Interview with Francesc Cabeza, relathor of Nunca nadie tan desconocido fue tan cercano (Desde mi habitación Vol. 1, page 113)

Relat-Hos Frances Cabezas
Relat-Hos Frances Cabezas
Relat-Hos Frances Cabezas
Relat-Hos Frances Cabezas

The hospital’s staff showed me some enormous empathy. They could do so because they have it in their hearts.

-What was your thought when got to know about the RELAT-HOS project?

It was early October 2018. I had had a surgery for two or three days for an upper aortic aneurysm. Although my legs were not shaking before the surgery, afterwards, on reflection, you realise that this was an important moment in your life. Then I received a presentation sheet about RELAT-Hos. I thought it was a good time to think a bit on what had happened to me and to try and help other people who may think, as I did, that nothing serious would ever happen to them. That is to say, I thought I could also help other people to do some thinking and frame the situation they might be going through.

-Were you sure right away to take part in it?

Thanks to my background, I understand logic and applied sciences quite well, but I have not worked as much on my language skills. Perhaps for that reason, I set myself this new challenge and I decided to prove to myself that I was capable of assuming this approach entirely and explaining my experience. And if I had any misgivings, it was the thought that it would be difficult to do so.

- Do you remember how you came to write your story: in one go, bit by bit on different days...?

As I’m not an Arts person, it indeed didn't come to me in one go.... There was a first step of personal introspection to get to know what I wanted to transmit; then came a deeper thinking about what I had learnt over the years from different readings, such as the Greek philosophers and from my life experience. With all this, I came to define what I wanted to express with my text. I took into account the experiences I had gone through, firstly with a stroke and later with the aneurysm. My work played a role too. I was a company director and even though I liked it a lot, sometimes I got too close to the brink, as when I was too much of perfectionist or I wanted to be too much in control of the situation. You are not aware of your life until you have a serious health issue. Then you start drawing on your experiences, what you have learned in life or the "Know thyself!" of the Oracle of Delphi and what philosophers said more than 2000 years ago.... At times when I have been in serious situations or with a major concern, I have tended to write, because when these situations recurred I could find, in what I had written before, some explanation for what was happening to me again. Obviously, this time it wasn't a matter of 5 minutes, or 5 hours, or 5 days. For three weeks I would take the story, leave it for a few days and pick it up again; I would give it to my wife to read, who would give me her point of view. And, after thinking profoundly about it, that story came out, which was a real challenge for me.

- How did you feel when you saw your story in the book?

In the USA, they are used to giving back to society, for example through philanthropy or community giving. In Europe, we don't have this conception, perhaps because of the higher taxes. However, there is an emotional part cannot be given back so easily, but people do need it. I mean elements of non-verbal communication that make you think. In this sense, I realised that the people in the hospital were giving me some enormous empathy, and not just me, but everyone. They could do so because they have it in their hearts. I believe that if you don't have this empathy inside you, you can hardly be a good doctor, nurse or any other professional. The human welcome I found here gave me a lot of encouragement.

- Do you think writing is an important therapeutic tool?

Definitely. When you say out loud a concern or a thought, you feel better, because you make a catharsis, not with another person, but with a piece of paper. Also, when time goes by and you read what you wrote again, you are aware of what you were thinking at that time and you realise where you are now. This morning I reread the story and it is still shocking, I got goose bumps remembering those moments. Carpe diem, tempus fugit, memento mori. People around me sometimes tell me that I am very mindful of death. Perhaps this is true, but not because I fear it, but because it is an unavoidable fact. Most of us seem to forget that we are people with planned obsolescence and thus we put up moments or gestures, important words, by thinking “I will tell you later”. That is not a good move, because tomorrow we might not be able to say it. It depends on a variable that isn’t up to us. I’m very aware that I want to die young, but at my 92 years of age, and that is why I am anxious to keep doing things, learning and conferring a certain relativity to things, because we can only take with us our experiences and the affection of those who love us.

- How did you feel when you saw your story in the book?

I had written two books linked to my college period, but they didn't have the same impact on me. This story now, I wrote because I wanted to, not because I had to. It gave me the satisfactions of doing something I hadn't done before, and I really enjoyed it!

- Do you usually write?

I had written before, but always for myself. Now write less though. . Many people ask me for advice on professional-related topics. Now I talk more with the people around me. And what I do most now is explain and make people think about things I didn't really use to think of before, despite being really important. Although I don't write so much now, I think that particular situations that have happened to me have given some content to my life and for that reason I have 9 or 10 of them written down on my phone. I will write on paper them eventually.

- Finally, can you recommend a book?

One book that helped me a lot with my thinking is “Emotional Intelligence”, by Daniel Goleman. It has helped me understand society and people around us. Another reading, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, by Stephen R. Covey, helped me to understand things that seemed easy to understand, but very difficult to apply. And a third one, “Man's Search for Meaning”, by Victor E. Frankl, who gave me the precept that only by appreciating the positive parts of a situation can you face life in a calmer way.