Matteo has gone back home and I’ ll be missing him greatly.
A twenty three year old Italian guy, Matteo has just spent six months in Ireland and part of this time he has lived it with us in our family home in Dublin.
Like other young men and women before him, Matteo has chosen this island as the place to come and find his double. They mostly come with the excuse of learning English, which seems to be a ‘ must’ nowadays, but it is only an excuse.
The American mythologist Joseph Campbell in his book ‘ The Hero With a Thousand Faces’ writes at length about these types of hero’ s journeys and dedicates an entire chapter about the finding of the double. He defines our spiritual double as “ an external soul not afflicted by the losses and injuries of the present body, but existing safely in some place removed” .
The finding of the double is not an easy task. It requires leaving the safety of your home and going on a journey of self-discovery from which you will hopefully return transformed.
These places removed are, in mythological and fairy tales terms, the many settings that traditionally have a special spiritual significance, that are hard to find, or requires some type of pilgrimage. Once you have reached them a set of tests need to be undergone before you can return.
The search might bring our hero/heroine to the top of the highest mountain, the bottom of the sea, a cave between earth and water or an island.
Today Ireland seems to be one of such place and, at least in my experience, many young people I have known have been drawn to it again and again. Myself included (when I was young).
In this island I believe, Matteo has found his double and has gone back home more mature and independent. He has found that, through applying himself he could stick and bring to term the variety of tasks he has given himself while here.
He has discovered amongst other things, that he is good at art and that he has a special empathy with children.
As a consequence of this discovery many hours have been spent in discussing his ambitious project, the opening of an art centre for children in his hometown.
That he will succeed or not in this mighty project is not that important. He may yet end up opening a football centre for children, being football another of his passion.
The important thing is that a profound transformation has taken place and that art, once more, has been one of the catalysts for it.