Yesterday night I arrived in my hometown in Italy and I had a nice idea. Since I have a background as a translator and I have a week holiday with no particular plans, I could play a translation game with you. I will post every day a sentence that I found inspiring and share with you the respective translations. So you will read the text in English, Italian, German and Spanish. The first three languages will be translated by me and when Spanish is not the source text I will translate the sentences using a Machine Translation Tool, because my Spanish is ok but not that good that I can translate and also because I would like to test the performance of these tools. Ready, steady, go!
“My thoughts turn to something I read once, something the Zen Buddhists believe. They say that an oak tree is brought into creation by two forces at the same time. Obviously, there is the acorn from which it all begins, the seed which holds all the promise and potential, which grows into a tree. Everybody can see that. But only a few can recognize that there is anther force operating here as well – the future tree itself, which wants so badly to exist that it pulls the acorn into being, drawing the seedling forth with longing out of the void, guiding the evolution from nothingness to maturity. In this respect, say the Zens, it is the oak tree that creates the very acorn from which it was born.”Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia
Today I would like to talk about wisdom. There are three different type of wisdom. The first is wisdom we hear from others, perhaps in a conversation where someone impart the truth. Then there is intellectual wisdom: when we go further into intellectual understanding perhaps by reading a book or taking a course. Finally there is the third type of wisdom when we experience insight and truth first hand for ourselves: this is experiential wisdom.
I’ll share a simple example of how S. N. Goenka describes the three type of wisdom from the perspective of being in a restaurant environment. First wisdom heard: this is when a friend recommend a restaurant and we read positive reviews. We have a favorable impression and decide to make a reservation. The next level of wisdom is deeper where we gain intellectual understanding, we show up, get seated and browse the menu. As a server passes by we see the delectable dishes, our mouth waters and our tummy grouses. Last and third type of wisdom occurs when we receive our food. We taste and know it’s good for ourselves: this is experiential learning, applied wisdom. This third type of wisdom is the most powerful, the one that leads to transformation and liberation. Wisdom that arise through our own experience.
As Confucius said: “I hear and I forget, I see and I rememeber, I do and I understand”.
Today I share with you a story that Tamara Levitt told during my meditation session with her on Tuesday using the Calm app. I found what she said very interesting and inspiring because I think that sometimes we only tend to see what is comfortable for us but not what we may work on in oder to shape our character to become that person we have always aimed to be.
The title of this story is ‘The streetlight effect’ and it comes from an old parable. Late one night a policeman sees an elderly man searching for something under the streetlight. The policeman approaches him to ask what he has lost. The man explains that he has lost his keys and they both continue looking under the streetlight together. After a short while, the policeman asks if he is sure he lost them here and the man replies: “No, I’ve lost them in the park!”. The policeman then asks: “Why are you searching here?!” and the man responds: “This is where the light is”.
So we are often tempted to look for a solution where it is easiest to look rather than going into the depths of the root causes of our problems. Our relationship is failing and we don’t want to deal with it, so instead we throw ourselves into our work. We have an interpersonal conflict at work and we don’t want the discomfort of a confrontation, so we just ignore the person. We are feeling down or dissatisfied and, rather than facing our pain, we seek escape in food, shopping or entertainment but these things only bring momentary pleasure and soon we are once again confronted with our difficulties.
We are habituated to looking outside of ourselves for answers but, when the problems we are facing is an internal one, usually the solution lies within and this is good news: we already have all that we need. We just need the insight and courage to confront our difficulties head-on. The truth we seek, the answers and solutions lie within. So it may be difficult to turn inward in time of challenge but this is the work of our practice. When we learn to stay and face fear and discomfort and open ourselves to experience, rather than shut down or turn away, we can be sure we’re digging in the right place.
As Emma Tiebens said: Going inward. That’s the real work. The solutions are not outside of us. Get to know who you really are, because as you search for the hero within, you inevitably become one.
Reserva Natural Tanimboca, Leticia – Amazonia (Colombia)
We are spending the night in the highest tree house of the Reserva Natural and are both very excited about it.
It is late afternoon, about one hour after our arrival.
Dominik: “Let’s make a deal, Angy – OK?!”
Dominik: “Tonight, before we go to bed, we don’t look at the floor. Is it clear?!”
Me: “OK, I’m in!”
After this brief conversation, we experienced a night walk with our tour guide Richard through the jungle and could appreciate the wild nightlife there. We had a delicious dinner and nice talks with a ‘Gringo’, a young man from the US working in Colombia as a teacher, and a Colombian family, whose 9 year old son was learning Chinese in the school. They were also spending the night in Tanimboca. Then Richard brought us back to the tree house and Dominik and I read a book together.
After a while, we were about going to bed…
Me: “I know we had a deal… but I… I just saw something… there…”
Dominik: “What? Where?”
Me: “Behind you: a giant cockroach!!!”
OK, OK… It was not as big as this one in the picture, but for me almost.
Happy ending: Dominik did something very brave and ‘accompanied’ (read here: kicked kindly) the cockroach out of the door. I kept the promise and didn’t look at the floor anymore. Finally we fell asleep lulled by the natural sounds of the jungle.
As currently none of us can travel, I thought it would be a good idea to share this memory with you.
I would always repeat this experience in the tree house in Tanimboca, if I had the chance. I really would, a little bit also because of the cockroach: I’m honest!
I’m also very grateful that Ronny of Kolumbien linda Tours helped us to organize our journey in Colombia giving us the possibility to enjoy a fantastic holiday there.
My mother comes originally from a town near Salerno called Cava de’ Tirreni. This city is not directly on the sea but it is not far from the first city on the Amalfi Coast, called Vietri sul Mare. When I was a child I used to spend about one month in summer there and, since I have a lot of relatives there, I always felt at home. I have always been fascinated by the characteristic colors of the buildings on the coast, by the hospitality of the people and by the small ceramic stores that you can find practically everywhere.
This September we had the possibility to spend two weeks in Cava de’ Tirreni and it is incredible how, even if I never really lived there, I feel these places part of me. I feel a sensation of belonging especially when I remain so long on the beach that I can see the sunset.
For me there is nothing more magical than having the possibility to watch the sun going down below the sea level.
From last Friday on I know that every day will be a good day, that’s the reason why:
With our friends in summer we organize once a year a big garden party open to the public. During these parties one of my favorite thing, together with being a bartender for an evening, is the conversations that happen by the light of the fire after the sunset. With such an atmosphere, people tend to open themselves to discuss all kind of topics with a calm attitude.
Three years ago a friend and I were involved in such a conversation with Matthias, who at that time began working also as a personal trainer. We were talking about sport and he told us something that I found very interesting and I never thought about. He said: “You only have to start doing sports for 12-times but being constant. For example, if you decide to work out every day, you have to do it for 12 days. After 12-times you will not only notice that you are enjoying it but also that your body needs it. The same principle can be applied if you decide to work out once a week, do it for 12 weeks and you will see”.
I always need some time even to apply such wise tips but now, three years later, I can confirm his thesis.
Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, I started working out regularly from my living room and since June I have being exercising every day before I start to work.
I practice Yoga, Pilates and Functional Training: I subscribed to the Online Studio of Moveorespiro, the studio where I used to go every week in the past. After stopping playing volleyball when I moved to Germany, I’m enjoying doing sport again thanks to these disciplines.
I started motivated for 12-times and now while having breakfast my body is really craving for movement.
I can only advise you the same that Matthias told me: it’s never too late to start with sport, if you think you should begin exercising more, commit with yourself and do it for 12-times consequently. You will be proud of yourself and see improvements!
I learned pretty fast that the female is a social folk. I spent a lot of Saturday afternoons as a teenager sitting with my mother at her best friend’s kitchen table listening to their conversations. The first thing that Tina, my mom’s best friend, did when we came in was turning on the Italian coffee maker and preparing us an espresso.
