Sometimes, at a tube station, I accidentally touch my card on the Oyster reader too soon, and I am held back by an error message. A similar situation occurred last evening at Piccadilly Circus. When I touched my Oyster on the reader, I saw the red light flashing up, so I started looking for a staff member to ask for help. However, unbeknownst to me, the light at the gate turned green all of a sudden, meaning that I could go through. The station guard pointed me back to the gate, while the gentleman behind me waited politely until I got through. I feel embarrassed for holding up the queue, but most of all I am grateful to him for letting me pass and not sneaking in through the gate.
I am immensely grateful to my friends, who are supporting me in these difficult times, but I can’t help feeling that I need something more, something that only a man could give me. But despite my constant prayers, I cannot find this special person, so all I can do is channel my loneliness into poetry.
Across the land where lightbeams dance,
Humans live in eternal cheer.
But I dwell in the field of darkness.
The sun fled in horror, and the moon is afraid to rise.
Sorrow and cares weigh me down
As I lie unpursued in the muddy grass.
The kingdom of nightmares has triumphed,
The rain falls and gathers into a sea.
And the water flows dim, velvet
And black as every heart.
A candle-flame flickers and dies.
Tide rises. The old wind stirs sometimes.
But otherwise all is still.
Silence echoes through the land,
And vain despair.
But the tide rises
And raises me
And as my worries swim away,
I float, and melt into the dark.
Seawater tickles my face
And unites with my tears.
I would shriek and beg for help.
But all is useless
And uncared for.
While I cry tonight,
You’ll be far away,
And you will sleep
While I weep.
I slept once
By your side.
But that was a millennium ago.
The heat of your hand still warms my fingers.
The balm of your kiss still rubs my lips.
But your arms do not shield me any more,
And my head no longer belongs on your shoulder.
I grieve as I recall every bygone ray of hope
Until the whirlpool lures me in,
And I dive into obscurity.
When my shadow-self will be a memory,
Crowds will gather at my grave
And gossip haunts forevermore
The ghost of The One Unloved by Men.
I just wanted to let you know that I started another blog alongside this one, intended to be an honest account of my struggle with social anxiety. Of course I will carry on writing this blog as well, because this is my main site, but if you are interested in what it’s like to live with a mental illness, or if you or someone around you has similar experiences, it might be useful to take a look at my new venture at rainbowthroughthestorm.wordpress.com.
We all go through darker periods when we encounter difficulties or lose hope. And sometimes society puts even more pressure on us by expecting us to behave as though everything was fine. I reached the point where I don’t want to pretend any more. I want to be open, as open as I need to be, and to confess that I am not feeling well. I am fighting a war against the haunting memories of my injuries in the past that still exert a paralysing influence on my life. But, empowered by God, I am more determined than ever to defeat the dark forces, and to leave my past behind for ever. Art is one of my weapons, and even more than that. It gives me shelter, hope and joy. So I will march through the battlefield documenting my struggle through poetry, and I won’t stop until I’ll triumph over the army of shadows. Because my faith in God makes me stronger than my enemies. And deep down I hope that one day someone will read my posts, and feel empowered to fight their own battles.
My pillow is the granite of the floor
My blanket is the starless night.
Dead time floats in the air
As flies circle around me
Like black, fat ghosts of my past
And agents of hate.
Of my undying past that alienates,
And of dark hate that destroys me.
The icy hand of silence squeezes my throat
And the war of tears is suppressed
Before it even breaks out.
In the grey fog, all thoughts are drowned,
And what remains is the prick of pain,
Ubiquitous and yet unreachable.
Sometimes a word flies towards me,
Or a snarl, or a cruel laugh.
Their weight crashes into me
Before they hit the ground
And then turn to bricks.
Bricks that build up, unprompted,
Until I am trapped behind a wall.
A wall, how curious, that is transparent!
Across the wall there beckons the promise of joy.
But here I am a prisoner
Of the bricks,
And of my own soul.
I decided to embark on one last holiday before the inevitable start of the new university year. In an effort to prolong summer a bit longer, I chose a Mediterranean city, Barcelona as my destination. In terms of the weather, it didn’t disappoint me, as it offered a hot 28 degrees throughout the day and night. Although it was occasionally cloudy, but it was still warmer than London on an average sunny day. However, I couldn’t help feeling slightly underwhelmed. I knew that it was the second largest city in Spain, as well as a popular Mediterranean holiday destination, so I imagined it as a buzzing, vibrant city with a sort of permanent carnival going on its street. The real Barcelona, by contrast, is significantly more laid-back, which might be the effect of the hot temperatures… What affected me the most was the lack of night transport options. There was no late-night transfer to Girona, one of its major airports, which is surprising given its status as a global hub. That is not to say that I didn’t like the city. It is truly beautiful, its variety of architectural styles is exciting, and it offers what many urban metropoles cannot: a seaside beach.
