On Words, Meaning – and Mindful Speaking

Straight to the point

It has been a while now since I have started to reflect and observe my ways of expression through words. Even in writing, I tend to simplify what I have to say, I use fewer words in order to express something ( I have become a bit bored of polemics) and at times even overthink what I am about to say – so that I eventually end up not saying it – since I feel it really doesn’t matter. In all this process, I understood that previously, I wasn’t always listening to myself when talking – and I have reached a personal conclusion – that using words wisely is an act of self-observation and actually improves and brings clarity to our relationship with others. Also, it is more time-effective to be brief, straightforward and precise when speak or write as only in this way we would give real meaning to words.

Think twice

So yes, coming back to myself, I believe that it is good to slow down a bit and think twice what I am about to say. Also, it is quite useful to reflect on my talking patterns, on those small talks and those comments that maybe will not be received well, or even, will not be considered as relevant as I might intend.  I am thinking here even at that random ‘how are you’… It is true – some people just use it as a kind of intro to what they have to say ( so disappointing though) however when I actually expect some answer in return, somehow I feel that it was not taken seriously, or even I get the impression that I am actually considered superficial, along with the first category. That is why I try to choose my words carefully as each and every word is a symbol, that translated through someone else’s experience might have a different impact and paint a different colour.

We make language

Language doesn’t make people – people make the language. Sometimes we forget that we are the creators, we have the power to decide and control what comes out of our mouths. How many times we just couldn’t help it and, in the heat of the moment we said something we shouldn’t have and we hurt the other?

Furthermore, I believe we are not out of examples of people who talk for the sake of hearing themselves, that go round in circles and elaborate in so many words that the substance, the meaning, remains still a question mark. Now, just draw the line and think – how time-consuming is our failure to express what we really feel, in having to readdress what we have just said or apologize for the hurtful words?

Listen to understand first

It is true, it is also important to listen, as many times I found myself being wrongly understood yet the problem was with the listener not with the message per se. Unfortunately, so many times we are swept in these ‘societal’ currents of friends, education, work and generally, mundane matters which completely turn ourselves into machines, into characters in our own life like ping-pong balls.

It is not only that we don’t participate in our own life, we even create situations that reflect that and at a closer look, support the superficial, the frugal and the perennial. That is how we are constantly indulged into this kind of defensive listening which is not REAL listening since the essence is missed – but which is only focused on the answering back, on who has the last word. It’s like an ego contest.

Remember – Silence is a blessing

All in all, I guess it all comes to asking ourselves – ‘what is it that I want the others to think,  to understand  – from what I have to say?’ and ‘how can I make the message accessible for the person in front of me?’ (the fact that you have a top-notch vocabulary does not mean that you have to expect everyone else to understand your academic language)

Having clarified that once and for all – you have taken the first step to giving value to your speech. Then, you can actually start to appreciate and see silence a bit differently. Of course, there are moments when being silent is not the best of ideas (interview, oral exams or maybe even your in-laws heheh) however still! I feel that nowadays, people are underestimating the power of silence – and this might be again because of the fact that we feel the utmost need to impress, to show-off – and to have the last word. Still – how would you feel about doing a silent retreat? I am telling you – after an experience like that you would definitely appreciate words much more than before.

Practice makes perfect

It is a day to day work though, this self-observation, however, once you will get your head around it, you will understand what – indirectly speaking – is meaningful to you when hearing someone talking. You would most probably look for honesty, for authenticity and for that positive vibe without which we would be a bit discouraged or maybe lose interest in a conversation. Now, as any skill, you might need to allow time and effort for this, but mostly awareness. So take some time and train yourself. Begin to see language as the projection of yourself.

On Experience – and the Duty to Ourselves

[ it has been a while since I last wrote and here is a portion of it – I have been to paradise, lived the eternity in two weeks (gotta say I was even lucky  for that!) and in all this have learned to be better at accepting the fact that moments come and go – long-awaited encounters leave you empty-handed and with a bittersweet taste in your mouth – it was yesterday when you had looked up at the sky and thanked the universe with all your heart. yet – you were aware that time has a duty – it goes fast when you don’t pay too much attention – and even when you do, it teaches you to be grateful for every moment – including for yesterday -even if today your universe is falling apart. sometimes we learn in a hard way but the important thing is that the lesson is there – that love is within and everywhere – eternity is now –  and the sky is the witness of our echo – an echo as an act of love. and love has no end – it flows through storms and drought. ]

‘The flute of the infinite is played without ceasing, and its sound is love.  When love renounces all limits, it reaches truth’. Kabir

It is true that things are transitory. It is also true that in a Disquieted Universe where we lose ourselves in roles, thoughts and external forms, where we are sucked in an avalanche of possibilities and games of power – we tend to identify with them and lose our true perception of what REALLY matters. We lose perception of the truth.

