Prisms, memories and hurricanes

From my book on Robin Williams, I’m translating it into English and this is a text i already posted on the blog in Italian. You can find it here. He influenced my way of thinking, my principles and the way in which I (try to) live my life much more than I can say. One of the people I admire (and love) most in the world.

We all know we have endless worlds inside. We love and admire most those people who unhinge our certainties, undermine clichés and cannot be forced to fit into any box. People who are full of contradictions and yet always true to themselves, multifaceted prisms that shimmer with lights of so many different colors depending on the place and time from which you are looking, and yet recompose themselves to form an indivisible whole.

It’s funny, then, that we insist nonetheless on putting these people, sooner or later, into some sort of category. Even more than others, perhaps, as we are fascinated but also somewhat afraid, worried, even a bit annoyed: as hard as we try, the unusual, the uncommon throws us off balance and therefore often gets under our skin; if we like someone, we try to bring them back to a sort of universal harmony, or at least, to our personal sense of harmony: he was one of us after all, the rich also cry, the sad clown, the depression of comedians, the dark side of fame. You smiled whenever you noticed these attempts, and walked your own path without a hint of anger – just a note of bitterness sometimes – and without letting yourself be changed.

It’s as if we liked to dishevel our world for a while, just for the sake of it, sure that the world will be soon restored. The wind can blow through our hair, provided it does not ruffle us up too much and does not make us fly. But when they are real, and not just appearance, these people are hurricanes, sweet and gentle, maybe, but hurricanes nonetheless, and you don’t take a hurricane in hand. We should just wish we are there when they come through, accept the upheaval they leave behind and not try to change their direction or movement, it’s perfect as it is, with all its illogicality, or rather, because of its illogicality, better still, because it follows an unusual logic.

Almost all of us have experienced the cruel fury of life against those who deserve it least, injustice hurts, and hurts badly, it makes us think that there must be some form of higher justice and if there isn’t, it should be invented. Many have had to deal with this sooner or later, but still I can’t accept that one of the most brilliant, generous, unconventional, tactful, kind, humble, gentle and unselfish men in the world had to face what is perhaps the worst fate one can suffer: losing your memory and your reason piece by piece (and the control over your body) and be aware of it.

With each detail added, I realize more and more that not only you were unique and special (we all are, in our own way), but that you’ve been able not to set a boundary to that uniqueness. Your greatness is so much more precious because it must be looked for, unveiled in a way: we can guess it, but it is not obvious.

Known for being kind in a town that has made a hallmark of kindness; known for being a genius in a performing arts school that accepted only the best; known for being a support and an important presence for your colleagues and for anyone else in a world in which the rule seems to be mors tua, vita mea. Known by whom, though? By those who make research, who listen to the small stories of “common” people, who are never common anyway, and certainly not in your eyes: the people who sold you bicycles, those who knew someone in the children’s hospitals where you would suddenly appear without telling anyone in advance. We shouldn’t read the words spoken immediately after your death, on the spur of the moment, guided by shock and maybe a desire to be in the limelight for a bit, but rather those said after some time, when a chance association stems from a sudden memory, and emotion takes a friend by surprise.

So, for all the pain and injustice that sometimes stir inside me like furies, I’m thinking that I’m glad you gave your wife a special day to tell her goodbye and decided to die while that goodbye was still in your eyes and in your heart. I’m glad that you were not unhappy at all, as we would have selfishly wished, maybe: that way, we wouldn’t have had to blame you for a decision which, on the other hand, was only yours (although for some form of morality I don’t understand, we should not be allowed to die until unhappiness and pain have entirely consumed us and the people near us). And there was more: perhaps, in our heart, many of us wished to make you happy, and it was easier to think no one else could do that. Although you suffered from depression at some point, it wasn’t the reason of your decision.

