CEMETERIES IN SICILY

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Enna’s cemetery is large enough to look like a town.  It has broad avenues and tall tombs. Many tombs are similar to small houses. They have a room inside with walled niches and an altar where once was celebrated Mass on November 2.

I dare say that the cemeteries in Sicily are unique. I have visited some burying places while traveling around the world, but they were completely different than the Sicilian cemeteries, for every population on earth has its own way of treating the dead, depending on its culture and traditions.

In Italy, before the Napoleonic edict, the dead were buried in the churches. Later, this custom fell into disuse.

My maternal grandmother, Paolina, used to keep in her family tomb a few chairs for herself and her family, relatives and friends that came to visit the tomb or had the chance to pass by it.

This is an excerpt from November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily

Ettore Grillo author of these books:

November 2 The Day of the Dead in Sicily
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

A QUICK LOOK AT THE MAFIA

 

A man with a beard in a hat, tie. Logo for barbershop, men's store
A man with a beard in a hat, tie. Logo for barbershop, men’s store.

Once,  the Italian public television interviewed a mafioso from Corleone, a town in the province of Palermo. He served his life sentence in a prison in Sardinia. During his captivity he painted oil paintings. Seen on the small screen, his paintings looked beautiful. Then, the interviewer asked him if it was true that he was still a Mafia boss and wielded power from prison.

“Every time a Mafia murder occurs, the authorities charge me as the mandator in the murder. This is absurd! I have been locked in this prison for many years. Do you think I can keep control over the Mafia from my cell?” replied the Mafia boss.

In my opinion he was right. If a lifer can still have influence over a criminal organization while he is locked in a prison, it means that the prison administration is inefficient.

Actually, some murders were charged to that life convict from Corleone. I can assume the reason. When a serious bloodshed happens, the general public wants a culprit. Why not give people an easy-to-find culprit, that is the indistinct Mafia, which has neither name nor surname, or a lifer?

This is an excerpt from November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily

Ettore Grillo author of these books:

November 2 The Day of the Dead in Sicily
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

THE MYSTERY OF LOVE

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“The mystery of love is contained in the myth of Eros and Psyche. Psyche was a very beautiful girl. Eros fell in love with her. In the nighttime, he met her in a house in the middle of the forest, without ever revealing his appearance. ‘If you don’t see me,’ said Eros, ‘our love will last; otherwise, it will vanish like snow in the hot sun.’ But, Psyche couldn’t resist the temptation of seeing her lover. So, one night, while Eros was sleeping, she saw the extraordinary beauty of her man in the light of an oil lamp. Yet, a drop of hot oil from the lamp fell on Eros’s shoulder. Suddenly, he woke up and disappeared. Psyche couldn’t see him anymore! The meaning of the myth is clear. You can’t understand love or observe it too closely. If you try to know what love is, it will vanish. You just have to live love without ever asking what it is. Love is a mystery! Just live the mystery!”
“For me,” said Mario, “there must be something rational in love. Someone says that love is an art that can be learned and understood.”
“I don’t think so,” replied Lorenzo. “If love were an art to be learned, lovers would have realized how to make their love last forever. Yet, it is not like that. Almost all loves end up extinguishing sooner or later, like fire that flames at first, but with time burns out.
“Someone thinks that it is possible to use some techniques to make a person fall in love. I don’t think so. Love is attraction and feeling. I think no technique can make a person love somebody. The biggest mistake one can make is to consider love as a safe haven to live happily and serenely for all life. Love is unstable!
“However things are, it is certain that you can’t buy love. Even the rich and the potent can’t buy it with their money and power. So, love is the peak of justice because it doesn’t make any distinction between the rich and the poor, the weak and the potent.”
“Nevertheless, I will keep traveling and looking for my ideal soul mate. I won’t give up, even if I can’t find her until the end of my life. I will always cherish in my mind the hope that somewhere I will find a woman who suits me. Someday, my eternal love will appear to me definitely,” Alberto said sincerely.
“Don’t search for love outside yourself! You won’t find it!” said Judge Cangemi. “Love is a state of your being! If you become love, everything is love. If you are not love, you can’t find love outside. To find the real eternal love is illusion! You’d better try to become love yourself!”
“I agree with Judge Cangemi,” concluded Uncle Salvatore. “Yes, love is important in our life, but I think the most important journey is to search after the immortal soul and the source of our frail but precious life.”
For about fifteen minutes, the lounge of The old Club of the Noblemen fell silent. No one had any intention of standing up. The theme ‘love’ had stirred up their buried emotions. They were all old men. Many years had gone by since the first date with the loved girlfriend, the first kiss to her. But, time couldn’t wither their hearts. Love has no age. It is timeless and boundless. Love is the source of life in the universe.
The keeper of the club came near the small group of members.
“Sorry to disturb you all. It’s time to close,” he said with submissive voice.
“Yes, let’s go home!” said Uncle Salvatore.
Everybody stood up and headed for the exit of the club. The keeper lowered the shutter. The last part of the day was painted with a conversation about love. Tomorrow, another story of life would be continued.

This is an excerpt from Travels of the Mind by Ettore Grillo
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

TWO WAYS TO LIVE LIFE

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There are two ways to live our lives. One is to be content with little, remain confined to one’s own birthplace, and lead a peaceful life. The other is to get out of one’s friendly environment and venture into the unknown for the sake of knowledge and exploration. Opting for one way instead of the other doesn’t depend on one’s merit, but on the inner psychological makeup. As for me, if I didn’t suffer from a pathological anxiety and fear of death, I would never have started my journey around the world in search of a solution to the issue.
My mother always used to repeat that neither bad weather nor good weather lasts long. It was a good lesson, and now the bad weather in Rishikesh seemed to be an allegory of life, which passes through sunshine and storms. Sometimes it flows smoothly and sometimes stormy, but it is worth living to the fullest.

