The cool wind of fall was blowing, circulating with me on the narrow and winding cobbled streets of the ancient village at the bottom of the mountain that is home to the monastery. The afternoon was only halfway through, but I was already done with my errands, and had to wait for my ride later on, in the early evening. I huddled my body close to walls and crevices of the charming constructions to protect it from the gusts, until I saw the old bicycle of Loureiro, the elegant shoemaker who loved books and wines, leaning against the light pole in front of his shop. Fixing shoes was his trade; mending souls, his skill. I was pleased; there is nothing better than a cup of hot coffee to accompany good conversation in an idle late afternoon. As soon as I entered the shop, I was almost knocked over by a pretty middle-age woman, who was leaving like a train derailed by anger. The good cobbler greeted me with his warmest smile and, as soon as we were seated by the workbench before two steaming cups of coffee, he talked about the woman who almost threw me on the floor: “She is an emotional creditor. A poor, eternal creditor.” He paused briefly and added: “At least, this is how she acts with anyone that crosses her.”
I wanted to know what he meant by that expression. He explained: “Poor creditors are those who cannot react to hardships they come across. As we know, there will always be unpleasant situations in our way; however, as bad as the problem may be, the big problem is not knowing how to deal with the situation. Inactiveness is harmful, and is caused when we do not realize the lessons hidden behind every problem. It is essential to understand that all conflicts bring along hidden masters to awake the best of our abilities. All the problems are tools of personal transformation, as long as they are faced with dignity and wisdom.”
He sipped some coffee and continued: “However, the poor creditor prefers to put on the mask of victim, and select someone to blame for their suffering. Hence, in an unconscious way, paralyzed by the fear of facing what they want, in fact, is that other people solve their problem. This is a very comfortable, yet childish attitude, very common among adults, and leads to despair, hatred and even depression. They are unresponsive to any type of responsibility, and always select someone to blame for their disappointments, which end up causing much suffering. Note that they are always fighting with everybody, pointing out the shortcomings of others, complaining about the flaws of the world. Thus, as ludicrous as it may be, they believe they have rights over the others.”
The wise craftsman made a summary of that story. The woman was a former girlfriend of his, and had a teenage daughter from a previous relationship, who had lived with her since she separated from the daughter’s father. However, the mother-daughter relationship had always been awful, as, out of habit, the mother always blamed the daughter for any frustration she had to face. She would “charge” the daughter, the time, the toil and the love dedicated in her upbringing, as if that was not her responsibility out of love and motherhood. Needless to say, the weight of such an emotional and psychological load became unbearable for the daughter. Upon returning from a trip she took with the shoemaker, which had coincided with the school break the daughter spent with the father every year, the woman was informed that the daughter would not be coming home, but would live with her father permanently. The daughter found in her new home the peace of mind she needed to develop her full potential and to live her life with no unnecessary conflicts. To make things worse, at the same time the mother and Loureiro broke up. She claimed that the trip, which was suggested by the cobbler, had been crucial to the daughter’s decision, and that had made their relationship unsustainable, as she blamed him for what she considered “a disaster”.
“From then on, I became the fall guy of her miseries. In her mind, I was in debt with her. But it does not affect me. Since I refused to accept that charge, she reacted angrily towards me. And before we broke up I had spoken to her many times about her behavior with her daughter, which I thought wrong; in my point of view, she was being unduly demanding of the girl. But poor creditors do not listen to anything that is not in synch with their senseless anxiety that life meet all their demands with the least possible effort. Because this is clearly impossible, the creditors select their debtors and assign them the task of solving their own problems,” explained the shoemaker.
“Needless so say, no one can do it, or even stand such imposition.” Loureiro closed his eyes and passed his hand to straighten his thick gray hair. Then he continued: “Poor creditors tend to have a sort of virtual ledger where they enter each and every action they believe they did for the debtor. Anything is good, as long as these absurd credits are endless. Then, they add emotional interests. Therefore, they have allegedly established a debt to justify the collection they want to make. They claim they are at a loss in the relationship, as if affection, or even a favor, could be measured, calculated or charged. The victimization they create can be comfortable for them at first, as it establishes excuses that caress their ego and is supposed to transfer their own responsibility. However, in fact, it is a muddy swamp that makes them stuck, unable to continue the unavoidable journey through life.”
It all seemed too evident to me, and I asked the good cobbler if he had spoken about that with the mother. “Oftentimes,” he said with renunciation, “even when we were still dating I tried to help her; I even mentioned the possibility of her daughter moving in with the father, for not being able to bear a debt that just did not exist. Truth be told, the girl tried hard to have a harmonious environment in the maternal household, and even that the hypothetical ‘debt’ was paid off.” The cobbler looked at me into the eyes, shook his head in denial, and continued: “The thing is poor creditors never give acquittance. They need the debt to be eternal in order to satisfy their behavior, up to the point the person chosen as debtor realizes a limit must be drawn. Then they cut the bonds, and every cut bleeds.”
I said it was preposterous the mother blame Loureiro for what had happened. He laughed heartedly, and replied: “I know. But the poor creditor does not care about being coherent or logical. The human mind has tortuous, disconnected tracks that delusionally try to reach a conclusion that is pleasant and convenient to the ego. In these cases, the arguments used are always incoherent or absurd. It does not matter.”
I wanted to know why she had come to the shop. He nodded his head as if saying he could not have helped it, and explained: “The easiest, most comfortable solution for her was to blame me for her daughter’s decision. She claims had she not accepted the invitation to travel with me, the girl would still be living with her. The mother refuses to look into the source of the emotional fractures that occurred during the time they shared the same home. If that wasn’t enough, she says her daughter is ungrateful, going against the sensible thing of rescuing what was lost.”
“There are two options to address an error, it can either be a difficult-to-heal wound or it can be the starting point of a new, better life. The choice is always yours. For one to accept having erred is painful, but indispensable for healing. One must have the courage to face the mirror, and the dignity not to allow distortions due to pride or vanity. To deny the benefits of the conflict is to waste the chance to go deep into yourself, an essential step in the process of evolution, without which you will never find the peace you long for.”
“Know yourself, be sincere in your apologies, be accountable for making whatever amends are possible, be committed to having a new attitude and move on. That is how we move forward.” He sipped some coffee, and continued: “Do not stay still, regretting everything and everyone. Not making the effort to grow is to deny a new chance for the plentifulness of being.”
“The favored weapon of the poor creditors is emotional blackmail. They will say you are the cause of their pain. This is an invitation for a gloomy ball. Vehemently refuse it. What is important, even if errors exist, is to understand emotional handcuffs or bars are not necessary. Eternal debts are a creation of the shadows. Light requires evolution, and to that end it works with forgiveness, responsibility and freedom,” the good cobbler explained.
I became curious to know how he protected himself from the poor creditors, or, in that particular case, did not feel affected by such accusation, since he remained so calm. The wise shoemaker answered with his soft voice, which reflected the true spirit of his heart: “People only have, over us, the power we grant them. Never allow your peace to be stolen from you.”
He paused briefly so that I could think about the depth of the sentence he had just said, and continued: “Emotional dependency is a sad addiction. We cannot allow anyone to make us prisoners of their misery and frustration. No one has to make the other happy. It is an unbearable burden. In fact, each one is responsible for constructing one’s own happiness, with the mortar of pure feelings and the brick of noble virtues. Then, enchanted with life, they open the door for the world to also be enchanted with the beauty they carry in their hearts.”
Kindly translated by Carlos André Oighenstein.