My yearning for the invisible life

We did not understand each other.
The older I grew, the wider became the gap between us.
Her faith did not mean anything to me, much to her annoyance.
But I could not change it, however much I wanted to.
When I came of age, I looked for my own way.
One day she said to me: “You fall back, Alonzo,
you are living the life of a gypsy.”
Never before had she said anything like it to me.
I looked at her and answered: “Our whole family is ...” but I did not get any further because she interrupted in a shout: “Alonzo, you forget yourself!”
“I am sorry, Mother, I am not aware of it.”
She ignored my answer and went on: “You must break away from your friend and look for other friends.
You have changed a lot, Alonzo.
Oh, if your Father knew all this.”
“You err, Mother, for I have not changed.
My Father would also understand me in this respect.
And my friend Juan has nothing to do with this.”
“He is no friend for you and you do not go to church anymore. You have even lost your faith and that happened because of this devilish searching of you.
It causes me a lot of grief.”
“What else should I do, Mother?
The church does not give me any satisfaction.
You always hear the same until you are bored stiff, the same over and over again.”
“You are a heathen, but I will watch over your faith.”
“Better be a good heathen than a bad Christian.”
“If I were you, Mother, I would do nothing.
You are only making it more difficult for yourself and me.
I will not stop it anyway, I shall search and go on searching, nothing will stop me.
The saying goes: Examine all things and keep what is good.
I search and will search until my end on earth.
What the church says is of no significance to me.
Maybe to you and others, but not to me.
Juan is not bad.
Should he not be my friend because he is poor?
And what does descent mean, what does do money and property mean?”
“Oh, if only Geraldo were alive, he was so different.”
“Like you are yourself, Mother?
You see Geraldo from your own life, your own way of thinking and feeling.
You want to see me, as you are yourself.
Why do you think that Geraldo would be different?”
“I do not find your character in our whole family.
Nor do your poetical leanings occur in our family.
All this searching is devilish.
However, I will consult my priest.”
“No, Mother, it would put an even greater distance between us, for I do not want to talk about myself with those people.
They know nothing about it and according to them, I am possessed by the devil.
I do not want to be converted. I am oblivious of any harm.
You are overstrained, Mother, and you should take a rest.
Is anything the matter, Mother?”
She did not answer me and went away.
It was strange, very strange.
I hardly recognized her, but I had not changed in any way with regard to her.
I discussed it with Juan, but omitted that particular subject.
“What do you think, Juan?”
“Has she got commitments, Alonzo?
To whom does the estate belong?”
“I know those gentlemen, but she wants me to change my life and to take a bit more care of the estate,
but I shall not work for others on our own soil.
I will leave the country if this situation does not change.
Do tell me, Juan, why are people so different?
Why did God create all those kinds of people?
Not one person is like the other, no one understands you.”
“And your Father, Alonzo?”
“Really, Juan, he understood me perfectly.
And it is these very people which you lose.
My Mother is arrogant, she always has.
It is only now that I begin to see her the way she is.
She wants me to live as she sees life.
But I cannot can’t, Juan.
I do not want to have my life lived.
And yet I wonder why those desires are in me, Juan.
Why this searching for reality?
Why do I want the animals to listen to me?
Why do you want to write poetry and sing of life in your poems?
You cannot but do this; you do not serve any other purpose. You must and shall write poetry,
but why?
Would this have a meaning, Juan?
Why does Carlo want to picture life: and why has everyone his own desires?
Not one human being really remains himself and knows himself; all of us are mysteries.
If only my Mother wanted to understand me, I would settle things for myself.
If I do what she wants I will have my life lived for me, Juan, and I do not want that.
No, my friend, I shall go on, I must know, otherwise, I will not settle down.
Why am I the way I am now?
Is it because of God?
I know your answer, Juan.
Of course, my ancestors, but that has no meaning for me anymore.
The soul should be an entity.
Every soul is itself, Juan.
Why does my Mother want me to live as she sees life?
She thinks that her religion is the right one, the only good one, but it means nothing to me.
But why?
She says that my character cannot be found in our whole family.
Explain this mystery to me, Juan.
You cannot?
You do not know and yet that is where this entity resides.
The feelings of a gypsy are in me, there is nothing in me that stems from her.
Now is this not a mystery?
It is incomprehensible, yet all our feelings have a meaning.
It is very useful to think a lot about it, Juan; otherwise, you will never get anywhere.
It is worthwhile to learn to know all these mysteries.
Can you do something more useful on earth?
Life itself is the great mystery, Juan.
To see and feel in it is most essential, the only natural thing.
Then you get to know day, night and the animals, in short everything,
but above all yourself.
Then you descend into all those mysteries, Juan, and you understand what dying means.
Why do you not sing of all these mysteries in your poems?
Now they are living dead, not until then will your artistic products live, Juan.
Ah, my friend, do not feel hurt.
I honestly mean it.
