A perspective of life
We all have failures and moments of glory in our lives. I have had a few moments of glory in my life – the first being when I was just 28 days long and my parents taking me with their trabant on my first epic journey, 550 km north-west of Sofia, Bulgaria to the site near the Romanian border where my father, an archaeologist, was excavating a neolithic settlement. At my first birthday I went for the first time beyond the borders of still communist Bulgaria. In the next 15 years I managed to visit every single village, town or region in Bulgaria, to the extend that when I return home I wanted to stay in my room and not go out because I’ve simply been everywhere and I know everything!
After discovering my home in a way that few will, I started exploring the world outside. My first conscious trip was in 2000, at the age of 12, when I only ventured to Macedonia, but the feeling, the passion to be at a new place is what I will never forget. Ever since this unforgettably simple trip I visited 39 countries. Was the passion there all the time? Is it still here with me? I am afraid to say ‘yes’ because I may tell a lie, but I’m also afraid to say ‘no’, because then what would be the meaning of my life if I no longer possess the passion to discover? I will be honest – I discovered that the world is ultimately small and there are no unexplored places left. And maybe I started closing myself once again.
I am now in Lund (Sweden), a completely different and new place from my usual habitats, where I do my first masters degree. While others around me are settled exploring the 20 narrow streets of this charming old town, I was busy exploring the neighboring areas (in a radius of 550km), visiting 36 towns or cities and 16 villages, plus a few castles (of which there is a natural abundance in southern Sweden and Denmark). And this in only 14 days. I did not miss a single lecture at university, nor skip a single reading, yet I managed to visit and plan all this perfectly (almost getting stuck on the fabulous, Alpine-like, but without mountains, beautiful Danish island of Aero.) This is how I will keep myself entertained for the rest of the year. I am next venturing to Morocco at the end of the month to participate in a conference of rose oil producers, then follow a short break to research and write for my masters degree, and venture to the Faroe islands and Iceland.
I do things that few other people dare do. I visit places that few people know about. This is my passion. My senses are very strong, I smell, hear, see and feel the world like few people can. When I sit at a lecture I always sit at the back, even though I’m always the most active. I don’t only participate, but like to look at everyone else in front of me, get to know people better, their actions, reactions, emotions – from boredom to surprise, amusement, confusion, and ambition. This allows me to build a fuller picture of one class, group of people.
I will most probably visit all the countries of the world before my 35 birthday and then what? Will I close myself again, as I have done many times before when I just depleted the field I set to discover? I hope not, I hope to find something else to keep me so alive and full of passion as I am when discovering something new. Maybe like Mikael I will find my big love, the one who is really like me, thinks and feels the same way.
I started with my moments of glory, but what is my biggest failure? The way I feel it, last year. It might not seem like a failure – I completed a fantastic expedition to the region I have always been interested in – Central Asia, became a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, visited around 15 countries in one single year (including gorgeous spots like Svalbard and North Africa), fell in love twice (although only one relationship stayed permanent – with Sweden, the other one was elusive), got a First class degree in history from Newcastle University, founded the Bulgarian Oral History Association, win multiple awards, grants and scholarships. Yet this is also the year of my biggest failure. While everyone insisted that I speak and do follow ups of my ‘achievements’, I simply wanted to continue, to turn my eyes on other unexplored fields which deserve even greater attention. I could not, at least not during this whole year.
At the moment I am working on a project close to my heart – to study rose oil production around the world, a largely unexplored geographically and ethnographically field. I feel I cannot do everything on my own and I am building a strong team of the best I can find, people who can equally smell and feel the world as I can. (The same I do for the Oral History Association, where an equally long road waits us ahead). In just an year I will spend about six months in China, doing my masters degree in Lund on rose oil production in China, something of interested to many people yet barely studied. I hope these months will be more successful for me and I will create something for others to enjoy and admire.
I must be brief with my comment, for which I am grateful to Mikael- His idea to publish stories of guest writers who tell of their passions, is fantastic. I cannot write long though, as now planning my trip to Karlskrona and Oland island, then I will venture to Marakech at the end of the month to participate in the annual conference of the International Federation of Essential Oils, something very important for my coming expedition to the Mediterranean and India.
I would love your comments and I hope I have inspired at least a person to start discover the world or see it from another perspective. The world might be small, but for me the best home has always been a small one. Preferably either a small Greek house on an island with lots of olive trees, or a small, charming old wooden cottage near a Swedish lake and forrest. This is what I am living for, when I will have known that I listened my heart all my life and I saw and enjoyed everything under the sun. I do not want more.
You might think I am ambitious and willing to do anything to succeed. No, not a gram. Otherwise I would have chosen the far more promising SOAS to Newcastle University in the first place, or Oxford to the small Lund in Sweden. Yet I feel things; this is how I see it right. I felt that in Newcastle I will be happy and my heart did not betray me (my choice had to also do with Newcastle United FC…). I have not made a wrong choice to date and I have no regrets.
When people ask me, ‘where do you have the money to travel?’, I reply with ‘where do you have the money to smoke and drink?’. Good traveling in the second place (just because ideas alone is not enough) is all good management, of money, resources, time. With some more careful planning and you might end up sleeping in an old medieval castle, while your friends sleep in a cheap, soul-less hostel for the same price. It is possible, it just happened to me. Although I do not recommend old castles if you have sleep disorders or believe in ghosts. Yes, it can be quite spooky.
As a conclusion, I am not only a person who thinks globally to matters, but I often turn my eyes to my home Bulgaria, which I know from the roots up. I’ve seen all the changes and troubles that Bulgaria has passed through in the last two decades. With my excellent memory I remember a lot of events since I was two (for any previous events I rely on my parents’ stories) but as a historian I feel that for the rest of my life, be it 60, or more, or less years, what God has decided for me, I will still see my country develop and change in an effort to rebuild from the collapsed foundations of socialism or communism (you choose which term you prefer, both are fascinating to explore and study). Maybe I will one day return to help fix this swamp the country is in, but before this I need to finish exploring the big/small world (depending on your perspective) which is planet Earth, then explore the smaller world within: my own soul.
A short CV: I am a historian, a person who alarmingly realizes seeing the world more and more through the prism of history. Also a traveler and explorer of all things geographical, business, musical, historical, political and above all, that relate to the human mind. At the age of 22. I am a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.