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March 2014

Slovakia: a romantic country ruled by love

When I left the United States years ago, what I so anxiously left behind is a country that seemed too powerful, too impersonal, too cold and too harsh.  I followed nothing more than a feeling -- a feeling that, while I tried to ignore for many years, only continued to grow inside me.

People often ask me why I would leave Seattle to live in Slovakia.  People also ask me what the hell "Abscondo" means!  There is a single answer to both questions: To abscond means "to run away, taking something or someone with you".  So I absconded from the United States to Slovakia - a romantic country ruled by love. 

This life-changing decision to make a life in Slovakia was also the start of the Abscondo project.  At first Abscondo was just a blog; a place to share my personal search for life-meaning and authenticity.  Eventually I started to write songs.  Those songs eventually begged to be recorded and performed.  But, all the while, Abscondo remained a set of ideas and philosophies.  It has always been about something!  Most of all, it has been about love.

Life in Slovakia can sometimes be a real pain-in-the-ass.  But, perhaps its most redeeming quality is that love really matters here.  To a Slovak woman, love is simply everything.  Her first thought in the morning: love.  The cause of her smile or frown as she walks down the street: love.  The reason she stays glued to her phone all day: love.  A Slovak woman feels as deeply as any woman can feel.  Her happiness, her frustration, her bliss, her jealousy, her laugh, her cry -- it is all amplified to a degree that cannot be understood by the outside world.  She is this way for the simple reason that love is everything to her. 

So I have gone as far as to say that Slovakia is ruled by love.  What matters most here are the passions between two people.  And when feelings of love become a central life focus, relationships become exciting but also sometimes explosive and unstable.  This, too, is an accepted part of the Slovak culture.  Men here are spoiled by the sheer loveliness of Slovak women; but perhaps it is also true that we have to try to live up to great, sometimes demanding expectations of love.  No matter, watching so many couples kissing in the park...so many couples holding hands walking down the street...this tells me that men here seem perfectly cut out for it.

Life is filled with so many fulfilling and worthwhile dimensions.  Nature begs us to seek knowledge, adventures, and experiences.  We learn to master new skills.  We seek success, wealth, or fame.  We build homes, we buy prized possessions.  We obsess over fashion, films, or music.  We make plans, we get married, we have children.  But none of it means anything without love.  No idea, no philosophy, no goal, no plan, and no dream is worth a damn if love is not at the center of your life!  

I want to celebrate that kind of love.  I know that kind of love because this is exactly what is between my wife and me.  Her love changed my life at such a young age and ultimately led me down this strange and unusal path so many years later.  I'm grateful for each moment with her and our love continues to grow and evolve in directions that are astonishing.  

I also want to celebrate Slovakia -- the romantic country ruled by love.  Abscondo will celebrate and explore exactly that in our music, words, and emotions.

Posted by Mark Manney (mark.manney@infobeing.com).