(May Steve Irwin's unharming heart
and his ability to find excitement in every living moment
live on in all of us.
Bravely, we'll remember him.)
And so, on July 9th, in the middle of a vast field in Ukraine, I woke in the morning. Russia had been left behind. I headed west to revisit the Czech Republic.
I navigated Kharkov, Ukraine's subway, and I observed girls whose colorful eyes seemed to hold wealthy cats inside. They dressed classy sexy - emphasis on "sexy".
I rode buses the first twenty-four hours, hitchhiked the second. "Kolega ja zabral!" (I picked up a colleague!) Jan, a Polish trucker, yelled at vehicles who'd gotten mad behind him when he paused on a small highway to give me a ride. He drove us along the proudly round Carpathian hills of eastern Ukraine. The greens and the pastures and the interesting cone-shaped hay piles and the tiny churches in their tiny villages stuck between hills all grabbed space in a left-alone land.
The next day, I was being poisoned by the sun on a hot highway in Slovakia. A guy named Julian (pronounced "Yulian"), who had an average build larger than it was small, and who wore a baseball cap, picked me up. His vehicle was larger than it was small, too. He had little hair and few distinguishing features except for the happy, successful air he wore.
Friendly Julian spoke English. He was the service manager of eastern Slovakia for the huge T-Mobile cell-phone company - a good job, but nothing spectacular. He spoke excitedly of work assignments in other European countries, where he liked to make friends and explore.
He was married and in his early-thirties. I liked him quickly, as he seemed to enjoy all the things I consider to be the good things in life. He liked going down rivers in plastic boats with friends and camping, he liked learning languages, he liked snorkeling, he liked dancing. He'd hitchhiked in the past year, forty kilometers once when he was without his car.
In a country where gypsies were often distant from whites, he had gypsy friends. He admitted that gypsies used to beat him up in school, though.
He told about the Croatian coast, where he and other Slovakians vacation every year. You can leave your car un-locked and bicycle outside there. He rents boats with his sons and wife and goes to the islands. It sounded great there.
We were getting along well, cruising through valleys full of brown, upspoiled rivers and weeds, between distant hills. He told that he believes in positive energy. He'd listened to many tapes and read books on the subject.
He said if you smile, you will be happier. I disagreed with him then, and I said so. I said people still have needs, and they must eliminate their problems nevertheless.
But, he continued to try to convince me. He added that he thought most of the world's problems would be solved if people stopped hating and being envious. I disagreed a bit and said it wasn't so simple; some people have more than others, while some don't have basic necesities.
He said if you concentrate and wish and spend a lot of energy thinking about something you want to happen - or imagine it happening - it'll likely happen. He supported this with the Slovakian proverb that says a lie said a hundred times becomes a truth.
I thought about this, then really agreed with him. Mental power could be strong. I said I'd start imagining good things happening to my friends. Julian said I could even use this method to bring good things upon myself.
We agreed that, likewise, negative energy hurts. I thought back to pessimistic Igor and my rather negative friends in Russia and wondered if their energy hadn't cursed me.
I asked Julian if he thought television exudes negative energy, and he thinks it definitely does.
After six hours together, our ride reached its end near Bratislava. I thanked him; he said there was nothing to thank him for; and he said he looked forward to reading the story, "Julian's Positive Energy", I intended to write.
I believe in Julian's positive energy - in parts of it, at least.
peace and positive thoughts,
Thanks to Skricek; Jan; Willowadka; Jaro; Lukas; Marion; and Julian for the rides!
A huge thanks to Steve Irwin.