Nine years ago, Andrea was a head hunter,
partner in an executive search company in Milan. He was married to a very rich
woman and had three children. He had all that an average 40 year old man
could dream of: a beautiful house in town, a nice car, a house near the
seaside and the best schools for the kids. But he was not happy at all. He
felt imprisoned in a golden cage. He started to see his own family as
strangers, who were speaking a language he didn’t understand. He felt another
life was possible, so he left.

He left his wife and kids, he left his
job, and started to read books that helped him in his search into himself, into
the multiplicity of his identity. But being in Milan he did not feel free. His
wife and kids filled him with requests, everybody tried to bring him back
to “normality”: his parents, friends and colleagues. So escaped
to Thailand with the little money he had left. There he re-built another life
with another woman, but soon he realized he was imprisoned again. He flew to a
Tibetan monastery to meditate, but again he felt he hadn’t found his place in
the world. A couple of years ago he returned to Milan. After three years
in Thailand he had learned Thai massage and had read mountains of books.

I think Andrea possesses the wisdom of
those who are naked, having rejected all possessions, status and those
relationships which felt meaningless. The wisdom of the seekers, who accept
being naked and lost, as a way to true knowledge. He now uses this wisdom for
anti-stress counselling, Reiki and Thai massage, to help people’s body and mind
to start a journey towards one’s core identity and thus become one with the

Andrea told me one day that he wanted to
experience my self-portrait method. He came to my studio in Gorgonzola and took
a series of wonderful photographs, following my directions on the expression of
emotions and the exploration of the void. We selected 5 pictures and we both
agreed to choose the picture above as the work of art. We both agreed that this
picture contained all the others, the whole process. We discussed about the
picture just after he took it, and then again a week later, so that we could
work together in depth on the many possible meanings, on our own interpretations.

I told Andrea I felt this self-portrait
expresses all his life-story. He agreed, saying that the picture seems to be
the distillation of all the experiences he’s lived. He saw delusion, and the
questions that a seeker asks himself at a certain point: “why seek? If you
don’t get anywhere, then it’s useless… I became a seeker because I needed to
reduce my existential pain, to learn to accept what’s there.” He saw a profound
sadness in this photograph, for having lost many opportunities, for not becoming
what he could have become. “I feel potentially great, but in fact I am
not. I am still perpetually dissatisfied, although I see that most people are
even worse. I have learned to reduce my expectations, so I can be happier with
the present situation. It’s disturbing to see sadness in this picture, it’s
hard to accept it, but sadness is part of what’s there. What’s essential is not
to succumb to sadness, to watch it, let it be…” He spoke these words, always
watching his self-portrait.

“It seems that the body is not so
important… there are no muscles. The body is, to me, a framework for the mind,
and the heart. I love to philosophize… the mind matters more to me”. But, I
ask, what emotion or state does the body express? “ Vulnerability… being naked,
and lost.” But maybe not so lost, his gazed is focused, it seems he knows his
way, he is wise…

In this picture, I see MAN
today. Andrea agrees. Like all true artists, he expressed the essence of
mankind, so that we can understand our true state, which is being naked, and
lost. And it’s fine, because this state is creative. “Most people today are too
attached to possessions, relationships, belonging to a community. Fear guides
man today… But possessions, relationships and attachment to a community or
group, only covers our true state. In order to grow we should face this, suffer
from it, and finally accept it.”Who is this man, I asked Andrea. Can we find a
character for this figure, in mythology, religion, history? “Yes… Ulysses who,
after his formidable ten-year journey, came back home to Itaca, and no one
recognized him.” He’s gone for a walk on his own in the darkness of the night,
close to the sea. Then, his whole journey passes through his mind, his whole
life as well, and he feels another person.

An addition to this post on 02/10/2013: for 12 years Andrea has been concentrated on his own evolution, by denying his past life and rebelling against the principles of the high-class society. He started working as a doorman, to the astonishment of his family and friends, to show them that he is a free man and does not believe in social classes. He didn’t want to fight, he just wanted to be himself, free from stress. The simple job of the doorman allowed him to relax and remain centered.

Now, 12 years later, he has started to rebuild his life in a different way. The desire to do something for others has awakened again, so he’s now preparing a series of workshops “for seekers”… As soon as his website is ready, I’ll post it here.