Sharing Duende in Buenos Aires

5/21/2017: Soon I will be in Buenos Aires, my father’s childhood city, and one in which I will share my novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, at Kel Ediciones in Belgrano, Buenos Aires, on May 26, 5:30p.m. What an honor! I will take time off of my regular blog for a few weeks, but please share news of this event with friends in Buenos Aires who may be inspired to share a moment with my novel, Flamenco guitar, and DUENDE, a word brought alive in this port city by a great Spanish Poet Federico GarciaLorca more than 80 years ago. 

Here’s a little excerpt of my talk to Flamenco Guitar: 

“It was October of 1933 when a large Italian Passenger Liner landed here, in the Port of Buenos Aires. That day, one of the most important Generation of ’27 Spanish poets—Federico Garcia Lorca—arrived in Buenos Aires, where he fell in love with its streets and people and remained for six months…much longer than he had planned.

Federico Garcia Lorca was no ordinary poet. He was one from Granada, from Southern Spain, where the Gypsy culture, Flamenco dance and music, and the spirit of the land would forever claim him—that is, until he was killed by Spain’s fascists in 1936.  Lorca knew, unlike many artists, what it meant to truly be creative, to instantaneously confront both the present and death itself rather than to be tied to the musings of the past.”

So when he came to Buenos Aires to premiere his play, Blood Wedding, he also offered an unforgettable speech, The Play and Theory of the Duende, that would forever leave its imprint on the world… and, years later, would inspire my novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, which I bring to you today. I come here from New Mexico to walk these streets that Garcia Lorca once walked, and that my father, Alberto Adam, also traversed as an adult and child growing up in Buenos Aires. I honor both men today, as I bring to you my story, my novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, and “duende,” this essence that Lorca carried with him from Spain 84 years ago.”  

In Lorca’s speech, he said, “In Andalucía (Southern Spain), the people constantly talk of the duende,” explaining that all that has black sounds has duende, since these black sounds are the mystery, the roots fastened in the mire that we all know and all ignore, the fertile silt that gives us the very substance of art. He went on to describe a guitarist as saying that “The duende is not in the throat: the duende surges up, inside, from the soles of the feet.” Meaning, it’s not a question of skill, but of a style that’s truly alive: meaning, it’s in the veins: meaning, it’s of the most ancient culture of immediate creation.” 

“Duende”, Lorca added, is a “mysterious force that everyone3f52c657f037f47efd369cc5dd7af233.jpg feels and no philosopher has explained” that is “in sum, the spirit of the earth.”… the spirit of the earth, which, in moving through every limb of our being, unencumbered and raw, produces an almost religious enthusiasm.  It’s that spirit that an artist embodies when singing so profoundly and truthfully, with clear channel, that we are left with goose bumps, and sighs. Unlike the muse and angel, this spirit must come from within, and must be “awakened in the remotest mansions of the blood,” and ONLY once having done so, then, “announces the constant baptism of newly created things.”

The duende is what we hear in the llanto, the cry out, el cante hondo, the deep song of Flamenco, which has remained with us during our brief, but intense human history. Just travel along the threads of an ancient Gypsy culture to experience this. These nomadic, song-wielding, magic-making people, who arrived in Spain from India, still carry the essence of song they brought with them from the orient, of the Ragas, of indigenous chanting, a kind of prayer that keeps that sweet dialogue between the unseen and seen world alive, honoring the holy and sacred part of being human.”

This song of Gypsy wove its fabric into Spain’s Arabic, Jewish, and Catholic roots—even as Fernando and Isabel of Spain set out to explore the Americas and enacted the Inquisition, which kicked out, killed, and tortured Jews, Arab, Gypsies, and non-Christians in Spain. Many Gypsies fled to the mountains, and it was here that they kept their traditions alive. Maybe—as with the negro spirituals, the Blues, and Native American chants, and so many deeply soulful songs—it is this very persecution, these dark times, that help create this ancient sound of longing that rises more fiercely and fully from the depths of our being than ever before, and reminds of our most profound connections.”

Can you hear the depth of this LLANTO, this “song of the earth,” this most life-affirming voice of the soul that never quits? Maybe if you listen closely, you can, as you also hear the poet’s voice… carrying a plaintive solitary cry belonging to an Andalusian Soul …of Gypsy, Arab and Jew…of indigenous roots untangling, struggling to surface to engage in the most challenging, yet rich work of our life—that of fully inhabiting ourselves.”

Please join me this May 26 at 5:30p.m. in Buenos Aires (and if you can’t make it, please let friends who can come know) to celebrate storytelling, Flamenco guitar, Garcia Lorca, and my father, Alberto Adam. It’s at Kel Ediciones, Conde 1990, 1428 , Buenos Aires, Belgrano, 54  11 4555 4005,  kelediciones.com, a top carrier of books in English in Buenos Aires. 

My Novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is also available on Amazon at Amazon Page  or at www.michelleadam.net. Also, watch a brief video on “duende”, “the spirit of the earth”: YouTube Video

 

59. Springtime Without You

BLOG 59—March, 2000: I’m sharing a poem from many springs ago, as I prepare for this spring’s surprises…a grieving of the old…a rebirth:

Spring locks her jaws into the hard earth,

a pitter patter of rain seeking refuge inside.

The windows shut, now open,

the moon peers through rows of empty branches,

Seeing something I don’t—

tulips growing light green stems below the soil,

pink horizons yet to appear over cool blue oceans

transformed by summer lights.

The wolf is a shadow that lingers three steps behind.

I turn to witness that all along I’ve not been alone.

I turn inward, see myself in her shadow.

Sleep in the shadow, rise in the light.

I have seen your love somewhere in this winter night.

Rise with the daffodil, yellow mind,

Springing days of sweet herein,

I see her—that is, springtime—coming.

In about a week, I return to Buenos Aires, to be in mye99b26d974466ec2594813bb5fb281e7 father’s apartment, to let the memories of our times together seep through the walls, and along the streets of this port city. It’s springtime here again—that time of the year I used to spend with my father in Argentina, his childhood home. It was two springtime’s ago I was there, and, I think, two years before that—as the days lengthened here in the north, but inside the shadow of spring, prepared for winter in the southern hemisphere.

I still remember the first time I spent with my father, just he and I, in his beloved Buenos Aires. He had never visited the port city in May, because he would normally be with his Portuguese friends playing golf then.  He had only come to Argentina because I had requested we share time together in his favorite city.

I still remember now, how, as we traipsed around Buenos Aires, he’d often tell me that they missed him there in Portugal, and that one friend had said—and I paraphrase—“The spring flowers don’t bloom the same without you here.”

He repeated those same words back to me, after I had returned to the U.S.. I was driving through the big open lands here in the desert, on my way to a Lakota Sundance, when he called and said, “The spring flowers don’t bloom the same without you here.”

This morning, as I sat still with the reality that I will soon be in Argentina again, in my father’s apartment, but without him, I began to cry. He left us several months back, but it hadn’t really hit me fully until now. I 9629058698ceb27fa8bf177e5d8b15c8.jpghad been with him for many weeks, until the end, in my parent’s home in New Jersey, but I hadn’t slowed down enough to let the grief catch up with me. Maybe I’ve been holding the grief in my lungs, which have been congested for weeks now, and am finally feeling the reality of my father’s loss.

As I reflect on the fact that I’ll be back in Argentina soon, but without my father there, I feel his words echo in my mind. “The spring flowers don’t bloom the same without you here.” But this time, it’s me saying these words to him, as I feel the love that he shared with me and so many others close to him in Buenos Aires.

“Spring time won’t be the same without you there, papá, but I’ll feel your love wherever I go.”   

If you are in Buenos Aires on May 26 at 5:30p.m., please join me (and if you can’t make it, please tell friends who can come) to celebrate storytelling, Flamenco guitar, Garcia Lorca, and my father, Alberto Adam. It’s at Kel Ediciones, Conde 1990, 1428 , Buenos Aires, Belgrano, 54  11 4555 4005,  kelediciones.com, a top carrier of books in English in Buenos Aires. (See my website’s events page for more information: http://www.michelleadam.net/events)

My Novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is also available on Amazon at Amazon Page  or at www.michelleadam.net. Also, watch a brief video on “duende”, “the spirit of the earth”: YouTube Video

Open Letter to My Father: (pause from regular blog)

It’s been more than two months since you left, your last breath a cry of life and then you were gone. When I’m still enough to feel and listen, I sense you here with me. In several weeks, though, I imagine I’ll feel your presence even more. That’s when my mother, sisters, and I will be traveling to Buenos Aires, Argentina, staying inside your apartment tucked away inside the old quarters of your city. It once lay above the empanada shop that smelled of oven-baked dough wafting up toward your place, and then the hairdresser’s where I replaced, with decent hair color, that horrific henna hair color that made the top of my head look like a carrot—and which you kept touching to make fun of.

If I remember correctly, the last time I was with you in your beloved Argentina was two spring times ago, before you got too sick to travel. We planned another trip after that, but it wasn’t in the cards. Instead, chemotherapy was. But I still remember how you asked me, quite last minute, to join you in Argentina for that last spring time together. At first I declined, since I had made alternative plans, but then, with your persistence, and lots of maneuvering, we shared our last month in your beloved country together.

