Just joking. Don't
One of the most well-known Russian tales is Kolobok, a story of a vivified ball of bread dough that escapes from a couple of lovely old people in order to start his adventures. This little round brat rolls around singing a song, which is basically bragging about how he fooled two helpless old folks who gave him life and just rolled away. While rolling, on his way he meets several talking animals: all of them are seduced by a delicious Kolobok’s smell and want to eat him. If I’m not mistaken (throughout the years my memory may fail), there is a bear, a hare and some other hungry fluff. They all are pretty straight about their intentions, but Kolobok tricks them by singing his bragging song and manages to save his life over and over again, until he meets someone less brainless than the animals mentioned above. It’s a fox (obviously). The fox pretends not to hear well the Kolobok’s song and asks him to come closer. Kolobok being blinded by previous success, doesn’t see a catch, and does what he is told to do eventually getting eaten by the fox. That’s it. Why does Kolobok escape? What is he looking for? No explanation, no moral. And that’s one of the most important Russian folkloric tales. Every kid knows it. Now you understand why we are so fucked up?
(it was supposed to be a pic of Kolobok right here, but goddammit it looks so ugly, I don’t want him here)
To me, the Kolobok’s image is very existential, it goes far beyond any fucking Camus’ Rebel. It just says: life is meaningless, you try hard to find your destiny and then you die in some fucked up way.
Even though it is very true, there is no need to provide 5 year olds with this kind of information, causing them proleptic existential crisis. Kolobok has to bear a portion of the blame for my neurosis (the rest of it is on my parents).
Indeed, since I left home, thoughts of Kolobok were haunting me. I could relate myself to an impersonal ball of dough better than, say, to cool beat cats from On The Road book. Things I left behind were everything a human being desires to have to feel complete: a good job, a university career, loving parents, friends. I knew there was a chance to get trapped into a metaphorical fox’s mouth, but I was already possessed by a mighty spirit of Kolobok: rolling towards my personal abyss, I was excited to see how and where I was going to end up.
Surprisingly for everyone, myself included, after four years of rolling around, I find myself alive, much happier than I was before, living in the biggest city of Latin America. As it happened with many things, people and places I love, I hated Mexico City at the beginning. I just couldn’t grasp how anyone could enjoy living in such a huge, stinky, noisy, overpopulated place that looked like a never-ending market. In my notes from 3,5 years ago I write:
That happened to me for the first time that after the second hour wandering around a new, unknown place, I feel like coming back home, wrapping myself into a blanket and never coming out again. Mexico terrifies. Locals move along the streets like insects, in a chaotic, threatening life ritual dance. Malodour of green puddles melts into a smell of street food. How charming the city can be outside of itself, its dusty noisy central avenues, which are flooded by street-sellers that offer shit nobody needs. Mexico City, take off these miserable casts, rip off the ugly grinning mask from your face, then I will invite you for a drink and we may be friends. Nah, that’s impossible. You are too enormous to care. You don’t give a shit about good manners: your breath has a sour smell of yesterday’s mezcal mixed with devil knows what; your hands with dirty nails got tanned from the local sun. You are a terrible listener: you don’t shut up even for a second. You’re wild, rigid and untamed. A revolution is ripening inside your veins. Your main squares host more protesters than tourists. You might be gorgeous if you got shaved, quit drinking and swearing, but you’ll never stop being yourself. And I? Who am I to tell you what to do?
Maybe Kolobok was eager to find a soulmate or a place he would like more than his house? Maybe, he knew he eventually would be eaten, but wanted to choose the way to die that would suit him better? Because even though life is meaningless, but in the end of the day what really matters is choices that we make. And it takes courage to think what is good for you and go for it, even if everyone wants to eat you and somebody will eventually do it. Fuck it. Fuck bears, hares, foxes. It’s important to disagree, to rebel, to argue and fight for your right to make your choices, no matter if they are good or bad. A year ago I moved to Mexico City and felt like I found my home. It’s still dirty, noisy and overpopulated, but one thing I know for sure, it’s mine.
If Kolobok had a grave, on his gravestone it would be written:
sometimes to find yourself you have to escape from everyone else
RIP, Kolobok. I’m with you, mate.