A BORBOLETA (or The Butterfly in English) used to be the name of our family-run restaurant in the Algarve. My mother’s long-standing admiration of these delicate and beautiful creatures gave the culinary temple its name. But it is not the tempting of the taste buds that I wish to speak of today – instead, my topics are the food of love and butterflies in the stomach.
Let’s not beat about the bush. Can you remember the last time your heart leapt violently, plunging you headlong into a never-ending emotional rollercoaster that you never even suspected, readying to change your mundane existence, perhaps forever? I have. In fact, it only happened to me a couple of weeks ago, on January 4, the fourth day of the week, at 10.04 – yes, you guessed correctly, four is my lucky number! How to describe the feeling of being present while your soul, long thought dormant if not extinct, rises jubilantly from the remains of past misfortunes?
Life is full of surprises. Being able to seize them by the scruff of the neck largely depends on each individual’s readiness to take a chance, luck and timing.
Hundreds of years ago, spice-seeking sailors in Far Eastern waters came across a beautiful island rich in natural resources – they named it “Serendip”. Today, we use the term “serendipity” to describe a lucky or fortuitous set of circumstances. I have been drawn into its magic circle.
When I was younger (so much younger than today), Peter Frampton asked Do You Feel Like I Do?; Santana lamented, She’s Not There, and Third World sang, Now That We’ve Found Love, What Are We Going To Do with It? These sentiments have accompanied me throughout my adult life, the search for answers a never-ending story.
What do you do when lightning strikes? Unconditional love and flaring passion are potent elements, all the more so when mixed with the prevailing demands of everyday life, which has the annoying habit of invading a newfound paradise and chucking poisonous apples around.
Love, a bit like parenting, requires great care and delicate handling. It can only sustain the frenzy of mutual desire for a very short time before starting to consume itself, the heat becoming intensely unbearable, akin to Icarus flying too close to the sun. As with everything, however, beautiful and desired for in life, too much and it cannot be sustained.
Men and women have been known to emerge from the desert dying of thirst, only to succumb to an overindulgence of normally life-giving liquid. Too much love can have a similar effect. And then, once Cupid’s unbridled passion has been stilled, there is the past to consider. If you accept the premise that, in the wider sense, it is not logical that our lives, equipped with highly sophisticated physical hosts, each fitted with what we call a soul, individuality beyond belief, begin and end with birth and death, we must delve deeper into the how and why of our seemingly meaningless existence.
I am not religious, merely a curious agnostic rather than an atheist. But, if you put a gun to my head and force me to choose, I would lean towards Buddah – the long and winding road to perfection and eventual Nirvana – what comes after that? It is strewn with rocks and potholes, cleverly disguised dead ends, and labyrinth that can hold us captive for centuries should we stray, not remain true to ourselves.
Déjà vu, flashbacks … call it what you like, even dreams. These are often dismissed as figments of our imagination, paranoia. But, if you choose not to look away and face the unknown, these can be very real. Do you ever feel something like, “I have been here before”, distant memories, often only briefly touching upon your awareness, leaving a ghost of a shadow that gradually fades away?
It is a fact that we do not even know how to use half of our brain capacity, so what mysteries and past experiences are lodged within the other 50 per cent? The latent core of my being often nudges me, suggesting that I have been a knight in shining armour, an advisor to Metternich, a lover and a monk – I have ruled and begged, conquered and lost.
Are we being subjected to a grooming process, finally turning us into altruistic and extremely wise super-beings, or am I hallucinating? Should the former be true, it is an arduous and noble quest that may offer up some meaning to our unfathomable existence. If not, I can only say the following: listen to your heart, reach out and love. Do not allow yourself to become an emotional cripple – that would only honour those who would hurt and destroy all that is beautiful in our world.
We are here. Giving in to apathy and wrong is easy, achieving anything great on a global scale virtually impossible. Therefore, we must touch those nearest to us, instil hope where all seems lost, re-ignite the smouldering embers of love – what else is there? We have a duty to ourselves and others to give it our best shot, to maximise the positive aspects of the limited time given to us for the present, laugh, cry and soldier on to our hearts content. Anything else is folly.
“Breaking in two,
The madness of yesteryear
A maelstrom out of a bursting tear.
Castles in the air,
A beautiful melody hushed,
Loneliness and despair.
Running, always running looking back,
Naked fear, monsters in disguise,
A journey chasing
Your tortured mind.
A vision you dare not believe,
A dream within a dream,
That your soul cannot leave,
A struggle to regain all that you esteem.
The sleeping beauty will open her eyes,
She will live again,
No more goodbyes,
Two hearts beating as one,
A constant love, brightly burning,
Safe from everyone”