I’m glad you kept the spark of madness you had chosen yourself, and not the one that your disease would have forced into you, glad that you decided to die entire, while you were alive, without letting any form of constriction clutch at you, not even death itself. I’m glad (the word glad may sound odd in this context, but I know you would understand, and this is all what matters to me) that you kept until the last moment your limitless ability to think of others before yourself and take care of them, which was, in the end, the basis of all that zest for life that, whatever they say, you have always had and transmitted. Have no doubt, you were right to hang on to the memories you had left, prevent them from being deleted, before or after that day, because if you lose those, what’s left to desire, what dreams may come? Ah, your memory, your prodigious memory, by which you remembered the lines of every show and the name of anyone who passed you in the street, the memory you managed to preserve, as far as possible, to make it part of the way in which those who remain can remember. Only your strength of spirit was bigger than you memory, which made you hope against hope, for the sake of those you loved, that a different end was possible. But when it became clear that this was not the case, you took that love and all your courage, which wasn’t small, it was a heavy weight to carry too, but you didn’t think about it too long, you bundled it up in a bag like those of the wanderers of ancient times and walked away, leaving behind the best part of all you had given and received.

You are “my” hurricane, my love, let me call you that once again, in spite of everything, I wish you knew how important it was for me to be there while you passed by, to see you and try to understand you, just that, nothing more, so as to understand myself, collect the endless number of memories you’ve left behind and thus try not to lose my own memory. There are many ways to meet. My research is not finished yet. I’m still here.

Footprints

Una delle primissime poesie che ho scritto, forse la prima (di tante), dedicata a Robin, mio punto di riferimento e capitano da una vita. Dovrebbe entrare nel libro, così l’ho tradotta. In attesa che si sbroglino le parole nuove che ho dentro, che come a volte mi succede, sono così tante e confuse da non sapere da dove cominciare a scriverle.

One of the first poems, or the very first, maybe, (of many) I wrote for Robin, my lifelong touchstone and captain. Should go into the book, so I’ve translated it. Waiting for when the new words I’ve got inside will unravel: it happens to me sometimes, there are so many and so entwined together, I can’t even begin to write them down.

L’originale qui The Italian version is here

The road lights up with the sea;
I leave sand footprints behind.
That’s how I spend my time:
watching the shape of my feet
betrayed by ever-changing weaves.
I think of you, even in this crisp air
beneath foreign mists.
I’m looking for the truth of your face
the flight of a kite in full swing
the quiet silence of a wait
that begins and ends in itself
without anything to fill.
I’ve got lips of exacerbated thirst
and no more white storks at my window.
Summer is gone
and you’re not back.

Overjoyed e I Say A Little Prayer (For You)

Due canzoni che oltre ad essere secondo me meravigliose, mi hanno decisamente tirato su il morale oggi, anche perché rispecchiano molto una delle mie emozioni più forti (in positivo) 😀

Apart from thinking they’re really brilliant, these two songs made my day, not least because they reflect  so much one of my strongest emotions (a positive one, mind you) 😀

Cielo sottosopra

Pensavo che è curioso, questo interesse relativamente nuovo per il cielo, perché in effetti è nato… beh, all’incirca un anno fa diciamo. Non che prima non l’avessi mai guardato, ma c’è qualcosa di diverso. Si potrebbe magari pensare che stia provando a trovare qualche segno di te, quasi che potessi nasconderti in quel disordine scompigliato di nubi che sono sicura avresti amato molto, ma è strano comunque, perché mi pare che il tuo interesse per la terra fosse decisamente superiore a quello per il cielo. Forse, in effetti, mi piacerebbe credere che tu ti nasconda là dietro per poter continuare a guardare quaggiù, al riparo dagli sguardi e dalle pretese indiscrete.  Perché per il resto ho sempre pensato che non fosse tra le stelle il luogo giusto dove cercarti.

Forse è anche una questione di luce, perché la luce, ai miei occhi almeno,  è il tuo elemento,  e specialmente poi queste luci irregolari,  un po’ scomposte,  talvolta persino esagerate,  un po’ fuori misura e sicuramente molto fuori dall’ordinario.

Poi l’altra sera c’era quella nuvola così strana, come l’enorme penna caudale di un uccello gigantesco e candido. E quella notte, che non ero agitata o roba simile, ma semplicemente sono rimasta sveglia a lungo, a un certo punto ho pensato che potresti chiederla in prestito, quella nuvola, e anche tutte le altre, tutte quelle che possano esserti utili, come facevi con qualunque oggetto ti capitasse sottomano che trovassi interessante per improvvisare una delle tue magie, di quando catturavi un istante, una piccola cosa, un pezzetto di quotidianità, e li rendevi irripetibili e indimenticabili. Una sciarpa diventava quello che decidevi tu e apriva un mondo di possibilità. Cosa mai avresti potuto fare, cosa mai potresti fare con questi doni del vento, questo inargentare confini, confondere forme, questo continuo movimento di corpi che non sono corpi ma sogni di vapore e di schiuma e d’aria, di colori che si fondono e si distinguono in maniera così inusuale. Sì, credo che decisamente ti ci vedo, in questo caos creativo, in questo universo di opportunità. Forse è proprio questo il segreto, un cielo sottosopra, un capovolgimento, un’anticonvenzionale inversione dei ruoli, perché neanche da lì potresti mai rinunciare a mostrare che le cose si possono sempre guardare da un altro punto di vista.

