Days of trial

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  1. Days of trial

    April 8, 2021 by Christopher Buxton

    From sunset to dawn – nurtured in the sky of hope,

    under the darkening solitude of space

    shouldering my earthly lot

    over the glowing coals of shame;

    through the grief of a hundred torments,

    through exceeding smart and distances

    driving the risky curves of time –

    I return to you again! – Have I left it too late?


    Your eyes watch me with a quiet tenderness

    and your rough hands are still soft in their caress.

    Am I really still darling in your eyes,

    am I really not forgotten through my exile,

    have I really not lost my shine?


    My worrier! You ask why I’m grown so dark,

    why I am slow and sour and sad today –

    what casts me down and inks my soul?

    Have I slept on my elbow last night,

    has frost slept on my cheeks,

    can the heart not stifle its cry?

    Don’t ask me questions! Just keep shtum!

    About the road I’ve trod, about my pitiless burden;

    not everyone has motherly eyes wide open.

    Don’t let folks’ petty spite

    touch me with their schadenfreude!

    My festering pain gains no support

    from the filthy hands

    of hypocrite reassurance!

    Don’t break my heart!



    I have many tears to weep, Mother!

    Oh yesterday was an unmourned grave!

    And I would have wept like an ice-storm on dry bushes

    but I am not born in this world to weep,

    my eyes aren’t in a wet place!


    I too grew up on garlic bean soup.

    And my table has lacked bread.

    Was my fate cursed by an evil witch,

    I was hardly born weak and sniveling?

    What enemy breath seduced and sank

    my filial duty in tavern stink?

    Love betrayed now cast aside

    and just how sad is a rainy sunset!


    Who? Our enemies? What a cunning show!

    They’ll soothe you with their treacherous flattery.

    When you’re alone, as if they hear your sighs,

    as if they grieve twice over, when you grieve.

    They pretend to worry about your worries

    and later they’ll twine you in their evil plots.

    Today they’ll stand you a drink in the pub

    and tomorrow they’ll cut you over a petticoat.

    In order to stop you on your way –

    they’d glue together earth to sky!

    I know them! I got to know them well! –

    I had drinks with them, I spoke to them

    about whatever they’d put inside my head….

    They poisoned my daily bread.


    Life, life! On my youthful shoulders

    you placed your heavy hand, last evening!

    All dreams drained in pubs,

    the glass – drunk, the laughter – laughed out.

    Then from everything I turned cold face,

    I passed by silent and outside.

    I’d forgotten all I love

    and I was never ever happy!

    You, tell the story of these days,

    of the poisoning hypocrisy,

    killing faith and trust at once

    with slander and duplicity…

    Over my heart it lies,

    the cold stone of memory.

    A heavy burden weighs on me

    The misery I brought under my roof!


    I cared not for yesterday – alone in plain sight,

    a layabout propped by the public house bar.

    And do you remember?  When the nasturtiums flowered

    and by the fountain, white breasted swallows

    pecked out stuff for their nests,

    while my family nest was left empty,

    when my days were suddenly stripped.


    The lustre of white roses died, early blooms –

    drowned in my pent up molten tears.


    Drunk I’ve staggered through the night…

    And now I grieve for wasted days.

    Like bullets that missed their target

    they ricocheted offstage,

    missing the enemy, no fight.

    And who’ll give them back to me, who?


    My heart now labours, falls sick

    over past acknowledged guilt.

    And my hair is blanched

    by the first autumn frost.


    Last night’s wine still bites my guts:

    will it pass –  makes no odds!

    It passes time…It winds me in a bandage

    and takes the edge off my recent wounds.


    But I know – every wound leaves a scar!

    The cliff of my crumbling conscience is high.

    In me there’s the meeting of two epochs,

    their harsh combat echoes within me!


    Again a raven-black hail-cloud hovers

    a cloud presaging war

    and a black shadow smothers

    our sun-lit meadows.

    Now we’ll fall dead, mother! –

    Did you wean us for this?


    Just a second faith faltered, a cause for regret.

    I wrote an epitaph for the world.

