A Strange Encounter in Madrid: The Man Who Carries Time

Isn’t it funny how sometimes all we need it’s a plane ticket, a walk in the city and a friendly word from a stranger to realize how we really feel. A few weeks ago I finally got to visit Barrio De Las Letras  (Literary Quarter) a famous neighborhood where some of the greatest Spanish authors have once lived and written. Through those narrow streets of Madrid you could breathe art, history and taste some of the best “Chocolate and Churros” in town. Well, I can assure you they were some of the best because I did try them and sip some of that delicious chocolate in a sunny spot in Plaza San Ana.

“Feelings are just visitors, let them come and go,” A young charming man sitting in front of me at the cafe said out loud interrupting my reading.

“Excuse me?” I asked unsure whether he was talking to me or not.

“Feelings are just visitors, let them come and go,” He repeated letting out a hint of Portuguese accent. “Your postcard, I’m just reading what your postcard says.”

“Ohh this is a little reminder to myself,” I chuckled embarrassed. “I actually use this postcard as…as bookmark.”

“I see,” He smiles

“Talking about visitors, are you also visiting Madrid?” I asked noticing a small hand luggage next to him.

“Well, I actually live here. I carry my luggage with me every day.”

“You must carry something really precious in there.” The thought of a man carrying around a luggage with him every day both scared and intrigued me.

“You have no idea…”

As already mentioned in “My letter From a Solo Traveler in Peru’” when you travel alone your instinct is more acute and please do listen to it if it says someone is to trust. That little voice inside my head was telling me that man, other than carrying a hand luggage with him, was also carrying a message for me. So I allowed him to be my Cicerone for the afternoon and discovered not just interested places that I would have never being able to see if I was alone, most importantly, I discovered something new about myself.

See, I went to Madrid with one question in mind: why this continue urge to pack my bag and travel? There must be something I’m looking for, something I want to change as so far life hasn’t turned how the way I planned it to be. Let’s face it, life sometimes totally sucks!  It’s a continue battle between the mind and the soul. It’s a war against procrastination, because, paraphrasing Burkeman’s words, too often we perfectionists are secretly proud of our affliction: we’re convinced that this time, finally, if we pulled out all the stops, we might get things exactly right. The bracing Gnostic response is: forget it. Creation is imperfect by definition; when we are young we tend to run towards time, we embrace life fully and we’re aware that in order “to bring something into being is unavoidably to screw it up.” Nothing can stop us. We’re invincible. As we get older we often prefer to make stops on the way to reflect and ponder on our decisions and mistakes and the only thing remained running is time.

“Time???You’re carrying in there time?”

“It’s a metaphor,” The Portuguese man laughed. “Time is number one humans’ enemy: we rush into our decisions because we fear we don’t have enough time or we wait for something to happen because we feel everything will come at the right time and so on. We are the creators of this terrible invention and the only way for us to live our life fully is to pack away our fear of the past and the future and take full control over it.”

“I don’t understand,” I chuckled amused. “Isn’t it haunting walking side by side with Time?”

“No, I’ve finally made peace with Time: I’m not chasing it, I’m not running away from it. I’m actually learning a lot about Him. Think about it: we tend to idealize or escape from something when we don’t actually know it. It’s a bit like your postcard, the luggage is a reminder to myself that time doesn’t exist and I should not be afraid of it. Regardless your destination, life is the journey and we should enjoy it all the way; instead, contrary to what people think, happiness is not a destiny .”

The next day, on my way to the station, I saw the same man with the luggage sitting at the “Chocolate and Churros” bar in plaza San Ana, I waved to get his attention.

“I see you’re ready to set on your journey,” The young man said out loud from across the street.

“I am! And I’ve packed away time, it’s coming with me,” I smiled

“Good for you! Well, what can I say, visitors are just like feelings: they come and go”



Happy New Year Fellow Bloggers!!!


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