Learn to remember

We forget – we forget to look inwards, to connect and once that connection is lost, we are stuck in this vicious circle where we search for approval, for meaning and ultimately for love and completion.

We forgot that these things did not matter. In our pursuit for happiness, we have dropped the only thing that mattered and that we have unconditionally- to experience, to understand ourselves.

There is a common misconception that we have lost something, that we are incomplete hence we are looking for the missing part. Yet it is not clear to us that in this search we mirror what we lack and hence we will get back the same.

Evolution of Self

Evolution means to understand who we are and to let go of all the conditioning,  see behind the identities and roles we are taught to play since we are toddlers.

It can be the ability to have a self-fulfilling answer to ‘Who am I’ – that ranges beyond looks, rank or status and above nationality, colour or religion. Once you are free of all these social constructs – you are left with one sole thing – love.

Yet, you cannot know love unless you live it. Same as you cannot have a profound knowledge of something you only know at the theoretical level. Here, by love, I don’t intend the search for the ideal, perfect union or partner – but the experience of it inside out. On the outside, it is in the small things, daily, as an act of perpetual curiosity, faith and good-will. On the inside, it is the patience, the support and the compassion that we should nourish ourselves with, regardless of how society or others’ expectations might rule.

Experience and freedom

Experience in this sense is (at least for how I understand it) also the space you allow yourself to deal with that baggage you are carrying – it is the making of it light again and the ability to make small steps every day in that encounter with yourself. Because yes, when we want, we are our worse enemy. Yet when we create that space within, when we are capable to rule our universe, when we are aware of our emotions, roles and work towards not identifying with them – that is the true experience of the self. Then we are free.

‘To see the world in a grain of sand and a heaven in a wildflower – hold infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour.’ William Blake

On Disquiet – and Feeling Alive?

 

Any of you heard of ‘The Book of Disquiet’ by Fernando Pesso? A very much acclaimed modernist book (am not going to say the contrary – it is a masterpiece!). So far, for what I have read, I guess it mirrors a lack of spirit in this modern world, a lack of identity and a sense of purpose which I will comment on a bit.

It is basically the last book I have tried to read and simply couldn’t finish it. (maybe later?) I guess the thing that stroke me was the fact that there were many passages where the author would express a deep sense of futility,  lack of meaning and purpose – a feeling that I also felt when I would read Cioran or Sartre – although maybe with the last two the feeling was more acute and eventually got me to a sense of revolt where I concluded that I should not read books on this tone since they tend to be too winy and I don’t like that feeling anymore…(and eventually discovered Camus muhahah)

There’s a passage at the beginning of the book – couldn’t read more than 30 pages or so, where the main character when hearing the presence of some girls singing,

‘a feeling of sorrow for them impressed itself on my heart. For their future? For their unconsciousness?Not directly for them, and perhaps, after all, only for me’. 

When lacking the eyes to enjoy the beauty of life, as well as the capability to feel – we allow ourselves to be ruled by a universe where intellect and thoughts are our eternal friend and enemy. We rise and we fall again, victims of our thoughts and opinions, pleasures and pains and the whole business goes on for too long.

‘but to say its a nice day is difficult, and the nice day itself passes on’

So my question is simple – how can one live in a world like that? Sincerely speaking, I stopped reading it since I felt I have passed that stage, I did not feel I could identify with the character (not anymore).

‘Perhaps it was just taking me a long time to feel alive’…

Then – what does it mean to feel alive? What does it take? Besides the fact that our heart is pumping and we go on breathing, to keep alive (independently of our wish)…But how are we truly aware of that feeling?… Many have written songs and poems about it – but can we truly EXPERIENCE it?

Recently, I have been reading a lot on mythology – Campbell and Jung mainly and the fact is that so many cultures and indigenous people share their views on the ‘spirited’ world surrounding them –  which means that they believe that everything around has a spirit. I remember I read about a tribe of native Indians that were dancing every morning for the sun to show up. They really did believe that if they will stop that ritual, the sun will stop rising.