    I glugged belief like a drunkard,

    I sobbed in the shadow of heart-wrenching fear;


    Alas you people – comrades in the dream.

    Alas you people – perched on tractors,

    populating earth and sky,

    just now looking out to space.


    Lucky you, who are barren! With no darling kids.

    Lucky you, with fruitless wombs!

    Lucky you with unsucked tits!


    Will you get my fear, my generation?

    Will you get how it gives birth

    To the bitterness of threat and doubt;


    Isn’t man today an empty cave,

    where shouted slogans echo on

    the days in breakneck torrent?


    Isn’t this century my step-mum?

    Aren’t I this century’s step-son?

    Didn’t victims repay it in blood?

    Was I born too early… Or was I late?

    Don’t you hear my voice? I didn’t hear yours!

    …And I walked on,

    and I hurt,

    whatever hurt inside me – I got sick!

    And I didn’t turn a renegade,

    though I peeped into another’s house through the old keyhole.

    I passed through fire, I returned – steel!

    Even steel softens in tempering!

    – I know what is grief and hurt!

    – I know beating and the road!


    I lost my step in the march of the multitude,

    I stepped out of the ranks for a little – checking direction.

    I checked by my heart, the accurate compass,

    I cooled the heat in the fridge of reason:

    I saw! The direction is true! The summit is there! Before us!…


    Haven’t you seen how a mother seeks a ford and wades

    with child in arms through a rising river?

    Through the rapids of time and dark eddies,

    the Party carried me just like that!…

    Mummy, forgive me my previous deviations!

    Forgive my desertion into needless suspicions!

    Forgive me the songs of horrible sorrow!

    Forgive me my slanderous utterings!

    Tanned in your sun, your trainee,

    I’m ranked a soldier again astride the racing days!

    And how hard it is to follow on the path of war and cherished dreams!


    I tightened my nerve every day, every hour.

    My enormous duty answers for everything here!

    I’ve tripled fears and worry on my own!


    Today, humming like rails, every poem written

    throwing a bridge over the ravines.

    At my post my sentry-thought awakes with you!


    A great, a brutal century collapses before me

    and my fate remains in my lap forever.

    The endless rope of awkward moments

    tightens round my brain in cruel knots.

    Oh, knots of stress!


    Behind my forehead, born out of suspicion,

    converging winds battle, fearful gusts,

    tear the cliffs from irrevocable tasks,

    overturn heaven in fury, thundering ominous;

    storming heavy clouds, rumbling and weeping

    and my temples are spaced in lightning strikes;

    a seething storm, a hellish storm, boiling in the depths of soul

    she makes a jangling string of my tightened nerves

    and my brain is a flash fire….


    The day dies every evening,

    it grows through the night and my sky is born

    from the chasm of conscience.

    it glows over pallid greening tiles,

    and it sets into the well of distant lament.

    And you, my weeping eyes,

    You couldn’t turn from iron, scaffolding and concrete!


    Living, hunched by cares already, overloaded,

    every day we burn up a little.

    And some are exhausted soon, too soon.


    Listen you breadmunchers!

    I too am a breadmuncher worried about the price of flour

    and I run for onions and cabbage and guard my place in the queue,

    I too follow the lottery results.

    But fearless dreams and elevating aims,

    are they really found in cabbage and winning tickets?

    To watch a match twice a week,

    to get goosebumps if some player

    kicks the ball with left or right foot here or there –

    is this the summit of our yearning, our ideals?

    Is this the biggest thrill of our age?

    It wasn’t with this onion breath and lotto-madness,

    that you, my wise, my fearless generation,

    built the factories,

    power stations

    and huge white buildings!


    …I know … only the throat doesn’t lie,

    but did our armed struggle

    pass through fires for this,

    through blockades and traps,

    was it for this through the mountains

    the partisan funeral pyre,

    was it for this it bore in its hands

    not one wounded comrade

    and is it for this on the scaffolding

    today its hardened indomitable shoulder

    is white from cement and lime –

    to be enslaved by home-wares?

    Is this our only sacred fighting aim?

    The world’s become a kitchen and a bakery!

    Stomach, you’re appointed their party secretary!


