So here we are, us, human beings, always striving for a better job/relationship/home/car/diet/body/lifestyle… Willing to change ourselves into someone fancier, prettier, stronger, wiser, wealthier, more powerful… Believing that there is never enough, because nothing is enough, our whole world is not enough because there is always something higher/wider/more exciting to achieve.
It is healthy & valuable to have goals, dreams, mountain tops to reach. But, what if we knew, deep inside our hearts, that we are perfect just the way we are? What if we could feel the inner assurance that our role here is simply to be us? What if I am perfect within my human imperfection, with my rights & wrongs, with my faults & values, when I fall & also standing up?
There are no mistakes or regrets, no competition to be part of. There is no need to compare myself with anybody else anymore. I am what I am. Someone who exists & belongs, who gives away & receives. A part of the whole, another piece, a tiny little one that adds a personal bit. A living being looking for balance & joy.
If my life is not a race, why would I consider myself fatter, shorter, poorer, less successful or more important than anyone else? If I accept myself the way I am, how could I stress for a cooler wardrobe, a more voluptuous pair of lips or a high-tech-last generation telephone? That’s not what I am. Those things are not who I am & I can free myself from the shallow layers if I choose to, if I truly want to see the real me hiding behind.
When connecting with my inner self everything else seems to step forward, making a click that brings it all into shape. So I start seeing my own balance from the distance, experiencing how it feels to be there, to live there every day. It might not make sense to anybody else and many will try to find twisted explanations to my change of direction. They will spend time & efforts trying to drag me back, building up mental formulations to justify a move which is intangible for them. They live their own reality, which is fine, and I have my very own one to, which it is also right. They don’t need to save me & there is no need for me to rescue them. We are just individual creatures being part of something bigger than us, and there are really no expectations above us other than live & let live.
How can we do it? Just be present & breathe. Every moment, all the time. "Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts." says Thich Nhat Hanh. Simple & complicated at once. Big & small. Nothing & all.
That’s the field & the land where I find my joy, balance, freedom & happiness. Just being who I am, always, all the time. Who else could I be?
Some things never become old fashioned. Actually they rule the world because they set their roots deep within the human soul, in the emotion, with the feelings, right at the engine organ: the heart. What is done with and from the heart & the emotion lasts, remains and becomes stronger, even at critical times and bears juicy and non perishable fruits.
I have a very good friend from childhood. She is married, mother of two beautiful girls. She is pleased to be fully dedicated to raising her kids and to look after her home and husband. She is a loving & dedicated mum, excellent housewife and unconditional partner. This friend told me once that she understands a couple as a partnership company. The more I think about it, the more I like the idea: couple = company. Distribution of roles, duties and tasks. Shared and agreed responsabilities. Effective, efficient and constant communication. Joint decision making and conflicts resolution. Respect and dedication. Creativity and committment. Love and devotion.
Too many company owners have sacrificed their employees’ wellbeing to the financial profit. Governments use complicated linguistic games to make us believe that they are working towards the conquest of wellness. The truth is that they really don't care about the common welfare but their actions are mainly focused on individual profit or based on the profit of just a few but very powerful people. There are exceptions, of course. But it is useful to my aim today to look at the vast mayority.
In the other side parents, by nature, look after their children’s wellbeing, many of them even after the kids can look after themselves. Parents, as a general rule, do not spare any efforts or care, neither reduce the amount of attention. They are not tight and do not exploit their little ones. Parents look after their offspring, supporting them, being present, respecting their own space. With quite an effort sometimes they trust their kids and have great faith on their potential & possibilities. We can find exceptions to these as well, very sad ones & some with tragic consequences.
Leaving exceptions to one side, I wonder if companies in general would be more respectful, profitable and as a consequence, more successful from this perspective. In the same way, would couples improve their productivity, growth and projection by viewing themselves as a business model? In short: more heart and feelings in business and more creativity and patience in couples. At the end of the day I believe that both realities combine a few common factors: love, commitment, dedication and the wish to build a future together. Because in both sides joint forces & union are needed in order to exist & to grow.
