51. Riding Off into “Las Pampas”

BLOG 51: June, 1999—“There are so many times you have been with me, and yet I have not seen you. I feel touched, moved, overwhelmed inside this little heart of mine by the guide you have been so long—an angel so present on this earth, so alive within me, so much a part of me,” I wrote from my parent’s home in New Jersey 18 years ago. “I feel like I have been gone so long, wayward in search of myself—a decade of scraping down every wall to discover this beauty beside and inside of me…this stalwart tree, ever-growing slowly, gracefully upward, as I have stretched out, spreading arms that reach out to embrace the sun, eager to get there.”

These words made up a letter addressed to MAGIC itself, and to a dear friend of mine, a past partner. After all, isn’t magic in both—inside ourselves and in relationship?  While today is a different time, and magic may be too general a word to apply to my present moment here with my ailing father—I’ve been reflecting on what it must be like for him to soon embark on what may be a potentially “magical” journey into the afterlife.

My father has always been quite the scientist, carefully reflecting on the reasonable, proven aspects of life. I wonder now, when he’s in tremendous pain, and asks us to help him die, whether he has a sense of where he’s going (if anywhere at all).

Some years back, after he and I had visited my Argentinean cousin, Carmen, who was extremely frail and dying from a brain tumor, he confessed to me, in his apartment living room, that the idea of death really scared him. It was clear then, as now, that he was reflecting on his own death.

Last night, I sat with what it would be like to have no imagined sense (or a very existential one) of what we call the afterlife. I’ve always had a strong feeling of spirit, or what life without a body would be like. If anything, I’ve found it much more natural and real to be with the world of spirit than body. But for my father, who prided himself of being very athletic and intelligent, and having 5d0235715e06de38848b7e112c1f3ec8the independence and strength to control his destiny, death may be a different kind of beast for him to face.

If it’s true what a friend of mine once said—that, after death, people see and experience that which they believed to be true in this lifetime…that our beliefs dictate what’s next…or at least for the first part of our journey—then I wondered what current beliefs were dictating my father’s sense of what awaits him. Is the pain I see him going through, both physical and emotional, a part of his battle between his current beliefs and what is to come? Does it have to be this painful leaving this earthly plane as we prepare to shift as the caterpillar does into the butterfly?

As I sat at my father’s bedside one evening, I asked his mother’s spirit, our shared ancestors, and angelic beings to visit him in his sleep to give him a glimpse of what’s possibly next. Then, a beautiful imagine came to mind. My father has always been an adventurous soul, I thought, and he had always said he would have been a “gaucho”, an Argentinean cowboy, if he hadn’t taken a more practical route in life. So, then, why can’t he ride off like a gaucho into the vast grasslands, las Pampas de Argentina, when it’s his time, and begin his adventure beyond his body as one of the greatest freedom he has ever known?

With that, I smiled, and he fell asleep.

*My novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is a story of spirit and coming home. Check it out on Amazon: Amazon Link or at www.michelleadam.net. Also, I’ve created a short new video on duende, the spirit of the earth, and on my novel. Check it out: YouTube Video

 

 

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A Night of Gypsy Dance (novel excerpt)

JOIN IN FLAMENCO with my novel CHILD OF DUENDE (blog intermission):

Duende stepped reluctantly deeper into the tavern. A short, stocky Gypsy man began to sing in Spanish. He called out the anguish of a people who swore they would never forget the beating of their hearts. One, two, three. One, two, three. “I am Gypsy, and this port carries the tears of my people…aya… aya…” His voice elbowed its way through the room. “Aya… aya…aya… my warm tears fall in a cold sea.” The man sang from the deepest part of his throat, producing a sound like the bow off the strings of a reverberating cello. (Child of Duende Website)

“Paquito, Paquito,” the crowd cheered, but Duende remained still, watching at least a dozen spirits dancing fiercely in a circle around her, almost dizzying her by the time Paquito ended his song and broke the spell she was under.

“Come here, darling,” the singer said, his voice as full as the ocean. 

Timidly, Duende stepped toward Paquito, who took her hand and introduced her to Graciela, the dancer. “Show her how to dance Gypsy,” he told her, releasing Duende’s hand. His sweat remained in her palm and thickened with her own. All eyes were on her.

Graciela moved forward with her masklike face—black eyebrows, blood red lips; her wrists wrapped in multiple colorful bracelets resting on her waist. With her hair pulled back in a ponytail, stretching her mouth into a broad smile, she lifted her arms as her hands hit each other, making a loud, clanging sound. The woman smiled through her missing teeth. Graciela’s eyes held Duende’s gaze. The girl stared, frozen, waiting for some signal to call her into action. The woman nodded a subtle invitation to begin and lifted her skirt to her knees. 

Duende looked down at her pants, her little fingers grabbing what material she could. The room remained quiet. The other dancers had stopped moving, their eyes on the girl who now watched Graciela intently. Tap. The dancer pressed the toe of her foot to the ground. Tap. Her heel lifted. Tap. She looked at Duende. Nodded. Duende felt the stiffness of the pants she wore. Her hands shook as she noticed her sneakers. She shrunk in front of this queen and her black-heeled shoes. The room broke into laughter, the crowd clapping, calling out in a clatter of exclamations: “How adorable.” “Look at the little one.” “Look at those shoes.”

But then a loud clap broke the noise. Duende’s heart thumped. Her eyes darted back to Graciela, who directed fierce concentration toward her. Clap. Graciela commanded the room. The girl’s feet pressed forward against the floor, her heels, one at a time, lifted. She fumbled for balance as she looked up at her hands attempting to come together. Clap. She raised her hands to the left, slightly above her, imitating Graciela. Duende didn’t dare take her eyes off the woman.

