“As much as the journey will make us suffer, the suffering of not taking the journey would be unbearable. The journey of life is the journey of love. ‘O amor é urgente.’ – Love is urgent.”
words by JOSÉ NEVES photographed by FREDERICO MARTINS
“The other day in one of my long haul flights I watched Interstellar. When I was a kid I wanted to be an astronaut and, since then, I’ve always loved science fiction. From 2001: A Space Odyssey to Gravity and I obviously couldn’t miss Interstellar, although, at best, I was expecting a movie about the mysteries of the universe. So I was very touched and surprised when in fact Interstellar was, disconcertingly, about love. Each movie touches us for different reasons and master film makers know how to stir our emotions. In this case I was deeply touched because it covered the subjects of love and how it survives the perils of distance, time and death. It touched me because it touched on different types of love. The love of parent and child, the love between adults and the love we all have of humanity. And how distance and time completely tear us apart and are the source of never-ending human suffering. I was born in Porto but live and work in London. As a result I have family in Portugal, including my 4 kids from my first marriage. Of course I spend every other weekend with them and Christmas, Easter and Summer holidays, but I still miss them so much. I am married to a Brazilian who left her family behind and, like me, came to London to build her career and fulfil her dream. We relate to each other in many ways, but especially because we’re united in the suffering of being in one place and part of us wanting to be in the other, constantly missing our loved ones across seas, but at the same time knowing we cannot go back. Going back would be to turn our backs to our destinies and we would suffer even more. The distance may bring suffering but not to continue to fare on the journey we have begun would bring even more suffering. The Portuguese have a word for this emotion: “Saudade”, to miss someone or some place. Perhaps it was invented by the navigators who set sail to unchartered waters knowing they might never come back. Perhaps it was invented by the loved ones they left behind. Pessoa wrote that the oceans are salty from all the tears by those who sought to discover those unchartered waters. In Interstellar, love is revealed as a cosmic dimension–meaning we live in a cosmos not made just of space and time, but in fact made of space, time and love. Love, in fact, has the power to link these dimensions so that we are able to be thousands of miles apart but still be close to the ones we love, and we’re ultimately able to transcend death by love. I couldn’t help but cry when I saw myself in that father that went on a journey which was his destiny, knowing he would never see his children again, his constant suffering and anxiety, the disappointment of his kids when he left and, yet, the enduring link between them which ended up saving them all – LOVE. And so it dawned on me that we are born to love, therefore we are born to suffer. We’re born to be both the source and recipients of bliss and disappointment, of joy and sadness, of hate and love. There’s no way out, and why should there be? Where did we get this notion that happiness can be found only in tranquil waters, that it can be pursued and – if we’re resolute enough – eventually found, as if happiness was a place, waiting for us somewhere, and we just have to look hard enough and we will find it. Sometimes we think happiness is a place where we were and where we aspire to return to. Perhaps it was left in our mother’s womb? We grow up convinced happiness is either in the future or in the past. In fact happiness is the present, but the present once apprehended is no longer the present, and happiness once again has escaped us. Love is the essence of that dimension – which is not past and is not future. It’s here and now, it’s a brutal, all sweeping force that keeps our heart beating, our lungs breathing our mind buzzing with emotions and thoughts. And this is why, as human beings seeking happiness, we are instinctively seeking love. Or perhaps the other way around? “O amor é urgente.” wrote a Portuguese poet, “Love is urgent.” In the presence of love, we are capable of the most heroic acts and we’re ready to change our lives, no matter the cost. Love shatters social conventions, hardships and conventional truths. Love cannot be judged. It simply manifests itself. Love is also very uncanny, as it is not constant. It’s not a feeling, or an emotion. In fact it manifests itself as a myriad of emotions. Sometimes it is lust, sometimes it is compassion, sometimes it is anger and sometimes it is sadness. It can make us laugh and cry, it can be blissful or maddening, cozy or restless. As much as the journey will make us suffer, the suffering of not taking the journey would be unbearable. The journey of life is the journey of love. “O amor é urgente.” – Love is urgent.