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This is the speech I gave at the launch event for my book “Once” on Friday the 13th of November, 2009. It was a moving moment, and I hope the ones who couldn’t be there that day do partake in such a feeling through this post.
“I have always thought that there are too many words in the world. If we could get rid of some of them, or at least make them lose their meanings – make the word “love” do not refer to this, make the word “penitence” do not refer to that, make the word “causality” do not imply the other…if we could do that, life would be far more eventful and far more easier.
The fact remains that words have an incredible weight, and an offensive power that we can’t even imagine most of the time. A single word is enough to make us or break us. A single word. Now, think about the effect that a phrase can have. “Out of sight, out of mind”. That is not truth, but we take it at face value. Phrases root within our collective being until we end up accepting them without ever thinking twice.
That happens because in life it is always easier to accept a truth that another person hands out to us, instead of seeking out a truth ourselves. I believe that is so because the process of seeking a truth is always an internal one, and people are reluctant to look inside. We never say so, of course. But the fact remains that we are too afraid to look inside since we might come across negative things. And our inner vision ends up being nothing but an external vision that we strengthen in our bosoms. That is, we only think we are any good when others tell us we are any good.
The truth is that if we looked inside there would be as many positive things to be found as there would be negative ones. They are exactly even. What happens is that people tend to emphasize what is bad – it is basic human nature. If we exaggerated our joys as we do exaggerate our sorrows, our every problem would lose transcendence.
Joseph Conrad once said that people live in the very same way that they dream: alone. That is not it. Nobody is alone. Everybody is with someone, and everybody is in someone, One is two. Always.
I would like to ask you something, now that it is summer and the weather has taken a turn for the better. I would like you to ask somebody who is into astronomy to point out the Constellation of Virgo for you in the sky. When he does, you will notice something right there and then. There is a star in that constellation that truly shines. That star is named Spica, and it is one of the brightest stars in the sky. I am going to tell you a little secret: that star which shines so much is not a star. Rather, it is two stars. Spica is what we call a binary star: two celestial bodies together. That is the reason it shines so much. And when it comes to people, it is the same. When another person is with us is when we shine more than ever. And the truth is that someone is always there. We can always shine. There is always someone besides us. Sometimes we can’t see it, and sometimes we don’t want to see it. And at other times we can’t show it, because we fear we are not worthy of being loved. But the other is always there, and he or she is always keen to lend us his/her shining light.
Somebody told me the other day, “when you publish your book you are stepping into another world”. I must say I don’t really care about that. In another world I will not find you. You are in this world. And a world where you are not there is not a world for me.
This book has a black cover with golden, shining lettering engraved in the middle. The inside of the book is exactly the same, only that the bit that shines is missing. I deliberately omitted it. I left only the dark part. The part that shines is something you must add yourselves. I know you can do it, because you have showed me how to do it myself all through these years. It was a gift you gave me. Now, I am giving that gift back to you.
Thank you so much.”
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