I was walking in the street under a heavy November rain, it was the 13th day of September. I was wearing a black hooded raincoat and I was completely wet. Who knows why it was not waterproof? My canvas shoes and my socks were sponges. I decided to remove the hood from my wet head. It was annoying, cold, windy, and my rendezvous was 30 minutes away. My thoughts were reflecting the situation: “why is it raining? Why this rendezvous? Why 30minutes away? why my clothes are not waterproof? why why why?” I was needing help.
Almost 2000 years away from now, in Hierapolis, one of the hottest day of the year, a slave was born. He was not crying. He was under a heavy rain, the rain of her mother’s tears. That was how she was using her emotions, and this day was for her a mix of all possible emotions. That baby was watered like a plant so he grew up and became Epictète, the most free of all slaves, the most free of all men. He decided to teach others how to be free. His student Arrien, wrote this lesson into a book. Across the human history, this book was recopied by antics writers, by monks, it was printed, read, loved, hated, burnt, digitized, downloaded, and of course, sold by international major companies. One paper copy of this book was in the interior pocket of my jacket which was getting more and more wet. Fortunately the book was dry, but for how long?
As I was unpleasantly walking in the rain, I decided to apply the lesson of my old indirect slave teacher. Can I do something about this situation? Well, no. I really want to go to that rendez-vous, I don’t want to be late, there is no umbrella store on the way and I cannot stop this fucking rain. What is not changeable by my will is out of my world and I don’t want to loose my time to complain about it. Let’s focus on my world, on what my will can change. My clothes were slowly turning into cold sponges, my head was hitted by hundreds of raindrops, but I was walking in the street with a big smile on my face, my book safely dry against my chest. I was focussing on my drying strategy as soon as I will reach the place of my rendezvous, 30 minutes later.
At last I finally reached my destination, a small building in the upper streets of the Mont Valérien. I started to apply my drying strategy… I went to the toilet, used some hand towel to dry my face and my hair, then went to the waiting room, putting my sponge raincoat on a chair so my pants and jacket were drying slowly during the few minutes remaining before the start of the rendezvous.
A few minutes later, an old man came in the waiting room and just said “-Monsieur Jacob?”. It was incredible, I was so surprised that I was just able to pronounce the only word “Oui” and to follow him in his office. That was Melquiades! He was a bit younger than the previous time I had met him in the book, but there was no doubt about it, I was now in the office of this incredible charming gipsy old man..
He asked me to sit on a chair at the back of the room, facing him. I simply obeyed. There, I was sitting beside a big and complex mechanical instrument. It was made of a large sideboard which was extended by dozens of articulated arms. At the end of each arm there was several religious masks. Their eyes were made by sparkling colorful gems… Melquiades was sitting behind the sideboard, a reassuring smile on his wrinkled bearded face.
I started to explain him why I was here, but he interrupted me rapidly but nicely: “I know François, you don’t need to talk, please just put your head against that frame, and relax.”. I was feeling so peaceful that I simply did what he asked. Then he moved one of the mechanical arms, to make me wear a mask of Ganesh. I was now looking at the old man through two small rubies. There was dozens of red shining Melchiades facing me. They turned a small crank that produced a little lied of Schubert and then it started! It was now a visual whirlwind. The twelve gipsies were turning around a little white moon which was launching small green fireworks on each side of my view. Each explosion of light was giving birth to a new spiral of plant: Romanesco cabbage, mint, cactuses and many more were all dancing around the white satellite. The smell of the mint was deeply penetrating into my lungs. I heard a small click and then millions of yellow and blue insects were appearing on the surface of the central moving moon. There were more and more, the smaller bugs were eaten by bigger ones, and soon there was only a giant surviving slug with lillions of little sharp teeth. It was now about to eat my head! I was so afraid that I tried to move my face out of the mask, but it was locked. I was full of panic, I couldn’t even breath! I was instinctively shaking my face quickly from left to right. But suddenly, the moon was shining very intensely and the slug collapsed and disappeared against it. There was no sound except my quick strong heartbeat. “La luna, trust la luna!” screamed the old gipsy while my eyes were full of tears. The only thing that I remembered after this, was Melchiades, a quiet smile on his face, shaking my hand while I was leaving his office….
A few minutes later, in the bus, as I was going home, I found a paper in my pocket signed by him and preceded by those words: “Une paire de lunette avec montures (+0.75/+0.50)”.
To be continued …