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“The present moment is always a fiction”

In his three last months fighting against cancer, Flávio Gikovate-psychiatrist has proposed to us some interesting thoughts about the unpredictability of life, serenity and about what it means to be strong. This is our tribute to him.



It’s been less than a week that Flavio Gikovate, a psychiatrist, psychotherapist, lecturer and writer, said goodbye to all of us here. But he has the privilege of writers who have their lives immortalized by their work and thoughts. The privilege is ours Gikovate, for being able to read and learn with your texts, videos and inspirations that deal with life, love, freedom, happiness, those things that are making the difference in people’s lives.

Gikovate made me think and laugh and it was very nice. How many Sundays, on the road back from São Francisco Xavier to Sao Paulo I was hoping the radio would work to be able to think and laugh with him. On his journey of 73 years, Flávio maintained his relevance in a world marked by transformation. He survived all the changes because he chose to speak about love. He chose to share learning about emotional autonomy, self-knowledge, self-esteem, individuality and freedom. So Flavio, I believe that you will remain a great inspiration, regardless of the technological level that humanity can reach. Thanks for Sundays, you helped me a lot!

“The new way of love, or more love, has a new face and meaning. It targets the approaching of two entire people and not the union of two halves. And this is only possible for those who can work their individuality. The more the individual is competent to live alone, the more prepared he will be for a good love relationship. “

(Flávio Gikovate, 1943-2016)

In his latest publications online, already aware of the disease and the near end, Gikovate offered us these wise thoughts on serenity, strength and unpredictability. Read the following texts:


What is Serenity?

The term serenity has been associated with more than one meaning, and the first one has to do with the ability of some people to deal with kindness and tolerance with the most adverse situations, especially those that do not depend on us. We often felt nervous and lost serenity when we felt pressure by expectations that we ourselves produced about our projects; caution is needed for our future plans, so our hopes and dreams don’t become nightmares and sources of tension and disappointment. Those who make more realistic plans suffer less and are closer to serenity.

Serenity corresponds to a state of mind in which we fell reasonably peaceful, reconciled with what we are and have, with our condition vulnerable and mortal humans. Of course, all this depends on having reached a reasonable emotional and even moral evolution: we shouldn’t compare ourselves with what other people are or have, it is not good to get rebel with the fact of not being exactly as we would like; reconciled with our limitations, we can enjoy as much as possible the potential that we have.

One aspect that I consider very important for the issue of serenity is the responsibility of individuals to deal with time. An example is the anxiety that takes over many people when stuck in traffic; they cannot get to a meeting on time. Although the delay isn’t their responsibility, they suffer and feel sometimes even guilty for what is happening. They reach the location in a hurry and take a long time to recover from a problem that, as a rule, has no real significance.

Another peculiarity of this difficulty of dealing with time most people have, is linked to the condition of those who expect an event, the result of a test that will point out their approval – or not – in a contest, the nervous anticipation over the outcome of a medical examination that will talk about your health condition. Knowing how to wait is one of the few virtues that I have known and certainly it contributes greatly for a person to develop this state of calm and serenity. Yes, because it is a fact that, in a way, we are continually waiting for events that will influence our future actions.

The present moment is always a fiction: we live among the memories of the past and the hope of future events that we hope, more or less actively, to reach. The rule is that we are going after some goals, chasing them with more or less determination and persistence. Most people feel very sad when they don’t have projects; only taking advantage from immediate pleasures that life offer. We are not competent to experience idleness. This state of not wanting anything, not be looking for anything and that the ancient philosophers considered as very creative is something generating a state of mind we call boredom and that can be a peculiar kind of depression. In boredom we wonder about the meaning of life and, as we have no way to answer this question, we become depressed.

In a way, we do everything we do in order to get away from idleness and the boredom that accompanies it. Even during holiday periods, perceived as deserved – for having worked hard – we have to keep ourselves busy, abandon our usual chores and entertain ourselves with visits to places that do not know, the practice of sports, with reading … Those that are not able to enjoy these other occupations, tend to make excessive use of alcohol or other drugs. The truth is that there are few who can find peace in prolonged inactivity.

On the other hand, pursuing goals with determination and anxiety in order to reach them as soon as possible also takes away serenity. So, we lose the serenity when we walk very slowly, close to the idle condition – that brings boredom and depression – and when we become distressed by the rush to quickly achieve our goals. Again, wisdom, virtue is in the middle, what Aristotle called temperance: each one seems to have an “ideal speed”, so walking far below will tend to depress while walking far above will tend to get you very anxious. I doesn’t matter much to compare our speed with others, since we will only be ok when we are in our own rhythm, whatever it might be. Knowing yourself means, among other things, knowing the speed at which we feel comfortable and can walk with competence and serenity.

Text posted on July 5.


A truly strong person

We often hear that a person is strong, or has a bad mood, when he/she reacts with great violence in unpleasant situations. That is, the strong-willed person is only good and calm when everything happens exactly according to her will. In other cases, their reaction is explosive and the overflow usually causes fear in those around her. Maybe these people are responsible for saying that this burst means strong, because they end up bowing to his/her will. He is strong because he can, almost always, impose his will due to the fear that people have of their aggressiveness and their ability to make a scandal.

If we think deeply, we realize that strong people can enforce their wishes just in the little things of the everyday life. They will decide about the restaurant the other will go to; the movie the group will watch; if the family will go to the beach at the weekend and so on.

The truly important things – their health and the people they live with; success or failure in professional activities, studies or investments; weather variations and their tragedies such as floods, landslides and earthquakes; the death of beloved ones – are not decided by any of us.

What leads the strong ones to ridiculous behaviors: screaming, swearing before inexorable events, things we can’t fight against. They react like spoiled children who cannot be opposed! After all, is this being a strong person? Of course not.

Wanting to control facts of live, facts that don’t depend on us, this is not a sign of strength, and it’s also not a sign of good sense, sensibility and proper use of intelligence.

It might be great if we could influence many things that are essential. But the truth is we cannot. This makes us uncertain because unpleasant and painful things can happen at any time. And it won’t be our cries that will prevent our children from being run over, our parents from dying, our city from having floods or landslides.

The first sign of strength of a human being lies in humility to know that you have no control over the things that are more essential. Yes, because this guy accepted the truth. And that’s not an easy thing to do, especially when the truth leaves us helpless and vulnerable.

The second sign, and the most important is the person to understand that she/he will have to endure all the pain and all the suffering that fate imposes on him/her. And more – this is the third sign – you will have to put up with this in an elegant way and without scandals. No use rebelling. No use swearing. To be strong is to have the power to accept, to manage and digest all kinds of suffering and annoyance that life inevitably sets in. It is not trying to be a smart ass in things that are for real.

People who do not tolerate frustrations, pains and setbacks are weak and not strong. They make a lot of noise, scream, make scandals and threaten. They are noisy and not strong – these two words are not synonymous!

The strong ones are those who dare and venture into new situations, because they have the conviction that, if they fail, they will have inner strength to recover.

No one can be sure that his or her enterprise – emotional, professional, and social – will be successful. We are afraid of novelty precisely because of it.

The weak will not dare, because the mere thought of failure is already causing him excruciating pain.

The strong ones will dare because they have the intimate feeling that they are able to withstand setbacks. The weak one will find an excuse – in general, accusing another person – for not facing the challenge. They will make gestures and try to be brave, but in fact it is quite the opposite. They will try to be sure previously, before having a setback.

The strong one seems to be weak: he is quiet, discreet, does not cry and is brave. He does what no one expected him to.

Text posted on 11 October.