Strange Magic VII: The Void

photo: Eylül Aslan

Berlin is Babylon. From all around the world, people come to visit and live here. And I think it is amazing to have such a variety of culture, food, languages and human beauty all in one city. Coming from beautiful and tropical Brazil the author and blogger Gustavo Carneiro found his way to Berlin to study and stayed here. With his words he translates his fascination with the everyday life and publishes his stories in his blog. A story called The Void was his submission for our Strange Magic special. Read it after the jump.

The Void

Some days nothing seems to work. You know when things just don’t flow? This is what happened yesterday with me. I was leaving home a little late for my bus and on my way downstairs I felt something was missing. While walking I reached for my pocket and felt the empty space: I had forgotten the book I am reading on my subway rides. I hesitated for a moment before deciding to quickly go back and pick it up. When I finally arrived at the bus stop I had missed it by just a few seconds! And there you go… I knew I had messed up the feng shui of my day: missing that bus, led me to take the wrong train, which, by its turn, led me to the wrong train station.

So, there I was, standing at the wrong station, already super late for my class, when I decided I might as well skip it for the day.

I left the station and started wandering around, thinking about life, when I noticed I was still carrying the book that had caused this small revolution in my Monday morning’s plans. Isn’t it funny how almost every day small things can have an impact on our lives? If I hadn’t decided to go back and pick up that book, I would then be learning the Konjunktiv II. But instead I was now taking a walk.

On my way I spotted a gap in a row of buildings that looked like a square, or better: a garden. It was kind of funny, because it really looked like someone had taken an entire house out of the middle of those two buildings, as easily as someone cuts a piece of cake. And then, the neighborhood, without having anything better to do with the empty place, had decided to make a garden out of it. It reminded me of my hometown, Brasilia, which also has lots of empty spaces. In fact, there are so many empty spaces in Brasilia that I wondered if it could ever be covered with gardens. If that happened, there would be no prettier city. But anyway, I was not in Brasilia. And as far as I knew, I had found the prettiest garden in Berlin. I decided to sit there and enjoy the flowers, feel the sun, and watch the kids running around.

As I watched those kids, I tried to remember how many “books” I had come back to pick up in my life. And how many times those books had taken me to places I had never imagined going… I must confess I couldn’t remember a single one of them. I guess our limited capacity to keep memories makes us erase several of those unimportant decisions that make small revolutions in our everyday life.

One of the children came running towards my bench and hid behind it. And only then I realized those children weren’t randomly running. They were playing hide and seek. So I carefully pretended I didn’t know what was going on with this small fugitive and kept my Monday morning’s thoughts. I guess it is better not to remember everything. We do not have a vocation to be God and carry the weight of knowing everything. And this is good. I doubt those kids would be able to run so lightly if they had to carry all this weight.

This idea became even clearer to me just a few moments later, when I stood up and walked away from the garden. On my way out I could read a sign that explained how that empty space was actually a house destroyed by bombs during World War II. I tried to digest such information. But it was just Berlin being Berlin, and asking permission not to forget its past.

Yes, this is typical Berlin. She is always telling me that her empty spaces have meanings; that her sidewalks have small golden plaques; that her fountains have lists of names from people who were taken away before their time. Yes, this was only Berlin trying to teach my mind that it is not ok to forget everything; that some things should never be forgotten.

And there you go. As I kept walking through Berlin’s perfect sidewalks my mind travelled to Brasilia once more. If Berlin carries the weight of its own heavy past, Brasilia aims for the opposite. She constantly turns our heads to the sky. And everything is so light there that we keep forgetting our recent past which we just started to build. While in Berlin all those empty spaces are there to remind us of things that have been, but no longer are, in Brasilia empty spaces make us think of the future. Emptiness means potential and possibilities. And all this lightness of having possibilities can also bring weight with it. The weight of the responsibility we have when we decide how to fill them.

And then I couldn’t help but smile, just like I always do when I suddenly see those improbable correlations.

Text: Gustavo Carneiro

Read the first Strange Magic Story.
Read the second Strange Magic Story.
Read the third Strange Magic Story.
Read the fourth Strange Magic Story
Read the fifth Strange Magic Story.
Read the sixt Strange Magic Story.

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