Mi è venuto da sorridere, secondo me anche col cielo saresti capace di osservarlo, assimilarlo e appropriartene, renderlo un po’ ‘tuo’, come facevi con tutto quello che c’era intorno a te, per poi restituircelo reinterpretato e reinventato, mai uguale a come era prima. E Dio… beh, è evidente che se un Dio c’è, deve averlo per forza, il senso dell’umorismo, per cui credo che ti lascerebbe fare, magari un po’ in disparte, sicuro che tanto qualcosa di buono ne verrebbe fuori.

Del resto rido molto in questi giorni. Rido con mio figlio ‘piccolo’, la più simpatica bertuccia del mondo, con cui ci divertiamo un sacco, e qualche volta mi sorprendo a usare una delle tue espressioni, dei tuoi gesti, e non so se puoi capire quanto bene mi fa questa cosa. Come scrivere di te, e pensarti, quando per chiunque altro, l’unico modo di superare il dolore per la sua assenza sarebbe probabilmente cercare di mantenere il ricordo in un piccolo angolo del cuore e andare avanti, e invece trattandosi di te, più insisto a ripercorrere le tracce di tutto quello che ti riguarda, e più il dolore si attenua. E poi guardo le tue cose e rido ancora fino alle lacrime, sai, proprio perché mi manchi, più rido e più ti sento vicino e in quelle risate c’è anche questo, hai riempito la mia vita di luce e continui a farlo e sei talmente speciale che davvero, forse, nel tuo caso ridere è il modo migliore di mostrarti tutto il rispetto che meriti.

20150904_112709 20150904_112737 20150904_195209 20150905_071217 20150905_075858 20150905_075918

Così vicino al cuore / So close to my heart

Ti ho così vicino al cuore che anche senza guardare ti vedo, e ti ricordo anche senza memoria. Lo scintillio fugace di un pensiero basta alla mia sopravvivenza, ché mi è letale restare per troppo tempo senza aprire le tue finestre e guardare il mio cielo attraverso i tuoi occhi. Quanto alla terra, la mia è la tua, è sempre stata la stessa, la geografia qui non c’entra. E’ la pazienza di tracciare non solo la propria strada, ma l’intero paesaggio intorno: montagne, corsi d’acqua, paesi, città, grattacieli, animali, persone, perché le tue scelte lasciano orme, impronte sottili e discrete, e tanto più incancellabili. Tutto cambia e si ricrea costantemente al tuo passaggio. E tu sei per me l’onda gigantesca dell’uragano e la solida nave che mi protegge, il ponte su cui camminare al sicuro e la corrente che trascina via, il piatto e la bottiglia vuota e il cibo e il vino di cui riempirli. Sei la quercia contro cui mi abbandono, a cui offro la mia mente nuda e la mia pelle calda, perché mi fido della tua luce e della tua ombra, e del mio corpo che ti cerca e della mia ragione che vuole conoscere tutto ciò che tu conoscevi.

Ah, questa follia, questo sprazzo di follia che m’inquieta un poco, ma di cui non potrei far senza. Tu del resto sapevi che è molto più irragionevole perderla, quella scintilla. E io so, e chi mi è vicino fortunatamente sa, che il cuore è una piccola cosa buffa e confusa, che a volte incespica e s’ingarbuglia ma ha dentro uno spazio infinito.

Chissà quanti blocchi quadrati avrai infilato nei fori rotondi, per rimettere in discussione ogni volta tutto ciò che si fa solo perché si è sempre fatto così. Non è possibile suscitare stupore, se non si è capaci di sorprendere se stessi per primi, guardando al lato buffo e inusuale delle cose più ovvie. Non c’è mai nulla di normale, nella vita. Non deve esserci. E allora anche sedersi a faccia in giù equivale a interrogarsi, perché non bisogna mai smettere di farsi domande sulle abitudini: non ce n’è forse neanche una, di cui conosciamo fino in fondo la ragione, a guardar bene.