Their purpose was so easy yet so vast! Needless to say that there is no place for futility or intellect or thoughts. It is the most natural, simplistic and courageous thing to do. It shows that there is a strong connection between all living creatures and the land that provides for us.

Then – coming back to the initial aspect – why disquiet? Maybe because we lost that connection, eventually we lost that gratitude and started to take it for granted (and all the scientific mumbo-jumbo that follows). In our individualistic world, there is no space for the sun, as we live in cages with air conditioning and artificial light (and could go on with the list of ‘artificial’ stuff). There is no REAL connection even if we are overconnected with invisible wires and devices that promise us happiness. As Jung very firmly puts it:

‘Our present lives are dominated by the goddess Reason, who is our greatest and most tragic illusion’.

So stop and remember that there is more than the roles you are given…That throughout the day there are different versions of you – that keeps you on the run and eventually you will touch with the real, authentic you. Understand that it is not the society that will save you – but exactly the opposite. (People always look out for ways to heal themselves when we are our best and most instructed healers we can find). Instead of complaining, understand what you need and ask for it. Pray, meditate and write it. It will help be centred and focused.

Remember – there will be storms – can’t be sunny all the time, right? But you have the power to create your PERFECT umbrella and be above the storm.

As Max Planck beautifully said – ‘when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at will change’.

On Creativity – and Living Your Dream

 

For some time now I have been trying to ‘cook’ an article in my head however it did not want to come into form. Not that I did not find a topic nor that I could not put my thoughts together – but because it was not yet time. As a really great woman I have met put it – ‘ you need to nurture in order to create’. Creation needs food. So I have decided to let my imagination and my thoughts play a little. Maybe this article is for you, or maybe you have surpassed these moments. Either way, it is a good time to remind you of the well-known words of William Ernest Henley in his poem – ‘Invictus’:

“It matters not how strait the gate,
      How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
      I am the captain of my soul. “

Everything has its time, its season – and as long as you are faithful and you are trusting yourself, it will come. Writing for me is that – a sort of release, like something that grows day by day and eventually, needs to be let out. In a way, it is a sort of duty to myself –  it is the ‘creation’ I want to see into being since I like sharing my thoughts. Maybe it could be also that I cannot see myself NOT writing – that keeps me gathering all this nurture I feel sharing. It is, after all, an act of inner freedom – it renders me peace and builds my strength and self-confidence. It makes me the observer- it is indeed, my way of meditation.

Now, I wanted to ask you a question – have you ever thought about your dream? Or maybe I should first ask – do you think dreams come true?  How about LIVING your dream? How about maybe seeing yourself as THE creator of your dream-life – and not let yourself be taken from one day to the other as if waiting for something to happen?

I am not talking about miracles here. I am only underlining that it is all a matter of attitude. It is just as easy as that- how about you wake up and decide that it will be THE day for you – that whatever you will have to put up with, however common and monotonous your days are – you will do your best to notice the small things that you never noticed, always took for granted and got used to? How about you smile more often, take more pictures, talk to strangers, caress a cat or simply admire the sun? You know, like when you watch a series and you cannot wait to see the next episode. Can you see your life like that? Can you jump out of bed in the morning and think how lucky you are for the life you are living?

Maybe all these questions may seem too much altogether, however you should start with small steps. Me – I learned that I should first look for what is not working, make sure I understand it and then maybe accept what needs to be changed – and then see where that leads me. (one good example is smoking – which I am working at right now – it has been a long process yet I am progressing heheh). We all have our ins and outs, good days, bad days and THE worst days, however, I learned that complaining or bringing in the negative will not lead me anywhere. I also learned that doubt is normal, and so is everything else that we would so much want out of our lives – such as pain, anger, despair, loneliness or injustice. Still, despite the fact that we are all humans, we should know how to address these aspects of ourselves and feed only the ones that are positive.

One thing I would love to have is a magic wand to deal with doubt – when there is that need for certainty, when that seed of doubt comes into the picture, when there is that voice in my head that does not answer to my questions – and sometimes I have to admit but I have doubts whether I should start another book or just jump in the next train to…somewhere. Well – there is good news about this. I guess that we only learn while doing. So I have decided to make errors. I have decided to be sure of something rather than wonder ‘how it would have been like?’. While you act on your inner drive, when you will make mistakes or maybe you will discover the best thing that could have happened to you – just keep these in mind – ‘ who are you ‘ and ‘ what are you doing here?’

