There is that house on top of the hill in southern Poland. It towers above the village, yet it remains hidden in the embrace of the forest. The branches of nearby trees stretch above its roof, as if nature is crawling back in, to reclaim the land that once belonged to it.
Although this scenery seems like from a gothic story this house brings the emotions which I will always associate with peace, harmony and respite.
My family owns this place, it has become our holiday retreat, and for me personally; a sanctuary.
Each day, just at sun dawn I would run into the woods behind the house, climb up the hill, off the beaten path and sit on the grass.
I would close my eyes.
This is how I remind myself of what is real.
This is how I remind myself of those grim times when the urban life has entangled me and brought me down to the brink of depression. When I was burned out, when toxic work environment and “startup way of life” got me immersed in pointless masquerades.
I remember, those times well, when I got lost in the crowd of new humans, and almost lost view of the reality.
In this age of abundance of information the most scarce resource is the Truth
“Quid est veritas?” – asks Pilate.
What is truth? he ponders, while the Truth stands right before him.
I can’t help but to think, that today it is the same for us.
What is truth? What is real?
As we delve deeper into the flashy distractions of modern “culture” and entertainment we lose the sense of what is real. Those things that make us human, that define human experience, that rawness of reality is something I have to rediscover deep in the woods.
Those precious moments can be seen and heard only in silence.
Chop wood, plant trees, cut grass, gather mushrooms, shoot a bow, take my kids for a hike through the woods, teach them to walk in silence and show them how to observe the wildlife. Drink some coffee with friends from the village; old-fashioned people who value work of their hands, who toil in the fields, who have not yet been immersed in the noise of the Metropolis.
I see the dichotomy, the growing rift between those people and the ones whom I met when living in Big Cities such as Berlin, Paris or Dubai. It is almost as if there are two species living in parallel worlds.
There is the homo sapiens, and there is this new human.
The first one is of the old world, the latter is of the Brave New World.
The new human is not taught to create but to consume.
The new human trades elusive goals of long term effort for pleasures of immediate gratification.
Nurtured by fabricated food, educated by video entertainment, kept in darkness through constant exposure to blinding lights.
A new human thrives when facing a screen and navigates effortlessly through digital jungle yet remains helpless and lost when confronted with real life.
The new human is stripped of his identity, cut from his roots, detached from his legacy, even from biology.
The new human unlike the old one is not forged by constant values, but constantly morphs with ever changing trends and fashions.
The history of a new human is not written in stone, not even in paper but in wikipedia. The new human does not belong nor rely on a family, his sense of safety comes from an omnipresent embrace of the welfare state.
Family and marriage are redefined, blurred are the axioms, nothing is normal and everything is normal. You can’t observe reality for what it is, because you would become guilty of a mortal sin of being judgemental.
When everything is questioned, nothing is real.
But the Truth, has this one miraculous property that It always emerges, eventually.
And it leaves naked, those who try to suppress it.
All these thoughts ran through my mind as I was listening to the wind hustling through the tree branches, touching the moss, smelling the soil, cherishing the view of the bright blue sky above.
How foolish I was to ever lose sight of it?
I myself, came so dangerously close to becoming new human.
Thankfully, I was given that time of blessed silence so I could see what is real and what has a meaning.
I could step back and breathe again.
As C.S Lewis observed:
If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.
Note: Burning pages is my attempt to capture some elusive thoughts and observations before they turn to ash. Call it a journal if you want.
Flame in the Schell