“Old Vicente of Formentera was perhaps the happiest man I have ever known. And also perhaps the poorest.” So goes the line from Eva-Lis Wuorio’s introduction to the “Singing Silence”, a story about how a poor, old man found happiness after breaking an amphora. Vicente was an old porter. Just like everybody else, he dreamed of success and a happier life. However, despite all his hard work, he never really got what he wanted. He had to settle for a mediocre way of living, working only so he could have enough to feed for himself and to pay his rent. In other words, he wasn’t happy. One day, while he worked, an American asked him to carry his luggage – among which was an ancient amphora, a very expensive relic. He struggled to carry it, but as soon as he almost reached the American’s quarters, the amphora fell and broke into pieces. Vicente promised to look for a new one and asked the American for his address. Since then, Vicente abandoned his job as a porter and determined to search for an amphora under the sea. Ignoring the townspeople’s taunts at his sanity, Vicente continued to search for an amphora that may not be found. He learned to swim, despite his old age, and never gave up on the search – even when he never had enough to eat. Looking closely, most people wouldn’t even think they’d be happy living in Vicente’s conditions. Vicente was literally poor – having no more source of income and depending only on the few bread and water others may give him. His old age is getting the best of him. Most of all, hardly anyone thinks of him as Vicente anymore. To many, he is just “loco“. However, Vicente became happy because he chose to be happy. The choice and opportunity that came about when he broke the amphora could have been easily given up by the old man. He could just forget the mistake and move on with his life. But he still chose to hold on to it, risking the comfortable life he led – even risking his...
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