Leap of faith or Salto mortale

by Kleitia Vaso

Believer or unbeliever, you are geared towards thinking certain things on days termed as holy by the outside world. During Christmas, it is nearly impossible not to see glimpses of God in the monotonous grey sky that opens suddenly and becomes blue in parts, shining an auspicious light onto the sea. The path your life has taken is also a thought that cannot be avoided. Everything in the atmosphere demands reflection on it.

Despite the day’s special name, I find myself walking by the sea, following the same path that I take every day. I don’t know what I want from it, whether I require anything specific or concrete. I do not think so. I simply want, implicitly, that this walk give me life, that it clear my eyes from the glare of constant screens, that it furnish my brain with fresh air, needed for fresh thought. I think of it as nourishment but I do not take it forcefully, as a healthy meal from a dietary plan. I do not believe in diets. I know well that what is taken through an exercise of will rather than desire cannot lead to a long-term change. It can only provide a momentary gratification and a short transformation that will be quickly overturned by more natural appetites. Thus, I only take what is given to me, without forcing my hand.

The walk on the beach might not be the most practical use of my time. I could spend this time reading or writing, going to places that might be more conducive to a social life, learning a language, anything that might provide a more concrete and externally valuable goal. A goal having an exact price, ascertainable and approved by others. Yet, I cannot do that. My body demands this walk of me and I cannot deny it. I have neither the strength nor the inclination for it. Perhaps, the clever mind suggests, it is a way of escaping more mundane duties but, somehow, I feel that the sea, the sun, the sky deserve this daily dose of adulation. A time cut out for them and them alone.  There truly is no other reason except for this mutual benefit. Nothing special has occurred during these walks if we consider a joke, an anecdote or a certificate a unit of measure. I have seen many an unusual beautiful sight but I cannot remember them all, and neither could I describe them to another person. My words, when speaking, always fall short or sound excessive for the occasion. So, I usually refrain.  But, I count these sights and their accompanying sensations as a gift. A gift which was given to me a long time ago and which only now I can begin to comprehend.

Certainly, accidental meetings, funny or silly episodes have happened as well but nothing I could use for any profitable purpose. I go there expecting something undefinable and that is what the walk gives back to me. Speaking of profit or lack of it, I remember once, a friend of mine chided me for giving a greater amount of money than is customary to a beggar who showed us the way. “Your decision, altruistic superficially but profoundly selfish, will cause her more harm than good,” he said. “She will expect the same thing from someone else in the future and will be disappointed when it is denied her.” Of course, he was right. Right like Baudelaire’s ugly man who insists on his legal right to repeatedly look at himself in the mirror. But, truth be told, I probably did not do it for the right reasons. I was somewhat intoxicated by the view and the beautiful moment and, feeling expansive, wanted to spread my happiness to everyone and everything else. I wanted her to believe so that I can continue to believe, in turn, that unexpected and pleasant things can happen at any moment, perhaps when you least expect them. I did not think about the consequences of my actions on the rest of her life as I often neglect to do the same with my own.

One beautiful evening, in my adopted home, I remember being both happy and sad as I heard Bob Dylan’s “Like a rolling stone” blasting from a car. The day was turning into night and I felt both free and aimless, homeless, like a rolling stone, with no direction home. It was the first time I grasped the song with my entire being and not just the mind which runs in front of everything else like an annoyingly clever girl. I felt at once the exhilaration and sadness of freedom, of aimlessness, of not knowing the next step, of divesting that power in the hands of something else. In the new place that chose me as much as I chose it, I thought of the road that led me there and I realized that the same principle of randomness has guided my life. My final college major, a collection of courses which resulted in a degree rather than the other way around. I had taken these courses driven by curiosity and desire while “pursuing” other more practical majors which I never finished. My relationships and friendships, no ultimate goal in sight, no dreams of longevity or eternity. What I have gathered I cannot show. Perhaps, their effect is somehow apparent. My jobs, the same, a random selection which, for their duration, I have enjoyed to their fullest. My life, no strategy, no map, but a blind faith in a fateful moment which will enlighten me and show me the way. To the next step.

by Kleitia Vaso