Instagram and 800 million heartbeatsPaula turned twenty in the middle of lockdown. "Is there anything that I do not want to miss?" “Atlantida”, an Instagram account on the "Radiance in your eyes", curated by a group of Spanish university students, was born from this question.
The wound suddenly burst open, faced with a birthday that could not be celebrated. Twenty years. Instead of music, songs and friendly faces, a lockdown void was all around. Everything was locked down, suspended. At first glance, everything seemed muted. Except for that one question, so overbearing that it would not leave her alone: "Is there anything so interesting in reality that I do not want to miss?" “In reality" does not mean something abstract, in her thoughts. She had a Physiology exam to study for: "Here, in my notes, within the four walls of my room, is there anything that I do not want to miss?"
And there, in the silence of her small bedroom and study, Paula Seghers, a Biotechnology student, realized that yes, there was. The simplest, most obvious thing of all, and yet the most precious: her heartbeat. The very subject she was studying for her exam was "the surprise that awaited me in those notes."
The result was a text that accompanies a three-minute video, and it begins thus: "Yesterday I turned twenty. That is more or less 800,000,000 beats. An eight with eight zeros. Eight hundred million." After a thorough description of the "miracle" of mechanics and physiology hidden in each pulse, she recalls "a phrase I often hear from Nacho (Carbajosa, head of the movement in Spain) and Julián (Carrón, the leader of CL): 'Are you suffocating? It is because you are a positivist. You are missing some factors’" - that is, you are not looking fully at what is in front of you. "I think it is an updated and abbreviated version of God's answer to Job," Paula observes, with irony. She rewrites it thus: "Are you short of breath? Take your carotid pulse." That pulse reveals "that for at least seventy times a minute, there is One who remembers you. More than once a second,” and that "the Mystery, this unknown Lord, is challenging us, provoking us to His mysterious design, to the fulfillment of life. Each pulse is like the voice of the Lord crying out His presence. It is the sign that I am loved in every moment. And I have already reached 800,000,000. An eight and eight zeros...".
It was from here that Atlantida was born, an online magazine (only available on Instagram: @_atlantida) created by a group of CL undergraduates from their "need to live now, not in the future," as Paula herself wrote in one of the latest posts.
"It was a year ago, in the spring, in the middle of the first lockdown," says Juan Monsalve, a Musicology student. "We got together with a small group of friends who all had a great desire: to verify what Carrón was proposing to us, in The Radiance in your eyes. To see if it was true that even the pandemic could be an opportunity to grow". Work with a double edge: "To look at the reality that surrounds us, in search of facts and examples that might help us to understand, and know more about ourselves, what we live". Since "face-to-face" life was put on hold, they decided to do it on Instagram. "It is a platform we visit very often, almost always to pass the time. We said to ourselves: why do we not give those who go there a chance to come across something true?".
They adopted the name of the student association linked to the CLU, the university students of CL. They divided into groups, by topics. From the five of the original nucleus (along with Paula and Juan there was Javi, a Pedagogy student; Pati, a Law student, and Maria, a budding philosopher), there are now fifteen of them, with an even larger network of collaborators. Their method? It is simple: to follow the path of the Radiance in your eyes, illustrating each chapter with literary excerpts, music, newspaper articles, examples taken from science, videos. "We each work with our own committee, then get together to discuss the content."
That is how stories and posts about ¿Que es la nada?, La nuestra humanidad que resiste, or La relación con el padre, came about. Paula posted the video about her discovery, about the "heartbeat" on there: more than three thousand views in one day. Young people continually draw from there in order to deepen their knowledge. "What am I learning? A more realistic gaze towards reality," Juan says. "A way of looking that digs deeper into the need of those we meet: writers, journalists, singers... I understand more the urgency that the world has. And I realize that the need of so many, expressed so blatantly, is also my own: it is not like we already have the answer in our pocket, and stop. It has to be regained again and again."
In front of Paula’s "beat", for example, he says that he was surprised: "I was going home tired, drowned in my thoughts. I opened Instagram and found the video. I said to myself, 'You are drowning because you are a positivist! You are missing factors; you are skipping over aspects of reality that you do not see." I knew the video well; I had helped make it. But seeing it published made me look up again at a factor I took for granted. We would like to share this experience with everyone."
"Everyone" refers first and foremost to fellow university students, who read, watch, and comment (Paula told her friends: "Man, what a shame! I do not talk about these things with them, but so many have seen the video and shared it..."). Sometimes, they confess to feeling less alone, because "I saw that there is a place where they talk about my problem, my questions," as one colleague wrote to Ana Maria, another of the Atlantida young people. Or, they get involved. Alba, a law student, now connects to all the meetings. And once, Juan says, "while we were discussing how to improve the magazine – if it affects, if it is useful - she said to us: look, the most beautiful thing is to hear you speak. You have to show what is happening in this meeting, show how you live...". even some adults got involved: "Guadalupe, who teaches at the university, was among the first to get involved. And I was surprised to see her filled with wonder at this initiative. It made me wonder: what really strikes her?" Once again, something happens to remove the veil of obviousness.
This also happened in front of Javi’s story. "He was talking about his father," Juan explains, "They do not have a simple relationship, but at a certain point he said, 'Javi, I see you guys in your 20s living with a seriousness that I do not have as an adult. Can I participate in Atlantida?" It is impressive: the father becoming his son's son, you know? "This is similar to what happened to Paula, with her mother, who "is not a Christian and does not like the movement, but has a very acute question of meaning inside," Juan recounts. "Two weeks ago, Paula told us that in a conversation, when faced with a family problem, she came out with these words: 'You know, Paula, sometimes I feel like I am the daughter and you are the mother. But do you know why? I think it is because of this place you go to...'".
What will happen now that the course on the Radiance in your eyes has finished? "We talked about it just last Saturday. We would like to address the question from the CLU Exercises: is there hope? It is what we feel most urgent now." It was the theme proposed to the university students, and it will also be the theme for the CL Fraternity Exercises. "A sign that we need it. All of us."