“The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day. That is real freedom.” David Foster Wallace, This is Water.

Modern Love — a regular New York Times column — has been a part of my to-read list since I came across the podcast of the same name around 2016. I’m not the greatest connoisseur of podcasts, but I could leave a quick note for you to check out Radical Empathy if you want to gain skills to better speak with different people;  Invisibilia if you’re into storytelling about the invisible forces that surround us; Wind of Change if you’re interested in farfetched conspiracy theories and the Scorpions; and Radiolab if you have the science nerd within you but you don’t feel that you’re that smart.

Modern Love started as a New York Times column, written every week by random ordinary people from the city of New York. The purpose? To show that love can come into your life in all shapes and forms. It rapidly became a podcast, narrated by actors and well-known voices, and more recently we can see these ordinary stories streaming as a TV show on Amazon Prime. 

It’s easier to see your life in perspective when you have other people’s empathy - and your own - and this is the reason why I decided to dedicate these lines to a few episodes from the second season of Modern Love — to promote self-empathy around here, and also because I think we all need a break from French cinema. 

On A Serpentine Road, With The Top Down

I got my licence when I was 18 but it wasn’t until the pandemic that I started to enjoy driving. It rapidly developed into some kind of meditation for me and there are a few specific songs that have accompanied me in the last year, so the presence of Van Morrison in this episode, as well as in my life, gave me goosebumps. This is of course not a story about driving - it’s about how the objects that are touched by the ones we love sometimes stay longer in our lives. From the dark end of the street to the Bright Side of the Road, these inanimate objects are like a totem of a connection that sometimes vanishes too soon. 

Am I... ? Maybe This Quiz Game Will Tell Me

One of the greatest things that I believe social media can give us is a sense of belonging - when you’re still finding out who you are, it’s not that easy to talk about your feelings, especially if you feel different from the ones that surround you. This is a story about trying to find your own self through quizzes, to rapidly understand that you can only discover gold if you dig it. 

Second Embrace, With Hearts And Eyes Open

Only Love Can Break Your Heart is one of the biggest lessons we can learn from Neil Young. There are actually a few other things that can break our hearts but love is surely the strongest one. This is not a story about traditional love - it’s about how passionate love can cross its own boundaries sometimes, developing into a deeper kind of connection. It’s the love that grows so much it breaks the intimacy boundaries, becoming family, freedom, and warmth. 

The world as we experience it is made out of people - their lives, their families, their love stories, their heartbreaks, their friends, their experiences through the different timings of their lives. Modern Love is touching because it gives a voice to the ordinary parts of life that make it extraordinary. 

Filipa Henriques spent most of her twenties working in film distribution and currently is one of the programmers for the IndieMusic section of IndieLisboa International Film Festival. Her studies started in the North of Portugal at Universidade do Minho and continued onto a semester in France's Paris Descartes and a masters' degree in Lisbon's Nova FCSH. After interning at the world renowned film festival IndieLisboa and the documentary film oriented Apordoc - Associação pelo Documentário, she started work at Portugal Film six years ago. She completed her studies with a second masters' degree at ISCTE on the Arts' Markets and currently works in PR for a technological start-up in the northern city of Porto.

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