Oh – and I have to tell you something else- you know what is the best practice to get better at this ‘question – answer’ thingy? It is silence and being with your thoughts. Meditation (in any of its forms) with no distraction. Indulging into your thoughts, you will slowly start working on your intuition and short insights will come to you as an answer to matters that have been occupying your mind. It is the sort of mental hygiene that each and every one of us should do. Indeed, if we would do this as often as we tidy our room or our working desk we would most probably lead a much more happy life.

It takes time, of course, it takes time, patience and determination – yet – I have to remind you again – you are your own creator.

You Are The Creator of Your Own Life. 

Trust that you will do a good job at it.

Until next time,

alex

Prendersi per mano – riflessioni sul significato dell’essere umano

Oggi volevo riflettere su che cosa ci fa pensare la parola umano? In questo mondo veloce dove viviamo, sembra che la parola ha perso significato per quanto dalla mattina fino alla sera le notizie abbondano di atti inumani – niente di nuovo, direi. Vero. Sfortunatamente, niente di nuovo. La indifferenza pero, il fatto che abbiamo la impressione che non possiamo cambiare nulla perché siamo troppo piccoli per farlo. Ecco questo e il risultato della globalizzazione.

Comunque, uno quando vede questo succedere ogni giorno, finisce ad accettarlo…quando uno chiude gli occhi a quello che succede intorno, ammettere, senza resistere, si ritrova credere senza avere nessuna idea pratica di quello che implica, arriva a essere indifferente e ancora a giustificare la sua posizione. Il senso morale del bene o del male di una persona cambia tanto con il tempo.

Questa società consumista, capitalista, hi-tech ci fa dimenticare di cosa significa veramente essere umano. Perché alla fine che cosa vuol dire un essere umano se no guardarsi nei occhi del altro, identificare, empatizare e assumersi al posto del altro? Quando un altro non ha niente ed e arrivato alla fine, guarderesti e cercheresti i colpevoli, a chi dovrebbe prendere cura della situazione o spiegare perche non sei risponsabile per questo? O ancora peggio, prendere tutte quelle persone come se fossero una palla di tennis e buttarla sopra il muro-ribadire che non e la tua problema e poi dimenticare tutto.

Siamo vivendo dei tempi istorici- per quanto consapevoli o no- siamo vivendo dei tempi dei grandi catastrofi umanitari e fallimento collettivo. Si, sto parlando ancora della crisi dei rifugiati – in quanto il Mediterraneo diventa un cementerò tacito dove I numeri dei morti e sempre in crescita ma ormai incerto.

Ancora c’e una speranza pero, ancora ci sono alcuni combatenti per I diritti umani, quelli que hanno messo al silenzio ogni voce che li diceva che non possono. Si, volevo scrivere sul quelli che oltre tutte le dichiarazioni, legi, regolamenti, trattati e convenzioni che sempre prometono RIsoluzioni – loro in fatti sono solo fedeli alla loro coscienza, a quello che un essere umano dovrebbe fare per un altro senza aver bisogno di un contesto.

Poco fa ho guardato un documentario che mi ha impressionato tanto che ho promesso di scrivere qualcosa su questo, di condividere e magari anche chiedere opinioni. ‘Iuventa ‘ e uno di quelli documentari che in un modo molto staccato e obiettivo ti porta la luce su quello che succede oggi al mare. Diretto da Michele Cinque, tratta su un ONG iuventa che hanno voluto fare un cambio e con il aiuto del finanziamento collettivo hanno comprato una nave e cosi hanno concluso vari operazioni di salvataggio dei migranti al mare. Hanno cominciato in 2016 e fino al‘anno scorso in agosto hanno salvato 14000 persone in quindici missioni.

Hanno cominciato a domandare perché l’ Europa non fa nulla in questo rispetto ( la iniziativa e stata per fare notare il bisogno di un progetto tipo Mare Nostrum ma fondato dell’Unione Europea) la nave e stata confiscata e i volontari accusati di tratta e violazione della legge italiana su immigrazione. Quindi, mentre l’Europa stava cercando di camuffare la situazione e spingere la ‘problema’ indietro ad Africa, questi giovani idealisti provavano il contrario, e dovevano essere fermati! Fino a oggi la nave e ancora in sequestro nel porto di Trapani.

E
chiaro allora che il scopo del’Unione Europea e di fermare i corridoio umanitario, di criminalizzare e accusare a quelli che vogliono un cambio. Mentre i ONG provano di stare dietro al influsso dei migranti, Europa si volta la spalla e acceta tante violazioni ai diritti umani, ignorando la legge internazionale e permette che un massiccio di persone sono detenute in condizioni catastrofici.

Il stesso documentario menziona anche Mediterranea –  mediterranearescue -una piattaforma che unisce diverse organizzazioni che hanno in comune un scopo solo- di dare priorità alla vita. Mentre l’Unione Europea rifiuta di considerarsi risponsabile per il numero di morti sempre in crescita, dopo Iuventa e altre ONG che sono stati fermati, accusati falsamente quando la unica cosa che volevano fare era di mostrare che si può, Mediterranea e un progetto ancora vivo, che dimostra questo. Il loro scopo e di monitorizzare e osservare quello che succede, d’intervenirenel caso sia bisogno a salvare e portare le persone in un posto sicuro, come prevede la legge internazionale. Dopo di che, certamente, i migranti saranno soggetti della legge del respettivo paese.

Italia, come la maggior parte del’ Europa, segue una strategia molto chiusa nel riguardo dei rifugiati. Tanti paesi passano per un declino morale e sfortunatamente quando si parla di un ‘straniero’, la reazione e sempre in difensiva, impaurita e molto medievale.

Alla fine, ci manca riflettere un po’- non e che il modo in cui affrontiamo la questione dei rifuggiti e un rispecchio al modo in cui potremmo anche noi, cittadini, essere trattati? Guardare come i governi, la opinione pubblica affrontano la situazione e il riflesso di una società che prima o poi perderà la sua umanità in riguardo ai propri cittadini. Abbiamo dimenticato di cercare dove e la moralità in questo assunto, ma siamo molto concentrati sul lato economico, politico…Abbiamo dimenticato che tenere solo al suo tribù o gruppo e ancora un ‘residuo tossico di secoli di schiavitù e segregazione’. Questa non e una UNIONE come ci piace a chiamarla.

Dobbiamo creare una società che prima di tutto deve essere morale inclusiva, dobbiamo – a questo punto, essere capaci di vivere en un modo umano, amorevole e saggio – en una società in cui la vita e più importante che il capitale ( e ci abbiamo anche dei modelli, anche se i contra modelli sono molto imponenti – SUA).

C’e bisogno di narrazione, di dialogo, di smettere di semplificare un problema che non e per niente semplice. Dobbiamo ascoltare, condividere e fare la nostra parte. Prima dobbiamo cominciare a guardare dentro il nostro cuore – e dopo possiamo aspettare un cambio di coscienza al nivelo sociale. Dobbiamo riflettere di più su che cosa vuol dire essere Umano per no – di smettere di prendere le cose come sono ma sempre mettere in dubbio, avere quel sguardo critico. Più di tutto, dobbiamo ricordare che siamo noi i creatori della nostra vita e che anche siamo i attori principali!

joining hands – reflection on being a human

Today I want to reflect a bit on what does the word human makes us think of? In this fast world that we are living in, it feels like the word has lost its meaning as from morning to evening  – the news abounds with inhuman acts – nothing new you would say. True. Nothing new, unfortunately. Indifference though, the fact that we have this impression that we cannot change the things which concern us because we are too small to do it – is the result of this globalised world.

However, when you see this in your day to day life and you end up accepting it…when you turn a blind eye to what’s around you, acknowledge, yet you do not stand against, you end up believe in it, you end up being indifferent and on top of that, justifying yourself. A person’s moral sense of what is right and wrong can change so much in time…

Is this all consumerist, capitalist, high-tech society makes us forget about what being human means? Because what is being human after all than just see yourself in the other? When the other has nothing and is on the brink of dying, would you just watch and point fingers at who’s fault is it, at who should deal with it or the reasons why you aren’t responsible for this? Or even worse, take all those people as you would take a ball of tennis and throw it over the fence- tell yourself it’s not your problem and forget all about the matter?

We are living historical times – whether aware or not – we are living times of a huge humanitarian catastrophe and collective failure.  Yes, I am talking again about the refugee crisis – as the Mediterranean sea is becoming a silent cemetery where the numbers of graves are rising and yet the real number is lost.

Yet there are still some human rights fighters, those that have silenced every voice that told them they can’t. I wanted to write about those that beyond all international declarations, laws and regulations, pacts and conventions that rule and promise REsolutions and variables – they do what is right according to their conscience, to what a human should do for another human.

I recently watched a documentary which startled me to the point that I said I have to write about this. I have to let it out.  ‘Iuventa’ is a documentary directed by Michele Cinque (which I definitely recommend you all to watch), which talks about a German NGO https://jugendrettet.org/en/–  who set up a high target and with crowdfunding managed to buy a ship and conducted several operations at sea in the rescue of migrants. They started in 2016 until August last year they managed to save more than 14000 people in 15 rescue missions!

Since they were already  starting to raise questions on why Europe does not do something in this respect ( their initiative was mostly to attract the attention of the EU and eventually recreate a second ‘Mare Nostrum’ but funded by Europe) their ship was confiscated and they were accused of human trafficking and violation of the Italian immigration law! So while Europe was trying to camouflage, push back the problem back to Africa, some idealistic youngsters were trying to overdo it and yet falsely accused for doing so! Till today the ship is still seized in the port of Trapani.

While the aim of the European Union is to close the humanitarian corridor, they criminalise and accuse those that want to bring a change. While the NGOs are trying to keep up with the incoming influx of refugees, Europe turns its back and gives in to massive human rights violations, disregarding the international law and allowing people to end up in detention camps with catastrophic conditions.

The same documentary mentions about Mediterranea-Saving Humans https://mediterranearescue.org/en/  –a platform that conjures different organizations that have joined forces with one single focus- to put the lives of the people above everything’s else.

While Europe refuses to see itself responsible for the death toll that keeps on rising, after Iuventa and many other NGOs saw a dead end in its aim to bring a change, Mediterranea is a project that can show to the world that yes, it is possible. While their main aim is to monitor and report what is happening, they also intervene when needed in saving people – and bring them to a safe harbour, according to the international laws. Now, of course, that following that, the refugees will be subject to the respective countries’and European laws.

Italy, as well as the majority of Europe, are following an enclosed strategy towards the refugees. Many nations are in moral decline and unfortunately, even if we believe ourselves to be good, giving, the truth is that when it comes to foreign, to other – we somehow become frightened, defensive and close our doors.

Because in the end, we should be more reflective. Isn’t the way we treat the refugees a direct mirror on how we, as citizens will be treated? Seeing how governments and the media treat the refugees is a direct reflection of a society that in the long run will lose humanity towards its own citizens. We have forgotten to see the morality in the matter and we tend to just scrupulously focus on the economic side. We forgot that caring only for your own tribe or group is still a ‘toxic residue of centuries of slavery and segregation’ . This is NOT a UNION as we so much like to call lit.

We should create a society that is to be first moral – inclusive, we should, at this point, be able to live in a humane, caring and wise society that cares for the human not for the capital ( and we don’t lack models here, although the countermodels stand massively ahead – see the UNITED States).

Storytelling – we need to talk to find dialogue, to stop simplifying a problem that is so complex. We should not refrain from talking about it, from doing our share. We, as individuals, can start just by changing something in our own heart first – then maybe we can expect a shift in conscience at the societal level. We should reflect more on what does being a human mean to us. We should stop taking things as they are served to us and question more. Remember that we, after all, are the creators of our own life where we are always the main actors!

 

building bridges – the politics of innocence

almost three months have passed since I am in Italy and time certainly went by very fast. one of the main reasons why this is so could be the fact that life here is very frenzy – there are lots to do, as Genova is a very active city, culturally and socially speaking.

It has been a time fruitfully spent with the children at the centre where I am volunteering (with Ce.Sto, one of those organisations that every community should have for a better inclusion and social cohesion). Every day is different. Every day I engage more and I feel I create new knots and decipher new codes of their behaviour. Working with around forty children of different ages and backgrounds sounds challenging enough and in practice even more – but patiently and consistently I am encouraging myself and have to admit it – it is a very pleasant challenge.

some of these days I wanted to write about joy – how often do we find joy in our everyday life? – and when I say joy here I mean that utter feeling of happiness that runs all over your body and makes you want to jump, to smile and laugh of how amazing everything is just in this moment. I have to say that I feel this joy when I am surrounded by children. these past months I have started to construct these small bridges that help me better understand my child within with their help. it runs both ways though – I do that because I try to see the world through their eyes. and each of you should know very well how simple and easy the world is when you are a child!

