I was walking on the medieval streets of the small village at the base of the mountain that harbors the monastery. I was being whipped by the cold fall winds, forcing me to seek protection between the clearances of walls of the old constructions. I was glad to see Loureiro’s classic and well-kept bicycle leaning against the pole before his shop. I found the good shoemaker elegantly dressed, as usual, working on an expensive purse of a gorgeous woman, who was waiting for it to be fixed. We were introduced, and the skilled craftsman told me the young lady had been a school friend of his daughter, and that he knew her since she was a small child. Loureiro was happy that I went in, and asked me to wait, as he wanted to talk to me about a new book of philosophy over coffee. Working the leather was his trade; talking about philosophy, his art. I had barely sat in a corner, and the pretty woman kept talking about her travels to exotic places. Balloon rides over volcanos, free-fall parachute jumps, kayaking in running rivers, among other feats. She concluded by stating how much she enjoyed adventures. The wise craftsman, immersed his toil, did not say a word. Soon after, as if quietness and silence were heard to bear, the young lady said she could not wait to start the Everest climb she had planned for the following summer, and started to describe the preparations and risks of the new endeavor. During her narrative, she said the taste for adventure came from her ex-husband. At this point, the cobbler, without raising his head, looked at me over his reading glasses, remained silent and continued his task. As in a predictable opera, she then said how happy she had been in those years, but made a point of stressing, without seeming too sincere, that she would not like to meet him on one of these trips. Soon after, she let transpire some sorrow for the end of the marriage, which evidently occurred against her will. Loureiro raised his head, looked the beautiful lady in the eyes and said, kindly: “The most interesting thing about people is not what they show, but what they hide”.
“Have you ever stopped to think that this interest of yours for trips can be postponing the big adventure of your life?” he asked the lady, who seemed curious at first, and wanted to know what he meant by that. He explained: “You must ask yourself if you travel for fun or to escape, deluding yourself that you will go back to a moment in your life that does not exist any longer. Think about that”, asked the wise cobbler.
Mildly annoyed, and with the tone of voice a bit higher, she said she believed the story of her marriage was far from over, as the family of her former husband adored her, and they all said he would never find a better wife. The old craftsman, with his soft, sweet voice, said: “Do you understand that all these dangerous tours only hide the most fantastic of all voyages you must dare to undertake?” The lady wanted to know what voyage he was talking about. “The one of your liberation”, he concluded.
The beautiful woman rebuked him by saying he was mistaken, she was absolutely free. She could come and go anywhere on the planet whenever she wanted. “To linger loose on the streets does not mean freedom. Those who are lost or disoriented also do that”, he tried to make his point. The lady said she was her own master, and the master of her choices, hence a free person. The craftsman tried to clarify: “The issue is to know the actual reach of your choices. To understand how they can be connected to wishes that cannot be confessed; to nightmares that insist on mistreating you because, in their disguise as dreams, they are hard to get rid of; to frustrations hidden in the subconscious, ready to deceive us, that are difficult to identify and become the first step to sufferings that may cross our way endless times; to patterns of thinking that are rigid and automated; to obsessive behaviors, or ideas and concepts we refuse to transform, and end up by imprisoning and limiting our choices, as if, ludicrously, life did not allow a fresh look”. He paused briefly and, despite the look on the face of the lady, a mix between surprise and anger, he continued, softly: “The most common consequence is for us to insist on keeping the past tied to the present, without understanding that, once it is mature, the fruit is either used or it rots. Then it becomes fertilizer or seed. We must allow the closing of the cycle that has ended so that a new one can begin”.
The young lady rebutted with conviction that she and her former husband were born to form a family. She reinforced that everyone who knew them closely shared this certainty. Loureiro, with his typical softness, tried to show her a different perspective: “Souls are closely related, this means, they remain together as long as there is energetic or purposeful affinity, for the time they remain on the same evolutionary stage. This may last one day or many centuries. We are all free spirits and, in principle, we should leave or let go when the cycle closes”. He placed his tools on the workbench, sat comfortably on the chair and continued: “From my own experience, I know how hard it is to accept that the stages of life change, when at times we would like them to be eternal. The Universe requires motion; hence, transformation.”
The young lady said she saw no sense in renouncing the past if it seemed better than the present. With eyes that revealed compassion, Loureiro tried to explain: “Life is not concerned with what you wish, but with your need to evolve. At each cycle, a lesson is learned. Celebrate the time of opening your wings and start flying beyond the limits of what you have known and experienced”.
Impatient for being crossed, the lovely lady worked hard not to lose control. She then asked the craftsman if he was advising her to give up her dream. He replied immediately: “Absolutely not! Dreams are sacred, and essential for life’s enchantments. However, one must understand that dreams are closely connected to our gifts, to the skills we should put into action for the best within us to flourish. They are the metamorphosis of evolution; the transmutations we operate in the core of our being that will be reflected in a new way of thinking and acting. That is how we live our dreams, all the rest is just wishes”.
The lady complained that he was mad to state that every wish was bad. “I did not say that”, Loureiro protested. “What I am telling you is that if the wishes are poorly interpreted or equivocally assimilated, they nourish our shadows. These shadows ordinarily become ruthless jailers because they do not allow us to realize we are stuck by deluding us that we are free”. The woman asked him to be more specific, and asked what shadows he was referring to. “The shadows manifest themselves through low-vibration feelings that include jealousy, envy, resentment, among others, and also through some behaviors, such as escaping from reality”, the cobbler listed some of the range of actions the shadows do that affect us all. He then addressed a more peculiar type of shadow that was affecting the personal life of the young woman: “To have as life’s cornerstone the false hope that the other will, at some point, think and act according to our wishes is to abandon oneself in the dungeon of delusion and pain”. He paused briefly, looked the young woman in the eyes, and tried to conclude: “Oftentimes we create a life ideal without realizing how abusive that is to ourselves, as we ludicrously establish a link of dependency between our choices and the choices of others, believing that our happiness lies there. This is the link that imprisons. As there isn’t, nor could ever be any imposition on the free will of others, the mistaken idea pushes us towards the abyss of suffering”.
The young woman, quite annoyed by now, said that that shop was not a couch, that Loureiro was no therapist nor did he know what he was talking about, and that he should stop reading books he was not able to understand. “Yes, I am just a book-loving old cobbler thinking about life and saying things that perhaps I shouldn’t. I apologize for meddling where I should not.” At this moment he completed the work on the purse and handed it to the lady. She asked him how much she owed. He replied, very elegantly and sincerely: “You don’t owe me anything. I feel I was too inconvenient to you today. I apologize for having behaved as a father giving advice to his daughter. I know that was not my role to play. Maybe this is a mistake, but that’s the only mistake I made”. The young woman bade farewell with a frown and was about to leave when she heard the good cobbler’s wish “May peace be with you”. She stopped, looked the cobbler in the eyes, turned around and left.
Loureiro prepared fresh coffee without saying a word. With a steaming cup in my hands, I started a conversation while he took a seat before me. I said I agreed with him about the need to break old patterns, ideas that have no longer a place on the shelves of the heart or the drawers of the mind, attitudes that lead to nowhere as they add or transform nothing. In short, the wings should be untied. He sipped his coffee, looked at me for a while and said: “The journey of the liberation of the soul from the conditionings imposed by the ego and by the concepts of the world is the great adventure in the life of all of us. It takes us to the High Lands of Being”. He paused briefly and pouted softly, as if speaking to himself: “The thing is that many people are still afraid of heights”.
Kindly translated by Carlos André Oighenstein.