Thursday, April 30, 2009

Everything that happens, will happen today

Yesterday, I went to see David Byrne's concert in Lisbon. It was part of his current Tour aimed at promoting his last album, done in cooperation with the British musician Brian Eno. Both Brian Eno and David Byrne have been constant references throughout my musical education, and I am big fan of the music they compose, interpret and produce. When this album came out, I ran to get it, hoping that it would be at least as good as their first collaboration some 20 years ago; and I was surprised to find out that it is actually even better. I tried to go to his concert in Antwerp, but it turned out not to be possible, and therefore I was very happy to find out that his concert in Lisbon was scheduled for one day when I was supposed to be in town for a meeting. Perfect coincidence! The concert was great and I really enjoyed being there. What I could not know at the time I decided to buy my ticket was that yesterday would be marked by another piece of good news... You know that job I wanted very much? Well... I got it! The good news came in by phone, quite early in the morning, on time to make for a very pleasant and happy day! I am still trying to realise the full extension of what it will mean for me, both in personal and in professional terms; but I am very happy, very excited and very much looking forward to embracing this new challenge. The process that led to this outcome taught me several important lessons, and I am confident that they will be useful in view of my future engagements and plans. However, the most important factor of success, the biggest asset I was able to mobilise, was the invaluable support I received from an absolutely amazing bunch of people that I am privileged enough to be able to call friends. They have not only promoted my achievements, but also encouraged me, helped me researching, offered alternative ideas, gave feedback, played the “devil's advocate”, proofread my written reflections and, most important of all, believed in me and, by doing so, strengthened my belief in myself. I owe them a lot, and I only wish to be able never to disappoint them. I know that they expect a lot from me, and I hope they also know that I will never spare efforts in trying to live up to their expectations. I am well aware of the difficulties ahead and of the hugeness of the challenge that lies in front of me, but my previous experiences have shown me that the combination of strong beliefs and hard work is a powerful one. And, when on the top of this, you have a group of friends such as mine around, you can't help thinking that everything will be just fine. Stay close!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Spring Dreams

I've been traveling quite a lot lately. Last week I was in Cyprus, and now I am in Stockholm, already about to go back to Brussels. I will spend the weekend at home (don't remember when was the last time I did it), but on Monday will go to Lisbon and, then, on Thursday, back to Tbilisi. The meeting in Cyprus was my last (regular) Bureau meeting, and it was nice to have it close to the sea and under beautiful blue skies and shining sun. It was nice too that it was in Cyprus, which is a place I like and where many good friends live. But what was really good about the stay in Cyprus is that I learned that I was short listed for a second round of interviews for that famous job I want so much! That makes me very happy, and makes me want this job even more now! The other good news of the week, is that Spring seems to have arrived pretty much to every corner of Europe: Brussels has been boasting beautiful, sunny days in an impressive row, and even in Stockholm the sun is shining and people are smiling. All of this has put me in a very good mood, that only the problems with the YFJ email server have been able to interrupt for a short while... I have been smiling a lot too, and these last weeks as SG of the YFJ look less frightning than they used to, as career opportunities unveil, the sun shines and adorable people are around. And, on the top of everything, new travels are also on the horizon; those of the kind that make one dream and therefore add real value to one's life. Let it be!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Another voice over

There have only been two women in my life. And I have never understood what they wanted from me. I remember the back and forth movement and, underneath, intentions that have to be deciphered to the best of my ability. The hand ready to caress ends up striking, the tongue ready to kiss ends up licking, the organ ready to penetrate ends up loving. But the brain meanwhile chooses its favourite thought and refuses with a thousand defences to face up to its reality. My life has been a more or less happy or painful succession of things and people. My mistake probably has been not to hold on to them. People has passed through me, over me, beside me, and then have left without me really knowing what I ought to do to make them stay. She too has passed, without any intention of ever staying. I can no longer understand how I could have believed otherwise for a single second. I have looked for her, wanted her, desired her, waited for her. I have given myself, have opened myself up as never before. She hasn't been able to say no, for she has never been the object of such intense interest. However, she has remained anchored to her own life, crippled by fear and powerless to escape. She has been the only one and will always be the only one, but I have to use what is left of my strength to stop her from putting me through this endless torture. I need to kill all hope, all desire, all longing for her. She has to be no more than a memory that I will drag around and which will eventually become so familiar that I can forget it from time to time.


