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Blog 24/09/2007

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September 24, 2007

Musings Over Tim Cope’s Reception in Opusztaszer

He’s been on my mind for over three weeks now, since I first heard about his arrival to Hungary, and Googled him, and browsed around on his website to learn who he is. Later a Hungarian article called him a swashbuckler, and the negative connotations of the term seemed offensive to me…. Why? Who is Tim Cope? And why does he matter?

Answers to those questions came bit by bit as time passed, and they crystallized on September 22, 2007, when I stood next to him, and watched, and listened, and soaked in the air of daring to be who you are, daring to step out of the conventions and norms, daring to face people, bureaucracies, ill-will, wolves, and your own fears, and daring to follow your dream.

I went to Opusztaszer as a representative of the media, expecting huge crowds flocking to see the man who undertook the journey made by the Magyar ancestors, and arriving to the Opusztaszer National Historical Memorial Park in the Arpad Memorial Year. I was quite disappointed and perplexed to learn that not only that there will be no media briefing in the morning, but most of the Memorial Park staff are actually unaware of Tim’s existence, let alone give us information about the upcoming celebration.

We wandered around aimlessly for a few hours, but I couldn’t focus on the exhibits and the usual Saturday crowd of the Memorial Park. I was there to see Tim as he arrives, and to document the moment when he concludes his over three-year journey. So, with an uneasy feeling in my stomach, I left the Park, and followed a few other confused-looking media people out to the field across the street. As the minutes were ticking, more people arrived, dignitaries stopped by, and news traveled through the grapevine: “He’ll be here in ten minutes”, “He’s nearby”, “He’s coming shortly”…

My heart jumped at each false alarm, my ears were in constant motion, rotating 180 degrees like a horse’s ears—trying to catch every phrase said or whispered in English or Hungarian—but my eyes remained fixed at the point where Tim was expected to appear. I stood there, welded, gazing at that one point of the horizon for nearly a whole hour, waiting for the small herd of three horses and a dog to appear between two lines of trees, and to slowly come closer and closer, until the exhausted traveler stands right in front of me. I could’ve touched him, I could’ve touched his horses, I could’ve pet his dog, Tigon, but I just stood there and watched; observed the unfolding events and the people, and wondered….

Tim Cope Arriving to Opusztaszer

Some came to meet him, some came to celebrate his arrival, some were there doing their jobs, some were just waiting for their coach to leave, and some just happened to be there when he arrived. …And many were impatient and restless: he got there about an hour later than “scheduled”…. Funny, huh?

What does the term “scheduled” have to do with the arrival of a hero? Why did we expect him to be some circus event meant to entertain us, to make us famous, to let us wallow in our own imagined or real importance; to give us reason to honor our ancestors, or to establish a new exhibit; to remind us to give gifts to a stranger; to cause us to look inside ourselves and weigh the meaning of our days…

Tim wasn’t an hour late in Opusztaszer. He was three years and two months early at the meeting with ourselves.

Tim Cope

...When I asked him for an autograph, he wrote, 'Thank you!' Thank me? …No-no, THANK YOU, Tim!