A year ago, around this time, I woke up to the sound of explosions and sirens. We were in Kyiv, 4 am, the last day of my life in my homeland.
Russia was dropping bombs on Ukraine. The russians were driving tanks and armored vehicles, dropping bombs on peacefully sleeping people and brutally killing people who expressed resistance.
We went home to Boryspil, packed the most necessary things in 2 backpacks and a small suitcase, and returned to Kyiv to move to the border to the west. There was a semi-panic mood everywhere, we were riding the subway, and then we were told that the next stations might be mined and the subway would not go further. So we walked for several hours with our belongings across Kyiv to get out of the city. Like thousands of other people. The roads were crowded with cars and the cars were hardly moving, and the sidewalk was filled with an endless stream of people trying to escape the war.
That was it. We walked, we walked outside the city, we hitchhiked, we changed several cars to get to my city and pick up my documents during the curfew. It was late at night, but we continued without sleep – we got out of Rivne, hitchhiked to Lviv. I realized that going to Poland was the most obvious solution, so we took a train to Zakarpattia.
An hour before we reached the border, the crossing was closed for men. We were parting without knowing whether we would ever meet again. I made sure that M. had a well-thought-out route and everything she needed. She got on the bus, we cried, I followed her with my eyes and was left alone in a strange city.
My friends from abroad helped us, S. literally saved us when we didn’t expect it at all. And we helped our friends in Ukraine, and a lot of things became clearer in those days. I found a place where I could stay for a while in Zakarpattia. I helped to receive guests, tried to calm people down, and looked for opportunities to volunteer. Everything I thought I had was left behind. All the plans, thoughts, ideas, the dream of living by the ocean, the business I had built before – everything was instantly left behind. The leaky boat with the baggage of the past was sinking. But the shore of the present, fortunately, was always close by.
I was safe, but at that moment, in Bucha, Mariupol, Irpin, children, women, and the elderly were being brutally tortured, raped, and killed. This was done by people who told stories about “brotherly nations” on TV.
I was looking for a way to help and I created it. All I had was my broken phone. So I used it to create an online form that accepted requests for help and a table that automatically posted this data for volunteers to access. It was called “Felix Felicis” – a cocktail of luck. Because it was ordinary people helping ordinary people directly without intermediaries. Someone’s story touched someone and that person got lucky, while someone else never got help. Volunteers left comments with their donations, and I estimate that in the first month it was up to 10 thousand dollars in direct donations. And I was among those who gave almost all the money we had to others – those who were on the verge of survival.
I heard stories that I will never forget – about people with children who were shelled while on their way out, about an elderly couple who lost their house in Donetsk and now lost their house in Irpin, I read stories of thousands of destroyed lives.
Millions of people have lost everything they have ever had in their lives because of one demented crazy man. But this is nothing compared to the thousands of lives that wanted to keep living. Newly born children, married couples, entire families – the horrors that armed russians have done and continue to do to Ukrainians are beyond the imagination of a person living in safety. Imagination simply blocks understanding. People without legs, people without eyes, bloodied bodies, cadavers. Thousands of killed talented people who wanted to live. Millions of crippled souls who will have to live out their lives with these horrors inside them. More than 40 percent of the country mined, cities wiped out, infrastructure that was built over decades destroyed, people who lost millions of dollars in businesses, hundreds of millions of dead animals on farms – all for a fucking stolen toilet and the idea that these barbarians are a superior race. And what worries me the most is the totally poisoned nature, which will take decades to restore. Destroying is always easier than building.
After a few weeks, my plan a, plan b, plan c, plan d, plan e, and plan f, we were reunited in Germany, where I almost immediately started working and looking for volunteer work. That’s how I met P. and Mt. and helped build communication as a translator, created contact forms, etc. I worked hard and worked a lot. P. helped me a lot, and I got some equipment from the recycling station.
Living the life of a refugee was not something we wanted to choose for ourselves. Does anyone really think that millions of Ukrainians who are now starting a new life around the world wanted to lose their homes, their social status, and everything they had gained in their lives? But yes, it is much better than losing your life.
To live in a foreign country, to be in need, to be the recipient of someone’s help, to not understand the language, to lose your roots, to not know where you will sleep tomorrow, to be deceived by those who want to take advantage of your vulnerable situation – do you really think anyone wanted to choose this for themselves?
This is the difference between Ukraine and russia. We never considered ourselves superior to others, and we loved living in our country. Russians publicly hated the whole world on TV and most of them were not happy to live in their country. How can a country that has given the world nothing but stolen natural resources and the spread of dictatorship bring something to another country?
The German experience was beautiful, but not close in spirit. A big wheel of unlimited consumption. Biscuits wrapped in three layers of plastic packaging, but an excellent sorting system, insanely complex and demanding communication with government agencies, and plant-based food with almost no taste.
The job was not what it promised to be. So, after spending several months of hard work in uncertainty, at some point I recognized the mistake of my choice and trust, bought tickets to Portugal and quit. When I didn’t get paid for my work, I realized that now we either stayed in Germany without money or we flew to Portugal without money. And although it was completely crazy, we chose our dream and flew.
