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Alberto Villoldo's picture
February 14, 2021
by Alberto Villoldo

Corn Bread for LoveWe all want to be loved unconditionally by another, and we search for this other all our lives. But the love of another always comes with a long list of conditions.

Several years ago, I asked Don Manuel to speak to me about love, for I had never seen his people be affectionate with each other like we are in the US. From what I observed, the Indios did not hold hands or kiss in public, even though mothers doted over their babies, whom they carried bundled up next to their bodies. I had no sense of what love meant for the grown-ups.

“Love is only for the brave,” he said. “Frankly, I recommend you stay away from it. You are too soft to endure love for very long.”

I disagreed with him, explaining that I had been in love numerous times in my life and knew the pain and the ecstasy of the feelings.

“That’s not love, that’s romance,” he said.

“Love is like a mill,” he explained, pointing toward the entrance of a dilapidated adobe cottage. In front of the house was a batán, a flat stone with a shallow depression in it that had been used by the owners as a mill for grinding corn. The moon-shaped handle, the uña, was nowhere to be seen. We were in an abandoned hacienda that had thrived, perhaps 50 years earlier. The roof of the structure was long gone, the clay tiles taken by neighbors, and all that remained were the crumbling walls.

“We are people of...