One Apple A Day #612 – sweet memories

July 1987, early Saturday morning in a little town in the North-East of Italy.

The town is almost empty. It’s too early for the kids on holidays from school and too late for the workers.
In the churchyard, a family of four and an old nun are waiting.

The boy is thirteen, even if he looks younger. With his thin legs, the square glasses and the narrow shoulders, it seems like he is trying to hide from the world. He is timid, and he would prefer to be lost reading some adventurous stories than being there waiting with his family.
A few other families join them in the square, just before the arrival of the bus.
The boy has never been anywhere before without his parents. Yes, in his dreams, he has already travelled to plenty of exotic places, but that doesn’t help in the present situation.
He is going to go away to a summer camp for a full week with his smaller sister. And he doesn’t know anyone else.
He steps into the already full bus, this is the last stop before heading to the mountains.
With his sister behind him, he walks towards the back of the bus looking for empty seats.
He feels as if all the eyes are staring at him. Sure they are. They all know each other, and they must think he is a nerd from the countryside.
The only two seats left available are at the very end of the bus.
Behind them, on the last row, a group of guys who look older than all the others. All so confident and relaxed.
Among them, there’s a boy whose voice stands out.
He is the taller and the louder of them all.
With his long hair, he looks like he came straight out of a movie.
And he has a prosthetic arm.
The boy has never seen a prosthetic arm before in his life.
The bus leaves the square, with the cheering parents, the sleepy town and everything familiar behind.
The boy is scared, but he wants to play the big brother with his sister. Even if, to be honest, she looks a lot more at ease than him.
The cool guys on the back seats are having fun.
The guy with the prosthetic arm takes out a portable cassette player.
And this song started.
A song he never heard before.
He can’t understand the lyrics, but that line of bass and that voice carve their way into his heart.


I still remember how I felt that morning.

So, when this song started while I was listening to random stuff on youtube, for a few seconds, I was that shy and innocent boy again. Obviously, a lot of other songs have been played during that bus trip. But this is the only one I remember.

I know it’s just a small event in my life. Thou, that trip is one of the defining moments in my life. It was my first time really out of my comfort zone, opening up to the world.

That summer camp spent with plenty of other guys and girls on the mountain has been such a fantastic experience that I kept doing it every summer for the following ten years or so.

And in that week, I also fell in love for the first time that week. Oh yeah, a proper love story even if she never knew about it.

Definitely, this song will always have a special place in my heart.

One Apple A Day #611 – do you walk on water?

“Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. «It’s a ghost,» they said, and cried out in fear.” — Matthew 14:25-36

Sometimes I fall prey of what I call the “walking on water syndrome“. 

It happens when I feel that I can walk above the mess of reality. That I have found the answers. That I am awakened. 

When I convince myself that I can cross the lake without getting soaked.

I don’t know if it ever happened to you. 

Maybe it’s just a feature of my ego.

Like if I’m talking with someone who has a different perspective on something important. And within that space, I convince myself that I have figured out everything; the situation and the other person. And when that happens, when I take myself out of the mess of reality because I believe I can walk on water, when I do that the connection is gone.

I can see it in their eyes. They look at me as if I’m a ghost.

“The thing to remember is that people act in ways that make sense to them. If something doesn’t make sense to you, then you’re missing something.” — Dave Gray


Thanks to my friend Luca for helping me discover this during one of our walks in the park. I was telling him how sometimes I forget that to deal with the messiness of life, we must be ready to get dirty. And he immediately pointed me to the image of Jesus walking on water. 

Image from Wikimedia.

One Apple A Day #610 – noise

Noise.

Every morning when I sit down for this little practice of mine, I look for something to spark the writing process.
It may be a word, a song, an image, the memory of a conversation, something that happened to me or that I observed the day before. Some times the inspiration is so loud that I have to rush to the laptop.
Some mornings I sit without nothing.
No ideas. No clues. No sparks.

At the beginning I was scared.
What will I do if nothing comes?
Should I accept my failure and leave the page blank?

That fear dissolved only when I became fully aware that the meaning of this practice is not in the outcome. The posts that I publish are the visible manifestations, sure. But the real sense of this small practice is in doing it. To sit down and write for fifteen minutes, that is why I do it. No matter what comes out it.

Thou, even if I know the purpose of this practice, some times, I forget it, and I’m distracted by the need to create a valuable outcome.

This morning I want to thank the noise outside that wiped out all my ideas this morning so I could reconnect with the real meaning of this practice.

One Apple A Day #609 – love and presence

“I’ll protect you from the hooded claw

Keep the vampires from your door.” 

— The Power of Love, Frankie Goes to Hollywood

When we love someone, we want them to be happy. We want to protect them from any possible harm. We want to know and to let them feel that they are safe.

We create fences, made of love and affection, to keep all the evil of the world away.

Unfortunately, fences work in both directions. And sooner or later they become cages. Maybe large ones, perhaps beautifully decorated but still, cages. 

So, here’s another tension for me to reflect upon. The tension between the need to protect and make someone happy and the need to see them expressing all their extraordinary potential.

And then, while I’m writing these words, I realise that it’s my ego who’s talking. My ego with its needs and fears. 

The fear of my own pain if someone I love gets hurt. The fear of my own ego if someone I love is not happy. 

While I’m here, pondering on all these thoughts, my eyes go back to the card I picked this morning.

“Showing up for others.”

And that tension, all of a sudden, sublimes into something else. 

It’s not about protecting. It’s not about supporting or helping.

The best I can do is to show up for the one I love.

To be fully present.

One Apple A Day #608 – my source of trust

These last days I felt as if I’d been swallowed by the things I had to do. At some point, after days trying to swim my way to the other side of the river, I felt it was just too much. The current too strong for me to keep going.

During the weekend, I began thinking that maybe I just took on too much responsibility.

I woke up with all these thoughts in my head, already worried about the things I have to do.

As I always do, I did my wake up exercises, and then I sat down for my morning meditation. I picked a BeTheChange card to spark my reflections and voilá. 

“If you have a source of trust, you can take on more responsibility.”

Really? The universe must have a weird sense of humour. Or maybe there is a message for me in here. 

And slowly a little thought crawls its way through my tiredness and my worries. 

I’ve been so focused on the things I have to deliver that I lost the connection with my source of trust.

And at some point, the things that I wanted to do became the things that I have to do. Excitement grew into pressure and stress.

So, that’s my challenge for today.

To reconnect with my source of trust.