    Damn it to hell! –

    the farting fair of empty vanity! –

    I didn’t enter this world

    for a match and a tasty stew!

    Mounted on the huge roller of the iron epoch

    I come with a clatter

    on the day of sharp gravel.

    On my conscience the new government declares:

    they’re not for me

    the blessed moments, when once more

    the human heart screams on days darkened by handfuls of cordite!…


    I came into this world

    to see the sun,

    my fingers to pluck

    the fruit of joy,

    pouring sweetness over centuries.

    My fate is a poem written

    in liberated blank verse

    and with you, epoch, we do not rhyme,

    but the self-same rhythm is within us!


    And we didn’t start fighting yesterday

    and it wasn’t yesterday, in filth and frost,

    my working smock faded on my back

    soaked in the salt sweat of laboring days.


    Don’t know if I’ll see old age,

    Don’t know if stick in hand

    I’ll seek out doors and pathways.

    Even if I leave early – it’s OK!

    It’s enough that I was born on time!

    This century is my debtor now!

    I paid for it in blood and sweat,

    I paid its every second,

    I paid it a lifetime,

    And I have accounts to settle with it!

    I’m written into Party directives

    in each and every five year plan –

    it’ll pay the interest on my dreams.

    Oh what a fortune it has to pay me!


    I will die with hands outstretched,

    and I’ll die with open eyes.

    And after my death, at dawn’s breaking

    my eyes will be gazing,

    they’ll be watching up till then –

    and my soul will be awake,

    until, taking the right course,

    it finally reaches its multitudinous destiny

    and passes all problems of passage.

    And again I’ll beat the drum of progress,

    and again I’ll lead the people’s marching step –

    I, voice and conscience of the epoch!


    The years will flow through the lunchtime crossroads.

    And the earth will still turn on its ancient path –

    the people’s dawn will glow in growing joy.

    There’ll be regular express rockets to the moon.


    There’ll be stars again…and dogs… they’ll be

    baying at them… just as before.

    This quiet day clears outside. Hit the road!

    Man is a man when he’s hit the road!

    Man is born, to give love to others.

    Whoever spares no drop of love to even a dog,

    their presence in this world is pointless.
    Better instead their mother gave birth to a stone
    Such as them know no pain or joy, they find no place in people’s hearts
    they won’t be remembered fondly.
    To hell with such as them!

  2. Jochan Devletyan

    November 20, 2015 by Christopher Buxton

    On the 25th of November at 7 pm, next week, Annie and I will be on stage at the BCI London supporting Bulgarian writer Jochan Devletyan in his presentation of his collection of short stories: Man and a Half, published by Janet 45.

    Anyone conversant with the history of Bulgarian writing will know that the best classical and contemporary authors excel in the short story format. Perhaps this is down to a natural Bulgarian story telling talent, which reveals itself round every table where a company gathers to eat and drink. This is Jochan’s first published book of fiction, but he has learned his craft well – from his father, whom he describes as the best raconteur he has met and from his encounters with so many writers when he was working as Cultural Director in Plovdiv.

    The stories in Man and a Half  have masculinity as their common theme, with the Bulgarian contexts ranging from the Turkish subjugation  through the Communist period to the present day. They share a poignancy, a sometimes humorous, but more often tragic reflection of patriarchy under threat. The male characters are often isolated, obsessed, filled with remorse and seeking redemption for misunderstandings and lost opportunities. The dramas are played out most often in small tight knit communities where the individual is pitted against the locals. In his story “To murder a Forest” a misanthropic ex-forestry manager is at war with the local Communist Women’s committee – he refers to them as “slipper slappers” , not just because of the sound they make as they walk around block entrances, but also the way they slap down on your soul. For extract, follow link.

    The stories encompass a rich variety of mood. “Inheritance” gives us a larger-than-life portrait of an Armenian whose plan to emigrate to America is thwarted and delayed by encounters with fraudsters, a brothel madame, a band of vigilantes, and finally by the sight of a female ankle in Plovdiv. “The Double Girl” is a disquisition on the wonder and absurdity of human love – with an ending that might remind readers of a similar reflection on love by Philip Larkin in his poem “An Arundel Tomb”. In “Mercy”, a young soldier awaiting court martial and inevitable execution is horrified to witness  a young boy killing a white dove through the bars of his cell.