Tra le tue frasi, che setaccio come un cercatore d’oro il fiume, cerco i dettagli preziosi che rivelino, pezzettino per pezzettino, le tue fonti d’ispirazione, i modelli che hai scelto per diventare come volevi essere, a modo tuo, perché io possa sceglierli a mia volta per diventare come voglio essere, assomigliarti a modo mio. Mi approprio di ogni cosa tua, con rispetto infinito ma spudoratamente, perché so che non potrebbe mai succedermi di non amare qualcosa, qualunque cosa, che tu abbia amato.

You’re so close to my heart that I can see you even without looking, and I can remember even without memory. The fleeting spark of a thought is enough to keep me alive, as I couldn’t live too long without opening your windows and looking at my sky through your eyes. As for the earth, mine is yours, it’s always been the same, geography has nothing to do with this. It’s the patience to not only chart your course, but the landscape around, entirely: mountains, streams, villages, cities, skyscrapers, animals, people, because your choices leave marks, footprints that are as subtle and discreet as they are indelible. Everything changes and recreates itself, with every step of yours. And to me, you are the giant wave of the hurricane and the solid ship that protects me, the bridge, on which I walk safely, and the current that pulls me away, the empty plate and bottle, and the food and wine, with which they can be filled. You are the oak, against which I abandon myself, to which I offer my bare mind and my warm skin, because I trust your light and your shadow, and I trust my body that is seeking you and my reason that wants to know everything you knew.

Ah, this madness, this spark of madness that disquiets me a little, and of which I couldn’t do without. You knew, indeed, that it is much more unreasonable to lose that spark. And I know, and those who are close to me fortunately know, that our heart is a confused little thing, that sometimes stumbles and gets entangled but inside, it has infinite space.

Who knows, how many square pegs will you have put into round holes in order to cast doubts, every time, on all that we do only because it’s always been done that way. You cannot amaze others if you don’t cultivate your own sense of wonder, by looking at the funny and unusual side of the plainest things. There is never anything normal, in life. There shouldn’t be. And thus, even sitting on your face means to put a question mark on something, because you shouldn’t ever stop challenging habits: there is not even one, maybe, of which we know the reason in full, on second thought.

Sifting through your sentences like a gold-seeker would do with a river, I look for the precious details that will reveal, bit by bit, your sources of inspiration, the models you chose to become what you wanted to be, your way, so that I may, in turn, choose them to become what I want to be, be like you in my own way. I take everything yours for myself, with infinite respect but unashamedly, because I know it could never happen that I don’t love something, anything, that you loved.

The absurdity of distances

I used to be beautiful
– it still happens, now and then –
– and I surely do like your eyes,
but there’s a difference between looking at beauty
and this bosom love
that comes into me from far away
like a nut kernel
and breaks the pain in my shell.
I am a warrior, maybe
a rebel out of curiosity
without so much noise;
I fight by silently laughing,
to myself,
of the absurdity of distances
of the colors of the paradise I’m still looking for
between your wrinkles and your young thoughts,
and I write as I don’t know what to say,
I hide life within a folded sheet,
You understand more quickly
by walking on the wrong paths
it costs a laceration in your flesh
in your soul, perhaps,
but still it’s better than taking the right way
to follow it all along
without even thinking twice;
it still is better than opening sad umbrellas
to shelter from the sun and the rain
better than changing over your wardrobe
every time a season ends.
‘Cause you see, my season
has always just begun
and I don’t turn my eyes away to shirk the pain
Poetry is not to take the memory from my body,
but so that your presence will be sweeter,
like a gentle caress, the shadow of a promise:
the past will come,
when we re-live every day
the charm of the first time we never had
and you’ll be able to sleep in my hug.
With you I’d come beyond the stars
and wouldn’t even be afraid to fall down
after all, as you said, up or down
it’s hard to say in hyperspace
I’d come on the roller coaster, to a country at war
or riding a bike on the asphalt
of the roads of San Francisco
and you’ll teach me to love you as one should
with eyes and mouth and legs and night and day
with that love that doesn’t remain on the threshold
but enters your room, down to the very end,
and sees you.