Many of the couples & families that I know are already successful entrepreneurs in their respective partnerships, with a promising and fertile future ahead of them. The sparkles in their eyes, their smiles, the excitement and faith in their projects prove it and there is no financial crisis or markets’ fluctuations that can make that tumble. They take good care of it and if needed, they reinvent family’s economy, CV or holidays’ calendar. As long as the flame of love stays alive & burning, their projects will keep growing, becoming bigger & wider. Tough times will come but if they keep recognising each other and respecting the purpose that got them together, then the magic of life will keep doing its job.
It would be nice that governments & companies could turn their looks into love & family values so everyone’s shares could start uprising from now on. From there it would only be about continuing to manage the whole from that strong love root. There is the talent and also the future.
Sometimes there are songs, books, films that talk to me in a very special manner. Their atmosphere, ambience, the way characters speak & move around and the things they do tell me about human depths, emotions, fears & connections to reality. This is an extremely personal feeling that fills me with profound satisfaction as I can sense realisation of life through them. They show me the way to the inside but they do it from a completely different perspective to mine, so their view enriches my perception and helps me understand, making connections, taking my discernment that little bit further.
When talking about music I could mention the sweeping trip-hop sounds created by Massive Attack or the sophisticated pop cloud on Sidonie’s lyrics. With books, some of my dearest ones are Siddharta by Herman Hess or The razor’s edge by Somerset Maugham. If I think about authors, Julio Cortázar, Haruki Murakami, Philip Roth and Paul Auster come to mind first. When focusing on film characters, there is Scarlett O’Hara & Rhett Butler, Holly Golightly, Rick Deckard, Michael Corleone or Harry Lime, shining away, some wrapped by a very dark aura. When recalling cinema classics I could include all the films where the characters above reveal their essence, and add also Casablanca, Marnie, East of Eden or Cat on a hot tin roof. Between our contemporary films, I especially enjoyed Usual suspects, Eyes wide shut, Lost in translation, Inception, The tree of life, Midnight in Paris, The dark knight and now also the latest episode of the James Bond saga: Skyfall.
I don’t consider myself an unconditional Bond fan but I must admit that I do enjoy the charming elegant cheekiness of the worldwide known secret agent with a license to kill. However, from my point of view, since Daniel Craig is on board, the character has grown tremendously and has become more human.
Now, if you haven’t seen the film but are hoping to, you might choose to stop reading here, as the plot might be partially revealed.
Through Craig’s work I’ve seen a James that experienced true love & got hurt deeply. An employee striving for his best performance, disappointed by his superiors sometimes but at the end always loyal to his boss & his country. A grown up open to the latest but connected to the useful beauty of tradition. A man who suffered and drowned into loneliness & pain, a supportive friend and also a child who learnt from his early age what it meant to be on his own, finding a new way to fit in and to be loved.
Silva (or Tiago Rodríguez, as we find out later on the film) is the character played wonderfully by our brilliant Javier Bardem. He is the bad one, the evil being, one that reminds me on a couple of occasions of Hannibal Lecter and also of the Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore from Apocalypse Now at the end of the film. He is a disillusioned & bitter ex secret agent who betrayed his principles and felt betrayed too by the one person he loved the most, becoming a powerful & extremely clever mercenary who sells his services to the highest bidder and whose aim is to fulfil revenge on that one person who he thinks let him down.
That person is a physically elderly & highly qualified woman with proven experience in her field. She answers to the title of ‘M’ and I don’t think we ever knew her real name (if so, please enlighten me). However, that ‘M’ makes full sense thanks to Silva’s entrance as his tortured soul & life experience leads him to call her ‘Mother’ on several occasions. So to him ‘M’ stands for the Mother he felt so attached to and still does, the one person that he always wished to please, becoming ‘her favourite’ once. But M knows how to keep things strictly professional and Silva crossed a line that none of her subordinates should cross. So his wrong choices made him the enemy in the shadows as she focuses on her best current agent, a man that she knows better than anybody else, someone that she can truly trust as she is able to see behind the steel wall that he projects.
