Honoring the Unseen World of Our Ancestors

10/30/2016--Like a soft, subtle breeze that inches her way into our lives, bit by bit, increasing her intensity and presence, the darkness of winter arrives. The moon rises to light up the cooler nights and we begin to celebrate an inner world, an “unseen” world that, ironically, in the darkness, may be easier to glimpse, to experience than in the bright light of summer. (Note, this writing is a break from my regular blog story)

At this time of the year—of ghosts and goblins of Halloween, and spirits taking form inside our imaginations—I shared my novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, with a group of mystery writers and readers. It was fitting to do so since my novel sprouted from an energy akin to this time of the year. My novel came from a place of inner journey, where the sun hides, or so it seems, as it creeps down, into the earth, in the early evening, and lights up a place inside of us (inside the earth that we are) that longs to come home to itself. My novel celebrates this inner world, this “unseen world,” which we often call the spirit world or that place from which all life emerges.

Tomorrow’s celebration of Halloween also honors this unseen world. It originated from the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain (“sah-win”), a celebration of the end of the harvest season in Gaelic culture, and a time in which the ancient Gaels believed that the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead overlapped and the deceased would come back to life and cause havoc such as sickness or damaged crops. The Christians, who gave this hoce0b65a48bcd9204ddb1aaa7b7dc4032liday the name of Halloween, were also celebrating “hallowed evening” or “holy evening,” as a time of honoring the holy; and those who celebrate Dia de los Muertos recognize their ancestors, and those who have walked before them, making a place for them to visit from the “other world.”

After sharing Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit with an audience of thirty earlier this week, I began to feel the leaves of my abundant summer falling to the ground, preparing the soil for new life in the Spring. It was a challenging week for me, and for numerous people I spoke with. But rather than get upset or push through this energy–in the name of progress as we are taught to do in this culture–I listened. I invited friends to gather in ceremony to intimately honor our ancestors and all that has come before, and to prepare the soil for the Spring.

My reaction to the change of season, and my internal seasons, is so different from years ago. Then, when my soul, my life, urged me to slow down, I resisted. I didn’t know how. I pushed through it, injuring myself, hurting myself, and eventually got to a place of writing my novel because I could no longer ignore that which was unseen that wished to speak.

So rather than be like the person I was, I invite you to be with the seasons that we all are, and honor this time of the year for its gift of life and death, of seen and unseen, of blessing that which has come before so that Spring’s soil sprouts a blessed harvest.

*My recently-published novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit is on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Child-Duende-Journey-Michelle-Adam/dp/099724710X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1474233011&sr=8-1&keywords=child+of+duende  or at www.michelleadam.net

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41. Big in Love

WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO BECOME BIG IN LOVE?

BLOG 41: September, 1998—Another month passed by in New Jersey, with the highway noise bleeding into the background of my consciousness as I unraveled this person I had been. And almost every day and evening I wrote, adding sentences to my novel from an unknown place.

“Writing this book is hard,” I scribbled in my journal. “It’s hard to get to the heart of it. I feel like I am gnawing away at the edge of the bone… My characters also feel small, and they are in a small world. I need to give meat to those seeking, living characters wanting to be what they can be. As a writer, I need to be many more people than me. I need to look inside and understand more than myself.”

As I explored the depths of where my novel wished to go, ideas came to me—inside the music I played and the space I created of eternal night. Some of these ideas seemed so outside myself, so irrational, that I would call a friend and share what was coming to me. Rather than tell me to pull back, and not go there, he always inspired to me to follow this irrational, out-there idea, and to let it tell its story and purpose. That extra prodding from a good friend all3bb1bb45b56a2988fbf4a474dab45607.jpgowed ideas that had begun in my mind to seep into my bones and discover their resonance for a larger story than me.

This journey inward beyond the musings of my mind, would not have been possible if I had not been injured and been guided into a vulnerable, still place within me. It became so clear how I was unraveling that part of me, driven by ego and insecurities to become someone big. Nothing grows grand and beautiful without solid roots, and this time was about growing and feeding those roots of mine so I could create an enriching story. It was also about letting go of the need to push outward when the rich soil of my life lay within.