We started from scratch and it was very hard. I’m 26 and I keep going gray.
We flew to Faro, where the Red Cross and the city government told us that we had to deal with it ourselves. We went to Lisbon and from there to Cascais.
We met a lot of people in Portugal online and in person who are now our wonderful friends. And it’s hard to put into words how much I love them and how grateful I am to the Universe for them.
We got help with housing for the first time, which is what I asked for us, and it gave us a little opportunity to relax. During this month that we had, I found my first clients and housing – and this gave us the opportunity to continue surviving. I worked from morning to night and seven days a week, I do everything I can, and what many other people can’t, but sometimes even that may not be enough. So January-February was a weaker month in terms of clients, and so life continues to be on the edge of tension and difficulty. But I love life the way it is – challenges show me my limits, challenges confront me with real life, and even though I would like to choose the challenges I want to live this life with, the reality remains reality no matter how I want to see it. The rat race continues.
Politicians continue to play their games – buying gas and oil at cheap prices and using the money they save to help the newly bombed Ukraine survive. Don’t get me wrong. Ukrainians are very grateful to the world for every bit of warmth, help, care and love. But the reality remains the same. When you continue to work and have “business” relations with a country that officially declares on television that you are its enemy, that calls the West “decadent” and your culture “satanic”, that calls for the murder of children, justifies the rape of women and promotes the idea of wiping out entire cities. If this is not hypocrisy, what is? The “civilized world” and the not-so-civilized world continue to give money to “terrorists” and then come to save the “brave”. These are disgusting political games, brainwashing, and horrific frauds in the turnover of weapons and supplies.
Some say that everything is “ambiguous”. What exactly is ambiguous? Are bombs that destroy nature, kill people, destroy decades of work, destroy infrastructure ambiguous? Is it ambiguous when someone comes to your land, kills your son, destroys your house, poisons your land, calls you a fascist, and at the same time rapes your girlfriend? How can you respond to this, how can you look for excuses for this, how can you make arguments, how can you continue these stupid discussions when we are talking about millions of lives being destroyed? How can you continue to support this outright lie? How can you say “I can’t do anything” when your fellow citizens take up arms and go to kill civilians on foreign lands?
There are a lot of crazy people with sadistic ideas in the world, but nobody makes them presidents, and nobody follows their orders. Ukrainians can read russian language, and we all know what some of those people really write and think. You don’t forget things like that.
What do I feel? When I let this energy pass through me, I feel deep pain and tears. I want to cry and scream over the pain that humanity is causing the planet, nature, animals, and other people. Hey, we’re here to enjoy life, bombs shouldn’t exist, people shouldn’t kill, and human lives shouldn’t be lost in this senseless ego race.
I don’t feel aggression, I don’t feel anger or hatred. I feel compassion.
I am not a military man, I am not on the front lines of war. I cannot kill, I cannot and do not want to be involved in killing. I have always known this, and I had no doubts when this war of russia against Ukraine started. I understood perfectly well what I could and could not do, and I clearly saw and see my way in this story.
My energy is creation. No matter what is happening around me, I will create and share. It can be a website, an event, a story, a meditation, an idea, a smile, a warm hug, a sincere word – there must always be someone who brings light. I want to leave the world a better place than it was before me. What I’ve been doing all my life is creating, what I’m doing now is creating and helping others to create. Because someone always has to build. I will try and create in the country wherever I live to give the gifts of my labor to this land, I will invest what I earn in the restoration of my homeland. I think this is the best I can do.
I am definitely not perfect, because perfect things are dead things, and I am alive. We are used to perceiving things and events in life as a state, but life is not a state but a process. Yesterday you and your girlfriend are planning a romantic picnic, and in the morning you have four hours to pack and leave the city.
This year has given us so many questions and so many answers. This year has opened up so many people and a crystal clear vision. This year, like previous years, is a completely different life, in a different world. But this year was special, it touched everyone and changed everything.
How do we honor the memory of the dead? How do we feel about the deaths of newborn babies and the shooting of defenseless people? They all wanted to live. If everyone who has died on this planet since its inception could give you a message, they would say: “Live!”.
Live your life as long as you are alive, don’t wait for death, don’t wait for enlightenment – live now, because there may not be tomorrow, it never comes.
The past is a trace in history that is forever gone and will never come again. The future is a projection, a beautiful picture that does not reflect reality. There is only a gift called now – a Present. Take your gift and appreciate it, let’s build a world we want to live in together. Our plans are imagined pictures and words on paper, only feelings and experiences are real life.
A year that changed everything has passed. Hundreds of thousands of people died, and people still continue to play their games. We build borders and separate positions, but the planet remains our only home, and a blow to one side will be heard on the other side. People create imaginary crosslines between themselves, put up security forces, fences and watchdogs. But for nature, we are only a small fraction of the Universe’s energy, our life is a millisecond in the history of existence. If we have so little left to live, why not live it the way our souls want?