On Sundays, whenever I can, I go to mass at the cathedral of the small and charming village located at the foot of the mountain that shelters the monastery. On that day, in his sermon, the priest warned about what he considered a trivialization of love relationships, as, according to him, people would not work hard to construct and make adjustments in life as a couple but also in social relationships per se. He claimed one should be patient and compassionate with the other. In his words, mankind is giving up on itself very easily. Once the ceremony was over, I went walking around the silent narrow cobblestone streets, thinking about all that was said, and the many aspects related to the issue when, surprisingly, I bumped into Loureiro, the wine and book-loving shoemaker, on his bicycle. That was a good sign, as the cobbler was one of the last bastions in mending purses and shoes as an alternative to having to buy new ones. Shoemaking was his trade, philosophy was his art. Happy to see me, he suggested we went to a coffee place close by.
With two steaming cups before us, I started the conversation by mentioning the priest’s sermon and how complex and multifaceted was that current trend of relationships. The shoemaker took a sip of his coffee and was about to make a comment when our attention was diverted by a young couple who were discussing at the table next to ours. Even though their tone was low, almost inaudible, their frowned faces revealed a storm of conflicting feelings. All of a sudden, the young man stood up and left; leaving the woman with teary eyes. Loureiro asked her to sit with us and feel at ease to talk, if she wanted to, or just to listen to our conversation. He told her we would ask no questions. The idea, that was not verbalized, was for her not to feel abandoned. The young lady accepted, and told us she needed to vent. The cobbler agreed: “Not always in a conversation the most important is the advice we receive, but to listen to our own voice. When we speak, embarrassing secrets or our unconscious are revealed.”
She said Anna was her name, and we had just witnessed the ending of her fourth marriage, as that is how she considered the relationship when dating led her to share a home with her significant other of the time. Anna was not yet thirty. Immediately, she said all her separations had the same reason: jealousy. Her own untamable jealousy, along with demands and suspicions. At the same time, trying to justify herself, she stated that jealousy is innate to love, and an irrefutable proof of it. “Jealousy has nothing to do with love,” Loureiro interrupted her, “it is only a wrong look at the most noble of feelings, and a clouded interpretation of one’s own shadows which, in order to keep alive, construct crooked reasons to explain our reaction and false needs, stealthily settling themselves inside us.”
“Jealousy is a trace of an ancient and terrible vice, domination. It comes from a time in which air permeated by the false sense of safety nourished by the illusion that meddling in the life of others was the most comfortable way to manage one’s own life. Freedom was scary; and perhaps it still is. Jealousy is a shadow, an ancestral offspring of fear. And there will be fear while we keep denying that the winds of freedom are what fits life,” the cobbler tried to explain.
The young woman said she was sure it was impossible to love without being jealous. The shoemaker looked at her with the kindness of a grandfather, their age difference would allow her to be his granddaughter, and said: “The best and worst sentiments cross the gut of everyone, no exceptions. However, what we do with them defines who we are, the colors of our hearts and our current stage of awareness. There are those who are jealous and nourish it; on the other hand, others endeavor a journey of self-knowledge and use it as a force for transformation and expansion of awareness. This shows how much we have learned how to live with the shadows. This is the ultimate battle: the one we fight to shed light over the dark dungeons of our own being, meticulously defended by the ego, which is still connected to the most primitive instincts, and refuses the more noble, redemptive values. Hence, without us realizing it, we create our own prisons, cruel for not having bars; extreme as we do not see ourselves as prisoners.”
Anna stated that all relationships are grounded in a commitment of mutual loyalty and respect. Therefore, a proper behavior of both parties does not make room for suspicions that foster corroding emotions. “This is true,” Loureiro agreed. “However, such a discourse is dangerous for encompassing individual limits and capabilities for which people are not yet ready or willing to. On the other hand, it is common for one to hide from oneself other wild emotions closely related to jealousy, like selfishness, haughtiness and envy, disguised as absurd excuses that only hide personal imbalance of the unjustifiable fear of losing what one cannot have. Love is a state of mind, not a bicycle. Then, the commitment trick is created. In fact, the only commitment you have is with yourself, in not negotiating with your shadows; to be fateful with your truth and to always give your best.”
Anna looked seriously at Loureiro and harshly asked him how he would react if cheated. The craftsman smiled with compassion and answered: “Forgive the other, always and always. This frees me from the shackles of sorrow and gives me back the lightness I need. To continue or to end the relationship will depend of the good fruits I believe will still germinate. The decision of staying or leaving will always be an inalienable right. It is that simple.” The young woman asked if he would not feel ashamed, as many people would come to know he had been cheated. The cobbler looked at her with kindness and said: “Absolutely not. A thousand times the cheated than the cheater; the victim than the hangman; the dupe than the thief. A thousand times receive rather than practice evil. Hence, shame will never be mine. This is a choice I made long ago, and you can bet, it is liberating.” Anna insisted to know if he would trust the other again: “I think everyone deserves a second chance. Furthermore, I think it is impossible to be happy without trust.”
