Sunday, 29 November 2009

Money… is it really worth it?

Money – the currency of the world, the ultimate object of exchange; used by everyone for everything. Nowadays money is accompanied by covetousness and greed with the desire to have more and more, as it is the source of a “good and meaningful life”. However, that is not the case for a great deal of people in the world.
The struggle for success, measured by the amount of money one has, has created a huge income gap between those on top and the ones living in poverty – the ones used for the benefit and luxury of the others. This is a serious social problem that affects every individual. The problem itself comes from the existence of money and even though the world aims for improvement of the standards and way of live, the problem has only gone worse. In 1960 the Income Gap between the rich and the poor was 30:1, while in 2008 it rose to 92:1.
Also, this is a serious political issue, because it’s the people on the top who decide how the whole system operates, how the money is used, and how this benefits everyone and not only a certain number of individuals. The government and the political figures have a major call in determining the benefits for the people. An example would be President Bush’s decision to spare $161.8 billion for the “War on terrorism” (responsible for 1900 deaths internationally per year, 68 of whom Americans), while the funds for the fight against heart deceases (from which 450 000 Americans die annually) are only $3 billion.
It is the understanding of only a small portion of all people that money is not (or should not be) the most important factor in people’s lives. It surely creates many advantages for the ones who are abundant of it, but this profit is with the cost of other people’s misery and suffering. The great difference of classes and living environments is caused exactly by the fact that money is what determines whether one lives “happily ever after”, or has to struggle to “just be”. The world as it is today has the ability to give equality to everyone, but this would mean that sacrifices would have to be made by the ones who control the world, the ones who control the money.
Money should not be a goal that has to be reached, or even surpassed; money should not be what guides people’s lives.

Friday, 30 October 2009

I want to be...

May 1992, Royal High School of Edinburgh – graduation day; as the seniors climbed up the podium to receive their diplomas, they could no longer hold back all the emotions that have so far been kept idle. Some laughed, some cried, but they all smiled and hugged; they were both happy and sad, overcome by the memories of the years that have passed, memories of a careless and joyful life. The last to step on the stage was Ron McZack – the most honored of all students both in social and academic life; a great friend to all who knew him and respected young man to those who met him. He was chosen to represent the class of ’92 and deliver a speech… and so he did. Everyone laughed and cheered as he reminded the audience of the fun they all had together and what a great and unforgettable experience studying at Royal High School has been. Before the finale of the ceremony, President Leeroy Jenkins addressed McZack as he was still behind the microphone:
– “So, tell me Ron, how do you see yourself in the future? What do you want to do with your life from now on? What do you… or wait, let me rephrase that. Who do you want to be?”
A short pause followed; the students kept quiet, wondering what they would have said if they were asked; the faculty and administration had their eyes focused on the boy; the crowd of relatives and friends impatiently awaited the response; and Ron… he simply smiled. He looked at everyone with the same confident expression and without taking the smile off, he replied:
– “What I am and what I become does not have to define who I am and will be. I want to be everything, I want to simply do and experience with no limits. As of Who I want to be, the answer is simple – I want to be myself, and ‘myself’ is to improve and be better, to live a life of no regret, to look back at all the achievements and the fun I had, knowing that they are only the foreplay of what is yet to come.”
Everyone stood up on their feet and started applauding and cheering for Ron as if they were on a football stadium. His best buddies entered the stage and carried him out up in the air; the excitement and mirth completely took over and all the seniors rushed away to get changed and head out to the party… they didn’t even wait for President Jenkins’ enclosing statement.
From that memorable day on, Ron McZack has been living up to his words focused on the only goal he set for himself and it was the same for every single day – to surpass what and who he was yesterday. The next five years he spent in London, studying carpentry and design of all forms. During that time he got fascinated by a game well known and spread throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland – snooker. Before and shortly after he graduated, his projects were mainly connected with the game; he designed billiard and snooker tables, and later on founded a company for materials and equipment, as well as a club in an old building in the center of Sheffield, South Yorkshire, keeping the name – the Crucible Theatre. McZack became a trustworthy and well known figure in the field, and today the Crucible hosts the World Snooker Championship. It was a dream that he pursued and now he could move on.
It was the summer of 1999 that instigated him to a new passion – architecture. He set out on a journey around Europe with Paris, France as a final destination. The structure and design of both the cultural monuments and the modern buildings caught his eye – what he saw was art, and it intrigued him. The newly developing business center - La Défense, was an open playground to all with vision and, of course, resources. Ron had no intention of building or owning any of the mega structures we see there today, though he wanted to leave his mark. He founded an architectural drawing and design company, alongside a beautiful young artist from Paris – Marie Vincent, also known as the future Mrs. McZack.
They got married in Greece and both agreed to settle for a while there. Ron was really found of the idea and decided to open a hotel in the beautiful beach resort of Katerini in the province of Pirelli. As of the hotel – it was a masterpiece, had everything that anyone could need – amazing design, combining the cultural elements with the modern era; a pool and kids’ corner; fascinating restaurant and bar, along with custom-made billiard and snooker tables. Indeed, a wonderful place that changed the course of their lives… Ron and Marie had their first children there – twins, a boy and a girl; and a few years later moved back to England. That lasted until the spring of 2008 when they found themselves living in the villa zone of Paris. That Christmas they had a great party with a lot of acquaintances from all over the world, mostly England and Greece, along with local friends, and as they were leaving the next day, Lisa and Jacky, 7 years old now, went to their father and asked:
– “Daddy, daddy, they are all going home. When are we going home?”
Ron went back with them in front of the fireplace and sat quietly for quite some time. He thought of all the places they had been as a family, all the things they had been through and everything they had done, seen, and experienced. Yes, this was his dream but he wondered if this was the best way for the kids to spend their youth.
– “Jacky, Lisa, I’ve given you a piece of my life. But this does not have to be the way for you to live. I’ve given you a chance to have the world as your home, to learn and see new things every day, to dream with no limit. Soon, you’ll have to decide what to do for yourselves and which path to follow, but know that there are countless opportunities all around you, regardless of where you come from or where you decide to live.” – he said with a tone of a grown man, realizing that it might have been a little too much for the two kids who asked such a simple question…
Their story goes on, leading to new adventures, new chances, and new memories. Ron McZack dedicates all his efforts and love in every initiative he takes on. With a never ending will to learn, do, and experience, he continues to surpass himself and heads on for a new life every day… and that is the McZack legacy, passed on generation by generation.