After Tallinn, it was time for exploring the North-West of France, and more precisely, Normandy. A quite long road-trip that brought me to several beautiful, historical and interesting places, of which the highlight was without any doubts the Mont Saint Michel. Magical, mysterious, almost mystical, the Mont Saint Michel is one of those places one must go to at least once. After a short stay in Brussels, the tour continued with Bulgaria (Sofia and Plovdiv), Istanbul and, then, some days off in Portugal, celebrating Easter at home with my son, parents, brothers and sister. In Bulgaria I attended my last meeting of the CBMA, and thus said goodbye to one more YFJ team. Bulgaria was one of the last countries joining the European Union, and was also the last EU Member State I visited; I am now ready for further enlargements! And, maybe symbolically, afterwards I went to Turkey and back to Istanbul. This amazing city, historical crossroad of cultures and former capital of diverse empires, was the perfect location for the Second Forum of the Alliance of Civilizations, and I am happy and proud to be able to say that we all have come a long way since that meeting in New York, almost three years ago: the Global Youth Movement for the Alliance of Civilizations is now a reality and will give visibility both to the tremendous work developed by so many young people and youth organizations all around the world, and to the aims and objectives of this initiative that tries to enhance dialogue among different. Wherever my future endeavors will bring me next, I hope be able to stay linked to this process: it has a huge potential of good, and I want to keep being part of it. And, as I said, then I went home. 4 short, yet intense days in Guimarães, with Francisco and all my family. Awesome! Now, on my way back to Brussels, and while reflecting on everything that happened since I left Brussels 10 days ago - the facts, the events and the thoughts that crossed my mind -, there are two ideas that pop up and I want to share. The first one emerged in Istanbul, while looking at the Bosporus off one of the Çiragam Palace windows: so far, I have been looking at the 31st of May as the end of something and the beginning of something else, and that's wrong. It doesn't make sense. My life has always been led by one simple idea: doing the right thing. Not the right thing as in a moment when one needs to take a certain decision; rather the right thing as in doing whatever one can do to help making the world a little bit better. I know it sounds pretentious and I apologize for it, and yet that's exactly what I always tried to do. Of course, I not always succeeded. And, of course, I took a lot of wrong decisions, wasted time and resources, did many things that made the world a little worse. But, in the back of my mind, there was always this idea: making a better world. Therefore, thinking about this in Istanbul, I realized that my life will only make sense if, after the 31st of May, I keep doing exactly the same. And therefore, I will. The second idea is a bit more personal and it has to do with the feelings I experienced being in Guimarães with my closest relatives: sometimes I feel lost, without a reference, and that makes me feel disengaged... like not caring if I am in the apartment I rent in Brussels or in a hotel room in Plovdiv, or if I will be staying in Brussels for some more years or moving to Monterrey in some months... well, I realized over the last few days that I have a home, and I have a family, and that they are my anchor, my constant. Life changes and will keep changing for sure, but Guimarães, my parents, my brothers and sister, my son and my old friends, they are my constant. And now I know that I will never feel lost again, because I have a place and people to go back to. So, all in all, and even though I would prefer to still be at home instead of being already approaching Brussels, I feel happy. And I feel much more confident about the future and what it will bring me. Easter is the time for joy and hope in the future, the time for celebrating the victory of life over death, the time for understanding that our lives depend on what we do with them, the time for realizing that history is something we make. This Easter I felt it again. And I know I owe it to you too. Thank you!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Voice Over

Religious communities, political communities, ethnic communities, minority communities, a place where we find others who resemble us. In all societies, a need to conform. Innovation is a risk machine, use it cautiously, it isn't included in insurance contracts. You will not be covered for refusing to respect the prevailing way of life. Go out of your way to run yourself aground! What's the point, death lurks in the wings. Without surprises, no bad surprises; stay perched on the branch where your predecessors made their nest. Be careful: any shifting around could lead to a fall. Do as you please, but stay within the norms; you are being watched. Enemies of the unusual are united, but there are no half-measures for the ones who have escaped conventional thinking. Every day, hundreds of people avoid one another. Because of modesty, of cowardice, of incomprehension, of laziness, of fear, of pride. There is no button to push that would slow them down, for what is left behind must be, in theory, found ahead. Waste, the evil wrongs of a consumer society in which infinite choice is permitted and, once attained, bears the misleading designation of freedom. We glance at others as though they were shop windows. Man adores ease. He battles on to prove, wrongly, that he is right, he revels in empty words, loyalty, integrity, trust. Trust vanished a long time ago. People want things to run well, but things have no legs, they exist or they don't. People shut themselves away in ugly, rickety dwellings. At least they hold together, just dont get too close to the edge. Never has the cult of the goddess Security had such a following. If the agreement of tenses is a basic rule of language, agreement among human beings is as rare as a solar eclipse. Don't miss it. Assuming your senses have not be numbed. Most of the time, circumstances dictate everything else. There are no truths, only points of view. It is always the next note that reveals the accuracy of the one before it. You have to listen to a piece all the way to the end in order to appreciate its beauty. It's true that boundaries shift, ways of thinking evolve, but power relations continue to impose their laws. Today, in the West, women who wear the veil are a symbol of the absence of choice. The innocent pupil raises his hand: Sir, is television a form of submission? You've got it all mixed up. Human-rights advocates will howl: you have the choice. In a word, explain the difference between choice and freedom. Subtlety is the enemy of power. Stir up the concepts in a single pot, fodder to be served to the masses to fatten them up and keep them quiet. Choicefreedom - capitalism's hi-tech weapon. The mission of the saviour of the globe is to spread democracy in order to stimulate markets. Money does not guarantee happiness, but it helps. Make a note of that, it will come in handy later on. In the year 3000, statues of the kings of petrol, father and son, will be erected at the entrance to the capital of the world. All advertising posters will read: Organise your capital, Plan ahead. This is the quest for the Holy Grail of our time. Man will never be cured of his mortality.