This woman doesn’t give up, she strives for a job well done, serving her purpose in life until the end. That’s why she doesn’t want to retire when it is offered to her. Her aim is to achieve her goals over any difficulties that might arise. I particularly enjoyed her speech during her own defence in front of the members of the government and the poem by Tennyson that she quotes (see an extract of it, its end actually, below). Paraphrasing what I can remember she said: “our enemies are coming from the shadows these days, embodying darkness; just ask yourselves what are you afraid of and what makes you feel safe…”. There lies a superb allegory for me.
I really enjoyed the very special bond that joins M & 007 together, the rollercoaster of twists, ironic comments & feelings that flow between the two characters throughout the film.
There is room for many values such as commitment, loyalty, love, respect, personal achievement, understanding, forgiving. And there is also space for a wide range of human emotions: fear, resentment, loneliness, jealousy, remorse, hate, pride, sense of belonging…
One of my favourite ever tasks when being a student was textual analysis. Later on I was lucky enough to have an amazing literature teacher at university who taught me how to take this practice even further, knocking down the frontiers between subjects & disciplines, seeing the relation between a painting & a piece of music, for example, learning by experiencing, approaching constructivism, developing practical criticism & sensing the ‘intertextuality’ all around me (thanks ever so much, P.Ruiz, for your teachings).
Going a step forward, when perceiving any of these connections within a song, book or film, they become part of my journey as I link them with my personal search, and that helps me learning & growing, which is at the end of the day my aim in life.
Falling proves that I am in motion. When I move I am coming into action. Action means learning & learning leads me to understanding, accepting, respecting & growing, which to me is the essence of living. Falling then can be equal to living, whether I fall from as high as the sky or from lower heights. There is so much beauty around me that I grasp every opportunity to embrace the knowledge that I believe is everywhere out there, waiting to be seized.
Clothes, shoes, books, cds, earrings, handbags, sheets, cups & glasses, towels, credit cards, bank accounts, memberships, email addresses, social media profiles, mobile phones & techno devices, diaries, agendas, photo albums, notes…
We always seem to want more. We want to have things, to own them, to go shopping, to replace the older objects by newer ones and no matter what service we are getting from the current ones we always seem to wish for the latest, on a non stop spiral of wishing-wanting-getting.
We want to be here, there & everywhere at the same time. We follow a thousand people & accumulate hundreds of ‘friends’. We talk through our mobiles when we walk on the street and even when we are driving. We go on holidays and keep posting comments & photographs of where we are and what we are doing. We have dinner with the family while the television is on & feel proud to say that we can actually multitask.
What’s the purpose of all these? What do we get out of it? Everyone finds his own piece of heaven I believe, a personal pleasure or satisfaction and I am not one to judge it. What I wonder is if this crazy constant wave of arithmetic (or even geometric?) progression brings true happiness to us as human beings, if it is connecting us to what we truly are or if otherwise it is guiding us to becoming unplugged from our source.
Jesus Christ was born in a stable, laying in a manger, belonging to a humble working family. He would not reject rich people or luxury but defended the fact that excessive attachment to wealth (greed, waste) would get us away from our purpose and lead us in the opposite direction, away from joy & fulfilment, especially if it meant not sharing or not helping those who were not fortunate enough to be as wealthy. As a consequence, coherent Christians practice simplicity living & austerity.
Siddhartha, on the contrary, was born within a royal rich family, surrounded by gold & gems & sophisticated scents. He was isolated from the real world, living a luxurious life where everything was perfect & beautiful. Until one day he saw the poor sick elderly people on the streets of his town and he realised that there was something else in life, something that up to that moment was hidden to him. So the prince left the royal palace to experience what living with nothing meant and this is where he found the stillness & the peace of mind he needed to be. He became The Buddha, the Enlightened, and Buddhist followers find one of the main keys to wellbeing when they detach themselves from material things .
