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 cosmos.
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.