Frontpage Summary Full text (free) Audiobook (free) Buy the book Videos Podcasts

9. The discoveries

I'm in the fetal position. I cry and can't stand noises, news, people or anything. It will soon be autumn.

I am a butterfly but have now become a pupa again – to become an even finer butterfly?

This chapter, in my opinion, shows you psychological damage in several forms. Alma's injury that I recognise without knowing why. Our surroundings. Many of us are probably injured – in so many ways.

Again, it's all about perspective. This journey into melancholy, grief and loss resulted in a revival of the heart. My non-functioning heart. It brings in new knowledge.

At the same time, I got tremendous power to go further, inward, downward, upward, outward – take a step up and expand my perspective even further.

The rest of the book is written from this perspective.
We are in April 2018. In the days after returning home, I was seized by melancholy.

Suddenly, the billion-dollar project was uninteresting. It disappeared from my mind.

I was led in a new direction. All of me. Willless. Out of my control. A clear message from the universe. It had been latent in me since the 1980s. It was in me from birth.

The experienced, metallic lid that had locked my head in normalcy had now disintegrated, had diffused without me noticing it.

I thought everything was as before. Without understanding it, I clung to the normalcy out of old habit.

That is precisely what «normalcy» means; one thinks everything is as it should be. If something happens that does not quite fit in, you push it in, neglect it, or downplay it.

It's going in, one way or the other.

Accept what life offers you!

That is how most of us live, from moment to moment. We master. We use a range of coping techniques.

If it does not work, the next step is to defend and displace. We all possess a set of refined and helpful defence mechanisms, the ones that Freud first described around 1894.

If nothing works, but the reality stands insistent before you and demands that you confront it, the last resort is to flee, fight or freeze.

Then you still have not dealt with the realities of your problem.

You have not understood what is happening, and you have not managed to integrate it into your understanding of the world, your normalcy.

Then you get sick.

The result is a trauma that might result in PTSD – Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. If you encounter a similar situation in the future, you may be triggered and experience the trauma again.

In my case, I was most paralysed.

I was no longer able to relate to the world as before. My role as «me» did not work anymore.

I knew all my life that I am almost always in the role. I discovered that as a child.

Back then, I also discovered my inner experiencer, my authentic self, who is the one that plays the role, that is, without believing in it. But I had tried to live life as expected.

Now it had become impossible to fool myself any longer.

From one day to the next, I gave up. I became hypersensitive and could not stand a second more of trivialities, nothing superficial. Instead, I sank into grief and longing.

I wrote a note to myself those days, while it happened:
I have a spiritual side that does not get what it needs.

My vigilance is weakened.

I have a path to go that I have not yet gone, but I have always known lies ahead.

I always knew that one day I will approach this core.

I have a brain that has worked on many levels for decades and is now starting to show me connections, contexts and relationships.

It is a driving force, a necessity. I compare it to a river. I can hear it, sense it. I have to go back there. Dive into it, to the bottom, and go even deeper: «Remove the water at the bottom of the ocean», to quote a little from Talking Heads.

This is a random quote. I discovered the day before yesterday that David Byrne puts into words exactly what I experience. He sees it.

This change has made me shy. I can not stand anything that disturbs me. I must have peace to take in the vague, time to put together and move the fragile.

That's how it feels.

There are people from many years back who fill my mind because they once showed me something – something that they have more of than myself.

It is a sadness; because what once was is now lost, and it's grief because it can not come back, but maybe, just maybe, it can.
The Portuguese have a word for precisely the latter: «Saudade», which means «longing for a place, a time or person that one fears will be lost forever».

It is experienced as hunger for love, I can tell.

It is incredible to discover that people for hundreds of years have had such intense and frequent experiences of such complex and subtle emotions that they have assigned a word for it.

It is documented as early as the 13th century. In Brazil, saudade even has its day, January 30.

Saudade is considered a fundamental element of the Portuguese people's soul and a central component of their sentimental form of music, the fado.

Longing. Void. Sentimentality. Fear of eternal loss. Sorrow. The joy that follows from feeling strongly, feeling alive.

Wikipedia explains the word in more detail:
Saudade was once described as «the love that remains» after someone is gone. Saudade is the recollection of feelings, experiences, places, or events that once brought excitement, pleasure, well-being, which now triggers the senses and makes one live again.

It can be described as an emptiness, like someone (e.g., one's children, parents, sibling, grandparents, friends, pets) or something (e.g., places, things one used to do in childhood, or other activities performed in the past) that should be there in a particular moment is missing, and the individual feels this absence.

It brings sad and happy feelings all together, sadness for missing and happiness for having experienced the feeling.
Yes exactly.

The word is probably most associated with Galicia, the Spanish region far north and west, the corner north of Portugal, where they have an even stronger word, morriña, which is saudade in such a powerful form that it can kill a human being.

It is derived from the Latin word for dead, morte. Morriña also carries that what one longs for can conceivably come back. That the opportunity exists makes the longing even heavier to bear.

I suffer from saudade. I play fearlessly with morriña.

Saudade »... makes one live again», writes Wikipedia in the quote above.

Saudade is the Portuguese word for feeling intensely, being fully present in life, living fully.

Sorrow and joy exist together at this point.

The pain is proof that I am alive.

I understood that I was back on the real road.

I knew beforehand that one day it would happen, and I was ready. I was at rock bottom, and I wanted it to happen. I wanted to dive into the pain because I realised I was not alive.

I never dared to be myself.

That's why it happened.

What I now longed for so intensely was what Alma had shown me.

I first sent her a text message on her cell phone.

«Alma, has it been 32 years? Would you say yes to a cup of coffee for the sake of old friendship?»

I used the exact wording she used when she called me in 1992.

She replied a few hours later:
Hi. Yes, time flies! I currently live in a cabin in the mountains and will be here indefinitely. Besides, I have completely stopped going to cafes. I wish you a good life ...