In a more contemporary (chronologically) approach, Dr Wayne Dyer always tells us in his books & lectures about the importance of living on purpose, connected to our Source, sharing & helping others, being grateful, experiencing joy through the simplest of things around us. This man truly touches my heart. I love listening to his deep honest voice, I love seeing him on stage delivering such talks full of easy-to-understand & undeniable facts based on his personal experience & wisdom through the years. If you are not in love with him yet I encourage you to watch this talk divided into two parts (around 25 minutes in total) and I bet afterwards some of you will become unconditional Dyer’s fans forever (if that’s the case, look for the movie The Shift and enjoy every minute of it, please).
My friends Ani & Javi are at the moment in an Asian travelling life search. What are they searching for, you might wonder? I guess they are pursuing true experiences related to human interaction, wherever they go. They travel light & rely on people’s good will & generosity. They don’t need much of the material things I’ve mentioned above. Two months on the roads already and so far the experience has been amazing (they are building up a fantastic blog, in Spanish only, where they share their adventures & photographs). In one of their posts they talk about the official definition of poverty, as apparently the UN considers Mongolia one of the poorest countries in the world. However, and according to their experience, if poverty is living with your loving ones (people of all generations together, learning from each other & helping each other on a daily basis), sharing what you have, looking after your home & animals, respecting nature & being grateful, then most of that type of poverty should spread out all over the world. I could not agree more with what they say.
Is this not what Jesus Christ & Buddha were preaching? Living a plain life, experiencing simplicity every day, detaching ourselves from the dispensable… How much easier would it be for those suffering the consequences of hurricane Sandy to keep going ahead with their lives & to recover after the storm passes if they were living a more simplistic existence? (Travelling to work by metro or plane, needing internet connection & telecommunications all the time, relying on energy suppliers for everything we do…). I know, I know: easy to say, hard to do.
Over the last 3 years I’ve been going through what began as a very tough exercise for me. Not so hard anymore. The exercise consists of going through my belongings twice a year (once at the beginning of the summer season, then again in January with the New Year), packing away those things (you know: books, clothes, sheets,…) that I haven’t been using. Some go to the bin, others I give away. The start is the most difficult part as everything seems to have its uses, and how could I get rid of it if I might need to use it at some point next month-year-life…? Never mind, toss is. I choose to leave space in my reality for all the good things that are still waiting to get in. They have no room, for God sake! How are they going to feel welcome? Once I pack the first bag or box then the energy starts to flow clean and then I just want to open more drawers & wardrobes so I can let more things go.
Another little practice I am going to share with you (even though when I risk it, I submit myself to the critics) comes from something I used to do with my friends when we were little. When our birthdays used to come and we didn’t have any money to buy each other presents (at that time we didn’t always have money in our pockets, as young kids seem to do these days) we would pick something we already had, something that was very dear to us for whatever reason. It could be a doll, any toy, a book maybe, a stamp that was very difficult to obtain, a beautiful hair clip… Anything that meant something to us, and that, well prepared & wrapped, would become the birthday gift to that loving friend. I keep collecting perfumes, make up, books, cds that I struggle to use. And I also keep with me (pure attachment) all these objects that I love for whatever reason. So when those two times of the year come, I put to one side some of these things, mainly thinking about people I know who might enjoy them, so I can give them away as gifts when the time is right. It might sound stupid, ridiculous, stingy or pathetic to some, I don’t care. I know that to me it can still be hard sometimes to get detached from these things, so the exercise helps.
You might agree with me, maybe not, but I would just like you to ask yourself these few questions: How many of those things that you possess are really necessary to you? How many of them do you actually use on a regular basis? Do they actually make you happy? Could you live without them? How would your life be without them? Would you give it a try?
Daniel Defoe said that "All our discontents about what we want appeared to me to spring from the want of thankfulness for what we have." Mongolian people have nothing but everything they need. Who is the poorest then?
That’s it, it is all over. What am I left with now that it has finished?
The morning after a big day I can hold within different sensations. A few very straight forward examples about how I can feel:
- Sad, because that great celebration or event is gone by now, after all the excitement and preparation, after the fun I had and the emotions I went through.
- Relieved, because my levels of stress were high for quite a while and now I can rest and relax, forgetting about my responsibilities, finally!
- Hopeful, because I might expect many good things to start happening after what I experienced the day before.
- Empty, because the planning & preparation for the big day took me so long and I dedicated so much energy that now I feel deflated, not knowing what to do.
- Disappointed, because I thought the results were going to be more satisfactory and that I would feel much better afterwards, which is not the case.
Maybe that big day was the wedding or birthday party of somebody very special to me, maybe my own wedding or my special birthday party; perhaps it was a very important meeting or conference that I organised; or a date that I dreamt about for months in advance; it could be an interview for a very promising job in a very exciting company after being unemployed for a while; or the end of that trip that I planned with care for so long; or even the realization after a very clear and explicit communication that something has come to and end.
There are countless options and the fact is that the morning after and every morning is a new beginning and the start of a brand new life. The attitude I face this new life with will make the difference and it will always be my choice.
I can choose to get hooked or trapped in my gloomy cloud, wrapped by melancholy and never-ending ‘what ifs’. But I can also decide to accept the outcome, learn about it and keep going.
When writing about this I cannot help but thinking about that quote by Lao Tzu: “If you are depressed, you are living in the past; if you are anxious, you are living in the future; if you have peace of mind, you are living in the present”. That’s something, isn’t it?
There is a practice that I deeply love and I initiated a few years ago thanks to yoga. When starting and finishing the class the teacher would invite us to acknowledge our own body, thanking it for being there and also thanking everything and everyone around us for becoming part of that moment and that experience. It is truly beautiful and especially powerful when practised within a group because the joint energy can be felt and transcends the physical world and the mental explanations. It is definitely something worth living.
So now I transfer that practice to nearly everything in my life:
- I thank the sun for such a beautiful warm day once again, or the clouds for keeping my plants cool and protected.
- I thank my plants for giving me that happy green colour and the clean oxygen to keep me alive.
- I thank the moon for its magical beauty and the sea for its amazing power & for the life that holds within.
- I thank the gardener for the great job he does every day, all year round, and the cleaner for her dedication and her loving presence always.
- I thank myself for cooking a nice dish and for setting a lovely table even if I am eating by myself, with my little candle and the music on.
- I thank the people who are there and tell me that they read me, that they like it; those who send me inspirational message or those who share with me juicy conversations filled with valuable content.
- I thank my family for their unconditional support, even when sometimes they don’t understand what I do or why I do it. They are always there anyway, thinking of me, wishing me the best.
- I thank my partner for being courageous enough to be him every day & I thank him for his endless ability to love too.
I could keep going forever here as well but these few examples are enough to prove my point. And the point is that, when I am in this ‘thanking mood’ I feel in peace and I feel good, real good actually! There is no room for anxiety or regret, for disappointment or sadness because I am able to see further. In most of the situations I get to a point where, even when I am entitled or it would be justified for me to feel sad, anxious, angry or worried, I cannot feel that way because I get myself detached for the fact that, in theory, has caused the disturbing feeling, and I look at it with a little bit of distance, thanking the person or the experience for the chance they are giving me, accepting it the way it is and doing my best to get out the bright side of it. Rescuing another great quote by Confucius this time: “There is beauty in everything but not everyone sees it”. I am not able to succeed every single time but hey, I am getting there.
