Walk on ‘’the polako’’ side of life
“Is she going to say that EVS in Croatia has been a life-changing experience?” I might as well say that. And I would be telling the truth. And yet, life-changing is such a beaten word that, putting it down on the white page suddenly sounds meaningless. Like a chewing gum that lost its flavour.
There is another way to put it down: the polako rhythm took hold of her soul.
You know when you listen several times to the same song playing in the background? You can't help yourself but start singing it inside your head, or even out loud. It caught you. Similarly, we synchronize with the rhythms and patterns of the cultures we live in, sometimes without even being aware of that happening.
And some rhythms sound like a flowing river... Polako polako. Idemo na kavu. Take your time.
In Karlovac, it's easy to take your time. In Carpe Diem, it's easy to learn to enjoy your day. This town seems to be designed for you to pause and listen. With its four rivers, slowly flowing, circling the city. Developing you. With its electric air and its electric feeling. Isn't this the spark that fired the spirit of Nikola Tesla and the brothers Seljan? Isn't this the spark in so many people that walk around these streets, taken by a subtle passion? You can't see it with your eyes, but the rhythm is there, like an undercurrent. In Radićeva and in all these summer festivals that seem to be born out of this feeling.
I love Henry Miller's quote “one's destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things”, which we used in our Traveler's Café event in Carpe Diem. We pasted it on the cups; those small things again, like a breadcrumb trail in the forest. Personally, I would say one's destination is never a place, but a new way of loving life. A new way of finding the lost paths to our core. And of building new ones. In Croatia, I learnt to love in new colors, in new sounds, in new smells. I learnt to love with the fantasy that Korana and Mrežnica display, the fantasy of the Plitvice Lakes or of the island of love in Duga Resa.
Volunteering was a part of it. Volunteering is a missing piece that brings together the human tribe and the individual's yearning for meaning. It turns giving and sharing into a natural human way to live. Volunteering is also a rhythm. In our identification with others, we melt; in our getting back to our heartfelt desires, we strengthen. In-out. Inhale-exhale. Breathing our humanity and exhaling our gifts.
Yes, the people were a big part of it. With their taste and their color, and that certain something you can't put your finger on. A once in a lifetime combination of possibilities. And yet, it's so easy to take that for granted... My mother told us once, when we weren't but kids licking ice-cream by the beach: “I fear not being able to meet every person in the world.” I never forgot those words. And yet, it's so easy to take that for granted. To forget the feeling of the sheer proximity of another human being caressing us. The taste of their experience of life tainting ours with a new tonality. Just like I have the taste of rakija running in my blood and the lessons learnt from everyone I met tattooed on my skin. Just like, in our need to travel, and share, and connect and understand, we intertwine with people, we blend in the multicolor soup of life, we grow roots in new places and we get caught in new rhythms.
And now I can feel a Balkan feeling spreading in my body. It's the polako rhythm of life, a new way of seeing life, a new way of loving life.
Aida Díaz Solà