This is an excerpt from A Hidden Sicilian History by Ettore Grillo
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

CROSSING THE HIMALAYAS BY BUS

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There is a mountain pass from Manali to Lee. It is the highest pass in the world  at 5,500 meters above sea level. It is difficult to breathe at that altitude. You have to drink a lot of water. There are also no toilets on the road, so the bus stops from time to time along the way.
“Our bus broke down, and we were given the option of spending the night in a marquee at an altitude of around four thousand meters or continuing our way with another bus that had a few vacant seats. I opted for continuing my journey, because I couldn’t endure the altitude. I was very dizzy and had the feeling that I would collapse at any moment.
“The bus travelled on a vast plateau. No roads or paths were visible, but the driver seemed to know the way very well. I never imagined that there were such vast tablelands in the Himalayas. It was almost like a lunar landscape. The soil was dry, and needles and rocks emerged from the ground here and there—no trees, not a blade of grass. I had the sensation of having landed on another deserted planet in our solar system. Apparently, the monsoons can’t overcome the mountain range. Nevertheless, now and then I spotted some isolated green areas.”
“How is it possible that there are only patches that are green with trees? I asked a person sitting next to me.”
“It is like an oasis in the desert. Somehow there is water underneath the ground. The city of Lee is just an oasis. It doesn’t rain there much, but the area is rich in underground water, he answered.”
“We reached the maximum altitude of the pass and I felt relieved,” the woman continued. “From then on the bus would go downhill. The worst had passed, and gradually  I started breathing normally.”

This is an excerpt from A Hidden Sicilian History by Ettore Grillo
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

 

WHAT IS THE GOAL OF LIFE?

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I remember talking once about an existential subject with one of the workers at my father’s company, who looked well educated.
“What is the goal of your life?” I asked.
“I have given up trying to find a goal in life, otherwise I get lost,” he answered. “I pursue small goals like planning an enjoyable vacation, or saving money to buy a gift for my girlfriend. These are my little aims, and have nothing to do with metaphysical speculations.”
Who knows if the worker was right! As for me, I cannot live without asking myself the why of things. It is probably because of my conditioning from my philosophy teacher.

“I’ll fail you, Vincenzino, unless you start to ask yourself why everything exists and happens. You have to ask yourself why the earth is round, why the moon orbits the earth, and why the planets orbit the sun. If you are on the bus, you have to ask yourself why it is moving. In other words, you have to find an answer to everything that happens.”

This is an excerpt from A Hidden Sicilian History by Ettore Grillo
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

WALKING ON THE BEACH OF ARAMBOL, GOA (INDIA)

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Many people lay down to get a tan or chatted in the bars in the afternoon. Most tourists were Westerners, many of them from Russia. It seemed to me that they were all leading an existence devoid of goals. They chatted, played on the beach, swam, and took pictures. There were two ladies who enjoyed being photographed close to a bull lying on the beach. Sometimes I asked myself if it was me who was the real outcast, someone who persisted in searching for a goal in life, while life actually has no end.

Over the days, I noticed that not everyone who spent their holiday in Goa was devoid of inner content. In the yoga class there were youngsters who looked very learned in the spiritual field. At the break of day the shore swarmed with people doing meditation, yoga, and other spiritual activities. Some played the flute, others the drum. Others did walking meditation, which is a kind of meditation based on watching one’s own steps. Others did laughing meditation, which is obviously based on laughing. From this I inferred that no one on Earth is devoid of spirituality. Everybody has his or her inner world, but it is different from one another.

This is an excerpt from A Hidden Sicilian History by Ettore Grillo
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

 

THE ARABS IN SICILY

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The Arabs remained in Sicily for two centuries and brought with them good culture in the fields of art and literature. They also improved the agricultural irrigation systems. Likewise, they also brought the new Islamic religion, so that Sicily swarmed with mosques. According to some authors, at the time of the Arab occupation there were more mosques in Palermo than in Istanbul. There were also many mosques in Enna, but they were all converted into Catholic churches after the Normans took the Arabs’ place in Sicily. One of these converted churches in Enna is that of Saint Michael, whose Moresque features are still visible.

This is an excerpt from A Hidden Sicilian History by Ettore Grillo
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

WHAT IS LOVE?

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When I lived with Sebastiano on the estate in Pollicarini, the farmhand took care of the she-asses that he co-owned with my family. We didn’t have to worry about the condition of the animals, and the farmer looked after them as if they were his family members. He curried them often. You could see their good health from the brilliance of their coats.
Whenever he took one of the she-asses out from the stable, they both brayed, pawed the ground, and got restless. They couldn’t endure being parted. Later on, after they were reunited, they showed their happiness by smelling each other.
Was that love? Why shouldn’t it be considered love? Love for friends or partners belongs to the nature of all creatures. It can be considered a gift of nature. There is no difference between animals and human beings when it comes to love.
In some species love is stronger than humans. There are many animals that are monogamous. The pre-eminent monogamous species is the emperor penguin, but there are many other birds and a few mammals with strong dispositions to love. The mandarin ducks, also called loving birds, have only one union in their life. When one of the mates dies, the other won’t accept a different partner and remains alone for the rest of its life.
The logical corollary of what I expounded on above is that the love we have for our children, our friends, and our relatives doesn’t add any merit to our being, because the feelings we express don’t depend upon our free will and heart. We just instinctively express a kind of love that is not dissimilar to that of animals.
Real love is different…

This is an excerpt from A Hidden Sicilian History by Ettore Grillo
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo