Monday, June 29, 2009


I’ve never gone diving. I’ve heard it’s amazing. The thing is: I don’t know how to swim – never have. Thus, I’ve always been a teensy weensy afraid of the sea… But always wondering what it must be like under there, all those colors and kinds of life I’ve never laid eyes on, and most likely never will.
Forgive me, I wasn’t completely true. It’s not that I don’t know how to swim – I mean, I manage pretty well not to drown! Not sure if that qualifies as swimming, though, but still… surviving is, in the end, all one can ask for.
But the sea is, indeed, something majestic, something you cannot take in all at once. And it is, needless to say, ever changing, which means no one will ever be able to grasp not even a wee bit of it. And when you come to think of its magnitude… depressing, really.

Now, take skydiving, for instance. The world is wide open for ya, all you gotta do is jump. Your hands let go of their grip, and you of everything else, including the false sense of security that dominates you when on the ground. You’re just… falling. Into the nothingness of yourself.
I’ve never gone skydiving either. But I’ve got a pretty vivid imagination. I can imagine the chronological order of all the sensations one goes through at such a moment: at first, you’re shit scared; then, you remember there’s a parachute on your back, ready for you when you feel like it; you finally start thinking that maybe that was not such a bad idea, like your dad said it’d be; and now you’re just awed by life itself – by your life, by your true amazing self; you feel like you could keep on falling forever and ever more; but it starts getting a little cold; that was really cool, but you’ve forgotten what it feels like to have your feet on the ground; wow, the earth seems a whole lot closer now… okay, definitely time to pull the cord! Pull it, pull it NOW!
You’re on the ground, safe once again – although lost in all that nylon. It’ll take you a little while to find your way out, but you’ll manage it; besides, it was totally worth it.

I truly admire people capable of taking this leap of faith – of jumping off an airplane, of diving into the depths of the ocean. It takes an awful lot of guts.

I think I’d be a horrible skydiver – I’d probably be the one who pulls the cord only two seconds after jumping! Just like I’d be the worst diver ever: I’d go down, and down, and down… and it’d take me quite a while to find my back up again. Yes, I know it’s supposed to be easy – but you do NOT know how good I am at getting lost in the most obvious routes… pretty skillful, I’ll tell you that.

And here, I think, lies the heart of the problem. Diving seems awfully easy in a glance – you just have to jump, for cryin’ out loud! But not quite, actually: you gotta know when to pull the cord in order not to smash your head when landing. Gotta know how to find your way around in the sea, how to do more than just not drown. How to swim.
And I’m not a swimmer.

I dive at the wrong moments, and am incapable of telling a safe spot from a dangerous one, of interpreting the tides or the direction of the wind. I am continuously drowning.

What if I stopped?
I’d always be safe, with my feet solidly planted on the earth, the exact way they were meant to be. I’d look up at the sky and calmly admire it from the distance – and eventually I’d end up just giving it a passing glance. I’d look down at the ocean, and wonder at its immense blueness, till I’d finally stare at it without actually noticing it. And never again would I be bothered by the infinite and its secrets.

Good God, do I love diving.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Once upon a time there was a dog. Better yet: two dogs.

The first dog was born and bred inside a kennel, from kennel-born-and-bred mom and dad, and had been trained since, I don't know, forever. With the trainers around, diligently doing their job, and his elders to set a good example for him, he was headed the right way. He could sit, roll over, fetch things and bark at strangers just like all the other well-trained dogs. Enventually, there came this family looking for an intelligent and obedient puppie - and there he went.
Mr. Manchester, as the children called him, did not give his owners much trouble. They had to get him used to peeing in the right spot and eating at the times they'd set for him - all of which he got in the normal speed of a trained dog. The children loved the new member of their family, and he got all the caring for that any dog deserves.

Now the second dog.
Predictably - for this is the way of the world in any fable that does justice to the name - the other one was a street dog. He was born from a street bitch and an unknown dog, at the same time the family was taking Mr. Manchester for his usual walk.
Now, the street dog's family (i.e., his mother and 4 siblings) did not stick together for very long; after all, the law on the streets is each man for himself, with the devil taking the hindmost. Hungry and alone, he quickly learnt how to care for himself, and how to get food. After doing some observing, he knew how to look sweet and adorable - so that people would give him something to chew on - or menacing, if need ever be, in order to keep other dogs away from whatever he could get.
Cleverly, he noticed that people tended to stay away from street dogs, due to their ragged appearance. Therefore, he decided to clean himself up whenever the opportunity presented itself: water fountains in parks, rain, lakes, and so on. With a cleaner look than any other street dog, it was much easier to get attention and care, even if sporadically. And so he got by.

No, life isn't fair, I know. The point here, though, is not that - that'd be way too cliché.

Wandering in the park, the street dog obviously ended up crossing paths with Mr. Manchester. There's nothing more natural in a fable, it was bound to happen. They measured each other up carefully, curiously, and not at all inimically. They struck up a conversation, and got to liking each other. Since then, every night the street dog would drop by Mr. Manchester's, in his big yard, and eat his dinner leftovers. Streety was neither proud nor envious, whereas Manchester was generous and grateful for the company. Besides, he enjoyed listening to all those anecdotes about street life - and Streety was a good story teller. Meanwhile, our little homeless friend was everyday amazed by Manchester's calm perfect life. His calm ways, overall, were a matter of great admiration to Streety, who was pretty wild himself. And so several entertaining nights were spent by the two of them.