As I was roaming the streets, I was seized a weird feeling. While arguably the city is widely different from my home town, Budapest, I wandered onto some streets that made me feel as though I was back in Hungary. I had a similar impression in Paris and Vienna, for example. Is it because these cities were all built in a similar fashion? Are all cities alike in some respects, because they were built by humans, and human nature is essentially more similar than we can imagine? Or is is simply that I am able to feel at home in many different environments? I mean, I’ve lived in 3 countries already, and I have an ever-growing list of cities I want to live in in the future. At any rate, it is always beneficial to explore new places, whether they are completely different or similar to where you come from, because they can widen your horizons, open your eyes to the beauties of the world and maybe even increase your appreciation for your home.
My regular readers know that I prefer to explore a city on foot, rather than taking public transport. In most cities this can be done with facility. It is still possible in Barcelona, although you have to be prepared to walk longer distances, as some of its major sights are slightly further away from the city centre.
I started my sightseeing trip at the Arc de Triomf, an edifice in the style of a triumphal arch. It was built as the entrance gate for the World Exhibition of 1888. In front of the arch there is a long, very pleasant piazza with fountains and palm trees.
From there I walked towards the Sagrada Familia. a peculiar church building that is considered to be the symbol of Barcelona. It is mind-boggling to know that it has been in construction since 1883, and its scheduled completion date is 2026. Apparently, the most challenging phase is yet to be started. It is already a remarkable feast of architectural creativity, so I am really curious about seeing the completed building in the future.
From there I walked upwards on streets with an increasing elevation, to take a look at another one of Gaudi’s designs. It was quite a trek up there, through narrow streets and battling through hordes of tourists walking two-abreast on pavements too narrow for more than one person. But it was absolutely worth the effort. The park’s cheerful architecture often reminded me of the world of the Flintstones, and it was a real haven of peace and relaxation. You can also get a breath-taking view of the city from the park’s peak. It’s definitely not the kind of park one goes jogging in, but it immediately became my second favourite park of all (right after the park near my childhood home).
I could have spent hours daydreaming there, but time was short, so I moved on to continue exploring the city. I walked back towards the centre, which gave me the opportunity to take in the various architectural styles of the city. Some parts of Barcelona appeared rather run-down and poor, but they still had a peculiarly Mediterranean feel about them. What I found especially appealing was the great range of little independent shops and cafés, which seemed to be favoured over identikit chain stores. The city has not taken on the international trend of over-sized takeaway coffees, but on the other hand, it does seem to have a penchant for fresh, delicious pastries and cakes.
From the more derelict back streets, I turned on to one of the more elegant main avenues, Gran Via de les Cors Catalanes. Here the buildings became more refined and the streets took on a uniform white and grey exterior. Of course the peaceful, quiet atmosphere I’d enjoyed until that ended as soon as I turned to a busier tourist road, but I was still captivated by the pure elegance of the area. (Ok, I won’t make any comparisons to Oxford Street, I promise!)
Then I turned on to La Rambla, an avenue widely popular with tourists, and at the same time a picturesque medley of Spanish architectural styles. Alongside the two sides of the road, it also had a third stretch of pavement right in the middle, which was dominated by various kiosks and food stalls
I was getting exhausted after walking around for hours, but I told myself that I couldn’t leave Barcelona without visiting the beach, so I marched on diligently. There was a protest going on at Port Vell, presumably against the high number of tourists in the area, so I had to seek an alternative route, but I reached my destination at the end.
The air was still pleasantly warm, but the water felt slightly chilly, so I didn’t stay long. Tired but happy and excited, I made my way to my accommodation to take a well-deserved rest. I stayed at the 360 Hostel (http://www.360hostel.com/barcelona/), which I can highly recommend. It is welcoming, comfortable and equipped with computers, kitchen facilities and balconies all free to use. The staff and the guests regularly get together for parties or communal meals, so whether you are looking for fun activities, or just some peace and relaxation, you can find it there!
Don’t forget to check out (and ‘like’) my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/domvisy! As well as the usual blog posts, you can find exclusive content there, including a daily thematic feature on music, entertainment, scriptures etc. You can find an extract from there below that might be of interest.
“I’m going through a rough period as I’ve had quite a few things to worry about recently. I’m constantly praying, but it seems that it’s in vain, and nothing changes. In these times, it’s easy to succumb to the deceptive thought that God doesn’t care about me, and to direct all my anger at Him. So, I was lingering in a gloomy mood all day yesterday, when God gave me a sign that He was indeed there. As I was kneeling on the floor to clean a low shelf, someone pushed a heavy and thick chopping board from the counter by accident, and it fell on the ground right next to me. It could have hit me, and caused a nasty injury, but God took care of me and prevented this. I was immediately reminded of His constant presence even when I cannot see Him. Right now, everything may seem very dark and hopeless, but God is working in the background for me, and I can rest assured that all will work out well in the end.”
