place is located on one of the biggest streets in Barcelona, the Avinguda del Paral·lel (in short: Paral·lel) and we happen to live in a building close to Plaça de Espanya, on the seventh floor with a really sunny and bright living room. There’s even a little balcony, which technically allows you to see the sea – in case you’re willing to bend over the handrail far enough. Honest to god, it’s lovely here. My room might be small and pretty much without any daylight (I do have my own interior balcony, though…and yes, it absolutely does sound fancier than it is in reality.), but I seriously couldn’t be happier as for now. Also, even though – in my very own opinion – I didn’t bring along too many things from Vienna, I still feel like I brought way too much. Nevertheless, everything has its place in my little personal cave and I seriously don’t think I’d need more space than I have right now. My room here is probably only like a quarter the size of my room in Vienna. Makes ya think how much space you really need, no?
Anyways. My flat mates, three lovely Spanish guys in their late twenties, are amazing, the room is super cheap and – yes, my life is complete! – there’s a seemingly working cleaning rota. Is this cloud seven? So that’s that as regards my current living situation.
This time – just like during my visit in February –, my general first impressions of this wonderful city were mostly shaped by its people and its architecture. But let’s focus on the people for today.
Never in my life did I meet so many like-minded, happy people in one place, simply enjoying their lives with what little they might have. I know, I know … it may be common knowledge that people living in the South are generally more relaxed, more easy-going, and usually happier than anywhere else. At least that’s what I kept hearing. It’s just that I never really understood it until now I’m actually living here, talking to people, observing their habits, listening to their ideas on and expectations of life.
Even though having a job is just as essential for living here as e.g. in Northwestern Europe, where never-ending, hard work equals a good (i.e. “successful”) life, it still doesn’t seem to be the single most important thing. People don’t seem to worry as much or talk shit behind other peoples’ backs as much nor do they complain as much.
Now, do you wanna know what they do do (hehe dodo)? They’re enjoying the present day, the present siesta. They’re enjoying each others’ company, they’re enjoying their admittedly rather small homes and as already indicated and most importantly: they’re enjoying THEIR TIME.
What so many of the people living in the mostly rich Northwestern countries may denigrate as “being lazy” is probably just living a more or less happy, self-content life. The fact that in too many cases people have to work 40+ hours just in order to somehow make ends meet naturally produces some kind of resentment when there obviously seems to be a way more chilled way to live life – e.g. here in Spain. Of course this country has its problems just like any other, but if not for anything else … they do have all that warm weather, all that sunshine, all that sea. Which does make a huge difference, let me tell you!
Of course this can feel alien when e.g. you’re a middle-aged single mum – let’s say somewhere in rainy England – with a full-time job and basically no time for neither yourself nor your kids. Of course this can feel unfair when you’re working like a crazy person pretty much all day errday just in order to still have too much month at the end of the money. Of course this can produce a lot of envy, jealousy and, ultimately, disfavour. Only think about what’s been happening with Spain or Greece over the past couple years. There have been massive bashing waves against these countries, which for a number of reasons had problems with adjusting to the political and economical workings of the EU.
When it should really be a wake-up call. When we should really be paying attention to everything that’s going wrong within that capitalist, profit-oriented, egoistic and simply out-dated system that I myself grew up in. A system, which dictates what you should buy; what you should learn; what kind of job you should do; what you should eat; what TV shows you should watch at precisely what time; when you should go to bed; when you should wake up again etc. – a system, which keeps you so busy and distracted that you can barely take a minute to maybe question its workings.
And no, of course I’m not saying, people over here in Spain don’t work as hard or not as much. I’m just saying that the general emphasis of life here seems to be not (at least not exclusively) on things such as “making a living”, being “successful”, reaching “milestones”, and accumulating evermore money and possessions that you were told make you happy, but rather on the things that really count like … making the most of the little time you have in this life, on this earth.
Naturally, all of which I’m writing about right now is drawn from my very own personal experiences in Barcelona. And yes, I’m well aware of the fact that I haven’t been here for too long yet and that my views can still change a lot over the coming months – who knows what I will be thinking once I get over the current honeymoon phase with this place! You never know. But for the time being, this is just how I experience the general mind-set, the general way of life over here. And I’m loving it (#rosecolouredglasses).
I’m simply writing all of this down in such detail in order to remind everyone, including myself, that life can be good. That life can be different than what we are taught it “should” be like. That it’s up to us, to each and every one of us to change the structures within our system that have been long obsolete, making us only cogs in a machine, of which I’m not quite sure who’s running it. If you happen to know, please leave a comment below.
It’s easy to blame others when something is just not working out for you. I’m talking macro as well as micro level here. Don’t bitch about other peoples’ lifestyles as a pastime as if you actually gave a shit. We know you don’t. Because we’ve all been there at least once or twice in our lives. In fact, if you pretend to care, you yourself are probably just too lazy to change your life according to your real needs and wishes. Don’t blame others for not doing the same. Always start with yourself.
Let’s not hate on each other – let’s understand each other, let’s communicate with each other, let’s work together! Let’s live a better and more meaningful life (yes, I’m borrowing the Minimalists’ “catch phrase” here). Think outside of the box and do your own thing. Even when it’s not always easy. Poco a poco, remember?