You do not feel space, Juan, you will never achieve it if you don’t seek, don’t feel from where you have come and where you will go.”
“Do you not know that, Alonzo?”
“I no longer believe that, Juan.
I cannot accept that everything ends with this short life and that we are then ready to receive the eternal bliss.
The way they teach us is not natural, Juan.
How can a God of Love damn His children
and allow them to experience eternal damnation?”
“Do not go too deeply into it, Alonzo.
This path is a dangerous one, you know how powerful the church is.”
“I do not care about the church, Juan.
My Mother may consult whom she wants, I go my own way.”
“You are too sensitive, Alonzo, too serious and too lonely. You lock yourself up too much and will never find out about it anyway; the great mystery will remain a mystery for you too.”
“There are many mysteries and I must know.
You do not think, Juan.
Sing in your poems of all those mysteries.
Ask us, human beings, to feel and think.
Ask about life; look for it in the countryside, sing of all this injustice.
But you dare not, you are afraid, afraid of the church.”
“My poems are empty, but is not that emptiness also in you?”
“You possess something, Juan, you possess art, I am only a searcher.
Do you not really feel what I mean?
I have nothing, I am not gifted, but you and Carlo can serve, yourself and others, but you do not feel it.
Oh, I wished that I possessed it, how would my poems be?
I would talk about damnation and all those injustices.
You can show us all those mysteries; you can go deeper and deeper, always further until you are empty and feel nothing anymore. Your life would have been well spent.
But what about me
I come to nothing. I just go on searching and asking and no one gives me an answer.
Must we return to God, Juan;
but how?
Should we really reach the very highest heavens in one short life?
Do you believe this nonsense?
Look at all those people, Juan, look how they live, how they think and feel.
Can all those people reach the highest heavens?
It is not possible, Juan, but then what?
Can you answer me?”
“No, Alonzo, I cannot and no one else can.
You ask too much, you search too deeply; it is not human anymore.
You do not live on earth, but you float in space.”
“I float and you walk on earth and yet you want to float, to rise above everything, but you fail to do so because you do not want to.
There is emptiness in me, of course, I have nothing and I am nothing, Juan.
Does that satisfy you?
Are you satisfied with this art?
Does your inspiration go any deeper?
Do you call this happiness?
Does your art touch on genuineness?
Is there depth in it?
Good heavens, Juan, do float, dare to float, carry us to those regions, far away from this narrowness, and let us feel that there is more than we so far know and understand.
Oh, if only I had something in my own hands, if God gave me what you possess,
I would not be afraid of anything, I would dedicate my own life, Juan, and to be able to do that is delightful. It is the only thing that makes life worth being lived.”
“You are rebellious, Alonzo.”
“Do you call this rebellious?
Is there dissatisfaction in me?
Then we do not speak the same language, Juan; you do not understand me for I am not rebellious.
I only want to know, I feel and think and search and shall go on searching.
I do not revolt against all this, but I get dissatisfied because I do not accept that God can damn us.
My searching and feeling are natural, but strange, because I search too deeply and my feelings do not become conscious.
I am a different person than you are, Juan, and yet you too are searching, you implore to be granted to know.
And you want to serve, to open our eyes and yet you yourself seek.
We had better stop, for it won’t bring us any further.”
I left. The years went by and I became twenty-six.
My animals had not been able to solve the mystery for me but my yearning to be allowed to know became ever stronger.
The gap between my Mother and I could not be bridged either. I had deprived her of that possibility, now that I ignored my descent and went my own way.
One day a priest paid me a visit, but he soon left none the wiser.
My predilection for animals returned in me and again I began to impose my will on them.
By concentration, I got the animals under control so that I could do with them what I wanted.
My Mother thought it a pointless tomfoolery but I did not give up.
When my favourite dog littered, this was also a great and deep wonder to me. I watched the mother animal day and night for I found it mysterious.
Seven puppies were born.
Just like that.
They had grown in its body and come to consciousness.
This too was a great wonder to me.
Oh, that nature, that incomprehensible nature.
I prayed to God day and night to be allowed to understand and know about His Life.
But God did not hear me and remained far away from us, human beings.
But whence did life pass into these little animals and into us, human beings?
From where?
How did this wonder happen?
How natural all this came about.
How simple it actually was and yet so deep, so immensely deep, so that I expected to become insane, merely as a result of my searching.
Did I ask too much?
Was I not allowed to seek?
Did my Mother have the truth?
Was her faith the only one and did it suffice?
For what reason was I really on earth?
Why did I seek, did I feel all this injustice and did this feeling live in me?
Had this birth any meaning?
Had all these animals to be born?
Did they also pass into heaven?
What purpose did all these animals actually serve?
Human life did not differ much from that of the animal.
Man was conscious, he could think and feel, the animals also felt and thought, though somewhat differently.
Yet we went one way, all were born and had to die again.
Moreover, was all this life on earth only once?
I could not accept that. I could not get at it, but I went on seeking.