I only managed to sleep for 4 hours before I had to get up in the middle of the night to catch another early morning flight. The gloomy, grey light that fell on the city did little to cheer me up. It was raining again (or maybe it never stopped) when I stepped outside to walk to the train station. In fact, the downpour was so heavy that I could almost swim in the puddles that had built up on the ground. Trying not to get lost in the darkness was hard enough in itself, but the rain made it significantly more challenging. I was relieved when I finally reached the station after a 10-minute walk that seemed endless.
However, my relief soon turned to anxiety when I was told that all the trains to the airport were cancelled due to the weather conditions. Apparently, weather-imposed disruptions on the network are everyday occurrences in Copenhagen. (These moments make me appreciate the transport system in London I’m usually so critical of.) I was advised to take the train to a large transport hub in the city centre and change to another train there. I began feeling slightly worried at that point, even though I still had plenty of time. Being prone to lateness, I always plan to arrive at the airport two hours before departure. So, there was no reason to freak out just yet. I had naively planned to get a relaxed breakfast after going through security, and now as I made calculations in my head (a rather painful activity at that time of day… I mean night), I maintained the hope that I would still have enough time for that.
I arrived at the transport hub and even successfully found the platform for my next train. The display informed me that it was due to arrive in 10 minutes. Excellent, I thought, quite a long wait, but everything is fine, there’s absolutely no need to panic. Then, all of a sudden, ominous yellow letters flashed up on the screen, telling us that the train was delayed by five minutes. I shrugged and returned to the book I was reading to pass the time (The Name of the Rose, in case you were wondering), struggling to fend off my mood of annoyance. The next time I looked at the screen, I discovered, to my horror, that the delay had increased to 10 minutes. Then 15. Then 20, until there was no hope of the train arriving in the foreseeable future. It was at that point that I first considered finding a cab, but I was reluctant, partly because of the exuberant prices and partly because it would have required me to leave the station and step out into the rain. At one point the yellow numbers disappeared, and I was flushed with hope. Maybe the train is finally coming! Then, all my hopes were shattered when the hateful yellow letters invaded the screen again, announcing a further 20 minutes of delays. I realised the impossibility of reaching the airport by train, so I braced myself and returned to the streets.
The transport chaos affected a significant number of people around me, many of whom huddled together by the entrance of the station. Many Danes themselves struggled to find a way home, and nobody knew what was going on. The roads, by contrast, were almost empty, and there were no taxis around that I could have hailed. But I managed to obtain the phone number of a taxi company, and I dialled immediately, putting all my hopes into this phone call. But the operator told me that all the cars they had were in use, and that there would be no available taxi for the next hour or so. Time was rapidly running out. I abandoned my dreams of breakfast, I just wanted to get to the airport with enough time to get through security and reach the departure gate. I silently prayed to God to help me.
Then, all of a sudden, I noticed a bus across the road with the name of the airport as its destination. I didn’t know whether it was about to leave or not, so I began running towards it. But there was no need to rush. The bus was already packed, as fellow tourists squeezed onto it in a desperate attempt to get to the airport on time. I had no chance of getting on, and could do nothing but watch the bus driving off into the distance. The next bus was to be expected in 20 minutes. I was counting the minutes feverishly. If I have to wait 20 minutes here, and the journey takes at least 40 minutes, would I have enough time to catch my fight? My answer to that question was “maybe”, pronounced with a faint tone of hope. But I could do nothing more. With no available cabs, the bus seemed my only chance of reaching the airport. Although, I must say, I didn’t understand why the buses could brave the weather, while the trains couldn’t.
And this is when God showed up and performed a miracle to help me. Even in the midst of all this confusion, deep down I knew that He wouldn’t leave me stranded in the piercing rain in a foreign city, and in the end my faith was justified. As I was waiting at the bus stop, a taxi appeared on the road out of nowhere. Two ladies flagged it immediately. I watched them with a sinking heart. How lucky they were, I thought, and decided to pay more attention to the streets in case another cab might pass by.
“We have one free space to the airport”, one of the ladies shouted towards the group of tourists standing at the bus stop. This was my golden moment, and I didn’t want to miss it. I jumped to the call within a moment, and soon I was on my way to the airport, arriving just in time to catch my flight to London. I was overwhelmed by feelings of gratefulness, joy and awe at God’s love and mercy. I had some moments when logic told me to stay on the platform and wait for the train, but now I could see that I was right in obeying His call to come up to the street. And while not getting a cab at the first attempt seemed like a disaster at the time, God had better plans for me. He didn’t want me to pay for the ride by myself, so He made sure I could share the cost with others. I knew all along that if I turned to Him and listened to His voice, He would help me, because His love for us is infinite, and His grace is way beyond my imagination. I could have left Copenhagen with a bitter taste after this adventure, but instead I will always remember it as the city where God performed a miracle for me.