Sunday, 11 October 2009


Driving a car is quite an interesting experience… especially if you still don’t have your license. I’m currently in the process of getting mine, but I’ll come back to this later. First, I’d like to take a little detour. You know what it’s like when somebody says you can’t do that, it’s not allowed – you instantly get this uncontrollable urge to just do it, or at least try it. Here, in Bulgaria, riding the bus without a ticket is a common practice and thus resulting in a constant look-out for the suspicious looking agents of the public transportation, also known as the inspectors. Some do it because they lack the money, some think it’s not worth the money, but others just like the thrill and turn the boring ride into an adventure. Same thing goes for drinking. I recently turned eighteen and now can legally drink alcohol, but I’m telling you – it’s just not the same. Oh, I miss the good old times that I had to sneak into the clubs, find someone to order me a beer, or try to get my hands on an ID of someone who is of age.
Anyway, back to the driving. The first time I got behind the wheel of a car was back in 2001, the summer before beginning fourth grade, when I was almost 11 years old. My father took me and my older brother to our grandparents, and then way out of the small town where traffic was extremely rare. We learned the basics and with time we got better, we had a route around the town, we changed cars, and later on we even got to drive within the town, always accompanied and guided by our father, of course. However, as everyone knows, when you do something illegal, you’re just bound to get caught. Whether you go for a free ride on the bus, be young and careless enough to get drunk, or drive without a license, it all ends the same. Luckily, having a well known and quite influential family in a small town where everybody is familiar with each other helps a lot… this took care of a potential “bump on the road”, so to speak. So, as I got to be of age it was time to get myself the license to drive… I mean, officially.
Long story short, I know a guy who knows another guy whose cousin used to live in the same already well known small town and now happens to be a driving instructor in Sofia. He acknowledged my ability to drive, picked me up and dropped me back at home each and every one of the few times we drove together, and, most importantly, he dealt with all the paperwork… he’s a great dude, indeed. All that is left for me now is to study a bit for the theoretical exam and, as he said, “it’s already settled, so just come on time for the practical exam”, both of which are coming soon.
Well, it was fun, but being able to legally drive is one of those things I anxiously look forward to. But of course, there’s a problem… I don’t have a car…