A Warm breeze blows the old veil away - February 2009

C’e sempre qualcosa oli nuovo nel fiume,
E la luna e cosi bella.
Prendi quella carrozza,
fi porta a casa.

There is always something new in the river,
And the moon is so beautiful.
Take that carriage;
It will carry you home.

(whispered poetry by Amalia Soucek, aged 4 years)

I’ve slipped out of the habit of writing during these last couple of months. Lesson plans, verb tables and grammar rules (not to mention military teminology) have replaced poetry and philosophy temporarily, while I have been adapting to a new life as a teacher. Coincidentially, I visited the local bookshop/coffee shop during my first week in Italy and began talking to a woman who was reading an English version of a Shakespeare play (Shakespeare again…that name haunts me like Hamlet’s father!!). Our eyes met and we began talking about the book she was reading. I soon learnt that she was a published poet who had moved here 18 years ago during an ongoing war in her native country. A couple of weeks later, after posting my last “note” (Following the Aftermath), I found the poet sitting in exactly the same seat in the same coffee shop.

As our conversation progressed she had a knowing twinkle in her eyes and told me of some of the strangers who had told her the most intimate things… Deep regrets that they had never admitted aloud to themselves before. We shared some of our poetry. The emotionally wrenching note I had just written ended with: ‘So, moving on and moving forwards…’ When this woman told me of the words of poetry her four-year-old daughter had whispered in her ear (see above), pleasant goosebumps rose to the occasion. This poem was a “preface” to her book of poetry about mirrors and reflection. I’m often a great believer in synchronicity, and the timing of her words was perfect!! I often walk by the bookshop in question and see the woman engrossed in a book, facing the window. I smile inside and remember the beautiful words she said to me.

I hope that one day words of mine will touch the life of another in such a way. My friends have been asking when the next addition to my previously “prolific” note writing will appear. Well, thanks to an afternoon of meditation, sleep and beautiful music, I’ve felt the needed inspiration.

The truth is, I’ve been experiencing what I can only describe as a “cleansing” period. The previous year was “character building”, full of both trials and tribulations (feeling I couldn’t finish my degree, losing a part of my life that fitted me so perfectly, ending an exhausted friendship in a destructive way). This was equalled – in true bipolar style – with the highs of getting a First Class Honours degree and having the opportunity to spend some time living in Paris (and subsequently, Paris had evils and elevations all of its own :- ))…).

By cleansing, I mean that I’ve gone through the whole sequence of feelings: Anger at all I felt was going wrong in my life, a sense of furious injustice at seeing poor people begging in the street or servants polishing floors so they were fit for the bottoms of bourgeois shoes; Hearing of yet another mother of young children (my mum’s close friend) fighting for every minute of life while that vile existence of cancer tears through her body, suffering a sense of bitter shame and ingratitude for wishing my own life away. Queen’s “Somebody to Love” played therapeutically on my Mp3 player as I lost faith in much that I had seen as good.

Sensing that I had nothing else to lose, I applied for many teaching jobs all over the world. Within a week of being offered this job in Italy, I was on a fight. The first couple of weeks were wonderful; all was new, the other teachers were great, we spent time eating and drinking together. Teaching was just like studying again. I had no time to think about how hard things were before. After the initial excitement, small southern Italian nuances began to leave me feeling peeved… I began to wonder how drivers could be so incredibly stupid. They seemed to see nobody else on the road. People would gather in the middle of the pavement and chat leisurely… never mind that you were trying to pass. People on the over-crowded buses would shout at each other passionately for the slightest of misdeeds. Eventually, I had a bigger attitude than all of them put together as I stormed through the streets with a frown!!

One particular morning my perception changed as a mild blue day influenced my mood. I was walking to work and I had a glimpse of a more positive Bari. The people standing on the street were being warm and humorous; the Italian language actually sounded quite nice (the extreme body language even funnier), the owner of my local coffee shop smiled and shouted “buongiourno signora” as I looked in the window. I fully realised at that point that I had the choice of changing my veil of perception – I felt the old veil becoming loose.

I revived my meditation practices, which proved to be intense. One evening last week, after feeling unusually spaced out all day, I began listening to Celtic music with harps and violins. Half way through the CD, I lay down on my bed with my eyes closed and my palms facing the ceiling. I wanted to lie perfectly still although it felt as though I had lain on top of a radiator. Heat surfaced throughout my whole body and on more subtle level, waves of mild electricity flew through me, as I seemed to be watching different time periods of my life through an old projector. It was the most bizarre meditation I have experienced; yet I sensed it was a cleansing period as I felt the knives that were stabbing me during painful memories become blunt.

This weekend I will be staying at a friend’s house. She has gone away to Sicily for a long weekend (due to lack of funds I had to stay behind) and she has a balcony that overlooks the sea. After growing up with Buddhist parents, she is into the whole meditation thing (she is lucky enough to have a guru) and has stores of literature on meditation practices, along with CD’s. I’m on my way to her place now, where I shall spend between now and Tuesday morning engaging in serene pampering of the soul…

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