I am very happy to write for you. My disappearance last week was because I was finishing a book that will be published in Spain next spring. The project has a beautiful origin that I will now explain.
I have always been an art lover. One of my friends, Manel Valls, opened the Art Enllà gallery in the midst of a pandemic. That was brave! To support him, I bought the first painting in the history of this new space.
After that, I have continued to help him in different ways. I presented the book of one of his artists in the gallery for an audience of art enthusiasts. Among them was Ana Pániker who, in addition to being a painter, is editor of Kairós and sister of the publisher and writer Agustín Pániker. I knew him from his books and his travel stories on my favourite radio show.
At the end of the presentation, Ana approached me, and we chatted. At one point in the conversation, she told me:
“My brother and I would very much like you to write a book for us.”
The proposal was a surprise and a challenge for me, because I have grown up reading books by Kairos’ authors such as DT Suzuki, Alan Watts, Ken Wilber and many others. I also interviewed the founder of the publishing house, Salvador Pániker, shortly before he died. I never imagined that I would be part of their catalogue.
The fact is that, a few weeks later, I met Ana and Agustín at a tearoom. They told me that they would love that I would write a book on urban spirituality. After thinking about how to approach it, I finally decided I would address the 20 existential questions that we all ask ourselves at some time in life.
To fulfill this mission, I have turned to masters of all kinds who seem relevant to me, as well as my own experiences and visions.
A week ago, I delivered the manuscript. It is too early yet to share the title, but I can say that the questions are about friendship, love, happiness, life and death…
On the latter, among many other things, I turned to Richard Dawkins, the biologist who wrote The Selfish Gene. It strikes me as the most inspiring speech in Youtube history, as it only takes 56 seconds to explain why, even though our lives are limited, we should be extremely happy just being here. He wrote it to be read at his own funeral and goes like this:
“We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly, those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds, it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here. We privileged few, who won the lottery of birth against all odds, how dare we whine at our inevitable return to that prior state from which the vast majority have never stirred?”
Happy week and thank you for winning the lottery and being here!
PS: You can see and listen to this speech by Richard Dawkins at this link: https://youtu.be/_nwyr585a7g
PS: The painting that heads this article belongs to the last exhibition at Art Enllà. It is an original watercolor by Javier Mariscal called Fonoll i casita.