The two women were talking about everything without a specific plot: about their children, their job, what happened in the village, some difficulties and of course also about their husbands.
It was a simple way of meeting, often even unplanned: just two friends talking in front of a cup of coffee. For me instead, it was always very interesting to observe those two women, that meant so much for my growth, discussing and supporting each others.
I think women need more than men the feeling of belonging to a community. That’s why they always tend more to take care of the people in their environment and keep the contact alive.
Furthermore I think meeting a friend for a coffee has also a therapeutic character. It takes you out of your routine, it gives you impressions of somebody else’s life and offers you the possibility to feel useful because your friend might need your advice.
Now that I’m in my 30s I discovered again this tradition and I’m proudly carrying it on: I love meeting friends for a cup of coffee and some sincere talks. OK, we do it now in a slightly more modern way: we meet in a cafe and add to the coffee a slice of cake.
Last Sunday, for example, I discovered thanks to my friend Oleksandra a very nice cafe in the eastern area of Stuttgart: it’s called Taraba. They have a delicious offer of cakes and the coffee tastes like coffee should.
Like my mum and Tina, we talked about everything and it felt good. That’s what every woman should have: a friend ready to drink a cup of coffee and to enjoy spending an afternoon with you.
I don’t know exactly what to write in a time like this, I just feel that I have to write something.
As you know I’m Italian from a small town near Milan and I live in Stuttgart, Germany. I was in my hometown from 21 to 23 february and visited my mum and friends as the first person died in Lombardy of coronavirus. That’s why I had to work the following two weeks from home in order to protect the health of my colleagues.
Staying home alone for me is always a challenge but I managed it very good: I even cooked and went for a walk during the lunch break.
I started immediately to follow more closely the Italian and German news. Thank God we live in a connected world so I had the possibility to stay in touch with my friends and family and stay updated about the consequences of the government directives on their immediate lives.
Last Monday I got back to the office and I don’t know exactly how the situation will develop in the next few weeks here in Germany. Baden-Württemberg is closing on Tuesday all schools and kindergartens at least till Easter. A lot of companies are enabling their employees to work from home also to take care of their children.
What I observed in this last period is the solidarity of the people both in person and online.
I was asked by a lot of people here about my family and loved ones in Italy and everybody seemed truly concerned and interested.
I heard on the Italian radio a lot of stories of people that keep going to their workplaces to enable the population to satisfy the basic needs.
I’m following the hashtag #resistereallabbruttimento started by the radio host Claudia de Lillo (@quielasti) on Instagram that offers the possibility to share photos or videos of activities at home in order to fight the discomfort. I have to say that Italians confirm their creativity sharing contents like baking cakes and biscuits, preparing pizza and focaccia, gardening, de-cluttering, doing sport, singing or playing instruments and a lot of games with children.
I also saw in some people the panic rising and this was obvious. I only hope that everyone will understand that fear and anxiety are not constructive feelings and will preserve their inner balance.
This difficult time is a challenge for us but we are facing it together.
I see it as a possibility to grow with my own family and in my neighborhood here in Stuttgart-West. Maybe it is a possibility to focus again on the importance of our communities and of the civic sense that in our capitalistic society got lost.
I already see a lot of solidarity here in Stuttgart-West. I follow online some local shops, restaurants and cafes that are building a community to help each other even if for them this is a period of great uncertainty. They all don’t know how long they will stay open. I see here also a lot of young people offering their help to elderly people as it happened in Italy.
I’m also proud to hear that people who understand Italian are reading a lot of Italian newspapers because they find them more informative. In my country the situation is serious but I think other countries are looking to Italy and taking example of it.
I’m very confident that we will handle this situation and, as I read in an article published by Repubblica, we will appreciate more our daily routine when we will have the possibility to get back to it.
After the rain comes the rainbow.