    Importantly in the context of recently fanned racist prejudice, the stories celebrate Bulgaria’s diverse ethnic population – a genuine respect for the culture of Bulgarians, Jews, Armenians, Turks and Roma is conveyed in the richness of the language.

    Annie and I are looking forward to Wednesday, where interested Bulgarians and non-Bulgarians will meet Jochan who will talk about his stories and also reflect on his time as a Cultural manager for over 30 years from the time of  Lyudmilla Zhivkova to that of Vezhdi Rashidov.

  3. Are You –Phile or –Phobe? That is the Bulgarian defining question.

    October 27, 2015 by Christopher Buxton

    Let us imagine that back in the seventies I had two pupils who shared a desk – Ruska Filova and Rilka Russofobska. Ruska Filova studied Bulgarian philology at University and came to appreciate the superiority of the Slavic soul. Inflamed by her love of Russian culture, she became a teacher in a provincial town. She now endures low pay and complains that her pupils no longer behave. Rilka Russofobska studied English philology and now lives and works in the big city. They are both my friends on Facebook, and both now are engaged in a relentless war of words. Their sniping is reflected in myriad exchanges and shares by their similarly divided compatriots. Ruska Filova writes in capital letters. Rilka Russofobska relies more on patronising wit. As recipients of an exceptional education, both base all their positions on “incontrovertible facts”.
    To understand these positions, we have to examine the narratives that lie behind them. Ruska Filova repeats the narrative she learnt at school in the 1970s. Bulgaria – the oldest civilization in the world – was doomed to fall under the “Ottoman yoke” for 500 horrible years. They were rescued from barbaric slavery and “genocide” by the heroic self-sacrifice of the Russians. And in 1944, Russia again had to step in to rescue Bulgaria from an oppressive pro German “fascist” government and usher in a period of socialist stability with jobs for all, free health care and education, and pensions that guaranteed dignity in old age. Imprinted on her memory is the poster of Brezhnev clasping the Bulgarian premier Zhivkov in his armsBrejnev_Jivkov-2 and the slogan Eternal Comradeship from century to century. (Or at least up to Zhivkov’s fall in 1989)
    This narrative then helps form Ruska’s explanation of events following 1989. First the malignant west with the help of the “traitor” Gorbachov finally succeeded in undermining the Communist bastion. Then a succession of corrupt “democratic” politicians and criminal oligarchs, interested only in filling their pockets, destroyed the Bulgarian economy. As a result of closing factories, the nation is being fatally weakened by the mass emigration of the young and most talented. Meanwhile the west continues to exert its malign influence. Bulgarian Orthodox culture is under constant attack from NGOs espousing “western values” of multi-culturalism, gay rights etc. Bulgaria was sleepwalked into NATO and the EU, organizations that are intent on completing Bulgaria’s destruction. Attacks on the traditional Bulgarian family means that it is only a matter of time before gypsy and Muslim populations become the majority. The CIA dream of a friendly Muslim power stretching from Diyarbakir to Tirana will have been realised.
    Ruska Filova is keen to remind us that from the Crusades onwards the West has always been anti-Bulgarian. In the 1870s, the western powers supported the Ottoman Empire in their “genocidal” oppression. Some of her friends go so far as to suggest an infernal Jewish conspiracy, linking Disraeli with Suleiman Pasha, the perpetrator of the Stara Zagora massacre. On the anniversaries of the April revolution and the Battle of Shipka, Ruska posts that the Ottoman Bashibazouks represent “western values”. For her “western values” are unchanging through the centuries and are essentially hostile.
    This special hatred for Bulgaria applies to more recent events, particularly the Treaty of Neuilly following the end of the WW1. Then the Allied bombing of Bulgaria during the Second World War is denounced as a war crime and explained by Churchill’s legendary “hatred” of Bulgaria. Some of Ruska’s friends, who while being pro Putin do not share her enthusiasm for communism, blame Churchill for allowing Stalin to take over Bulgaria.
