Lisbonita II

8.01.2010




Images from Lisbon above and below, with the warmth and kind spirit of the Portuguese people (new friends, restaurant owners, businesspeople, old folks and little kids) making it a great 12 days.

But as some important choices loom in my own life and in the lives of a few good friends who have contacted me in recent weeks to express their own restlessness and angst despite being very comfortable materially, here are some wise words I came across from Paulo Coelho's blog. On a Sunday afternoon, no less.

A reminder, a warning, a salvation, a meaningless ramble, an overly morbid outlook on things? Depends on your current state of mind:

The first symptom of the process of our killing our dreams is the lack of time. The busiest people I have known in my life always have time enough to do everything. Those who do nothing are always tired and pay no attention to the little amount of work they are required to do. They complain constantly that the day is too short. The truth is, they are afraid to fight the Good Fight.


The second symptom of the death of our dreams lies in our certainties. Because we don’t want to see life as a grand adventure, we begin to think of ourselves as wise and fair and correct in asking so little of life. We look beyond the walls of our day-to-day existence, and we hear the sound of lances breaking, we smell the dust and the sweat, and we see the great defeats and the fire in the eyes of the warriors. But we never see the delight, the immense delight in the hearts of those who are engaged in the battle. For them, neither victory nor defeat is important; what’s important is only that they are fighting the Good Fight.


And, finally, the third symptom of the passing of our dreams is peace. Life becomes a Sunday afternoon; we ask for nothing grand, and we cease to demand anything more than we are willing to give. In that state, we think of ourselves as being mature; we put aside the fantasies of our youth, and we seek personal and professional achievement. We are surprised when people our age say that they still want this or that out of life. But really, deep in our hearts, we know that what has happened is that we have renounced the battle for our dreams – we have refused to fight the Good Fight.


When we renounce our dreams and find peace, we go through a short period of tranquility. But the dead dreams begin to rot within us and to infect our entire being. We become cruel to those around us, and then we begin to direct this cruelty against ourselves. That’s when illnesses and psychoses arise. What we sought to avoid in combat – disappointment and defeat – come upon us because of our cowardice.


And one day, the dead, spoiled dreams make it difficult to breathe, and we actually seek death. It’s death that frees us from our certainties, from our work, and from that terrible peace of our Sunday afternoons.






A quick detour to Africa in the midst of the trip...

...or was it? do-do do-do, do-do do-do (Twilight Zone music).
This appeared in the tropical gardens of Belem, a suburb of Lisbon

More from the tropical garden in Belem

The 25 de Abril Bridge, connecting Lisbon to Almada. Built by the same company that built the Bay Bridge (not the Golden Gate) in San Francisco

Vasco, from Oceanario (Lisbon's aquarium, the second largest in Europe)


2 comments:

diningroomdiarist said...

So glad to see your Lisbon post. I visited for a week in March and thought the city was fantastic - a real gem and off the beaten path of more famous European cities. Lots to see, great food, inexpensive and effective public transport, on the water, and friendly.

Have you tried the clams in their shells, boiled in olive oil with garlic and cilantro - utterly delicious.

The language threw us as well - definitely a Cyrillic sound.

Jeff said...

Hey DRD - I didn't try them! We kept meaning to, but other (meat-centric) dishes kept getting in the way. A good excuse to return though.

And yes, I agree with all of the above - cheap to get around, lots to see, and the people are great.