Self Portrait in Red

52" x 42"
Oil on Canvas

Very often my friends were asking me, “Why don’t you write a book?  All these happenings, adventures, experiences…and so on.”  I would shrug and say “What for?  There are so many books that have been written…millions of books, and on every subject.”  “Well”, they would say, “all the same, war, prison camps, hunger, and all the adventure…it is interesting.  Why don’t you share it with people?  It is part of your life.”

Dear Reader, if there will be one, all the same, I will share with you, part of my journey in this world.  I must admit that I am not a philosopher;  I am not a scholar or a scientist.  I have no access to archives and documents to get a great quantity of information, like so many intelligent people have already extracted, many facts and dates and chronologies and so on.  And I don’t have any desire for dates and facts. 

I read many books and got acquainted with many different facts and opinions, memoires, experiences, witness testimony.  From my side, I try somehow to sort out all these piles of happenings and experiences.  Well, let’s pause ourselves for a second, and hold our breath for a few instances. 

If there is a mirror near by, let’s go and look in that mirror.  What do we see?  Our self!  Of course.  Of course we see our self under a specific angle;  it depends on our mood.  We are joyful, sad, we worry, there’s a big drama, illness, I won a big sum of money in a game, or I lost all my capital, and so on.  Then, tell me, what do we see?!?  Do we see the same face?  Do we see the same expression?  And we simply must admit that it is not, not the same face.  Different face, different expression, different shine of eyes. 

In the sum of all of it, we see our self in reflection in the mirror and we want to see our self in an improved state.  We want to see our self beautiful with noble nuances;  see our self thoroughbred and with an intelligent face.  Then what we see often in the mirror, to our surprise, many other people do not notice  very well.  But we will still believe that we are much better than many other people think of us, or see us a little bit differently.  This little example, this little innocent example, leads us to a thought on a different surface. 

That little, simple, naïve example…just looking at yourself in the mirror, sometimes can cast a great question:  so who are we?  What for?  And what really, in essence, do we have to do and what for?

Well, it looks like I got stuck in a deep wilderness or bottomless swamp.  Maybe life is to get into those swamps and then put all the effort and intelligence possible to get out of it, and get back to God’s light of day.  I brought this example that we could see with a side vision, not to look straight on, and maybe notice a very tiny, little movement…somewhere, there in a corner, not very clear, but suddenly we know that it happened…there on the edge and not clearly. 

And so, from this simple bazaare or market curiosity, we ask a question:  What is life, and what is it for?  Let’s fill our self with patience for those questions that have no quick answers.

Excerpt from "Journey to the End of the Century"
— by Sachal.

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