11. A Promise to the Land: I will Stay


Blog 11: October 16-19, 1996—I celebrate my 28th birthday in Albuquerque with little fanfare. I’m a year older, and I feel the pressure to become someone, especially in dance, while I’m still young. I’m running out of time to train in dance, which I fell in love with two years ago in New York City. My plan had been to go to San Francisco to pursue my passion—and now I’m considering Los Angeles as another option—yet I’m here, in the desert, injured, trying to figure out how to move on from here, while following a deeper, more spiritual call that doesn’t have anything to do with societal ambitions.

As I prepare to travel to California in a few days, a man drives into me in the intersection. My car gets smashed. A drunk man on the scene tells me I caused the accident, which makes me even more annoyed. I can’t drive with plastic rubbing on my tire, and I wonder, God, why am I being stalled? First my groin muscle pull, then my accident…What is it? Can’t I just dance?

Last night I dreamt I was running around with a dance teacher trying to figure out where to go. My dream was a daze I couldn’t get out of, even when I tried to wake up. And now, during the day, when I try to dance, I feel frustrated by my limitations. I yearn so much to dance every day, but it’s like trying to run an engine with missing parts.

There’s a battle inside me that makes me cry—it’s this accident, my groin pull, and this war between my will and something I cannot control. My natural desire is to fight it all, to do battle. I feel a need to resist because I can’t surrender without breaking down into many pieces. When I dance, I feel my groin and sit bone tender and tired as I do when I drive endlessly out onto the land, eternally hungry to take in this expansive place.

Now, after the car accident, I stop, frustrated, and literally promise the land that I will not leave her…not yet… and if I do, that I will come back shortly after. I am being asked by some force beyond me to stay for a while, despite my determination.


9 thoughts on “11. A Promise to the Land: I will Stay

  1. To never give up. No matter how far or deep I go into darkness and despair, I come back to life, to aliveness. I focus on my breath, my heart; I close my eyes and reach for the light; I pet Tabitha and tune into her timeless presence; I smell the earth; I hear the birds; I feel the aliveness and presence in another. I promise to be here as long as I am here for what is here.

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    • A beautiful promise indeed, and sometimes one that’s not so easy. But that is life, isn’t it?… this incessant living because life itself is about living until it is our time to move on. The nature of life is to take another breath, even when we’re not paying attention to it. Yet, when we do we tune in, as you do, that spirit within us that says “yes” and keeps breathing through us. Thank you for sharing.


  2. Mine is somewhat similar to Alorah’s – to keep trying and trying, no matter how much I stumble, fall, fail, or get hurt in the process. The thing is, I only take on the hardest tasks with sometimes detrimental propositions, and will seek out the hardest path through it; which creates the scenario in my promise. The reason I do this, is because somewhere deep, I KNOW I will succeed where others may not have.

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  3. I feel some of us come into this world with an almost insane determination to live fully and truly honor the richest deepest path we can. I’m guilty of that, but I feel it comes from knowing in an innate, profound way, who we are capable of being, and not wanting to settle for less. It’s wonderful to be free and alive when we’ve done the work, but it isn’t an easy way.


  4. It’s a description of what pulls me back to Garcia Lorca’s description of “duende”:

    “The true struggle is with the duende…Seeking the duende, there is neither map nor discipline. We only know it burns the blood like powdered glass, that it exhausts, rejects all the sweet geometry we understand, that it shatters styles and makes Goya, master of the greys, silvers and pinks of the finest English art, paint with his knees and fists in terrible bitumen blacks, or strips Mossèn Cinto Verdaguer stark naked in the cold of the Pyrenees, or sends Jorge Manrique to wait for death in the wastes of Ocaña, or clothes Rimbaud’s delicate body in a saltimbanque’s costume, or gives the Comte de Lautréamont the eyes of a dead fish, at dawn, on the boulevard.”

    “The great artists of Southern Spain, Gypsy or flamenco, singers dancers, musicians, know that emotion is impossible without the arrival of the duende. …In all Arab music, dance, song or elegy, the arrival of duende is greeted with vigorous cries of ‘Allah! Allah!’ so close to the ‘Olé!’ of the bullfight, and who knows whether they are not the same? And in all the songs of Southern Spain, the appearance of the duende is followed by sincere cries of: ‘Viva Dios!’ deep, human, tender cries of communication with God through the five senses, thanks to the duende that shakes the voice and body of the dancer, a real, poetic escape from this world, as pure as that achieved by that rarest poet of the seventeenth century Pedro Soto de Rojas with his seven gardens, or John Climacus with his trembling ladder of tears.”


      • Garcia Lorca’s words on duende exemplify the passion and spirit of Spain and it’s land and people. It is what inspired my novel and is the spirit that wrote through me my upcoming novel Child of Duende. It is about this awakening that I experienced as a child in the fields of Spain, in the market place, in the air. Ole! Is just the beginning!


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