Translated from Polish by Andryi Tuchapec
23′ is approaching, Epiphany (Three Kings’ Day), and in the eastern rite, Rizdvo. An electronic postcard with the unusual Star of Bethlehem was sent out by a Ukrainian soldier on December 24.
Even before our holidays, we managed to send a new package to the front by ordinary passenger transport. The Ukrainian driver did not even want to hear about paying for transporting the shipment. In the evening we return from the Lublin train station. „But the driver had work-worn hands,” whispers the volunteer. „I didn’t notice, I saw the expectant eyes of women everywhere.”.
We’ve all seen a lot of worked hands this year, many put out pairs of eyes, but also determined. A year has passed in which the duality of human nature was revealed. The year of Cain, with which the traditional understanding of the world order is passing away.
Not so long ago, on our way back from Ukraine, we passed small towns and villages and saw lit candles at Orthodox churches. „They’re hiding a hero,” explains the driver. „It’s often the case that two or three times a day, too.»
We don’t see these everyday images of death. In Ukraine itself, there is no mention of the daily burials, the mass of suicides of those who cannot endure life under extreme stress and tension. All the things that need to be said, but later, because now you have to weigh your words and survive.
These conditions dictate a new order in which one must find oneself.
In 22′, two new extraterrestrial minerals were discovered in a meteorite from Somalia. They were called elaliite and elinstantonite. We still know very little about the universe and ourselves, even though we possess the gift of naming. Not far north of Somalia are two countries with connotations of refuge and war: Eritrea and Yemen. Man has named two minerals,but the war in Yemen affects more than 400,000, somehow still anonymous lives.
So in 22′ I also learned two new, completely unwanted emotions, neither fear, nor terror, nor trembling. Something much worse, difficult to define. We also began to have problems with calling things by name, as if every language had gone beyond sense.
How did the discovery come about? Being in Ukraine, I don’t always distinguish between these two alarms. One siren says the attack has begun. And the siren that rockets are flying. Everywhere, you don’t know where. Is it into the home of someone’s parents or friends, or into a kindergarten, or the building you are currently in? You can’t guess. And you have to wait with this ignorance. Until the next siren. And the next one will be a cancellation of the first alarm or confirmation that it is flying towards you and it is time to go down to the shelter. I haven’t met another feeling associated with being in a shelter, and I don’t wish it on anyone. I will stay with the discovery of two new emotions.
The first feeling, at the sound of the first siren, akin to helplessness and sadness. For the purpose of this farewell to the old year, let’s call it Tabula. Neither fear nor trepidation, perhaps all together. Probably it’s very individual, as who experiences. You think: they’ve attacked, they’re flying
through the sky, they’ll eventually hit somewhere or shoot them down. You don’t know where the bullets are flying. Slowly you begin to understand the warning system that the whole country already knows about the raid. Someone has an app, someone explains what to do. I’m a little worried that I don’t have this application, because you have to function somehow in this system the next days.
The second feeling, at the sound of the second siren, let’s call Rasa. Something akin to relief that the wait is over, that there is a second signal. With the simultaneous confusion of further helplessness and at the same time willingness to accept the challenge for the umpteenth time to stand in the truth. According to the instructions you know how to act, you will need to go to the nearest shelter. There is no time for shopping. „I don’t have water in my backpack,” I thought and more: „why do I need so many heavy books?” Because it’s not enough to stand in truth once after February 24, 22′. In such a situation, you finally understand that in order to live truly, you need to stand in truth every day, at different times.
„How do you feel?” – I ask more often in 22′. „A white sheet, a clean board, a total reset. I don’t know how to explain this condition,” one artist friend writes back to me from the front.
And I don’t know how to tell that to you, what you probably feel. Suddenly everything familiar is over and everything has to be started again under difficult conditions, this time not in that positive „starting something over”. In a meaningless sense yet. We have to broadcast them ourselves. What will next year look like? What will our future look like? Our world? Once again we were given birth again. Let’s not waste this chance.
Let’s wish ourselves and all those around us the extraordinary nobility, dignity and courage of our Ukrainian friends, who are to be admired every day for having the strength to give birth to goodness with all their worries. No excuses, no complaining, no regrets, no privilege of precedence. Because, after all, we can also remember this ’22 as a time when multiplied goodness was revealed. How will we use it in the new year? How will we write
a clean sheet with it? What will our tabula rasa look like?
December 30, 2022
Editor-in-chief of Kultura Enter Magazine