When I include a soundtrack with an article, I usually wrote the piece listening to the music. Music will forever be, for me, the best carrier of moods and energies. This Radiohead piece, repainted here by Meldhau, conveys well the inevitable nostalgia of loss, however toxic the loss was.
Before even diving into the ideas I’d like to cover in this article, I would like to pay tribute to Portugal, a country that has made me discover that it is possible to reconnect with a true feeling of Love, in the depth of a terrible depression. Hence it is important for me to write this in Portuguese, an honest deal between me and myself, where gratitude has to be expressed in and through the medium that facilitated its emergence.
Three years ago, my life was about to change radically. I had no idea about it then, but in hindsight, when I stop and look at the way events have been threading themselves one after the other with an a priori probability of zero chance happening, well… I can only submit to the idea that the hand of God sometimes deign to interfere with the worldly affairs of men.
In my opinion, this feeling of something magical, something highly unlikely, is the only powerful vector of change. The same causes always produce the same effects, and one definition of madness is to keep doing the same OCD, hoping that something different will eventually come out of it. So at some point, one has to confront their fear and jump in the boiling cauldron of absolute uncertainty, catch the tail of a beautiful and weird looking animal in that uncertain jungle, and hope that an interesting ride will result.
“YOU ARE DEAD. YOU ARE FUCKING DEAD, DO YOU UNDERSTAND ???????!!!!!!!!! ”, Fabrice, my dear friend and business associate of over 20 years, shouts from the top of his lungs. His eyes are injected with blood, he is trembling with rage, and he is making a tremendous effort not to slide more than he is already. Over the past 2 years, we have been losing the attrition war that moribund markets have been waging on us on the back of the biggest crisis in the history of western capitalism. As a result, we have also lost slowly but surely 75% of our assets to redemption. Millions and millions of dollars volatilized.
It smells like pot like crazy in Sapiance Capital, the company we have created together over 8 years before, and a part of me is so disconnected, is finding all this buffoonery so pathetic, that I have trouble even relating to him. And for sure, I don’t give a shit anymore, and my pockets are full of grass.
Yet I don’t relate to his warning. I am anxious, worries penetrate all the way to my bones, I have no idea what the future will bring and what kind of comfort and security I can assure for myself. But social annihilation is not my base fear. He has reasons to be fearful: high fixed costs, a family of three in one of the most cut-throats and expensive cities in the world, London.
make it stop
“Make it stop”, the movie above by 19 years old Solal ANKAOUA, expresses succinctly and stylishly what most people’s lives in big cities has become.
I am moved by the freshness of youth, and the severity of its honest gaze. The way that gaze cuts through the bullshit of the previous generation’s broken dreams, recycled as the reasonable speech of “you have to be an adult now”. How long will Solal keep this fresh outlook?
It is mind-blowing that we grow-up learning to say thank you to a system and a set of values that constantly abuse us. Most of the pain is self-inflicted, and there is no need for a conspiracy theory to feel like shit about one’s life and oneself.
Solal is a little too young to have included the last missing piece of his merciless take on modern urban life: the sex supermarket of social apps to consume seduction and sex industrially, both for a fee and/or for free, in order to fill up the emotional black hole.
Black hole by analogy with physics, because this hole is infinitely hungry and will phagocyte everything that’s fed to it, with the added disadvantage that it will develop a taste for the food given.
starving the hole: barefoot doctors and power places
I don’t know if I was a shaman in another life, but everything about the shamanic way of life talks to me. Much more than yoga actually, even if living yoga in nature could be considered a form of shamanism.
Shamanism is a way of Life. A way of living and being on this little pebble we call Mother Earth. It is a way to bridge the gap between our Soul and God by fully immersing ourselves in Nature, as Fernando Pessoa so eloquently summarises with his simple algebra in the first quote of this article. When we do this full heartedly, we tap in the power of that realm.
In doing so, we also tap into the power we each carry inside of ourselves. The power to transform our lives and affect change in our environment. This is not a matter of blind faith, but of direct experience. Making regular pilgrimages to or even better, living in a place of power is one important way we can share in that experience.
The Huichols have a word, Kaukuyari, which translated literally means, “dreaming god (dess)”. They say that just after this world came into existence, some of the gods and goddesses left the spirit world and emerged from the ocean. These ancient ones then walked over the entire earth, and some transformed themselves into mountains, lakes, springs and other sacred places, so that we could go back and learn from them. By making pilgrimages to these places (or even better :-)…), we recreate the journey of the gods, and in the process also learn to recreate our own lives.
In order to become empowered, you have to go where there is power. You gain empowerment by fasting and praying/meditating/reflecting at a power places. In return, those places give you Dreams or Visions. It’s like a contract: you give a prayer and offerings to the place of power, and you get to take back the power of that place.
It is a matter of personal taste and deep inner longing and probing to understand what such a place can be for oneself. It took me a while to eventually find mine. That extraordinary place also came with even more unlikely barefoot doctors, but that will be the subject of another article.