Europe is MORE than you think

Europe is MORE than you think

It was the summer of 2007. I spent it in New Hampshire, USA, working and travelling. The fact that made me very strong impression then was the way how my behavior was accepted from the natives. And when I say "accepted" I mean "astonished". Their astonishment definitely was not a bad reflection of myself, but an odd interest about me. The very first moment when I noticed it was when I lighted my cigar. It was my first night in the USA and I was thinking that I was at the wrong place in the wrong time. I was with some strange unknown people around who looked at me curiously and tried to start a conversation with me somehow. But my common feelings about the place and the people were not the best in that particular moment, so I merely stayed there remaining idle. The only thing which I did was to use my box of matches in order to light my cigar and there it was: "It's so European!", was their exclamation. It seemed that the way I was holding the cigar resembled them some old classic European movie, where a stylish young lady with red shoes slowly lights her slim cigarette in the dark night. Metaphorically in that exact moment it was me the lady with the red shoes. After this occasion the "European manner" followed me all the way back from New Hampshire to Paris and made me feel different, interesting and beautiful in the eyes of all foreigners who I met that summer.

What I want to say is that Europe is a "style", a "mark" which is respected all over the world not only for its traditions, history and achievements, but also for its emotion, for its deep sensation. It is unnecessary to list all the positives, attainments, improvements and advantages, which were realized by Europe and its people during the years, especially after the Second World War and even now in the World Economic Crises. It is useless to promote the issue of European mighty, because it is obvious and I believe that no one could controvert it. In my view what really needs to be pointed out is the "charisma of Europe", the unique impression which is typical only for it and its people. Of course, it sounds a bit selfish talking that way about Europe, as if there is no other society and place in the world, but what is important here is the European inner sensual abstract face, not facts, not mere phrases, not "cover design".

My stay outside Europe made me realize the meaning of "Europe" and "European" for me and for the people around. Before my travel I even had not thought about "European" as something which really existed. I considered Europe only as a departure point for "Newland", no matter where. My conception about life itself was "meeting new places, new people, new ideas". But when I really got the Newland, the new people and understood the new ideas, I did feel lonesome and sad. I could not realize the reason for my loneliness on the instant, but I profoundly felt it in the first moment possible, in the first night away from Europe.

It was the cigar lengthening that explained my situation and my unexpected sentiments. It was the exclamation "It's so European!" that made me feel confident and comfortable again. It was peoples' respect for the "European" which made me rethink my own attitude to what I had, because Europe always is more than you think.

Two years later, in 2009, I find myself as a grown up European, because I have realized what my personal position is: to be part of Europe and its family. In this context it is crucial for young people to realize their belonging. It is evident that most of the youth nowadays are too confused, unsure and distant. They hardly communicate. My explanation for their poor spirits is that they do not feel as a group, as a community. Here comes the decisive role of the "European". I managed to appreciate it when I was practically too far away from it. But now I assume the idea of the European community as essential. I believe that no matter the way people perceive their own self-personalities, they still are Europeans and this mere fact unites them. Being part of the European culture and history imparts even to the ugly daily habits, which for example is smoking cigarettes, some kind of magnetism and charisma, some specific belonging. The "European manner" is able to transform world around and to make it look stylish and more beautiful. It brings specific emotion. That is the reason why Europe is respected so much and Europeans manage to provoke astonishment and interest. So, there is nothing left to say except: when you rethink about Europe, remember that beyond its name there is something more.


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