    It comes as no surprise then that for Ruska, Vladimir Putin is a hero and she readily reflects the Putin view of the world. She is horrified that Bulgarian politicians have showed such ingratitude to Russia by joining the anti-Russian NATO and that as a result Bulgaria will be dragged into World War 3 on the wrong side. (Even the “fascist” Tsar Boris did not allow Bulgarian soldiers to fight against Russia.) She applauds Putin’s bold stand against western influences. She points out that with his fearless involvement in Syria once again Russia will save Europe from the barbarians. She holds Western meddling entirely responsible for every crisis in the world – she will offer facts to prove that American provocateurs were responsible for the unrest in Ukraine. She will post pictures of the eviscerated bodies of East Ukrainian children and accuse the western press of hypocrisy in ignoring the “war crimes” of Ukraine’s “fascist” government.
    On the other hand, Rilka Russofobska routinely describes Ruska and her friends as brainwashed red rubbish. Of course she has a different set of facts and this forms a new narrative, which directly contradicts most of what she and Ruska learnt at school. For her the outstanding catastrophe in Bulgaria’s history (far worse than either the Ottoman “presence” or the WW1 settlement) was the illegal invasion by the Soviet Union in 1944 and the subsequent imposition of an alien communist system that resulted in the extermination of Bulgaria’s intellectual and entrepreneur class and the demolition of a thriving agricultural and industrial economy.
    Rilka even questions whether Russia has ever been a true friend of Bulgaria. Didn’t the Russian invasion in the tenth century lead to the fall of the first Bulgarian kingdom? Wasn’t the Russian Tsar’s “liberation” of Bulgaria just a move to gain Russian access to the Mediterranean? Great figures from Bulgarian history, Rakovski, Levski, Botev and Stambolov had all forewarned the Bulgarian people of the dangers of the anti-democratic Russian bear. Rilka is fond of repeating the story of the oppressed Russian peasants in the Tsar’s army in 1887, how they were amazed at the freedom and prosperity of their Bulgarian counterparts. And the Russians proved to be capricious. In the years following 1878 Russia shifted its friendship first to Serbia and then to Yugoslavia, thus preventing Bulgarians’ desire to re-unite with their “brother Macedonians”.
    Despite the catastrophe of WW1 Rilka puts a positive gloss on Bulgaria between the wars. She vehemently denies that Bulgaria was ever a Fascist society and praises the statesmanship of Tsar Boris III. She paints a golden picture of selfless politicians and civically minded Generals, steering a principled path despite Communist terrorists and peasant demagogy. Why then did the Tsar ally himself with Hitler? Rilka maintains it was because he had no choice. In the deteriorating Balkan situation, with Germany in the ascendant he had to put the safety and interests of Bulgaria first. But he was no pawn in Hitler’s hands. He refused to declare war on Russia, in spite of Russia’s murderous terrorist campaign. Rilka goes on to insist that it was down to Tsar Boris alone that Bulgaria’s Jewish population were not dispatched to Nazi extermination camps. This has led to some memory conflicts with prominent Jewish writers. Facts are exchanged like machine gun bullets.
    Jumping to the present day, how does Rilka explain the current state of Bulgaria to her former classmate Ruska? Well of course it’s the Communists to blame. Those far-sighted scoundrels had foreseen the fall of the Berlin Wall and had infiltrated every so called opposition party, so that whoever won the elections, Bulgaria would be asset stripped for the benefit of Communist children and grandchildren. Rilka also blames the Bulgarian people for being so easily hoodwinked particularly by demagogues and pseudo-patriots.
    She is alarmed at the rise in Vladimir Putin’s popularity. She calls Putin Putler and adorns his photo with a moustache. She periodically laments the weakness of the west’s response. Her heroes are Ronald Reagan and Maggie Thatcher.
    Of course Rilka and Ruska are extreme stereotypes, but their debate on Facebook involves a thousand divided voices, each accusing the other of being in the pay of the CIA or the KGB. Meanwhile, as one of my more neutral ex-pupils pointed out, Bulgaria is 75% Russophile yet it continues to vote for moderately Russophobe politicians.

