By(e) Lisbon & the idea of a Self

After the first day in Lisbon I slept very well, really, I was tired of walking all day.

The painting on the wall was done by Pedro Fragoso

The painting on the wall was done by Pedro Fragoso

Pedro Fragoso woke up around 7am because he was going to a painting workshop but I slept ‘till 11 am or something. I woke up later and did my morning meditation. I started a series which is basically a portrait done with timer while I’m meditating (I set it to 11 minutes so that I get caught actually meditating and not posing for the photo). I do Transcendental Meditation usually twice a day, but since I’ve been moving I’ve been doing it once a day usually, for 30 minutes. This is the first one.

First portrait of the meditating series (pairing to the left by Pedro Fragoso)

First portrait of the meditating series (pairing to the left by Pedro Fragoso)

I checked mails, organised some images, had something to eat and after that I went to Liberdade Avenue to enjoy the beautiful and sunny afternoon with a glass of Moscatel at one of those local kiosks/bar that you have there.

Lisbon Av. Liberdade

I’m pretty happy with my current work-on-the-go setup. I can have it all in a manageable backpack, a full frame camera with a nifty 50 lens, a thin macbook pro retina with a 15” display and a small wacom intros 4. It’s amazing, all of a sudden I have a way to work on the go and do things like this, go out to a café, or a garden, and work. It’s great really. After being there for about 3h, I’ve met with Nádia and we went to a small lookout post, Torel Garden,

Couple having some quality time during the beautiful sun set of Lisbon (it has a very particular light)

Couple having some quality time during the beautiful sun set of Lisbon (it has a very particular light)

and then to her house, where we had dinner and a nice night of sleep. She’s also into meditation and things like and in the morning we did a meditation together.

Me and Nádia meditating.

Me and Nádia meditating.

 

The way meditation works for me is very interesting and has been giving me some insights and ideas. Mostly I think of it as an anchor, you know, like a repetitive ritual you keep on doing that somehow makes you feel anchored. Because this trip, both inner and outer, is also an experiment. I’m a person who usually gets bored and tired of routines. I can stand them for months, sometimes years, but I usually end up renouncing them, or feeling the need to renounce them in order to be happy. But on other hand, the lack of a fixed job, a fixed place to live, a static group of friends, an ever-changing reality (temporal and spatially), and the lack of any other routinely type of event/reality, make it very difficult to keep your sense of self.

This sense of self is many times not only coming from the inside but coming from everything in which we invest/ed time and ourselves. It can come from your children, because if you have children for instance, then you’re (as in your Self is) a parent as well. If you are part of a group of people who share some believes, then you’re that as well. Having a fixed job, a fixed house, all these help structure your Self by creating familiarity, which in turns brings a sense of continuity. But when you renounce this, then your Self has no anchor to which to hold itself to and it starts disintegrating – when this happens you enter the “Void” and in order to come back you have to somehow fill it – be it through family, love, projects, jobs, obligations, etc – but what I’m finding truly interesting is that the routine of meditation (as I’m travelling I’ve been doing it once a day for 30 min, but usually I do it twice a day – a very specific technique called Transcendental Meditation) seems to allow a dynamic Self that is very aware of its own existence, while not being attached to the outer experienced reality – also I know this is a very crazy idea, I’m aware of it but due to the ever-increasing mobility on a global scale new ways of life will certainly emerge.

The next day I went to Belém to meet some friends who’ve I known for all my life mostly, and with whom I have shared a great deal of experiences.

Me and Carolina Sousa (who's a a great actress - doing mostly theatre but also has had some appearances in national TV soup operas)

Me and Carolina Sousa (who’s a a great actress – doing mostly theatre but also has had some appearances in national TV soup operas)

 

Carolina is João Sousa’s sister (who took me on a walk through Lisbon).

João (left) is a musician and Carlos studies biochemistry.

João (left) is a musician and Carlos studies biochemistry.

Beer & stuff

Bernardo Sampaio (musician-guitar) and Catarina (singer)

We walked near the river Tejo that flows into the Atlantic Ocean, it’s a big and beautiful river, almost looks like a sea and separates Lisbon from Margem Sul (south). You can cross it through the 25th April bridge either by car or train, or through the river by boat.

In the backdrop we see the monument to the portuguese discoveries

In the backdrop we see the monument to the portuguese discoveries

I really enjoy the narratives that can be built through portuguese story. I mean it’s quite amazing what the Portuguese did back in the time of the discoveries. These discoveries allowed to connect the world for the first time through commerce, even though I think “we” didn’t took full advantage of it. We were the first along with the Spanish but the English have done it better, after that, if we can say so. Nonetheless the exploring nature of the Portuguese people amazes me, as well as its tolerance to foreign cultures (not that they didn’t commit errors). For instance Portugal was one of the few countries who didn’t burn Templars, actually they changed their name to Order of Christ and settled in Tomar (where I took my degree in Photography). It’s due to their work that we went on discovering much of the world. Not only that but Portugal was also the first country to abolish death penalty, we abolished slavery earlier than many countries, even though we had many interests in keeping the status quo (we had colonies throughout Africa). We incorporate easily many traits of different cultures, religions and ways of living and I think it’s amazing. On the other hand, as with all countries, there’s also a lot of stupidity, racism and so on, but instead of using stupid narratives we could be using the good examples to build something else and giving a sense of empowerment to our people.

After that walk we went to have dinner and my friends played music all night. I went to bed at about 1/2am to check the e-mails and get some rest because I was catching my flight to Madrid early next morning.

 

Me checking e-mails before going to sleep in João Afonso's house.

Me checking e-mails before going to sleep in João Afonso’s house. Yeah I know, what a stupid face.

This is João Afonso and Pedro Fragoso playing a cover of Devendra Banhart’s “I Feel Just Like a Child”.

 

A small music they wrote, where Carolina did the acting and I filmed.

Afinal de Contas

You can see some more of his music at: https://soundcloud.com/jrochafonso

 

 

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