By Enrique Tessieri
I made one of the greatest discoveries of my life in 1998 at the Finnish Seamen’s Church of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Even if such pleasant interior landscapes no longer witness my silence and stance, they are now distant memories that have turned into spacious imaginary cities of the mind where each building has a tale to tell, whispering.
Even if I had visited the Finnish Seamen’s Church on many occasions, the days I spent there as a tenant brought me back to the beginning of a long journey I began around two decades ago when I moved back to Finland.
William Blake (1757-1827) once said that improvements make straight roads but that it was the crooked ones without improvement that are roads of genius. Is yearning and following your heart’s desire a crooked road that can lead you to wonderful places never imagined?
The former Finnish Seamen’s Church is today a cultural center in dire need of money and repair.
Even if my great grandparents, Dante and Jacob only appear occasionally in talk, I can say with total confidence that the yearning and restlessness I feel today is because of them…
…or possibly it’s because I was born in an enormous migrant transit lounge called The Americas.
Like many others, my family has been on the move for generations: from my father’s side, my great grandfather Dante was from Italy, my grandfather Nemo was born in Brazil, my father and I were born in Argentina, and my three children were born in Finland.
Yearning is a powerful force. It is the fuel that turns on our hope; it is so powerful that it rarely dies in a lifetime but lives on for generations.
The world is becoming a very small place as time takes us by the hand to the future. It’s pretty certain that my children and grandchildren will be much luckier than I. They will have the ability to visit and leave cultures and lifestyles at will and be – if they wish – from many places simultaneously. They will travel without the baggage of hatred and prejudice constantly overlooking them.
As long as smaller cultures and not devoured by larger ones, life in the new millennium will resemble vast cities like New York or London, where everyone is from somewhere but few from there.
If we all learned to let go and allow yearning to take us by the hand, maybe the first lesson we’d learn is that we are nothing than temporary migrants on Earth searching for that hill where the grass is greener on the other side.