“I’m always amazed at how I feel this great responsibility to do something big in this world, to affect change, to give in a big way,” I wrote in my journal. “But another part of me wants to live simply, to eliminate all this bigness and just concentrate on breathing and loving.”

Today, years later, I see that it is through breathing each moment in and in loving that we become big. We become big through letting go of that which we are determined to be. We begin to dance, sing, and be the joy we have always been with those we love. Together we can celebrate life and be the gift that makes us so much more than just ourselves.

WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO BECOME BIG IN LOVE?

*My recently-published novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is the culmination of years of musings and gnawing at the bone. Check it out on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Child-Duende-Journey-Michelle-Adam/dp/099724710X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1474233011&sr=8-1&keywords=child+of+duende  or at www.michelleadam.net

40. Compassion of a Broken Heart

HOW HAVE YOUR STRUGGLES HELPED YOU GROW WINGS OF COMPASSION?

BLOG 40: August, 1998—The summer rain came and went; the cars on the nearby New Jersey highway hummed incessantly; and the fast paced East Coast life continued as I lived with my parents in an effort to heal the pain in my hip.

I found work as an assistant editor and writer for an Irish magazine whose offices were down the road from us. I then lay on my parent’s couch as I wrote, because chairs were too painful. My father hated seeing me so weak and vulnerable, and would get angry at me for lying down so much and not having the strength or capacity to bike or walk. But I resisted doing what he assumed any 30-year-old should be able to do because too often, if I biked or walked more than a few blocks, my muscles would go into spasm, my right hip and groin would inflame, and I’d have sleepless nights with an overactive nervous system.

That was almost twenty years ago, when I wondered if I would even walk with ease again, as I tried every which way to heal, and hit wall upon wall, wondering why it had to be so hard. That was when, at times, I wished I could just end my life, since living with such disability and pain didn’t seem worth it. I had been like a wild horse, suddenly lame, longing to be put out of my misery.

Today, as I walk and help others heal, I watch my father in his elder years struggling with cancer, with multiple surgeries, and with pain in his left leg that at times seems too much for him to bear. I see him wondering at what point each surgery, each attempt to eliminate pain, is worth it, when he can’t walk like he used to or do what he loves.

A week ago, I was with my father and mother in Virginia, massaging my father’s legs from edema (water retention in his right leg), helping him prepare for his next surgery, his next battle against aging and debilitation. I was there being with the reality of his condition, grateful for the chance to share this time with him and my mother and be a gift of love.img_0910

That night I flew back home to New Mexico, I cried a deep grief, feeling the hopelessness and pain I had once lived and that now I see my father going through. The man who had earlier been so strong, angry, and lacking in compassion for the pain I had lived through, is now the same one feeling that pain for himself. And rather than be angry for what I didn’t receive then, I am grateful that my own limitations and journey broke my heart open to compassion and deep love. I can now be there for my parents, and we can share our love fully while there is time.

HOW HAVE YOUR STRUGGLES HELPED YOU GROW WINGS OF COMPASSION?

*My recently-published novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, tells a story of compassion and love. Check it out on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Child-Duende-Journey-Michelle-Adam/dp/099724710X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1474233011&sr=8-1&keywords=child+of+duende  or at www.michelleadam.net

39. My Wings Circle Around Me in Love

WHEN WAS YOUR LAST SURREAL MOMENT? 

BLOG 39: August, 1998—Four months had passed since living with my parents in a small house in Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ, a community far away from Oakland, California, and New Mexico, where I had been for several years.  Two years ago, I had left New Jersey, from my parents’ earlier house, to go out west, to discover my wings, only to injure myself and return to this place of family.

Suburban life had always been a challenge for my free spirit, but it had become even more so since   traveling out west and experiencing the openness of the land and sky there. But now, Stefan, a friend I had fallen in love with and had danced with before traveling out west, was visiting. My parents were out of town, and being with him again was like being drunk.

