Guy Gilbert

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I am sure his long and flowing greying hair together with a battered leather jacket helped me to focus. But it was when I heard him saying that you should fight, pray and love wherever you are in the world that my attention stall on his eyes for the upcoming hour making the surroundings disappear.

Few times in my life I recall hearing someone describing so perfectly the imperfections of our world, with a little twist, his words were a torrent of hope and kindness.

Father Guy Gilbert is a French priest and educator. Living in Paris, he specialised in working with juvenile delinquents and establish a farm in southern France where troubled youngsters are reintegrated into society through work, contact with animals, nature, and self-respect.

Out of so many teachings, I always wonder how he was able to keep a constant flow of love and optimism while living among transgression and violence. I stood up and ask him.

Remember to breathe – he said – at least once an hour and use that opportunity to reconnect with your core and your center. Praying might be useful ! He smiled.

It has been almost 20 years since the last time I saw him but his “mark” in my heart stayed forever.

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Prof. Mourato

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As a teenager, while in high school, I used to spend more time writing and reading (about different topics) rather than paying attention to what was happening inside the classroom. In my mind everything was pretty clear, I was a world-class writer and poet waiting to be discovered.

In ninth grade after an endless summer, I meet our new Portuguese teacher, an old man with a funny smile and even funnier clothes. In few minutes I knew he would identify my literary super powers and would not bother me much during the rest of the year, allowing me to go back to my “cave” together with my thoughts (my hair at that time helped me on that mission).

Our very first assignment was a small piece about the quality of the time we spent away from school. After reading the task, I had the idea to go in a different direction. In less then an hour I was able to craft a prose that would put me close to the Nobel prize. Nothing related with the vacations.

One week later, when the teacher hand me my “masterpiece” graded, I almost fainted looking at the amount of red paragraphs at the bottom of the exercise.

Not only did he dare to fail me but also wrote something that stayed in my mind all these years.

  • Life its hard! Either you accept that and turn it into a journey of constant surpassing or you fail.

Don’t remember much more, but for sure that was not the easiest year of my academic life. It took me years to understand why he did that, but little by little I think got there. I understood the incredible act of love he was performing, most likely with more pain than myself. He was living his own words.

Many year later we crossed paths in a class reunion and I took the opportunity to remind him about this story and thank him for such an important lesson. I asked him how could I repay him for it.

Again that same funny face and clothes, smiled at me and said;

  • Easy! Become a teacher and do the same to others.

Before going away, Prof. Mourato turned around and with genuine interest, asked me one more thing:

  • Did you ever finish your book ?

Time passed, countries passed, many things passed (included my hair) but I actually managed to combine different professional activities always together with teaching. Since that day, I understood that as long you continue to surpass yourself, you will never fail.

If you are going through a midlife change, you might want to look into one of our Walking Mentorship Programs

PS* This picture was taken 10 years after the class reunion, on the day I launched my first book.



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In August 2002 while walking towards Villar de Mazarife in the province of León in Spain, I cross with a very old man riding his bicycle in the opposite direction. When he looked closely and saw my backpack he understood that most likely I was a pilgrim on the way to Santiago de Compostela, he immediately stopped and asked me where I was from and where I was going.

After hearing my answers he inquire if I would mind that he would walk side by side and be my companion for a while. I was a little surprised but happy to have someone to talk on the last kilometres of a very hard day.

While we made our way along the fields the old man explain me everything about the crops, the place he lived, his family and a “million” other things, lighten up almost instantly my mind and my back. Step by step I felt having the privilege of receiving one of the biggest lessons of humbleness and simplicity of my life.   

When we saw the entrance of the village, he stopped and told me that it was a great pleasure to meet and to walk side by side, but it was time for him to go back home. I agreed almost speechless. He shook my hand, and suggest that we should not forget to pray for each other. From a small distance he turned around and told me for the first time his name, wrapped in a beautiful smile.

Marcelino thought me that sometimes in life to stop and to go back can be the best thing you do to yourself and to others, specially if others are tired and struggling to continue their route, in the end we both reach our final destination.

Is there someone who might need your presence and your time today? 

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