Gregor Samsa – a better world is possible

So you know how it goes.

You are a child and they put you in school. If you are lucky they won’t cram A’s and B’s into your brain. But most of the time these days they will, even if you already grasp the concept.

Numbers also appear and sometime along the way, you are asked to learn multiplication tables by heart. And then they explain adjectives and verbs and grammar. But never do they tell you why grammar is important. Diligently you learn the rules, make mistakes aplenty and in orthography too, and you start fearing exams. And you study some more, and you memorise some more, and somehow it is fine. Grammar you see is important because without it there would be chaos and there would be no communication. But they never tell you that.

And you move on … with the herd.

Then one day, while at the public library, you notice a little book on a table waiting to be placed back on the shelf. You are barely 11 years old but the cover attracts you. It is a bug -kind of a cockroach really- and it is looking at you. You pick it up, sit on a chair at the corner, and start to read.

“One morning, upon awakening from agitated dreams, Gregor Samsa found himself, in his bed, transformed into a monstrous vermin.”

You meet Gregor Samsa for the very first time and your life changes.

The world becomes multi-dimensional and filled with the unknown. You realize that not understanding is not such a bad thing and that it leads you to question, to ponder, to search some more. You realise that someone else thinks along the same lines as you do, and even writes about it without being belittled. You encounter poetry and the magic of words. You realize imagination has no boundaries, no shapes, and that it is immense, colourful and filled with flavours that you, yes you, can change at will.

I remember the joy of delving into a new world, pondering Gregor Samsa’s dilemma and feeling sorry for him; but also rejoicing at his uncanny freedom as he leaves the house, and by the same token, the drudgery of his working life. He may be a bug, a “vermin” as some translations put it, but he is suddenly free and unburdened. And that, you see, is just fine.

The world is an open field and we have the ability to avoid falling into drudgery if we really want to. We need not become a bug, but we can metamorphose at will. Our mind, our imagination, our sensitivity to the world are to be used, to be expanded upon.

As the world seems to be breaking at the seams with rampant ignorance, prejudice and violence, we can let our mind be free and we can dream. Just like Kafka, we all have a wonderful capacity to expand our imagination beyond the confines of even books and words.

Thank you for reading.

Kenza.

A day in Paris

“Mama, what do we do today?”

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We walk. We look at the clouds. Watch leaves falling like books in the air. Old manuscripts. The smell of ink. Dust and sun in our eyes.

The sky immense and blue. “Let’s take a piece and put it in our pockets,” I say, “you know for later when we are far away.”

We watch milk twirl in your first ever decaf cappuccino! On the side, a round crêpe like a full moon, folded to match the clouds.

The metro filled with ants, all heads down. We dance a few steps on the platform as we wait for the train. An old man looks at us, and smiles. Just like the one who plays the violin at the entrance. We listen to his notes.

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Run through empty arches. A man stands by a window, reading a book. Perhaps from the pages we saw flying earlier in the park.

Walk behind pigeons imitating them, back side waddling. Play. Stop. And play some more. And laugh.

Dance along small streets. You are always dancing.

And talk. Talk about a book and Japan and chocolate at the window, starting every sentence with “can I tell you something?” Buildings measured against Tsunami waves, a graffiti on the wall, the lady with a dog at the light, the day you rode your bike for the first time. Intarissable…

Imagination free, the instant takes flight always further and yet always present.

And I answer when I can. My thoughts are too real, too material so I discard them. I decide to join in your blabber and then I see the light and the dust. My eyes now guide me instead of my heavy thoughts. I jump from colours to sensations, just like you!

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Art in gallery windows and the gentle smile of ladies in Chanel. More art. Beautiful art. Time stops as we stroll gently through the empty museum. Now you are glad we woke up so early.

Outside the boulangerie, we spot a small bulldog wondering what he is doing in a dog’s body. Another one closer to the fountain, watches pigeons fly wishing he could join them. Or may be not. It may just be our interpretation.

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A giant advertisement for an anti-winkle cream that promises youth as though the heart could heal so easily, returns me to absurdity. And then I let it go.

And the man looking at the void. A homeless from a far way land who then looks up at you and gives you a generous smile, “I have nothing,” he seems to tell you, “only a smile.” And you answer in kind, and you both smile and hope seems to rise even if ephemeral. “What a nice man,” you tell me as you skip down the boulevard.

And then you stop and come back to me. “I wish the entire world was soft and clean.” And I wish that as well. So I kiss you as we stand in the middle of the pavement. Smiles from others. A soft and clean world, even if for an instant. And I wish for it to expands.

IMG_E1725Éclair au chocolat, the best ever! Everything for you is the best ever at that very moment. I admit though, the ones from La Maison du Chocolat are the best ever!

“This is the best day of my life,” you say as the day ends. Of course it is! You always say that. We should all be saying that.