That was the time my upper back was in immense pain and you couldn’t walk much more than a block. We were quite the team, eternally riding taxis through Buenos Aires, with you incessantly IMG_1174talking to the drivers and everyone else we met. “Isn’t this city the best city in the world,” you’d tell the taxi driver. You’d sit there in the back with your little black bag you carried everywhere, beaming with joy for your childhood homeland you had returned to.

One of our last taxi rides together was to the fish vendor. Do you remember? Even though walking was a struggle, you insisted we stroll through an open market where you greeted everyone as if you had been there a hundred times. Then we went to your fish vendor to pick up a large, frozen octopus, which you insisted on cooking because your friends considered it one of their favorite delicacies.

We celebrated our last supper in the apartment with your friends, Loli and Herbert, and with your sisters, Ingrid and Dietlinde. What a glorious night. You had worked so hard cooking that octopus, and by the time we sat down to eat, and I dedicated a poem and song to you—and to the brief time we all had to celebrate life together—it seemed all worth it.

While you faced your challenges with age—Parkinson’s, Leukemia, and then Melanoma—there was something special about those final years together. You were no longer the tough, distant father I had known you to be, and your challengIMG_1165es became the gift that opened you to love. I adored how you talked to everyone you met; how you let things go that weren’t important; how you didn’t care about things being perfect anymore. What had become perfect was your giving heart, memorable dinners with precious friends of your childhood, and your unbridled passion for small things (like that ice cream you loved at Adan Restaurant—the one topped with champagne and lemon!).

Maybe when mom, my sisters, and I go back to Buenos Aires later this month, we’ll honor you with a scoop of that fine ice cream; or by taking a trip by taxi; or by greeting the man at the deli across the street, and all the others you used to speak to. What I do know is that family and friends will come together with you, celebrating your life with an abundance of toasts. I’ll make a special Last Supper in your apartment to honor you as well (I’ll even take a picture of it, and make sure you’re in it!), and I’ll do a book reading from my novel Child of Duende with a local Flamenco guitarist in your neighborhood.

It will be the first time that I perform anything outside of this country, let alone in Argentina—and it may be the last there. As much as I’m doing it for myself, when I share the story of Duende to Flamenco guitar, it will be for you as well. You’ll be able to see me there, in your favorite city in the world, en tu Buenos Aires Querido, sharing, as you did, Argentinian Eventmy passion for living this moment, this breath, this spirit of life that is only given to us for this brief moment. I hope you can come, that you can see me, that you can see and feel all of us honoring you where your heart had learned to open so big in your last years of your life, at home, in your Beloved Querido Buenos Aires.

Please join me this May 26 at 5:30p.m. in Buenos Aires (and if you can’t make it, please let friends who can come know) to celebrate storytelling, Flamenco guitar, Garcia Lorca, and my father, Alberto Adam. It’s at Kel Ediciones, Conde 1990, 1428 , Buenos Aires, Belgrano, 54  11 4555 4005,  kelediciones.com, a top 

carrier of books in English in Buenos Aires. 

My Novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is also available on Amazon at Amazon Page  or at www.michelleadam.net. Also, watch a brief video on “duende”, “the spirit of the earth”: YouTube Video

55. Honoring Body, Earth, and Air

Blog 55: July, 1999— “I lay out big like New Mexico tonight, the stars speckling the skies in every direction,” I wrote after relaxing outside my parents’ home under New Jersey skies. “It makes me aware of how amazing it is to be walking on this earth. What a gift it is to be inside this wonder—to know that every day we have this, yet we crowd our thoughts and lives with so much that clutters our view.”

Then, it seemed, life felt more alive, more resilient, inside the warmth of summer. I was reminded of what I had once had. I had danced in New York City before becoming injured, and I had lived in New Mexico where the earth and her big skies had invited me to slow down, even though I wasn’t ready.914e43fb9aef1d21aab3d064540aae1e

“When I think of dancing now, I think of an inspiration that followed me, almost stalking me. I still feel how beautiful it was to dance, to take that deep breathe that is dance,” I wrote. “I want to start again, slower this time, with care and love, listening and understanding that this body is my love, my gift. When I do, I will know how a body is, what a body means, how it is mine in more than dance to take care of.”

That day in New Jersey was like today in New Mexico. Storm clouds cleared to reveal snow-covered mountain peaks as the sun melted the cool breeze dancing inside springtime. I stretched, walked with a friend, and enjoyed being in this body that has been through so much—so much of my neglect and taking for granted the gift of what I had been given. I remember how, when I had lived in California (after leaving New Mexico, and before that, New York City), I had felt such immense despair at not being able to get out onto the land…with the idea of not having open skies, trees, fresh air, and water to bathe in when my soul felt weary.

Back then, I had taken for granted my body’s gift—the gift of housing my soul, my life’s force—and, in the pursuit of becoming someone, forgot the importance of my connection to the earth. Now I know how precious both are, and that, in our neglect, it can take a long time to repair the damage we’ve done.