Anna lowered her head and said no words, until Loureiro broke the silence: “In fact, what makes people close is energetic affinity, which means to be in the same vibratory range, on the same curve of the Path, or even in the same stage of the evolutionary process, whatever way you like to say it. This affinity may last a day or many centuries. The necessary is that those souls walk at the same intensity and pace, fostering the same values, teaching and learning the sacred action of giving their best.” He looked Anna in the eyes and continued: “When mismatch occurs, it is time to leave or let the other follow his own destiny, no longer connected to yours. This is the best you have to give at that time, love in the form of respect. To realize this is a wise proof of love. To respect the freedom of the other is a strong sign of understanding, and grants you the right to flap your wings when the time is ripe for you to move on alone.”
A surreptitious tear fell from Anna’s sad eyes. The elegant shoemaker gave her a handkerchief and another gaze: “To say that goodbyes are sad is a misinterpretation. We are star travelers, always moving towards another of higher magnitude, with more possibilities of love and light. In this journey, even though we are eventually accompanied, we cannot carry anyone, or else we will be in the wake of someone. The advancements are personal and nontransferable, due to the integration of values and principles dear to the soul. Therefore, we must understand the limits of interdependency; although the encounters are the magic and the raw material of transformations, as they are the stage where the actual capabilities of being are present, each one moves on according to their own pace, in tandem with the learning of the essential evolutionary lessons on detaching the soul from the primitive conditionings of the ego. Our wings are the size of our hearts, and if one is ready for higher flights, beyond the limits of that particular relationship, the one thing left to do is to wish or receive the wishes for a nice trip. He paused for effect and added “or ‘I’ll see you later’, as it is always possible they meet again in the next station, as long as they reach the platform at the same time, each one by their own means.”
“When we change, everything around us also changes. Situations and people. Many leave, some stay, others arrive; paths are revealed.” The young woman said all that was too gloomy. The craftsman rebutted: “Of course not. It is all grand and enlightening, as it allows us to understand that our happiness is not harnessed to anyone, and each one has only to do their own part to reach the so longed plentitude. Can you realize how liberating that is? No one has the obligation of making the other happy, this is too unfair and heavy a burden. I think this is the most common mistakes in relationships, laying on the other the expectations for the best days of our life. No one can bear so much load and responsibility for taking over an eternal debt. Everything becomes boring, filled with insensitive, unbearable demands. It is just too heavy a burden. Wisdom consists in us constructing our happiness within ourselves alone, regardless of anything, situation or person. Only then we will be ready to share ‘the wheat of life’ with someone else, as lightly as one who accepts possibilities and limitations of the other, of one who makes no demands for having the essential within oneself. Only those who, alone, are happy can be happy with someone else. Then, they have to sow it wherever they go, that’s the way to thank the universe the lessons it provided.”
Anna said that discourse was paradoxical. Loureiro rebutted: “No. Contradictory and absurd is wanting to interfere in the will of the other; it is imposing that the will of the other is my will. When that happens naturally, it is wonderful. If forced, it will be always harsh. If we experience love in a mistaken way, we end up by destroying it.”
He sipped his coffee and continued: “Another mistake is wanting the other to change and condition that to the success of the relationship. People change when they modify their level of awareness. This is actual transformation. If change is consequence of strong pressure, to please or to feel desired, this is just makeup. Sooner or later, the character is unmasked. The sad thing, in this case, is that many would feel deceived or disappointed, but forget how ludicrous their demands were. To wish the other to evolve is always an act of love. However, respect and patience are necessary, as each one has their own pace. Or else we are no longer talking of love,” Loureiro stated.
The young woman had ordered and the waiter brought a cup of hot chocolate. She drank it quietly, reflecting about that long conversation. At the end, after licking the little chocolate that was stuck to the spoon, like a wayward girl, she turned to the cobbler and asked him if he was saying the stronger the jealousy the weaker the understanding of love. “That is exactly so,” he answered. “They are inversely proportional sentiments, with nothing in common.” He looked at the young woman for a moment and added to complete: “The trick jealousy plays is making us believe it is inevitable.”
Anna closed her eyes, arched her lips in a lovely smile, and nodded in agreement. Then, she said that afternoon had changed her life forever, as she was feeling light as never before. She kissed the shoemaker on the forehead, sincerely thankful, and left.
I suspect she carried with her an amount of trust in the future what had been unknown to her until that moment. I had a crazy feeling that two wings were forming on her back.
Kindly translated by Carlos André Oighenstein.