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What is Wellness? A dialogue with author Andrea Ferrari Kristeller

ASEI: What does wellness mean to you? Think of it in a sensory way... smells, sounds, tastes, textures, feelings...

Kristeller: Wellness is that exact precious timesometimes a fragment, sometimes an expansionin which one feels there is more to one than just oneself. For me, and thanks to lockdown, this has become a daily sought for internal place.

I promised I would sit quiet and listen, and the outcome has been a blessing.

Observing even the most common of birds who visit, an insect hiding, a snail’s eyes, it can all open us up. It’s not in the mind (though it’s also in the mind): it is in the body, relaxing like an animal in the sun, on the warm dust. Surrendering all the worries until they dissolve, like breadcrumbs given out to pigeons, until you become a We and not an I.

I am a forest person, and miss the Atlantic rainforest in Misiones, Argentina, as one would miss a lover. Yet, I have discovered along these last very strange times that the connection with it stands, even though I don't visit: the songs I sing, my poems, are just a piece of a larger song, the Song of Us, as I like to call it.

We move in a substance, almost palpable, in which everything is close to the listening heart. Wellness for me is this listening, and the singing.

ASEI: How do you want to move toward more optimal wellness, for you and for others? Think in terms of yourself, your close ones, your community, your country...

Kristeller: Wellness cannot be individual. It has to become the music we dance to if we want things to change for the better of the animal we tread upon: The Earth.

Wellness comes when we attune with nature; and “the more the merrier”. I believe we can all achieve a silence that pours wellness like the liquid we need to drink, daily, so as to become really human.

My teaching practice for me is vital so as to tell the younger ones of the accessibility of a connection, via literature, with humanity as a condition that should not/is not far from Nature. Sensibility is key. And humility, and silence. Then wellness surges like a song.

As for my loved ones, calling them to watch a butterfly surging for the first time in our garden is my way of sharing with them the unstoppable life force so close to us. Cooking for them is another way I’ve found I can tell them I love them.

ASEI: What can you do today, to amplify your own wellness, and that of others? Make a few notes and let them ripple through your day...

Kristeller: I can sit down quietly in my garden and keep silent. Perhaps enough humans stopping to be human can do the trick. And I’ll keep on working with the first stanza of a poem on the rainforest in the rain that seeks to be voiced.

ASEI: Thank you! You can read Andrea Ferrari Kristeller's work in Anthology House Volume 2, with all proceeds donated to UNICEF.


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