As in the temple, so in the parking lot

This time, for my Apprentice Befana sharing, I choose to communicate through an image.

parking lot

It might seem like a banal image, but for me, there is an entire world behind this pattern of interlocking blocks on the ground that we contact almost every day at Damanhur. For me, they are the symbol of an emotional experience that I’ve been wanting to share for some time, although I hadn’t found the right occasion until now. Let’s see if the Apprentice Befana can transmit this feeling from a few years ago…

I had just come back to Damanhur after a long period in America. I was drifting through everyday life with open eyes observing everything with a deep sense of happiness and amazement. I am at Damanhur, at home. Here I am again, finally! Seeing things, seeing you. Touching you. Touching with the hands, the senses, without the digital or astral filters of distance. Everything was real, present, a tremendous gift.

I was walking through the Damjl parking lot, gazing downward with slitted eyes due to the brightness of the summer sun, and all of a sudden, I stopped. For the first time, I saw these interlocking blocks that I had ignored for so many years. I observed their uniform rectangular shape, with colors ranging from brick red to orange-grey. They – the blocks that is – started talking to me. Some had sweet voices. Others were more enraged. Each one reminded me that someone had put it there, someone who had worked up a sweat. I saw a vision of wheelbarrows full of blocks, emptied and filled up again. Every piece in its place, one after the other, gradually completing the covering on the ground.

Hall of MirrorsI felt such a strong wave of emotion in my heart that tears came to my eyes. I was struck by how much love and effort was invested in building this parking lot ground cover, so simple, essential and taken for granted. I felt as if I were in the Temples of Humankind, in the Hall of Mirrors, with feet planted on the ground, neck craned and mouth agape, astonished by the stained glass dome above, appreciating every color, every piece of glass that had been traced, cut, broken, ground down to the perfect shape, covered with a strip of perfectly balanced copper tape, and bound in liquid metal, slipping and densifying.

In that moment, I understood. They are the same: the thousands of blocks underneath my feet and the thousands of glass pieces above my head. As above, so below. The only difference is that the glass is gazed upon and admired every day, and the interlocking blocks are hardly ever noticed. Although, they are the same because the love, attention and devotion that is in each piece is the same. I quickly started walking toward my office again, to avoid the embarrassment of having to explain why I was standing there crying in the middle of the parking lot at Damjl.

Sometimes, when the everyday efforts of constantly moving forward and building Damanhur start to weigh on me, and I feel tempted to stop, retreat, fly away with my imagination to a less demanding reality, I think of those parking lot blocks. I think of the anonymous hands that have placed them there in perfect right angles. I am strengthened by this image and the certainty that one day, every piece that has been built in whatever material will speak to someone who is listening.

 

Questa volta per la mia condivisione da Apprendista Befana, scelgo di comunicare attraverso un’immagine. Potrebbe sembrare un’immagine banale, ma per me c’è un mondo dietro questo intreccio di masselli che contattiamo quasi ogni giorno a Damanhur. Per me è simbolo di un’emozione che volevo raccontarvi da tempo, ma non trovavo l’occasione o le parole giuste. Vediamo se l’Apprendista Befana riesce a trasmettere questo sentimento da qualche anno fa…

Ero tornata a Damanhur da poco, dopo un lungo periodo lavorando all’estero. Attraversavo la vita quotidiana con occhi aperti che osservavano tutto con un profondo senso di stupore e felicità. Io sono a Damanhur, a casa. Ci sono di nuovo, finalmente! A vedere, vedervi. A toccarvi. Toccare con le mani, con i sensi, senza filtri di distanza, digitale o astrale. Tutto era vero, presente, un grandissimo regalo.

DamjlCamminavo nel parcheggio di Damjl guardando in giù, occhi socchiusi per la brillantezza del sole estivo, e mi sono fermata improvvisamente. Vedevo per la prima volta questi masselli autobloccanti che ho ignorato per così tanti anni, guardando le forme uniforme, rettangolare, i color leggermente variati dal rosso mattone, al grigio-arancione. Loro – gli autobloccanti – mi hanno cominciato a parlare, alcuni con voci leggeri, altri più accaniti, ognuno ricordandomi che è stato messo lì da qualcuno, che lavoravo, sudavo. Vedevo nella mia mente le carriole piene, svuotate e riempite. Ogni pezzo nel suo posto, uno dopo l’altro, man mano a completare la copertura sulla terra.

