Cabo da Roca

For the past four months, I have been living in Cabo da Roca, Portugal, the furthermost western point in all of Europe. Cabo is a blustery, wild sort of place, romantic and isolated, where often the only sound is Joao the donkey, who brays like a melancholy foghorn every morning and evening.

The house where I have been living is a crumbling monastery-like building on the hill with magnificent views of Portugal from every window.  This winter I learned that romantic doesn’t necessarily translate into comfort, and that it is comfort that I prefer. The damp was so thick my lungs would ache and mold would grow on patches from the walls that, if not removed, would grow into a long white beard.

The Portuguese weren’t as bothered by the cold and the damp as I was. As long as it is white mold, my cleaner explained, wiping the mold, together with clumps of paint, onto the floor and scooping it up with a dishpan and broom, I shouldn’t be worried. Living in Cabo made me realize just how much I took for granted things like endless hot water and proper heating and soft sofas and sheets that are warm and dry and not cold and damp when I slipped into bed at night. I saw how soft I’ve become and how unpleasant it feels to be at the mercy of the elements. 

Emotions are like that, too. Emotions are waves of energy that are meant to flow through the body like the wind blowing along the surface of the ocean. Sometimes, when I watched the Atlantic from the window, the wind was calm, so that the surface of the sea was like glass; other times the wind stirred up the waves and created a storm.  The storm, wasn’t bad or good from Nature’s perspective; I only saw it as bad when I was caught up in it. My emotions are energy in motion. And this energy moves through me.