Again, she clapped, but this time the flats of her palms met like discs of rusted metal. Smack. Graciela’s eyes turned to fire. Look, her eyes insisted. Clap. Her hands cupped slightly to produce a fearless sound. Hollow on the inside. Solid on the outside. The lines of her hands found each other like suction cups.

Duende followed suit, this time producing a sound that echoed the dancer’s. Clap. The corner of Graciela’s mouth revealed a quick grin. Duende let her thin lips stretch across her face, while cupping her palms to clap in time with her feet. Point, clap. Point, clap. Graciela added more. Duende’s eyes remained fixed on Graciela’s. The dancer approved. Never lose your partner’s eyes, she seemed to tell the girl. That night Duende knew at least this. Point, clap. Point, clap. The crowd picked up its pace, becoming louder and louder, cheering olé, before others joined in the dance. Paquito sang and Duende became lost in other people’s movement, and inside a bubble of spirits encircling her in dance and celebration.

A Journey Below the Sea: an Excerpt from Child of Duende

Duende sat on rocks that jutted out over the sea into the rising early morning mist. She waited for her furry friend to show himself as the sudden wind wrapping its arms around her, tapping her with its long, wiry fingers on her back.

Instead, hundreds of birds trilled their chorus of songs into the much louder waves that broke against the rocks, and Duende, wanting to make her presence known to her friend, joined her own whistle with nature’s song. Within seconds, the sea roared a fierce fountain of water toward the sky, releasing a haunting sound that made Duende jump back. A deep, wide, eternal longing, pulling its anchor into her heart and down toward the seafloor, enveloped her, then echoed against the rocks.

“Duende.” She heard her name coming from the depths of the sound. “Duende.” She turned her head in either direction, trying to see or place this voice that resonated from another world. Her friend was nowhere to be seen. Instead she heard, “Come inside.” Where? Duende thought. Inside where? By now the birds had stopped their chanting, or at least Duende could no longer hear them. She stood frozen, her hands clenched, her eyes wide with wonder and fright, inside the warm morning.

“Here,” the voice responded, lifting itself into a high-pitched sound as a large hand rose from the sea’s fountain. Duende shook in shock. “Come on,” she heard again. She continued to look around, smelling the air and sensing for that presence she had become used to. But there was nothing. Just this voice repeating the same request.

As the hand descended into the sea again, Duende closed her eyes, finally letting go of expecting the same as before, and summoned her knowing. She cleared any fear or doubt she may have had about this voice and hand, and let herself fall deep into the vast body of water. She knew how to let her spirit travel in ways most children or adults never understood. When she arrived, he was there. Her friend was waiting.

“Duende, I like your name,” he said slowly, through a gurgle of water and wind, as if he were the sea, but not the kind the girl was accustomed to. His voice came from a deep, dark place, like the longing of a whale’s cry that Duende had heard echo against the rocks and reverberate inside her. “Come with me,” her earth spirit friend said as he faced away from her while turning his long weblike feet toward her, moving the opposite direction she expected him to go.

… An eternal hole opened below them, clearing the soil and sand around them, as the center of the earth sucked them closer and closer, accelerating their journey…“You are going home,” her friend suddenly whispered as they accelerated through the earth’s layers. “Home.

CHECK OUT MORE OF MY NOVEL @ my newly designed Website: www.childofduende.com or www.michelleadam.net or go directly to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Child-Duende-Journey-Michelle-Adam/dp/099724710X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1462419536&sr=8-1&keywords=child+of+duende

*My regular Blog will resume soon! I hope you’ve enjoyed this momentary glimpse into my novel, Child of Duende.

 

6. Dancing in the Desert

WHEN DID YOU LAST LET GO AND DANCE (OR PLAY)?

Blog 6: End of September, 1996—I’m in the middle of New Mexico. I wrestle with restlessness late at night after days of looking for work and a place to live that’s more creative or affordable than staying with Judith, my current housemate. My challenge is not knowing how long I’ll be here in this desert city of Albuquerque. My plan was to make it to the West Coast, and here I am, rerouted!

While I’m looking for home, I meet Richard, a local New Mexican I begin to spend time with and date. He’s quirky—very smart, and spiritual, but quirky and a bit awkward in his skin. I like him, though.

I also meet Eric, another unique character. I discover him at the university’s student union building. He’s singing opera to piano accompaniment, and when he’s done we both gravitate toward each. He loves dancing, he says, and I love opera and singing. Within minutes we walk back to his house, with him practicing an Irish accent, and me completely convinced he’s Irish and not from his hometown of Philadelphia. He tells me he came to the desert to heal from his stepfather’s death, and, of all things, to discover his Jewish roots in a place dominated by Spanish Catholic and Native American influences (although, I later learn there are Sephardic—Spanish Jewish—roots deep inside the earth)! When we get to Eric’s small rental, he puts on some old, scratchy records, and we bounce around the house like monkeys dancing our hearts out.

I also encounter Victor in the street. We pass each other, and I ask him if he dances. He tells me “yes” and we go to a local club. I have all this energy from the East Coast, and from New York City specifically, and I seem to attract people like Victor to me in this sleepy city.

While I enjoy dancing out, I miss taking dance classes as I had in NYC. In the mornings, I stretch and then start dancing African Dance to a drumming CD before eating breakfast, and then I join classes at the university. But I battle between being still—reading Alberto Villoldo’s shamanic travels through Perú on Judith’s porch in the dry and warm September sun—and dancing all of this excess, restless energy out of me.

What I do know is that it’s integral for me to be creative. When I am, my energy doubles itself and vibrates with a need to create beauty. I have so much to give, I feel. And this energy I carry is so much bigger than me.

WHEN DID YOU LAST LET GO AND DANCE (OR PLAY)?