I’m trying to read this excellent collection of essays ‘how the north won the civil war’ (‘how the south lost the civil war’ is a more appropriate title) but since I refuse to buy stuff on a plane and I’m not allowed to bring my own fluids (except bodily ones) I am by now so dehydrated and so many people are bumbing into my shoulder (this plane is too small or I’m more muscled than I realize) that I can’t focus on anything any more, so, let’s talk a bit about my wife. For example, how does my wife make me a better person?

1. For starters, it’s quite remarkable I can stil focus on her when I can’t focus on anything else any more, not even the topic I’m most enamored with: the American Civil War.
2. She gives me the gift of patience. Slowly, yet steadily, she’s engraining in my mind the fact that I have to give up the idea that somehow I’ll be this overnight success. She’s teaching me to enjoy my working process without wondering what it will give me. It gives me the joy of doing what I do, all the rest is just bonus. This attitude has proven very helpful and has freed up a lot of creative energy that I otherwise tend to spend being frustrated for not getting anything for what I write or say or do or make.
3. She’s made me realize that sex isn’t the answer. I mean, if sex with her, one of the hottest, sexiest women alive today, won’t magically fulfill me and cure all that ails me, then no sex ever will… So, thanks to her I have been able to completely redirect my focus. The shift has mainly been from looking for sexual delicacies to learning and helping others and improving my gifs to the world.
4. She’s helped me to accept that friendship can be a very fleeting thing. People come and go, but the most important ones always stick around. In a way she’s reinforced my belief that whatever happens, happens for a reason. Whenever something happens I always tell myself: Suppose this event is a gift, then what makes it a gift? And it almost always turns out to be a gift, though it may take me some time to get through the wrapping paper.
5. I know nobody who can get so excited about what I see as very little things. My wife is extremely alive. She can appreciate very small things, gestures, very small tokens of originality, of human warmth, of beauty. Some of that boundless joy in every day life has rubbed off on me. At first I experienced a lot of resistance when she got all excited about soap in the form of a birthday cake or something, because I thought it would make me miss out on the big things in life. Perhaps the small things are the big things after all. It certainly seems so when I watch her bouncing up and down just because a cafe happens to have her favorite brand of cherry beer. In short, she’s helped me to lighten up a bit and not to tyranize the people around me with ‘being an intellectual’. Oh, I can be so fucking arrogant at times, and what is worse, I so fucking ENJOY being arrogant sometimes. She won’t let me and she’s right.
5. She’s introduced me to Slovak culture, much more thoroughly than I ever could have been without her. And there are some things I particulary like about Slovak culture. I don’t like their christian bigotry, but I do like the way they go about life. As a result of their belief that life on earth is not the apex of human existence, and their ancient belief that there will be a reckoning in the afterlife, they are not so much wired for instant gratification as we are in Flanders. They aren’t such slaves to their desires as we are in the West. They have more patience, can be ambitious, but earthly achievements are rarely their main motivation. They still honor their traditions and family life and cosy togetherness seem very important to them and a lot more genuine. Slovakia and my wife have made me realize that my Flemish culture is most specifically defined by a general emptiness, a directionless eclecticism, with the loss of most of our rituals, without the incorporation of new ones, a general dissatisfaction, an empty, morose sort of hedonism, an entire lack of meaning or higher purpose. That’s a shame and Slovakia and my wife more than anything else have opened my eyes to this, the steep decline of my Flemish culture, and as for I know right now, no clear signs of the formation of a new Flemish culture that offers the basis of happiness. Although it’s possible that the lack of any clear cut cultural Flemish basis has given me the great opportunity to go and shop around the world to compose my own culture, because I certainly don’t accept every part of Slovak culture either. But this is a post about how my wife makes me better, and not so much about what Slovak culture has taught me. That’s also something my wife had taught me: to focus and not scatter my attention all over the place.