Eyes-on-Fire

I see Fire

Few days before returning to Europe to recharge batteries, I let my body sink into a backdrop of thoughts, ideas and acquaintances from the first six months of the year.

After few short stints in the past I finally got a chance to see mother Africa trough Africa´s eyes, days turned into weeks and weeks into months until you become part of it.

Truly speaking the world seen from the south hemisphere is not much different from the north, except, I am afraid, when I am counting stars under a big dark sky.

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But the world that lives under our skins is quite a different story, a bustling cocktail of emotions, perceptions and daily challenges, a story I would like to share in few lines.

When I close my eyes at night I see faces, I see smiles and tears, people walking into the some direction and people wondering lost. Millions silently screaming for something I cannot hear, it is a dream that repeats on and on.

Frustrated with questions that don’t have an easy answer, I dived deeper in my inner firmament where I could also see dreams and despair, love and hate (in equal proportions), happiness and sadness, all of that, wrapped in a metaphor of structural paradigms that are hard to understand and harder to break.

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Besides the thermometer that insists not to go bellow 26c degrees at night, there is an abundance of true innocence, powerful faith and above our heads an incredible big blue sky with beautiful Baobab* Trees underneath our highest hopes.

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Day after night, I go out to the world looking into the faces that cross my eyes, I don’t pretend to be looking somewhere else, I stop and stare, I say clearly with my eyes that I am listening and open to help. Most of times there is no feedback.

My Mom always told me to look straight because the eyes are the window to the soul (which I can confirm every time I look myself in the mirror), but what I have seen around is quite different from my previous experiences.

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The “windows” here seemed to be closed, which for me was the most dramatic finding I experienced in Africa, the oxigen between two people on a normal conversation can become thin and rare, one more question without an easy answer.

I am not a specialist on the matter, but I will give it a try to make an educated guess.

The change the continent seems to be waiting for, is the one that eyes can only grasp a glimpse, you will need to use other senses, starting with your heart.

More than progress, consulting analysts that measure the visible number of new buildings and the increasing of a region GDP, it takes love to see it.

Yes, Love.

And what do I see?

I see fire…

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A burning desire for equity and opportunities, hunger for education, curiosity for information, access to healthcare and other basic things, all of then moments and opportunities that can turn the smallest gift the highest point of our long working days.

But If you continue to look deeper, you will sense an even stronger fire.

A desire for good examples, human values that life, history and global human stupidity insisted to detour from Africa. The eyes that opened before my eyes, showed me a different continent, a magnificent land of unlimited opportunities.

I see fire…

I see the search for meaning in every conversation that goes beyond the obvious putting prejudice and racism where it belongs (the garbage bin), I hear the request for help, the request to be cared, loved and respected.

If you manage to see beyond the violence that violence nurtures within, you will see the origin of all things, you will see Love, you will feel Love to the point you will believe that its possible to touch it with your fingertips.

Is it real? Maybe for me.

The fire I see strikes me and hurts me simultaneously, words are often to short to add something I would believe to be needed to add, that same minute your eyes become drops, water lines, rivers or oceans, you might scream, yell, swear and end up arguing with God if you believe that He exists.

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I close my eyes again, and I understand clearer than ever that…depending on how we use fire, powerful things can happen.

You can burn, destroy and erase the person that’s pisses you off or instead…you can lighten up the darkest nights and warm up the coldest mornings.

Fire can make us see things that are hidden, turning the shadows of our doubts into high quality answers.

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It is up to you to decide what to do with fire.

For me is simple, thank you Africa!

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* The baobab is found in the savannas of African and India, mostly around the equator. It can grow up to 25 meters tall and can live for several thousand years. The baobab is leafless for nine months of the year. To describe the baobab, I would say that it looks like it has been picked out of the ground and stuffed back in upside-down. The trunk would be the tap-root, and the branches the finer capillary roots.

 

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Oração

Ontem ao contrário de hoje, achava que a noite não iria acabar nunca e que as horas tinham ficado presas para sempre no meu relógio parado, tive medo que o novo dia não chegasse nunca.

Ontem ao contrário de hoje, senti o peso dos anos nas dores nunca esquecidas de cada queda, cicatrizes que os meus dedos teimam em encontrar em cada volta.