I observe them and see that even if they come from different backgrounds, from North Africa, Asia, Central America or from Europe – at this moment in their life they created bonds that are unbreakable and they stand by each other regardless of race, colour or religion. all these social constructs mean nothing to them. at this stage, the important thing is – however innocent –  to discover the world together, to hold hands, sing and dance. they do fight sometimes, but that is because they are expansive, because they want to be heard and yes – because they need love and attention.

how far have we gone from that age of innocence? how far, we as humans, have we gone in the opposite direction? fear, greed and power have overruled love, abundance and humility. humanity at this stage is divided by class, race and colour – is divided by those that live in abundance and those that starve and die in search of a better life ( and are judged and criticised for doing so) *and how can you call ‘invading’ the people that look for a better life?*

we build fences instead of bridges nowadays! if we would at least bother to open a history book we would see that we too were once impoverished – we too needed a better life! what I mean by ‘we’ here are all those countries that colonised once virgin territories, the so-called abundant, capitalist and western countries.  it is the time to take responsibility for the plunders and for the abuse, exploitation and death we have caused- for the humanitarian crises around the world are the results of those.

however, with a far-right government that targets immigrants and aims at making Italy a ‘safer place’, the situation here is not a jolly one at all. In fact, Italy is facing a very devastating moment in terms of its politics of inclusion – and while we lose count of the people that sacrifice their lives for a better future, here, Europe, nowadays the ‘promised land’, the ultimate aim is to ‘have no refugees at all in Italy through the closure of seaports, criminalising migrant rescue NGOs and with the new decree, depriving them of any protection’.

yet, there is hope. a few weeks ago I have participated in a protest against the Salvini decree. on the beats of ‘Mama Africa’ and as we marched on the streets of the old city, people from all corners of the world gathered to share their story and their support to make a change, to open people’s eyes and to show that they care. Yes – mama Africa- because it is a wake-up call for us all – to return to what unites us, to understand we are all the same, a body and a spirit, to go back to the roots and our true nature.

fact is – where there is unity, where there are awareness and discipline through that unity, there is hope for a better tomorrow. we should leave out the hypocrisy of those that see the immigrants the cause of their problems – where they rest in a totally different universe, ignorant, that lacks empathy, humanity and drawn towards hate. we should instead focus on those that understand, on those that can trace this plunge in despair, in lack – where people risk their lives and see death a better outcome than the poverty, imprisonment and deprivation they have to put up with back in their countries.

who are we to draw lines? to build fences? to label people? to differentiate and put to balance? to address people’s lives as the sum of their misfortunes? these questions seem like a deja-vu. Should this be the outcome of our evolution so far?

when I look at these children I see there is hope, yes there is. investing for a better education of today’s children is fundamental in creating a better future. it is not the first time I am drawn to conclude on this line of thought. it is a bit extreme to link children with politics – however, we have a lot to learn from them – to hold hands, to see ourselves in the other and build a better future together.

last – I cannot help but attaching a short passage from one of the classics of political satires in American cinema – ‘The Great Dictator’. the history repeats itself – ironically – the actors have changed but the play remains the same.

So, are we going to learn to do better this time?

‘In this world, there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way. Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical. Our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost….”

 

by the rough shores

She walks on narrow streets

Roaming with people

Everything seems so empty

In this floating city…

Empty eyes, burned cheekbones

Wild looks and languages

That are strangled by expired words

Which are out of hope.

By the rough shores

The waves still speak though

They speak of unfamiliar poems

Dialects that were put to die and

Dreams that were not even born.

Rough and surreal

Untold stories are dancing in the abys

Waiting to be heard…

But one day, carried by the wind

They will rise and they will

Create a new sky

Filled with sunshine and blue…

A glowy sea

At the shores of a lighthouse

Called love.

The First Step is The Challenge – Discovering Vipassana

Sun is shining and while the thermometer shows 28 degrees (again – always!:)) I am sipping from my coffee and scrolling on my facebook page. In so doing I saw a quote from two years ago –  ‘Although the road is never ending, take a step and keep walking, do not look fearfully into the distance. on this path let the heart be your guide for your body is hesitant and full of fear.’ I immediately made the connection – I wrote it just before I went on to do the Vipassana retreat in Dehradun, India – the first time that I have been in a retreat and of course, the moment when I experienced this technique of meditation for the first time. And what a discovery it was. Two years ago I have found something more precious than any treasure – I have found myself, I have found peace within, I have found the way to go back there, to that place I long forgotten and the encounter was so, so dear to me.

