a V@g's diary

Writing of witches and women


May 2017

Troubles, beginnings and an old Roman God with two faces…

Today I realized a funny and quite obvious truth. We are never the first one in doing something apparently unachievable. And this made me recall the old, dear Giano…

The Ancient Romans worshiped a God I really like (one that was not “copied” from the Greek pantheon). His name was Giano Bifronte (Literally Giano the one looking in front and behind at the same time). He was represented as a bearded man with two faces looking into opposite directions. Giano was the God of every beginning, material or spiritual whatsoever; he was the one born without a father, the doorkeeper of every entrance, every threshold, and every bridge. His two faces, according to the Roman mythology, were looking at the entrance –the beginning – and at the exit – the end – of every passage, of every human adventure. And as every decent doorkeeper of the old times (Ianitores, in Latin) he was carrying a key and a walking stick: to open the door and lead the way.There have been many before us that faced great challenges. Many that maybe, even overcame worst situations. Everything changes in life, nothing lasts forever and as

There have been many before us that faced great challenges. Many that maybe, even overcame worst situations. Everything changes in life, nothing lasts forever and as Giano points out, time is a circle, a silver line drawn by a never – ending Past that keeps returning:  sometimes better, sometimes worst, sometimes just different. How our Past returns, it is up to us. Changes, crisis and hard times are useful in the long term. Without them, we would never be able to test ourselves, our strength; we would never stretch our boundaries to become our better version. For every door that closes, there is another one opening, another threshold to pass, another adventure to begin. And no, it is never too late, if we don’t want to.
If you find yourself in a very hard situation, one of those moments that can literally destroy your life, well you are not the first one. And you won’t be the last one. And yes, you have a choice. You can let yourself go. You can give up. Or you can fight.
We have all been there, and if we haven’t yet we will sometime in the future. And let me tell you straight: it can happen more than one time, there is not a rule in this kind of situations. The only point that changes is our attitude: we just become better in facing our tough moments, we improve. The challenges don’t get easier; to be fair the opposite is true: they get worst and worst with the passing of the years (like a video game that gives you a hell of a jerk as final boss every time you level up).
This said, there is a feeling of sisterhood in realizing that no: if we look at the big picture, we are not alone. Some of us can be forerunners, but for sure others will follow and some others may have taken another way to reach the peak. Still, the mountain is the same, the challenge is the same.
Whenever you feel left with no choice, just keep in mind that thousands of years ago, human beings’ daily struggle had huge teeth and longer claws, not to mention a never-ending hunger. And if you still feel smashed and beaten by life, just consider that you are alive: the other 99 millions of your “dad effort” didn’t make it. The simple fact you breathe goes against all odds. In other words, you are a miracle. Or a freak. Or both, like me. Keep a positive attitude, and if you find yourself in troubles, start thinking of what you should improve. What do you want to do? What are your true passions? What do you like to do? What things can you fix in your life? What others do you need to let go once and for all?
Failure is around the corner. Even the Romans knew it. And it may happen as well – one, two or 100 times – with or without Giano’s help. But what the Roman myth underlines is that every end brings with itself a new beginning, a new way to reinvent the present, through the experience of the Past, to get a different future. So if failure would be the case, the only thing to do is starting over. Keep trying, keep growing. People that reach their dreams are not always the smartest: they are those that don’t give up. Furthermore, they are not even the first. As they won’t be the last.

Love, V@g


No tribe, all tribes: of living abroad

What’s homeland? Or, where is homeland? When you live abroad, the borders of this concept falter. The idea of belonging somewhere, to a place, a culture or a specific group, is not so linear. We all know that society is not natural but a social conditioning. As human being we need to live in a group, to survive the outside world. Thousands of years ago the so called group was a tribe. Now, it is a country. Bigger, for sure. Not always better. Not really changed either. Cause the mechanic of the group states that to survive, to create a bond, the group needs an opposition. It is the old ‘us’ against ‘them’. My anthropology teacher could probably state all this better, but  he would agree with me is when I say that in every language the meaning of the world we use to name us as part of a group (a tribe) is ‘human being’. Like saying that the others, those that belongs to that different group, as not so ‘human’ like we are.

As an expat, feeling like a foreigner everywhere is my second skin.  It is a weird feeling, like listening to a radio station that is not completely in sync. There are statics, the sound is not perfectly clear. When I am home, I feel I do not belong there . Not completely at least. There is a shadow of dissatisfaction. I miss my other life. My other space.  But whenever I go back (come back?) there, this subtle sense of unsuitableness is still there. Different, but there. My other life, my other space, doesn’t represent my homeland either.

I love both, but I know I cannot call “home” neither of them. I am an outsider by nature. And it is a good thing, cause I cannot say that a country, a group, a tribe, is better than the other. Actually they are really alike. We are all human; we have the same desires, the same fears. We only speak different languages and we worship different uninterested gods, to whom anyhow we ask the same things. To be safe, to have food, to protect those we love. Same wishes. Same feelings. Just different words.

For an expat this sense of community is obvious. We left a box, we live in another, and we recognize the common pattern and of course the differences. For those that live and have always lived, in one of the boxes this exercise is not so easy. What’s missing is the comparison. So maybe, the best antidote against the poison of xenophobia is travelling. As much as you can, as long as you can and as far as you can. Cause as Robert Louis Stevenson said ‘There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign’.



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