  4. Some thoughts on Poetry in translation provoked by an exciting new development the publication of translations of two contemporary American poets into Bulgarian by Rumyana Emanuilidu’s Znatsi.

    August 6, 2015 by Christopher Buxton

    The moon and the sea, the forest and the mountain mark time with chasms and deserted ruined houses. They form a backdrop to a hundred synonyms for loss and grief and alienation, rendered in rhyme. This is romantic poetry at its extreme, heavy in symbolism, leading to an unwieldy abstraction. What it lacks is the everyday.
    This kind of poetry is difficult to translate.
    American poetry is grounded from Whitman onwards in the democracy of objects and the sense that even round the corner of the supermarket aisle between the tins of tomatoes and the frozen peas there is a sudden awareness of an almost impalpable truth. American poetry at its best is lucid – its evocation of experience is grounded on the positioning of images on the page. Words are objects. Sentences pin experience. And what emerges is a disarming lack of pretention. Read me, invite me into your mind, make of me what you will.
    In classic Bulgarian poetry, Vaptsarov achieves this objectivity in his evocation of Spring entering a factory. Hristo Fotev stands in the sea in Burgas and for a moment feels cleansed. Atanas Dalchev conveys the desolation of an abandoned house through his selection of key objects. Margarita Petkova conveys the ironies of human passion through everyday occurrences – jumping on a tram or shredding the petals of a flower. These poets translate.
    Katerina Stoykova Klemer, Manol Peykov, Kristina Keranova are at the forefront of translators bringing the best American poetry to Bulgaria. Klemer actually brought two American poets with her on her now annual visit: Cecilia Woloch and Clint Margrave. Audiences across Bulgaria had the opportunity to hear these poets read in English and were captured by their Bulgarian translation. Katerina Klemer is both a formidable poet working in both languages and an accomplished translator. Her achievement in publicizing and publishing contemporary Bulgarian poets in America is to be celebrated. Manol Peykov has recently published his excellent translations of e e cummings. It’s a really rewarding labour of love.
    And the publication of Kristina Keranova’s translations of two contemporary American poets, Billy Collins and Stephen Dunn, is an exciting new development in Bulgarian poetry publishing. Rumyana Emanuilidu’s new venture Znatsi publishing house has produced bilingual editions, giving any reader versed in both languages the chance to enjoy the original, feast on the wonderful translations and bask in that no-man’s land of possibilities that exists on the border between languages.
    Both Billy Collins and Stephen Dunn are grounded in the every day. Lucid exquisitely formed lines lead the reader towards a sudden awareness that discovery is possible. As Billy Collins defines the difference between the “houseguest” novelist and the poet: The poet is more someone who appears. You know a door opens and there’s the poet. He says something …closes the door and is gone….”
    In the words of William Carlos Williams – “no ideas but in things.”

  5. In memoriam Vladimira Zhivkova

    July 27, 2015 by Christopher Buxton

    Last month an extremely talented young writer with an  inestimable future died when the car in which she was traveling hit a wall of water, on the cruelly deceptive Sofia Burgas motorway.

    Vladimira Zhivkova was one year into a degree course in Journalism at the University of Sofia but her writing talent had already been noted by prominent editors.  Her fluency in English and German her voracious reading and  her irrepressible curiosity led her into easy contact with the widest range of people and environments.

    The following is my translation of an early piece published in Pod Mosta.

    My Grannie’s cuckoo clock

    by Vladimira Zhivkova

    In my Granny’s village house, there always hung in the entrance hall an old cuckoo clock. This cuckoo clock was the noisiest, most tedious and irritating contraption imaginable. Because it was a genuine antique, passed down to my grandmother from her grandmother, who’d surely bought it in the middle of the last century but one, it either speeded time up or slowed it down. We’d sometimes hear the cuckoo sing three times in an hour or not sing at all for four hours. This clock was an extraordinary item, it had its own opinion about what constituted time and allowed no repair. Sometimes it ticked slowly, counting three seconds for its one, and sometimes – so fast that it was as if the day was passing two frames faster than it should.