Stefan and I had choreographed and performed a dance together at Omega Institute, a holistic studies center in Rhinebeck, New York State, and while we had gotten very close physically, we had never become full lovers or been in a relationship. He had come to New York from his hometown of Montreal (his parents were Haitian), and although we had become intimate through dance, he had chosen to maintain an element of tension between us that had pulled at me painfully, even when I was out west.

Now as he visited, we went into Brooklyn to see his Caribbean relatives, who were so warm in their touch and way, that I wished I could stay with them longer. But then we went to the ocean, where the piercing grey, blue sky that covered the sand and ocean merged with the orange ball of sun detumblr_mocdvsd18d1rub0hvo1_500scending in the sky. It seemed everyone just sat watching the blue crystal waters of infinity melting inside the sunset.

Nature wrapped herself around Stefan and me for these brief moments that erased time, with even the most hurried stopping to observe. “It’s not surreal, it’s very real,” said Stefan as I mentioned to him how surreal it felt. I agreed with his words, yet there was something surreal in that this moment didn’t belong to us alone. It was a collective experience that moved through us inside a dimension that made no distinctions, had no direction to go, no beginning, no end. It was a kind of “now” that erased even presence itself.

As I sat with Stefan in this magical place, I realized that my love for him, or my feelings of in-loveness that I had held onto for so long, had no future, no life beyond these moments. Together we shared a spark that lit up the space between us. But, it was time for me to take that fire and openness I had experienced in the west, and cool those aching parts of myself—the hunger and fear—inside the clear blue skies of the East Coast, and come home to magic within.

So grateful I was for these days with Stefan, for I was able to close an old chapter, and feel my wings circling around me in love for a more mature life of reciprocal joy.      

WHEN WAS YOUR LAST SURREAL MOMENT? 

*My recently-published novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, shares a story of coming home. Check it out on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Child-Duende-Journey-Michelle-Adam/dp/099724710X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1474233011&sr=8-1&keywords=child+of+duende  or at www.michelleadam.net

38. In Wildness is the Preservation of the World

Blog 38: April-June, 1998—Naturalist Henry David Thoreau once wrote, “in wildness is the preservation of the world.” His words resonated with me as I contemplated my life back on the East Coast, in my parent’s house in New Jersey. I wondered what, if any, higher reason I had for coming back to the East Coast after two years out West (beyond the fact that I had trouble walking and needed my parent’s help after having injured myself). How would I feel at home in a place that felt so contained and “civilized,” lacking the expansiveness of the West?

I longed for that wild spirit that I had discovered out West and had experienced as a child in Spain, the country that inspired my novel that I continued to write while healing at my parent’s house. Writing out the wildness of my soul helped me survive the suburban life, as did going outside, on the back porch, and taking a few puffs of a clove cigarette while looking up at the sky as cars raced along the highway nearby. The earthy, sweet taste and smell of the cigarette connected me to the ground below.

I also continued to write in my journal: “There is something innately wild in us wanting to breathe the air again. We have protected ourselves from the elements that are mirrors to our humanity, and we have, in ways, become like fearful styrofoam, reacting to our emptiness. Isn’t it because of this that the bullfight, the dancer, and the duende of Spain, attract us so? Isn’t it because that element of freedom is still there?”

“I read tonight about the mountain lion coming back, walking through the malls, killing humans. Is this not what we ultimately fear? Yes, there is order in everything, even among animals and their packs. But there is also danger; there is also wildness that needs to be left alone, to be that part of nature that is so much of ourselves, that is unpredictable and unafraid of death.”

“I look at the face of the mountain lion, and I see myself. I see us. I turn the page of the news and I also see a story of young children killing each other with guns, without remorse, and I feel that these two worlds are not that separate. Is it not our own fear and ignorance of our primitive, natural selves that actually breeds unnecessary violence?”

“It seems we are searching for ways to crack the mirror of our illusionary race of perfected humanness, so we can get a glimpse of what it’s like to be complete—to be both primitive and refined, innocent and enlightened, both lover and seeker, both alive and fearless for just a moment.

*My recently-published novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is about this kind of wild spirit and freedom. Check it out on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Child-Duende-Journey-Michelle-Adam/dp/099724710X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1474233011&sr=8-1&keywords=child+of+duende  or at www.michelleadam.net