We have decided to launch a new intimate style of interview into TheAppWhisperer – the world’s most popular mobile photography and art website. We feel it is important that our community feel close to each other, as it is this support that helps us to nurture one another, gain confidence and continue to grow.
This is our eleventh interview, to read the others, please go here. Today, we are publishing this fascinating interview with a remarkable woman and talented mobile artist, Anca Balaj from Spain. Enjoy.
All images ©Anca Balaj
What was your childhood or earliest ambition?
I knew from the age of 4 that I wanted to be a ballet dancer. I’ve never lost my fascination with dance, but I couldn’t begin taking classes until I was 20, when it was too late to build a career in this profession, so I opted for my second passion, literature. Literature, as it is something that depends exclusively on me, has remained with me throughout my life.
I don’t remember it very well, but it must have been one of the prizes for the best students at my elementary school, at the end of each year. The three that got the best grades in general, received the recognition and a set of books. I have taken this award several times, but I don’t remember in which courses. after that there weren’t many more awards in my life, because I’ve barely taken part in competitions and contests. I am quite reticent about participating in awards.
This is very amusing. My first job was as a congress stewardess in an election campaign. I worked for a political party that is on the opposite side of my current ideas. But at that time I didn’t have many political ideas, so I didn’t care. Today I wouldn’t take that job for all the money in the world.
Private or state school?
Always public school. To begin with, I was born and grew up in a country of the former communist bloc in Eastern Europe, so there was no such thing as private education. There was no choice. Then, when I had a choice, I continued to choose public education, because it was less indoctrinating than private education. However, my preferred option is always self-taught learning.
Who was or still is your mentor?
I think I might consider my literature teacher from my last years of elementary education to be my mentor. Without saying it explicitly, he encouraged me to write, he always wanted to read my texts, I think there was no writing in all those years that he didn’t ask me to read in front of my fellows. He also watched my grades in other school subjects, and if he saw any of them fall, he scold me like a father. He was an excellent teacher, and I would really like to be able to talk to him now and express my admiration and respect for him.
How physically fit are you?
Well… this is something I’m not proud of. Although I feel great, I know I should get more exercise. It is my only sin, because I no longer have vices ( I used to smoke a lot), I am abstemious and vegetarian, I have a life that I keep away from stress… but it is very difficult for me to move a single muscle if it’s not for a specific purpose…. Sweating for no charge doesn’t attract me at all, hahahaha.
Ambition or Talent: What matters more to success?
It depends on what we mean by “success”. If success is being recognized by others and earning a lot of money, then it is better to have ambition and very good networks. If success means achieving something you are proud of, or something you thought you were not able to do, then it takes a lot of work, perseverance and some talent.
How politically committed are you?
As I get older, I’m becoming an increasingly political person. Paradoxically, the stronger my convictions, the less I talk about them. I limit myself to acting coherently with them, but i don’t need to expose them, or share them, or be part of any organisation. I think that in organisations ideas are perverted or dissolved. It is better to keep them intact and just be coherent through our actions.
What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?
I’m not very materialistic. Right now I have everything I need. Sometimes I get overwhelmed because I have even more than I need: why do I have six identical dishes, if I’m only going to use one or two? Actually, possessing is a dangerous verb, because the objects we possess also possess us: each of them requires maintenance and care which requires time; the more objects we possess, the more time we lose.
What’s your biggest extravagance?
I think what my entourage perceives as my greatest extravagance is that I vape. It’s extremely weird and even ridiculous for them, but in fact this extravagance is just the only way I’ve found to stay away from tobacco. What they don’t know (and I’m going to confess here) is that the extravagance is not in the fact of vaping, but in having spent a lot of time learning about how vaping devices work (I’m addicted to learning, it was inevitable for me). And since nobody comes with me to the vaping shop when I go to buy replacements, nobody knows the freaky conversations that I’m able to maintain with the shop employees, hahaha.
In what place are you happiest?
At home, with my two cats, a blanket and a black tea. And an iPad. This is my paradise on earth. The heavenly paradise I imagine as a meadow with very green and fresh grass, with all kinds of baby animals jumping around me.
‘Home, sweet home’
What ambitions do you still have?
My biggest ambition now is to finish my creative work, the work I want to leave in this world. But I don’t think I’m going to have enough time to finish it, if a person can ever conclude his or her work. Even so, I do what I can to finish as many projects as possible.
What drives you on?
My loved ones and my work. There is nothing else, although each of these two categories hides many others inside them.
What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?
What I am most proud of is that I have managed to survive so far without losing my essence or deviating from the path that takes me to become the person I want to be.
What do you find most irritating in other people?
I can’t deal with people not using their brains. It doesn’t matter what intelligence you have, but you must use it. If we don’t use our brains to choose, decide, or distinguish truth from lie, we not only become puppets of those who provide ready-made thoughts, but we also drag many other people with us.
If your 20 year old self could see you now, what would she think?
She’d think, “Am I really gonna be able to do all these things?”
Which object that you’ve lost do you wish you still had?
There is a house in a forest, where I retired for two years in my youth, in the Thoreau style, to find out who I was. There I lived in the simplest way you can imagine, far from the noise, far from the fast rhythm, alone with nature. I would like to own that house again.
What is the greatest challenge of our time?
I think the biggest challenge of our time is that people make the right decisions. But I doubt it’s going to happen, because of the same lack of reflection that I mentioned in a previous answer. Maybe if we would slow down the life a bit, if we would stop entertaining ourselves with trivial things… if we were each alone with ourselves for a while. But who wants to be alone with himself nowadays?
Do you believe in an afterlife?
I’m sceptical, so my first answer is no. But I assume this is a belief of mine, so now I live very comfortably in the “I don’t know” mindset. If I were asked what I would prefer… well, I would prefer to be no such thing as afterlife: it’s too much work to live a single life well, it feels very hard to have to undertake a new one, I would feel swindled like Sisyphus. With the successful completion of the challenges of this life, I am fully satisfied.
If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?
Well, it’s a complete life, with big tragedies and a lot of comedy. I’ve been in both extremes and all the other middle shades. I can say that I have known my full range of possible emotions and have had the opportunity to know myself in splendor and misery. I think it has been (and still is) a life lived in all its possibilities, so, as a life screenplay, a 10 for the author who wrote it. I didn’t come out unhurt, but anyway, the writer deserves a 10.
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