So yes, the morning after a big day is always a brand new start, another chance to understand & accept, to see further, deeper, underneath and behind. If I didn’t do well enough, next time it will be better. If I had a top performance, I give myself a hug and loads of kisses for being so brilliant. It is not about being positive over everything. It is about minimising the pain, the guilt, the emotion that brings me down to substitute it for a more worthwhile view, one that creates wellness in me and helps me growing, bringing up all my potential. Because I am worth it ;-)
I’ve got a Love,
and he is tender like a silky caress, solid as a rock, all at once.
He has got a strong deep voice that delivers the most delicate words of affection.
His smile comes from the inside and it opens wide & free all over his genuine face.
I’ve got a Love,
and he knows how to listen, what to say, when to keep quiet.
He truly feels other’s happiness & suffers also for people’s misfortunes.
He takes his time to do things with dedication so results always come up at their best.
His hands show the tough experience, the sharp knowledge and are capable of creating the most exciting touches.
I’ve got a Love,
and I haven’t seen the limits of his generosity yet.
He strives for the best and always dreams to move boundaries a little bit further.
He is always willing to understand, to explore. He lives the present & dreams with a brighter future that he keeps building with every step he takes.
His thoughts are a lighthouse, his support a safe harbour, his arms a steady vessel, his feelings a powerful anchor.
I’ve got a Love,
and he’s got access to all the charts and the knowledge to decode their hidden secrets.
He runs through life with heart in hand and a compass by that heart, so getting lost is not an option & finding out becomes a constant reality.
He looks at the sun face to face, shaking hands with the wind, playing games with the sea, planning new routes with paths & roads.
His goal in life is to love & being loved, to be honest & happy and to give honesty & happiness away too.
I’ve got a Love,
and he is a gift to me.
On his very special day I wish him health, joy & peace of mind.
He deserves the best and I wish him every year to get more & more of it.
Happy birthday, my Love.
Another year together and many more to come ♥
We are all waiting in that room, holding our hearts in our mouths, with swollen eyes after all the tears. Waiting hurts and minutes become everlasting. Sun light hurts too and the heat is also painful, and the noise of the sirens and people’s sharp voices. Why can’t we have some silence now, for God’s sake? Why can’t time be stopped so we can rewind and avoid being here this morning? What did we do or what we never did that could be done? Could we have done anything in a different manner? What’s pending? What’s going to happen? At this point all these questions are unavoidable because many of the people there already know the kind of news that will be carried when leaving. It is just a matter of time. Damn time, relentless scourge…
When they finally come out to talk to us, they invite us into a tiny quiet office. They don’t want to give us the awful news in that other room, all so white and aseptic, in the presence of other people who are still waiting themselves. They don't want these others to become spectators of our inevitable sorrow, but they are also giving us some privacy to take the blow.
They are kind, careful, they show gentleness & respect. But at the same time they display an amazing clarity & pragmatism. And there we are, backing each other up, swallowing it in. Then we leave like lost souls, out of place, knowing that ahead of us we have a very long, intense & heavy digestion process.
It is still summer outside. The city is celebrating, people are on holidays. I can see life passing by through the car window. I can see the colours and the joy out there and I cannot help but wonder how it is possible that so many people are having a great time when many others are suffering so much in that precise moment. But that’s the thin line that we constantly walk along. That’s the cycle of life and nature’s routine too.
Since then, every time I am celebrating something, whenever I am enjoying myself or having a good time, I send through a thought of love and compassion to all those souls that are waiting in the threshold rooms of the world, wishing that my happiness could touch them somehow in order to make them feel accompanied or to help them lighten their load. From the bottom of my heart I tell them that the pain is coming to stay for quite a while but it will only be a visitor if they wish it to be so. I tell them that one day they will find themselves toasting, as I do, to those who left us to be with us in a different way. We will toast to them, indeed, and to the journey we’ve made since their departure. Then, together again, we will send loving & compassionate thoughts to other souls that always, every minute, are dwelling within that painful wait…