Today I celebrate once more the opportunity I was given and I am so deeply grateful for it. I first read about a silence retreat in (be ready to be surprised) ‘Eat Pray Love’ – well for me being in silence for so long was such a blissful opportunity- then there was a friend from England that when he heard I will go to India he recommended to do a Vipassana retreat as well as an Introduction to  Buddhist Philosophy (they do not connect and the Vipassana technique is not practiced in the other). That was all I knew – I took note of it it is true but I was actually focused on a project with a so thought to be a friend that failed graciously and beside a good amount of money, I have lost a friend and with that my confidence in people was a bit shaken. I have found myself all alone, with no plans and kind of apathetic – then the idea of the retreat came to my mind. I was actually at that point – with the turn of events – that I was seeking a refuge. I needed some time to regain that trust, the values and the trust that I have lost. I also wanted to get a grip of what did just happen and where did I go wrong.

So I went – with my heart open and there was no moment when I wanted to leave or give up. I came out of it not completely changed – but for sure, something in me changed and I knew that nothing will be the same again. And I am not saying this for the sake of the beautiful, comforting words, but because I have understood that my life was under control now, that I have the tool to deal with it. There was a line or two from the movie that still resonate in my mind – ‘You will get your life back again – you will learn to value it!’ like a prophecy that came true. Because yes – once I was done, I was so joyous and extraordinarily THERE – to enjoy every moment, to stop seeking the future but to be in the moment, that it felt like the time moved slower. I was present and I was happy to enjoy every little small thing like a tuk tuk drive or a piece of freshly made paratha.

I even remember that when I arrived in Rishikesh, I was shocked to see the streets packed with announcements with different healing methods, courses, trainings when I came out of a place where my only distractions were sleeping, eating, meditating, walking and washing. At that time it seemed like a cry of despair. It felt like we have really lost touch with ourselves and keep on looking – as we have been for ages – to the outside in order to fix the inside. Well – the equanimity came in and help me with that too! I understood then again that finding your own truth will not dismiss someone else’s and although I was so happy and joyful to share it with everyone, not everyone was ready to listen – not everyone was ready to accept or to put it into practice. OR better said – not everyone had a butt to sit on and spend some time with him/herself.

Conclusion is – that in the end, we all walk our own path, carry our own burdens, and while we can always make our own choices there is still something we should all learn and practice – to be open. To learn from the richest as well as from the poorest, to listen and to give up to the judgements and preconceptions. To accept that we are not the same. To be more compassionate as we don’t know what hides behind this well carved mask called body. To do things differently because this will expand our mind.

Each has its own way indeed and while ones will take longer, others a little less, we should all reach there.

Wish you a LOVEly day!

A New Place to Call Home

After a well-deserved summer at home and of course, well-deserved vacation for that matter, I had to start moving in some direction or other. It is quite difficult once you’ve got the travel bug, you know? Even if I definitely did not get bored, I have been stalking friends that travel and wondered constantly where to go next. Then the answer came – and as they say, all roads go to Rome – for me they have actually gone to Genova – as this is my new home now.

So here I am, drinking my expresso (the third one today – I simply cannot refrain- the place is packed with small cafes) enjoying the breeze and the seagulls, the sound of the many scooters rumbling around, admiring the majestic architecture of the many palaces that stand as a proof of a legendary past.

The duration of my visit this time will be slightly longer – I could actually say that it is the most time that I have spent in a place – at a time. This is actually something that excites and scares me at the same time – as I am sure I will find my way out of it every now and then (heheh).

However, I must say that my motivation is high due to the reason why I am here – an European project with an local NGO that supports and works at building a sustainable inclusion and cohesion of migrants and minors in the society. Will basically work with children, adolescents and migrants – by doing workshops as well as cultural events for a better communication, integration and promoting activities for civic integration.

Besides the fact that it is famous for its focaccia and pesto, for its long stretches of coast, forests and picturesque cities, Liguria is a region that has something more particular than that. Genoa, after all, is a multicultural city on the move since for the past twenty five years has been receiving waves of migrants from places like Ecuador, Senegal, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Peru and China. This passage has not been a novelty as Genoa was and still remains one of the most important ports of Italy.

The situation is a bit distressing – the refugee and migrant mobility gets intensified along with an accelerated crisis of the European identity and borders as well as an increasing nationalist attitude. Here the situation seems more pervasive as Italy has become the central route into Europe for migrants and asylum seekers as they cross from North Africa. I will be able to have a better picture of the situation in the following months and get more immersed in the question.