A tree with roots and leaves in the shape of an orange circle.

Romani People

What Do You Think You Know About Gypsies?

Juliette Binoche’s character Vianne in the film Chocolat is a nomadic single mother who carries on the ancient tradition of dispensing remedies for the body and soul using her intuition about what each person needs. She is happily seduced by Johnny Depp’s character Roux when he arrives in her French village with his band of Gypsies, and along the way the audience is also seduced by what these two embody of the Gypsy soul. Vianne is not a Gypsy by heritage, but she certainly understands the idea that we are each in charge of our enjoyment of life, and that this pleasure doesn’t depend on our circumstances, but on our capacity for joy and our courage in the face of life’s difficulties.
Loving life in all its messiness is a very desirable quality and people are universally drawn to it. A passion for living comes from knowing life is short and that we must take risks and be bold in order to live fully before we die. Feeling excitement for life as it really is feels different than having a fantasy about what life should be. And there’s a deep confidence that comes from surviving difficult times by being resourceful and inventive.
When you live authentically, including suffering authentically and celebrating authentically, you sing with a full voice. When you know you can overcome anything, this self-reliance settles in your bones and you are free to dance your way through life. When you know how to find peace in chaos you can greet whatever happens with open arms. Mastering the art of doing without something you really don’t need, and making do with what you have with a sense of gratitude, gives you the freedom to really appreciate your life and the people, animals, and things in it. And when you can find strength even when you are depleted, you are a truly powerful and magical person.
What do you think you know about Gypsies, that they read fortunes and steal chickens? My people have been known to fill a pot with meat unknowingly donated by a farmer somewhere. And let’s be fair about this, Ivy League-educated traders on Wall Street with a pedigree that stretches back to the Mayflower have been known to swipe a billion or two here and there as well. But the morally wrong actions of some do not define a race or class or family of people. We’ll leave unethical people to face the consequences of their choices. What I am going to share with you is Gypsy wisdom that has great integrity and is steeped in history and magic.
I’ll show you a way of living that has endured in spite of many attempts to eradicate it over hundreds of years including the extermination attempted by the Nazis. This is a rich and vibrant tradition that continues to thrive around the world even though there is ongoing discrimination against the Romani people in many places. Gypsies continue to suffer rejection and harsh treatment. They endure violations of their human rights. Many lack medical care, housing, and education. Even now Romani people face employment discrimination and humiliation, in well-developed countries with progressive views about everything else. But in spite of all of this, Gypsies carry on dancing and singing and living life fully and with passion. If Romanies can do it under these difficult circumstances, so can you.
Do you face financial stress that grinds you down? Do you worry about everything too much, focus on the negative too often, experience life as drudgery except for those rare times when you have a vacation? Is your mood too dark and your body lacking in vibrant good health? Do you struggle to balance the demands of family and work and drop exhausted into bed because there isn’t much left of you at the end of the day?
Gypsy wisdom will help you become more capable, grounded, healthy, and more joyful. You’ll have more to offer yourself and the world. I promise that if you nurture a part of you that can become your inner Gypsy, life will be better. Trust me. I’ve never stolen a chicken in my life, but I have helped lots of people live well and I can see into the future from time to time. Let’s make your future wonderful.