    One day I was waiting for Granny to come back from the shop and I was just lying on the sofa in the hall, reading the latest boring book from the school summer reading list. I was around seven or eight and I remember that it was about ribbons and sparrows.  It was odd, I suppose it still is quite odd, but I had one of those Grannies who insisted on their grandkids reading the whole school list.  Well anyway. So I was lying and “reading” – just listening to the ticking of the old wreck on the wall. Tick tock, tick tock, it ticked quickly, it ticked slowly, then three times quickly, four times slowly. Well what a botched job! But I took to thinking. This clock perhaps marks a person’s life time more accurately than the most expensive Cartier, Rolex or whatever other Swiss watch. Time is the most subjective concept in existence.  It’s divided between productive and unproductive, as we define unproductive as wasted or lost time.  We associate lost time with activities that do not answer to the productive stereotype.  For example if you’re going to work or school, you’re dashing round getting stuff done, running after buses or trains or even running to keep fit, this means you’re productive, in other words your time is not being wasted. So what that while you’re doing all these things, you’d rather shoot yourself than be pleased at how much you’re achieving. On the other hand if you spend the whole afternoon in carefree schlepping around the shopping mall, or slouching with a hot coffee or cold beer in front of the TV, or eating or sleeping, in other words with things that bring you the most pleasure, your time has been irretrievably wasted on trivia. So, if you and I have successfully followed my train of thought, we’ll arrive together at the conclusion, that things which we find tedious and boring, are things which require our attention and dedication, because they’re productive. But things that provide us with pleasure are a waste of time, because they are unproductive.

    But hang on a minute… So does this mean that so as not to waste my time I have to be unhappy and bored to death? I’ll save time on this quandary and shamelessly proclaim. There is not (or at least there ought not to be) any such thing as “time to lose”. Time to lose, spent in pleasure is never lost time.

    The world exists in such a speeded up turnover, that the measuring of time really resembles Granny’s clock. If I must be scientifically accurate: time is at once subjective and objective. Objective because it’s a linear progression of universal change.  Subjective because the speed of turnover depends on the awareness of the change, the sacred accumulation of everything.  The higher the awareness, the faster time flies by. The lower the awareness the slower time flows. When you are happy, time flies.  When you’re depressed it’s as though time drags by forever. Because higher levels of awareness bring a finer (lighter and quicker) energy to work on your experiences. Thus, when we are at a higher level, we deal with our experiences more quickly, and when we are at a lower level we deal with our experiences more slowly.

    Nowadays people’s level of awareness is always high.  And not because they are happy. In their conscious lives everyone uses a finer energy, because they force time to pass more quickly. More and more often we direct our attention to reading our watches, rather than the clouds in the sky. Everything has to keep to an accurate schedule, with every second accounted for.  From getting up in the morning to closing your eyes at night. Because time is money, time is a resource, time is valuable and should not be wasted. It seems as though time is all these things but there is never time enough for ourselves.  We’re not a train or the metro are we?! We’re not pizza delivery kids to have our lives controlled by various hands on some clock dials?!  It’s true that everyone has a biological clock, but even so it doesn’t wind us up everyday. Time cannot stop but we can stop it. We can for a second forget our step, hang back, slow down our tempo.  The clock hands aren’t going to turn backwards but we can.  We can go back and drink our morning coffee, hug our kids and wish them a nice day at school, spend those fifteen or more minutes in fixing our hair or putting on that expensive lipstick, kiss your man and as in the films rearrange his tie.  Let’s go out and breathe the cold morning air filled with lime tree blossom, gaze at the clouds playing tag,  smile stupidly,  laugh maniacally,  cry inconsolably. Because a life lived to the full is not counted a thousand times every sixty seconds, but in the several thousand moments and memories which fill the film strip which will play before our eyes in our last minutes.

    Yes my small seven or eight year old brain managed to give birth to this deep meditation, I turned out a child genius. At the same moment Granny came home with a bag full of shopping and quickly fell to scolding me for wasting my time staring at the old clock, instead of reading the book from the list.

    copyright Vladimira K Zhivkova

    Translated by Christopher Buxton