Nel mio cuore sentivo un’onda di emozione fortissima, e mi sono venute le lacrime. Sono stata colpita da quanto amore e sforzo è stato investito per fare questa costruzione, semplice, essenziale, ormai data per scontata. SONY DSCSentivo come se fossi nei Templi dell’Umanità, nella Sala degli Specchi con i piedi piantati sul pavimento, naso in su e bocca socchiusa, meravigliata dalla cupola di vetro, apprezzando ogni colore, ogni pezzo che è stato tracciato, tagliato, rotto, lavorato alla forma giustissima, coperto sui lati con adesivo in rame perfettamente equilibrato, e legato in metallo liquido, scivolando, addensando.

E ho capito. Sono uguali: i migliaia di autobloccanti sotto i piedi e i migliaia di pezzi di vetro sopra la testa. Come in alto così in basso. Solo che il vetro è visto, osservato e amato ogni giorno, e gli autobloccanti quasi mai. Comunque, sono uguali perché l’amore, l’attenzione e la dedizione che c’è dentro ogni pezzo è uguale. Velocemente, ho ripreso a camminare verso l’ufficio, per evitare l’imbarazzo di dover spiegare perché stavo piangendo in mezzo il parcheggio di Damjl.

A volte quando gli sforzi di ogni giorno per andare sempre avanti a costruire Damanhur mi appesantiscono, e sono tentata a smettere, ritirarmi, volare via con la fantasia in una realtà meno impegnativa, penso a questi autobloccanti. Penso alle mani anonimi che li hanno messo lì in angolo retto perfetto. Mi rafforza questa immagine, e la certezza che un giorno, ogni pezzo costruito in qualsiasi materiale parlerà a qualcuno che ascolta.

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4 thoughts on “As in the temple, so in the parking lot

  1. I found Quaglia’s article with her reflections on the Damjl parking lot blocks very touching and interesting, so I would like to share a piece of Damanhur history that many people may not know.
    Before the Damjl parking lot was paved, it was a dirt lot that created a lot of discomfort for everyone (Damanhur citizens and guests) when it rained, because of the mud and the puddles of water. Even when it was dry, it was difficult for the amount of dust that rose every time a car entered. The project to pave the parking lot was on hold for many years since there were always other priorities. Then in 1994, we formed community regions: Etulte, Tentyris, Acamil, Valdaijmil, Rama Pan.
    The Valdaijmil region – made up of about 40 resident citizens in the nucleos around the current Damjl area – took the project to heart, and every month, each one of us set aside an amount, and we succeeded in paving the first part of the parking lot, which at that time still cost about €20,000. The coordinators of this project were Husky as head of the Valdaijmil region and Piovra for the artistic part.
    I want to tell you a nice anecdote. At the beginning of the project, after choosing the materials, defining the measurements, the lights, etc. we decided to play a joke on the foreman who was coordinating the work of paving the parking lot. He was a young Sardinian man living in the town of Castellamonte nearby Damanhur). We invited him for a coffee at the Somachandra cafe, and in a very natural way, Piovra pulled out an extremely complicated design which was the dome of the Hall of Mirrors, telling him that we wanted to make this image on the parking lot. We thought that he would have been completely blown away, and he would have said no, we can’t do that! It’s too hard and complex. But instead, with a nice smile, he immediately said yes! He just said that where the smaller pieces were, there would be less weight-bearing capacity on the blocks for the cars passing over them. We were not expecting this, and we were stunned. We learned our own lesson from this: that everything is possible, everything can be done. We hadn’t anticipated his reaction, but at that point, what had started as a joke became the oval image that is currently on the pavement of the parking lot.
    A few years later (in 1988 I think) citizens of Valdaijmil made an additional effort, and we completed the pavement until the edge of the parking lot where there is the second gate, increasing the quality of life for everyone, or at least, for everyone who had walked and driven through dirt and mud all those years.

    I share this story for the benefit of future generations!

    con voi,
    Husky Vaniglia

  2. Pingback: A year of being the Befana | Quaglia Cocco

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