Everything must change

A Happy New Year to my few readers

I’m in Catalonia, in a small seaside poble less than an hour away from Barcelona. When I started writing this, it was December 31st, 2022, the last day of the year, and I was sitting in a small cafe outdoors, looking at the sea.

Inflation has struck Spain too, but things seem still cheaper here than in France and Germany. A coffee with a good croissant costs 2.5 euros, while over there it would set you down 5 or 6. In France the croissant at least would probably be good too, but in Germany, well, I guess it depends where you get it.

A Catalonian flag on top of a building is waving in the wind. A few mural paintings talk about independence. Catalonians tend to be very nationalistic, but usually in a humorous, good-natured way. They say that Columbus (Cristòfor Colom) was Catalonian, and that it was also a Catalonian (Narcis Monturiol) who invented the submarine. They also say that Catalonians invented the airplane, the television and, perhaps, even the Internet. Wether they say such things because they believe them or just to mock the Spaniards is anyone’s guess. 

People tend to speak mostly Catalonian, but not in the somewhat passive-aggressive and overprotective way that the French in Quebec do. Perhaps it’s because Quebeckers compete with English and Catalonians just with Castilian, but Quebeckers seem more insecure about it: they keep making laws about how shopkeepers should greet people only in French, for fear that otherwise their frail language will disappear.  Catalonians have no problem switching from Castilian to Catalonian, sometimes in the middle of a sentence. Catalonian, of course, is an interesting language. I can understand pretty much everything, even if I can’t really speak it. But if you are fluent in either French, Portuguese or Spanish, chances are you will understand at least 50% of Catalan too. 

I support Catalonian independence, as I support most peoples who wish to be independent, but Catalonians probably deserve it more than most. For a few centuries Catalonia was part of the historical Crown of Aragon, even the flag is the same, until they joined with Castile giving rise to the Kingdom of Spain, so they go a long way back. Or maybe it’s because I also have Catalonian ancestors, and I identify more with them than with Madrid. Who knows.

As I said, I started writing this last year, but now it’s January 1st, 2023. Many people tend to make big new year resolutions during this period, but I’m old enough to know that the will to make big changes rarely lasts more than a few days, weeks at most. It’s not easy to change. And yet, change we must. Change is part of life, and we change wether we want it or not, even if it just by getting older. What of it? There is always time to improve. The Romanian philosopher Emil Cioran once wrote:

While the hemlock was being prepared, Socrates was learning a melody on the flute.
‘What use will that be to you?’ he was asked.
‘At least I will learn this melody before I die.’

Well, it is not much different for Cioran’s Socrates than it is for us. We all have our own hemlock to drink, sooner or later.

There is a certain melancholy in the beginning of a new year, too. The passage of time and all that. Wasn’t it just yesterday that we were in 31 December 2020 and everyone was saying that 2020 had been the “worst year ever”? Well, that got old fast… Two years of pandemics, one year of war (still ongoing), and who knows what 2023 will bring? But let as not worry about any of that for now, for whatever will happen, will happen.

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34)

Happy New Year to all!!!

2 comments on “Everything must change”

  1. Billy Thistle says:

    You mention the Catalonian flag as being similar to Aragon’s. It isn’t much different than Puerto Rico’s either. You’d think they could come up w/ something more distinctive, yet still true to its history.

    Like you I support nationalistic aspirations in principle. Tho seems to me, the Basques have a stronger case in Spain. Their language and racial stock are quite different from the Castilian majority.

    Are you still thinking about that newsletter? Why not combine the two efforts?

    1. Tom says:

      Actually, it’s the other way around. The official flag of Catalonia is the senyera, just yellow and red stripes, and thus identical to the one of the Crown of Aragon. The version with the star you see in the picture is more recent, the unofficial flag of the current independentist movement, and it seems indeed to have been inspired by the flags of Puerto Rico and Cuba. I prefer the original flag, without the star.
      As for the Basques, you are probably right. Their language is very unique, I think no one even knows where it came from as it’s not Indo-European; it’s probably the oldest still remaining language in Europe.

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