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There are great novels of which i read merely several pages, there are cool people whom i met only briefly, there are mind blowing ideas of which i only heard and there are amazing cities which i visited only for a day or two.

If you travel for work often, you get the idea. You end up in some marvel of a city with awe-inspiring history and breath taking architecture – yet all you have is couple of hours. I believe that’s how an one-night stand with the love of your life would feel… What to do?

I regularly get sick and exhausted when i travel for work because i am trying to do the impossible – to squeeze in museum visits and even road trips into the conference schedule… Oddly, most of the time i manage, albeit it means that i hardly ever sleep and that my local friends and acquaintances end up cursing me because they need to get up at 6 am on Sunday morning – or something like that.

Anyhow, sometimes the time is not enough even for that and even my friends’ good will can’t  beat the time economy of an average general assembly; at times like that i simply wander around.

Usually i grab the camera with me – and without any kind of map or plan just walk around aimlessly – if i feel like turning left, i turn left; if i feel like going on to the right – i follow the impulse and turn after the first corner to the right.

I’ve seen amazing things that way and got to some incredible places – way off the beaten track. In Brussels , i discovered a great little park where – in the midst of the rushing Belgian capital – the time had seemed to have stopped and, to my wonder – even the Peter Pan statue in the midst of it.

In Moscow, that way i discovered a fairy tale-like homestead of Voroncov family – it’s not listed in any of the Moscow guide books i know of, yet the architecture and the atmosphere there, having preserved the nobility of its once owners – is a must see.

But, truth to be told, my random wanderings are not all that random actually – albeit they lack planning and map reading; the thing is that i pay attention at meaningful coincidences and follow those.

( In 1920s Carl Gustav Jung introduced the term for the phenomena of meaningful, yet causally unrelated events – referring to it as to Synchronicity; this Jungian concept is crucial for a Western mind to understand I Ching – for which translation into German in 1950’s Jung himself had written a forward- and it’s a most useful method for understanding Tarot mechanics as well; i’ll write more on it sometime in the future.)

These pictures were taken June this year and i went through them once again because yesterday a  friendship with one of my Brussels sojourners ended in a way that made me profoundly sad.

I’ve mentioned it before and there were some awesome comments there – on the pain of loosing a friend, to me it’s way more saddening than ending of a romance. Maybe it’s because i see dates as ephemeral from the start – while friendship to me, by default, is timeless. Not sure why, but to me a date usually has to do with looks and liking (or not liking) the physical  – while friendship is formed on insides mostly and to me that means way more. I am not speaking of committed relationships and true romantic love – but of crashes and flings which i presume you too had; they spice up  life, they give us the proverbial ‘butterflies’ in the stomach,  the excitement… and other exuberating, yet short-lasting effects. A date can change their mind easily – i know i do, no one knows what actually makes other attracted to us – and why exactly we find some of those  others – a dating material; i think it’s a combo of looks, smell and some archetypes in the  subconsciousness  – anyhow, most of it does not last. (I read somewhere in Italian Cosmo back in 1990’s that one out of seventy does work – of course, i doubt it’s a serious statistic, but you get an idea on the probability.)

I gave up long ago on worrying for how long someone’s attraction to me will last – i know it’s hardly up to their conscious choices, and in my turn, i can’t i choose whom my heart wants and for how long, some things are simply beyond our control.

Certainly, one can choose to commit and be faithful and so on – but by the time we are in position to make such choices, the butterflies would have had flown away long ago…

I’ve been mentioning before my fondness of Elisabeth Gilbert’s writing style, albeit hers is not exactly a highbrow prose – and nevertheless it’s oftentimes difficult to qualify it as a genre; her second book “Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage”  The New Yorker’s columnist called marriage memoire – albeit it doesn’t really make sense as a sub-genre… But i get Mr Levy, because if i was to classify the book, i couldn’t come up with anything more precise than ‘a very long essay combining travelogue with a personal diary and a scientific research’ – and that of course would not fit into the tiny  space provided for the column’s title.

Anyhow, E.G.’s second book didn’t do nearly as well as ‘Eat, Pray, Love’, yet i liked it better , among else for these words:  “Then again, you cannot stop the flood of desire as it moves through the world, inappropriate though it may sometimes be. It is the prerogative of all humans to make ludicrous choices, to fall in love with the most unlikely of partners, and to set themselves up for the most predictable of calamities.”

And for these as well:

“This is what intimacy does to us over time. That’s what a long marriage can do: It causes us to inherit and trade each other’s stories. This, in part, is how we become annexes of each other, trellises on which each other’s biography can grow.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Committed

That’s what friendships do too – we become characters in each other’s story, a credible reference and a welcomed plot twist  when the narrative of our lives becomes too predictable; thus, when i loose one of mine – over ‘irreconcilable differences’ or merely over a stupidity and misunderstanding, even if it wasn’t one of the main characters, my own story feels somehow flawed and i feel sad.

Anyhow, here are some shots of Brussels, as good as it used to get:

L.R.S.