Facundo Cabral on Sadness and Distraction
Argentine singer-songwriter Facundo Cabral was known for sharing his way of thinking through deep reflection. Through satire, anarchism, social criticism, and optimism, he sent warm messages. In his performances, he often quoted Whitman, Borges, Atahualpa Yupanqui, Jesus, Mother Theresa, and Krishnamurti. One of his most celebrated performances was called “You’re Not Depressed, You’re Distracted.”
He was exiled during the dictatorship in Argentina, so he relocated to Mexico. Throughout his career he has performed in around 165 countries. His most successful concerts were the ones he did with Alberto Cortez, who defined Cabral as “a controversial figure who invented himself.”
“Seeking happiness is only another pretext for being even more unhappy.”
In his message “you’re not depressed, you’re distracted,” Cabral reflected on sadness, an ailment that afflicts us all at some point. It manifests as a type of blindness, which distracts us from enjoying the richness and beauty of the world around us.
Distracted from life
In a part of this presentation, he invites us to question ourselves about it, saying: “Distracted from the life that inhabits you…You have a heart, a brain, a soul, and a spirit, so how can you feel poor and unhappy? Distracted from the life around you…dolphins, forests, oceans, mountains, rivers…”
He emphasizes: “Don’t fall victim to the same thing as your brother, who suffers over one human being when there are 5,600,000,000 others in the world. It’s not so bad to live alone: it’s going well for me; I can choose what I want to do in every moment. And thanks to my solitude, I know myself, which is fundamental for life.”
To top it all off, he states: “That’s why you think you’ve lost something, which is impossible because everything was given to you. You didn’t make a single hair on your head. Therefore, you can’t be the owner of anything. Also, life doesn’t take things away from you, it frees you from things, it makes you lighter so that you can fly higher, so that you can achieve wholeness.”
The generosity of Facundo Cabral
Facundo Cabral was a man who shared his experience with the masses using sarcasm and his intelligent, quick wit. The audience enjoyed it and renewed their meaning of life, in an authentic and original way.
It’s clear in his exposition that life is above all a learning experience. “From the cradle to the grave, life is a school. That’s why the things you call problems are lessons. And life is dynamic, so it’s in constant movement. That’s why you should only pay attention to the present. There are so many things to enjoy, and our journey through life is so short, that suffering is a waste of time.”
He refers to death in the following way: “You didn’t lose anyone. The person who died has simply gone ahead to where we’ll all go. And the best part of them, their Love, remains in your heart. There is no death, there’s only moving on, and wonderful people are waiting for you on the other side: Gandhi, Michelangelo, Whitman, Saint Augustine, Mother Theresa, your grandmother, and my mother, who believed that in poverty, you are closest to love, because money distracts us with too many things.”
How to find happiness
Cabral was like an apostle of love, who preached from the rooftops his disagreement with the establishment. He was a true pacifist, who would never conceive of violence as a solution to anything. A solitary and happy being, accompanied by good literature and good music, who made his own creations.
He promoted the idea of following your heart: “You can’t find happiness, and it’s so easy! You just have to listen to your heart before your mind intervenes, which is conditioned by memory, which complicates everything with old things, with the ways of the past, with prejudices that poison and imprison. The mind divides, impoverishes; then mind doesn’t accept life how it is or how it should be. Do only what you love and you’ll be happy.”
He suggested that happiness is a right: “Make peace with yourself, stand in front of the mirror and think that the creature you see before you is a work of God. And decide right now to be happy, because happiness is acquired, it’s not something that just comes to you from the outside. And happiness isn’t a right, it’s a must, because if you’re not happy then you make everything around you bitter.”
On terminal illness, he says: “If you have cancer or AIDS, two things can happen, and both are good. If it wins, it frees you from your body, which is so annoying: I’m hungry, I’m cold, I’m tired, I want, I’m right, I have doubts. And if you win, you’ll be more humble, more grateful, and therefore, more easily happy, free from the tremendous weight of guilt, responsibility, and vanity. Ready to live each moment deeply, as it should be.”
On inner light, he says: “Fear distracts us from love, which is wise and brave because it knows that there’s no measurement or end. Look inside and the clouds will disappear from the periphery. Be silent and listen to the wisdom within you.
Once your inner light has been turned on, nothing can turn it off. It’s perfect and incorruptible like gold, which symbolizes the power of purity, of what’s essential; that is, of the spirit. It’s an infinite and wonderful voyage, because your spirit bursts with joy every time you live deeply.”
Regarding ego and innocence, Facundo Cabral says: “Miracles happen when you abandon your ego. Then, without resistance, you’ll recover your natural strength. This is how you can bring love to life, until you walk on water and heal with words. The ego puts a name to things, but the innocent sees them; the ego judges them, but the innocent lives them; the ego divides, but the innocent reconciles differences; the ego depends on the mind; but the innocent depends on the heart.”
So now you have all the pieces, and all that’s left is to take on the challenge: “Now that you’re alone and calm, forget who you are, because that is a creation of others, and listen to your heart. What do you want to be? What do you want to do right now?…Because life is right now.”