However, eventually one of the children let it slip at the breakfast table that Mr. Manchester had a friend (of course the kids knew all about it, kids always know everything), and Mom and Dad were very much surprised. It was decided they would check the veracity of his statement - for, though their youngest son was known for never telling lies, still he was a child. Adults are like that: they believe in people based on the labels they bestow on others rather than on people's personalities.
As you, dear listener, already know, the story was true indeed, and the couple got used to seeing Streety trespass their yard night after night. They didn't mind; nevertheless, in spite of being nice people, they were not the most selfless, and it took them a really long time to think of something that all the kids and dogs in the story had already thought of: what if Streety became part of the family? And so it was done.

Streety thought this was the summit of his life. How could things get any better?

But - because there's always a but - Streety was a lot younger than Mr. Manchester; he had a whole lot more energy, and was used to running all over all the time, whenever he felt like it. That was the first of his habits the family tried to put an end to. Also, meal time was something unconceivable, whereas peeing in a specific spot, on a newspaper, was simply ludicrous! How could anyone submit oneself to such arbitrary rules?
Mr. Manchester tried to warn him that this was the way things worked with humans, and he'd better follow the instructions. But such strong and never held back instincts could not be withdrawn now. And so the family found itself constantly sitting on pissed on chairs and sofas, wearing chewed on slippers and being summoned for food in the middle of their affairs. He would also sometimes bark into the night, depending on his mood and on the moon.
After six months of what the family could only call chaos, Streety was thrown out back on the streets again - gently, but firmly. Mr. Manchester watched his friend go away from afar, unable to do anything more for him.

While the two dogs were busy not bidding their farewells, Mom and Dad talked about it.
"He was so cute! Too bad he was completely incapable of learning anything!".

Monday, June 1, 2009


I Hope You Dance
Lee Ann Womack

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder,
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger,
May you never take one single breath for granted,
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed,
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.
I hope you dance...

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance,
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Livin' might mean takin' chances but they're worth takin',
Lovin' might be a mistake but it's worth makin',
Don't let some hell bent heart leave you bitter,
When you come close to sellin' out reconsider,
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance,
I hope you dance...
(Time is a wheel in constant motion always rolling us along,
Tell me who wants to look back on their years and wonder where those years have gone)

(Picture credit: Patrícia Hall)


"Blessed are the forgetful, for they get the better even of their blunders". Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil. Well, I know it's Nietzsche and all, but I beg to differ.

Milan Kundera wrote a book called The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, where the characters are always trying to either erase their memories or desperately get them back. You can do neither, that's the thing. Human Memory's a scient being, you cannot erase it simply because it displeases you - or go after it because it's warm and cozy.

"Memory, it can't be understood without a mathematic approach either. The fundamental data is the numeric relation between lifetime already lived and lifetime stored in the memory. It has never been attempted to calculate this relation and there is no technical way to do it; however, with no great chance of a mistake, I may suppose that memory does not store more than a millionth or billionth part, in a nutshell, a measly fraction of life lived. This too belongs to human essence. (...) What is this poor little thing capable of? It can only retain a small part of the past, without anyone knowing why this one and not that one, for this choice, each one of us does it misteriously, without our free will." (Kundera, Ignorance - my own translation, forgive me.)

Forgetting should be the eighth sin. There's only so much memory can do by itself, one should not hinder its already too hard work. It does work at random, I agree - but then again, don't we all? Memory's only human, after all.
Voluntarily Forgetting is nothing more than the act of raping: you're forcing your fragile memory into something she does not desire to do, something she can barely defend herself against, in a lonely deserted place where she's the only living thing around.
And Recapturing lost memories is just like chasing Amy - no use. Once gone, forever it shall be. If Forgetting is raping, Recapturing is trying to bring back one's virginity. It's simply out of reach - if you insist on it, you'll look as ludicrous as those women who actually go as far as undergoing hymen reconstruction surgery.
If you feel like something you cherish is slipping away from you, don't do anything to hold it back: the more you hold on to it, the more it'll struggle to set itself free - and make no mistake, it will manage to.
And if you realize you've forgotten some unpleasant memory, something you actually wished to be rid of, feel blessed. Do not incur the danger of getting used to it.

Cus it's such a blessing when it does happen, isn't it?

Waking up one day and realizing, with that self-satisfied smirk on your face, that the long despised memory looks smaller and smaller as the days go by. Try to top that!
This only happens when your memory is in a whore mood - she's just trying to please you, thus selling out. But most days she's a modest and homely catholic virgin - you'll get nothing from her.

Forgetting is sadder than all.

It hurts, and you struggle. Then, at last, it vanishes from inside of you. The memory's gone. That face, those words, the laughter, a certain day, whatever. A phone number, if you will. It just doesn't hurt anymore, and you're thankful.
All of that loses its meaning. And you just took away the meaning of this hugely important piece of you - cus if something hurts you, how could it ever be petty and unimportant? How could a piece of you be worth forgetting? How can one let go of even a fraction of oneself?

Besides, it's sadly easy to live after forgetting. It's comfortable, light, it feels like you've been granted a new start. That's just an illusion, cus after a certain point, life does not grant new starts. You gotta make do with what you already have in hand. So don't go down this road, cus it takes you nowhere. Forgetting is deliciously misleading.

Forgetting is for the weaker ones, too.

Now: try to live alongside those burning and painful outlive-everything-else memories. That'll demand much more from you, won't it? Traveling becomes way more difficult, your backpack is much too heavy for ya now.

You can look at it in two ways:
a) your backpack is too much for you, it's more than you can take.
b) you're just not used to it; after some time, it'll have the weight of a feather - all you need is the exercise.

In the Odissey, Homer leads his hero Ulisses to the land of the dead - the Hades. And there, the dead are bound to eternal forgetting.
Instead of trying to follow Tartaro's path, the living should come to terms with Memory. That's what life's all about.

I wouldn't travel in any other way.

Click on the link below to read my friend Iris’ views on Forgetting: