A letter to Lance

(Versão em Português)

Dear Lance,

Around here, among the people to whom I use to chat, there’s this man called Machado. One of these days, I revealed to him the anxiety that grieves me when I think of the uncertainty about my destiny, when I wander through the pathways of this place, this strange and pleasant place, lovely and inscrutable, calm and mysterious. My caring confidant argued that it’s useless to try to unveil the mystery, this two-sided structure, where life and death cohabit.
– We were once on that side, now we are on the other. – he said.
– And then? What will happen to me on this side? – I asked.
– Did you have an answer for this question when you were there?
– I knew about death only.
– Well, here they decided to take this kind of certainty from us.
I must confess that these conversations brought me a little confort and patience for the long hours of waiting. When I’m not with him, I’m alone, crestfallen, sorely reflecting about the winding road I’ve chosen to track on my first stage, on the first side of the mystery, according to my friend.
For some reason I truly don’t know, I have acquired in this place a sort of discernment about myself, about the way that I usually relate to the world around me. Although this new feature have made me conscious of my limitations, typical limitations of people who lay down eyes only on themselves, it is still very hard to be at peace with myself. From this constant uneasiness, honest regrets have emerged, not the kind of regrets that smother us, that impel us to desperately ask for apologies, but regrets that made me look back e see that, even though I was dominated by a sad ignorance, I could have behaved differently, I could have heard that inner voice suggesting me another way, another destiny; the same voice that, nowadays, accuses me. Concerning to you, to the tiny period of time we’ve lived together, there is this sense of loss, of having valued the ephemeral, of having despised a true love, of having spent a useless time thinking about myself, deaf and blind to reality, damning the unexpected position of father. To my pleasant surprise, in this very place, quite differente from the conceived usual images of heaven and hell, I have experienced all this pain in a very smooth and kind way. My friend Machado called this reaction of mine as maturity. He assured me that I was ready for a next step: he gave a pencil, an eraser, two sheets of white paper and no restrictions. “It would be good if you wrote him a letter”, my friend said.
Lance, it is not my intention to try to change your opinion about me: first, because I believe you’re right and second, because in my stunned mind there’s still a significant amount of pride. I’d like to reveal my impressions about what’s been happening to you during these last months. A brutal difference between my world and yours is that we, this legion of rambler souls, can watch for brief moments what happens on the oher side. I’ll start by telling you how fatherly proud I became after watching the interview, specially when you talked about the reasons that motivated you to be interviewed. I think of your tremendous courage to reveal your dark side – a side that we all have – to that shrewd interviewer who despised almost every word you said. I think of the terrible anguish you might have felt when you realized that you had crossed borders, that you had cynically disqualified the honesty of your accusers and token advantage of the naivety of your defensors. I think of the trouble you had in preserving those people you hurt and, at the sime time, to open yourself widely in front of a TV camera to that morality paladin. I think of your sincerity when you talked about the impulses that led you to a self-destruction behavior, that they are still present, against which you’ve been fighting, on an analyst’s couch, and trying to tame them. I think of the joy that you feel for your job, of your wish to find a new sense to it and to compete again, honestly.  I think of how hard you are on yourself: there was this moment when you classified as egoistical your intention to take advantage of the interview to get your job back, to express your revolt against what you called a “death penalty”. There is egotism in this interest as much as there is egotism in asking for apologies: man is egoistic, he sees himself first and then the others. We are used to label, to frame, to define people and things, because somebody somewhere once thought that it was easier to analyze groups instead of individuals. Indoctrinated in this confortable attitude, we lose the perception that each one is one e we spend most of the time trying to classify other people: some of us, like your interviewer, do it professionally.
Lance, please, let me be daring: allow me to defend you. You don’t need it, I know, beacuse you’ve became extremely courageous: a characteristic that you did not inherite from my DNA. In this rare opportunity that was given to me, I need to egotistically take, at least once, a paternal attitude. As the liar cyclist is already being adequately sacrificed, I want to defend Lance the human being, wishful of reparation, of asking for apologies. I want to defend Lance the working man, father of five, husband, cancer survivor, the lonely son, fatherless, fatherless, fatherless…Let me talk about the hypocrisy of the “American Way of Life”, of the cheap and pernicious moralism that pervades the so called american public opinion, which the famous host Oprah Winfrey is one of its mouths, one of its icons. Always noisy and hysterical, the audience of your interviewer is always thirsty for a show, for a spectacle, for a circus of horrors, if possible, in which the beauty and the beast dance, also the saint and the profaine, the gooddy and the baddy, the jerk and the humanitarian. She needs to see you and the world through this binary vision that divides everything in right or wrong, good or bad, beacuse, this way, any history becomes more understandable, more palatable to the mob. When the wily interviewer repeatedly criticized your back cynicism exhibiting old interviews, she barely could hide her own cynicism, undoubtedly clear in her face, in her grimace of distrust. But it is not only about this oportunistic hypocrisy that I want to defend you from: the american society, with its strange sense of justice, that points you the finger is the same society that refuses to sign international protocols for the reduction of toxic emission, is the same society responsible for this economic world crisis, is the same society that usurps autonomous countries, that makes and finances wars, that supports millitary coups, that tolerates indiscriminant gun sales. Why this very society that astonishedly accepted the government outright lies for invading Iraq does not understand your lies? Why did this society decide to banish again a fatherless that desperately needed, at any cost, to prove to some father figure that he could win, that he could be an autonomous person, wealthy, suscessfull? Why? Because you frustrated the collective narcisism, Lance. You frustrated the infallibility of the north-american man: this naive conception that deceives us since we were kids. You revealed yourself a human being, fragile, made of flesh and blood; a reality that your idolaters were not prepared for. In this concrete form, I see you more clearly, I feel you more adult, more concious of your self and the reality of the world.
Here, while I’m writing, I sense the vibration, the traffic of all these desperate beings, this shapeless bodies searching the inconceivable, this opaque eyes exploring the void, hopeful for concrete news, for a tiny little trace of certainty about their destiny. I must say that I’m a little more calm to face all this doudts: we truly believed that, in this pleasant place, they would give us peace, but I begin to realize that things do not function here this way. I guess we’ll begin a new process, slow and dificult, which we don’t have any clue about. When I think of this anxiety that infects us, I remember the advice they gave you: “Truth will set you free”. What truth is that, Lance? Where is it? I can’t find an answer and also nobody else here. What we have here, what we get in this new world is the ability to deprive a little more from ourselves, to understand a little more accurately what sorrounds us: the immaterial and the concrete. Yes, Lance, I thank them for not taking the matter away from this new universe, this touchable mass, limited in time and space. That’s why we still can exchange greetings, still can hug each other, kiss each other. They also did not deprive us from the use of objects: they are everywhere, at our disposal. Some days ago, I rode a fast bike and dreamt of you.

Eddie Gunderson
(1953-2012)

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