Beauty can really save the world
Adelina Marini, 28 February 2010
I feel low lately. Spring is coming but I'm not happy probably for the first time in my life. I am thinking that I can't stand any longer the sand, the mud, these flying plastic bags, thrown pieces of paper, garbage containers turned upside down, ugly shaggy and snapping dogs, dogs' poop on the sidewalks, stern-faced and bad dressed people (bad in the meaning of ugly not in terms of poor).
The other morning I woke up in a full harmony with myself. I pulled up the blinds and opened the window. Birds were singing and it smelled like Spring! But I had to go out. My enthusiasm instantly disappears because this is what follows: another fight to show the guy with the green VW Passat that he is not in a greater hurry than me and this is why he is not supposed to be in the opposite direction lane, trying to pass before me. I can't start thinking again where I can park my car around the place I have to go to, without walking into tonnes of mud with my new shoes which I like after all very much. I don't want to quarrel again that those who stand on the right have an advantage because this is what is written in the traffic legislation which another Blondie has not read again.
Unfortunately I have to go out. The disaster is even greater. My new winter tires are for a disposal already, in spite of all my efforts to avoid the street holes. But I couldn't and now my car needs repairs. Thank God that I resisted the temptation to buy a new car during the economic boom! Not only that my money would have gone to hell but I would have constantly had heart attacks because of the frequent falling into the Sofia street holes. I gave up asking how is it possible each year road repairs to be done and AGAIN the holes are there on the next year! I can't stop thinking where are all those people who graduate from the Architecture and Engineering University in Sofia and the Construction High School nearby. What are they being taught there? Isn't there a road construction discipline where you study how to make roads?
This made me remember my last year's travel to Amsterdam with the same old car of mine that I mentioned above. I was shocked by the speed with which the famous trans-German A3 highway was being enlarged. Everyone keeps on telling me when I decide to travel around Europe with my car - why do you need this, there are airplanes, driving takes a lot of time, it is exhausting. Blah-blah. There is nothing more exhausting than driving from the city centre of Sofia to the Mladost quarter or vice versa, or to the village of Illiantsi where I had to go to several days ago (it is just 5 km from Sofia). There really isn't anything more exhausting than this. You have to hold your eyes wide open to guess what is hiding in a puddle - whether it is 3 cm hole or a 3 m abyss. You have to be careful with the stray dogs who love the game jumping-against-moving-cars not matter that this probably hurts and might cause severe damages to the bumper of your car. You also have to beware of pedestrians who discard the red traffic light and run to cross the street because they have to catch that bus. They really have to! Even paying the price of their life they never new the price of!
Anyway, I woke up today and decided that since it is Friday I will have my coffee in bed because I need to create some pleasures for myself so as to motivate me to start working. I get hungry. I'd have something sweet, if possible. I instantly remembered a bakery in the European quarter of Brussels which tempted me recently. There, at the window, wonderful cookies were arranged - they were beautiful - perfectly oval, brown, stuck together with chocolate cream. There were different sizes of them and different colours, arranged in such a way that you feel sorry to buy them because it will spoil this beauty. Some were arranged in boxes where I imagined that I could put expensive women's underwear with the same success. Just perfect for a present.
Well, I did not buy any because I had budgetary restrictions. Not that the cookies were expensive, no, it was just that I had too many things on the list and none of them included buying sweets. Brussels is too far (I have traveled to Brussels many times by car and never felt exhausted by the way), but I had to face the reality. My choice was the following: I could go to the bakery nearby where I see the oily cheese patties in those 100-years' old large baking dishes made of cast iron. If I dislike them I could buy fatty doughy bun rolls with poppy seeds over them or with nothing. There is also this millet-ale in disgusting plastic bottles where, honestly, I wouldn't even put my secretion.
Another choice for me is to go to the small corner shop. There I can see plastic boxes with different cookies, which might be tasty but look not very attractive. Nothing catches my eye. Obviously, I have to go to the liqueur shop where I can buy of those Belgian biscuits - thin, almost transparent with almond inside.
And before you tell me that I am a fan of Western-style things or that I am overreacting and exaggerating, let me share with you what crossed my mind this morning because I never went to the bakery, nor the corner shop, nor the liqueur shop. I deliberated over the idea that a large part of the problems of this unfortunate Bulgaria is that no one is striving for beauty. No one is looking for beautiful things, no one is creating beauty and no one is trying to educate their children in artistic beauty.
What is the problem for our bakery to invest a little bit more efforts and imagination and make something look beautiful and tasty? Money? No, it's not about money. Making something beautiful is not necessarily expensive and even if it is, the investment is worth it.
And what is the problem for all of us to stop throwing away our litter on the street or at least try to close the lids of the garbage containers so that when the wind blows this would prevent the garbage from dispersing all around? Or, what is preventing us from calling the municipality until their phones become red to ask them when the company that made repairs last summer and left tonnes of sand on the street to come and clean it? Because all this sand is blocking the shafts which is causing floods when raining. Not to mention that because of the sand and the mud we have to have our homes cleaned more often than usual which costs money and time.
Is there something preventing us from asking why millions are thrown away for streets repairs each year and still we have no single street or boulevard in 3-million Sofia for which you could say - well, this is a good one? I don't dare even think of the situation in the countryside.
The only answer I can think of is that most people love ugliness or at least have come to peace with it. Their eyes are not open for beauty, they do not look for it, do not strive for it and, naturally, cannot create it. How can you create something beautiful if only until you make 2 steps out of your home and you step over poops or a plastic bag entangles your leg, or your neighbour is taking her garbage bag to the garbage container but it its leaking all the way, and round the container it is full of old shabby mattresses, rotten old furniture from the times of the Sofia bombardment, old shoes, broken glass from old window panes and so may other things you can't think of. Who can bear all this? Only those who think that going out in white latex boots and white latex jacket, combined with heavy make up, more appropriate for a brothel, can overcome ugliness. But instead it just blends with it.
So, you can't expect from people like these high productivity and competitive economy to pull the country out of the crisis. People for whom it is more important to go to work and stand in the cold corridor, smoking and drinking the disgusting cold coffee, throwing their cigarettes on the floor, cannot create something that someone would like to buy, aside from other people like them. So, the fears that some minorities would by 2050 assimilate us, are not worrying at all. The worrying thing here is that the so called precious majority will go away on its own, it will rot in its own misery because it failed to understand that beauty is not a luxury it is a necessity which makes you create and feel free.