Home | Short Stories | Nº 33 – On the unbearable lightness of being

Nº 33 – On the unbearable lightness of being

Saturday, May 16th, 2020

Today I received a letter from a reader in Tavira. It included the following sentence: Get off Facebook and go into the garden. Thank you! That’s what I’ve been doing since 17 March: I’ve been working in the garden, planting potatoes, lettuce, tomatoes, courgettes, onions and aromatic herbs. I live off the food from my vegetable patch. Being able to accept this offer from nature is a beautiful experience. I have to confess, that I belong to those two thirds of the population, a silent majority, who don’t have a Facebook account. As a journalist, it would be almost obligatory for me to have an account. But I prefer other luxuries. I prefer to read a good book and to be able to recommend it to you in the next printed edition of ECO123. I also read books that I don’t enjoy so much, but I don’t write about them. Text printed on paper has become something quite valuable and expensive. Therefore, we continue to print on recycled paper despite also publishing the magazine online and receiving attractive price offers from the eucalyptus paper industry. Instead of being on Facebook, I prefer to go into the forest, so full of diversity with its oaks, chestnut trees, stone pines and ginkgos, and allow the rain to give me proof of my existence. The rain makes the tomatoes grow. In the morning, I wake up to the singing of birds and the barking of my dog.

A reader from Monchique writes: Definitely, something essential is missing. We need to become vegetarians and to stop eating the poor creatures of the virgin forest. This reader, too, is absolutely right. The “pig industry” has already been shown to have many Covid-19 infections in its slaughterhouses. We can’t close our eyes to this. Animals are transformed into meat and forests into paper. I condoned this for too long, separating the taste of sausages and meat from the suffering of animals. We can´t continue like this. Who are we to be fattening, torturing and killing animals just so that we can eat cheap meat, while what we don’t need goes to waste? I very much hope that this crisis will drive up the price of meat and fish, as well as the price of airline tickets. A kilo of tomatoes shouldn’t cost the same as a kilo of meat. But, on the other hand, why don’t we finally reward environmentally friendly attitudes? How about recompensing vegetarians and vegans, rewarding those who travel slowly with few emissions, rewarding those with a small environmental footprint? That would be a step in the right direction.

I also received a comment from a reader in Aljezur: My God, how much stupidity there is on the net. It says a lot more about the system that governs people than it does about the world itself … Of course, and this is an important point. Those who manage to enjoy the freedom to live as they want, without hurting the rights of other people end up living careful and authentic lives, freed from having to listen to all the bickering and conspiracy theories, and able to give more attention to themselves. In this way, people also have the chance to question who they are and the way they behave. The answers to these questions allow for inner growth, growth that makes us happier. We didn’t achieve this by chasing after more money or by seeking a career development, we achieved it in the balance between being and having. All the more reason to demand a Universal Basic Income paid by the State. Another way for humanity to free itself from its existential fears. Only fear causes us to act so stupidly. Because every day I receive something back from what I give, from these thoughts that I have turned into words. This space is designed for the exchange of thoughts. Take part and write to me at info@eco123.info.

Dear Reader, send me anything you want, but don’t send me any more conspiracy theories. These are no longer a laughing matter and any messages mentioning them will be deleted. The less I busy myself with them, the more the curve of stultification becomes flattened. There are many people who seem to have learned nothing from this pandemic. Only those who continue to evolve with the silence of this quarantine and realise that we all have our time will come to the conclusion that, even with or without the virus, we will not be taking anything with us on our last journey.

Uwe Heitkamp (60)

trained TV journalist, book author and hobby botanist, father of two grown-up children, has lived in Monchique Portugal for 30 years, founder of ECO123.

Photos: dpa

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