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Ontem ao contrário de hoje, não tinha forma de deitar cá para fora aquilo que não deve permanecer dentro.

Ontem ao contrário de hoje, senti o meu ser cair num poço sem fundo, sem rede, sem esperança, sem vida.

Queria chorar, mas não consegui, tinha a esperança de te poder encontrar no sabor das lágrimas, já nos tínhamos falado aí, mas não consegui, fechei os olhos e comecei a fazer algo que o tempo teimou em fazer esquecer…repeti uma velha oração que tu à muito tempo me ensinaste e acabei por adormecer.

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Hoje sonhei que não era hoje.

Os anos não tinham passado e ao levantar-me tinha ido ter contigo e vêr-te a trabalhar nas maravilhosas flores que sabias perpetuar como ninguem, dando vida para além da vida.

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Hoje ao contrário de ontem, consegui novamente abraçar-te, aquele abraço tão forte que só mesmo as mães conseguem dar aos filhos, no meio da turbulência própria da vida, meu mar tranquilo.

Hoje ao contrário de ontem, consegui contar-te as minhas vitórias e as minhas derrotas e tu como sempre, explicaste-me que tudo era importante, mas acima de tudo era o amor dentro do homem que tinha de sair sempre vencedor.

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Hoje ao contrário de ontem, falámos da vida como o maior desafio que o Criador colocou nas nossas mãos, o máximo de autonomia acompanhado do máximo de responsabilidade.

Hoje ao contrário de ontem, senti a tua mão na minha mão, uma força inexplicavel capaz de me puxar do mais fundo das minhas incertezas para a plenitude da Luz.

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Hoje ao contrario de ontem, fui capaz de acreditar que de onde estás envias dia após dia o teu amor e me permites sorrir de volta na certeza que um dia voltaremos a estar juntos.

Saudades do futuro minha querida Mãe.

 

 

 

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Time Flies

Last Friday we were invited to participate in a marriage just outside of Luanda. Having had the chance to live in few different countries I knew that you don’t really dive into another culture until the moment you see how one celebrates love.

When in a very different environment it is easy to start comparing what you see with what you have back home, wherever home is. It is the easiest trap a human being can fall in.

Last century (literally) when I had the luck to finish high school away from Portugal, more precisely in Montana, I experienced for the first time the challenge to walk in someone else´s cultural shoes.

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One of the most powerful concepts I have learned while living away from home was the conscious that there are not better or worst societies or communities, there are just different experiences.

More than twenty years passed by since graduation day, nevertheless it remains fresh in my mind the wise words from good friends – If you open yourself to other people and cultures you became a richer and bigger person while the world becomes a smaller and friendlier place.

Back to the church in Angola I was glad my heart was able to see what usual vision does not, while trying to translate to my wife and our youngest son the meaning of the ceremony, I quickly understood that there was no need for that, Love is a universal language which does not require translation.

For almost two hours, we traveled back and forth in an ocean of emotions, reinforcing my believe that what we have in common is more than enough to live globally in peace.

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Returning back home, our five years old son leaned his head on my shoulder and ask me if the marriage we just attended was a picture of Love.

For a moment I did not capture the enormous depth of his question, but then my mind start travelling in time for similar moments in life and I was able to touch the infinite intimacy that only Love can give us.

With a smile on my face I could only confirm that he was right, it was a picture of Love that we should keep in a very special place inside our heart.

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By chance (I have serious doubts that chance really exists) the very next day while enjoying at home a relaxed Saturday, I risk something haven´t tried for a very long time, I turned on the TV to see what was on the other side of the magic box.

Indeed magic. I catch a wonderful documentary named I AM by Tom Shadyac, a journey about two key questions; what is wrong with the world and what we can do about it, it was the missing puzzle piece for the weekend.

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In 1945 a brilliant mind wrote the following; “A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us.

Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. The true value of a human being is determined by the measure and the sense in which they have obtained liberation from the self. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive.” ALBERT EINSTEIN

The more we open ourselves to others and to the world the more we find out that we are interconnected at a fundamental level, Desmond Tutu putted in a very simple and powerful way; WE ARE BECAUSE WE BELONG.

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We all heard once that time flies, what we are not so much aware is that we can also fly with time and for that all we have to do is to keep tight in our essence all the special destinations we visited with our hearts.

Good Journey to all,

João