If being born in former Yugoslavia has thought me anything – it’s to be ready to lose everything in a blink of an eye. I can’t even count how many times i started all over again – at some place where i never thought i’d be living and having only personal belongings with me. That life of a perpetual wanderer had thought me many things – and placed all of my views on life in general in quite an ephemeral and illusionary framework.
In the first place – it thought me never to identify with what’s temporarily in my possession; we are not what we have and whatever it is that we have can be gone overnight, if not sooner.
In Epistulae Morales 9.18-19, Seneca tells story of philosopher Stilpon, whose homeland was captured; as he was walking away from conflagration by himself, he was asked if he had lost anything. To that he replied: Omnia mea mecum porto – all my goods are with me. By doing so, he made the enemy doubt whether he actually won as his goods were with him – justice, virtue, prudence and the very fact that he considered that, which could be snatched away – worthless.
It was somewhere after 11pm the other night when we felt the smell of smoke and heard the noise of firemen’s cars running somewhere in the distance. I ran to the balcony and someone in the street yelled: it’s burning near the railway ! The railway is in some 1km/ 0.6 mi from our home – and with the crazy wind, it was a question of minutes until it gets to our houses – it’s woods and we are in the first line.
The shock came only after it was all over – now that i look back, i am somewhat scared by my own lack of any sort of panic or upset in the midst of the chaos; this is what i did: taking care of my parents (who happen to be my next door neighbors as well) and cat first; the medicines they need, documents, cash, everyone’s clothes for couple of days; then jewels and my books – something we could sell and live of at least for the first time; my prayer book, Russian ID , I Ching and several Tarot decks.
One of the mistakes i made was that i kept Manya’s carrybag in the storage room behind the house – the fire was at the reach of my hand when i ran to get it and my mother was screaming from the balcony that i will catch fire; the thing is that my fur baby is used to this bag – it has openings so she can see through it, otherwise it’s too traumatizing for her and she was too upset already. The other mistake was that the gas in my car was on reserve level, i i didn’t tank it last time, so in case we needed to – we wouldn’t be able to get further then 50km/ some 30 miles – and the traffic was crazy and gas stations were closed of course. I had also took a wrong passport – i keep several old ones because when you go to an Embassy of a country for which we still need visas – like US or UK – they ask you details of previously issued ones, that’s why; so that’s something i need to sort out too, otherwise i end up AGAIN with a passport of no longer existing country… and i have had several of those.
The fire was tamed some four hours later and everyone went back to their respective homes, but Hexagram 56, The Traveler has been on my mind ever since…
When a man is a wanderer and stranger, he should not be gruff nor overbearing. He has no large circle of acquaintances, therefore he should not give himself airs. He must be cautious and reserved; in this way he protects himself from evil. If he is obliging toward others, he wins success.
A wanderer has no fixed abode; his home is the road. Therefore he must take care to remain upright and steadfast, so that he sojourns only in the proper places, associating only with good people. Then he has good fortune and can go his way unmolested.
For no matter what, aren’t we all merely travelers in this life?
Laudator Temporis Acti: http://laudatortemporisacti.blogspot.com/2007/07/omnia-mea-mecum-porto.html
FOCUS News Agency: Montenegro: Wildfire breaks out near Podgorica http://www.focus-fen.net/?id=n283295
I-Ching Hexagram 56 – Lu – The Wanderer http://theabysmal.wordpress.com/2006/10/27/i-ching-hexagram-56/