Today, I think about how we, as Americans, have been blessed with living on this breath-taking land once called Turtle Island by Indigenous Americans. Yet, recently, our leader has threatened to roll back protections for land and air. It’s in the name of progress and jobs, President Donald Trump says. Yet there’s no progress when we can’t drink the water, breath the air, and celebrate this body of life we’ve been given.
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There’s no progress when we no longer wake to visible sunrises or share in the diversity of people, plants, and animals that makes this earth so precious.

I reflect on my journey of unraveling the layers of my mind’s clutter so that I can care for my body, my home, and live from a place of greater gratitude for this earth life we have been given. For me, pain cleansed and cleared away layers that maybe, without it, would still be blinding me from the gift of my body and this earth.

Maybe, just maybe, we don’t need so much pain to learn the gift of what we have right here, in front of us, though. Maybe, as we journey together through the troubled maze of our time, we can all let go of the clutter we’ve carried and make room for a more sustainable and healthy earth walk.

*My novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is a story honoring the earth and the spirit of “duende” within. Check it out on Amazon: Amazon Page  or at www.michelleadam.net. Also, watch a brief video on “duende”, “the spirit of the earth”: YouTube Video

 

54. I Want to Challenge You

 

Blog 54: June, 1999: I want to challenge you—yes, you, reader of this blog—to ask yourself: “What is my hunger?” Last week, I wrote about hunger, about my hunger of almost 20 years ago, and my current hunger. As I perused my journal last week, as I do every time I write this, I came across a piece of writing on hunger that struck a cord. So, I decided to create Part 2 of last week’s blog. Here it is, beginning with my journal entry from years ago:

“As I write this, I can hear the voices that have challenged my hunger all along,” I wrote in June, 1999. “The voice is that I am alone, that this hunger belongs only to me, and that everyone is quite normal in their view and understanding of the world. This is a strange and pathetic lie that I grew up with, that you many have grown up with: that we have no hunger; that we have no “self” that is incapable of rationalizing the answers to our existence; that we need no answers because we are the pathetic answer that walks this earth pretending to know—pretending to know that we live and die without much more to our existence; pretending that we are not vulnerable, that we do not break, that this world cannot break us and hurt us and teach us to love.”

These words from years ago may seem harsh, yet I grew up in a family where emotions were rarely expressed. My ancestors had fertilized the ground we walked on with potent seeds of stoic strength that they’d grown so they could survive horrid wars, immigration, and challenging life lessons. Yet, this stoicism masked a grief that needed, one day, to be unearthed.

“I intend to speak to those whf77ad40934475fcab37c7a5736a3b646o find my words resonating with them. Otherwise, why read? Art is, after all, this wonderful world in which we can share, express, and crawl out to the edge of a limb and cry out our existence so those who are afraid to climb can see that it is alright, that we were meant to climb, to sing, to explore this world that is only ours right now,” I wrote. “I can’t believe that this hunger is not in every breathing soul that exists—from the Buddha who found peace, to the musician who, with all her might, sings
to us a kind of longing that only a song can sometimes do so well. I have seen hunger in my father’s eyes—in the way he cannot keep still, driving wherever he can to find his hunger sated for brief moments. Or in my mother, in her later years, wanting so much to find warmth in companionship.”

Most recently, my father’s hunger was there until the very end of his life, days before he died, on February 23, 2017. He longed to walk, to try one last time, as his legs gave in below him. He longed to join us for a toast and dinner at the table, to be a part of the life. He longed for peace from pain, for some understanding, it seemed, of what awaited him after life. My family and I all longed to be there with my father, to feel the tenderness of his final weeks that had been absent many years earlier. I longed to be there to help my father transition, to breathe every last breath with him, knowing each one could mark the end.

As I sit now, alone, writing, feeling the reality of all that has passed, and of my father who is no longer here, I wonder about this thing we call life. No rational mind, no preset ideas, no justification for my father’s passing—at 79 years old, and no earlier or later—can change or ease this reality of life and death. Despite all I’ve learned about life, and spirit, and all that passes, I still ask myself, “Why?” “Why does all life leave its form to become something else?” “Why do we, as humans, have to feel loss?” There’s a hunger in that. There’s a grief. There’s a stark reality that life is so immensely precious, and that any denial of our hunger to live this life as fully as we know how, now, and no minute later, would be a lie toward life itself.

*My novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is a story of following this hunger home. Check it out on Amazon: Amazon Page  or at www.michelleadam.net. Also, watch a brief video on “duende”, “the spirit of the earth”: YouTube Video

 

 

53. Hunger Sleeps Sweet Ashes in my Chest

BLOG 53: June, 1999—Imagine yourself stuck, with little capacity to move, with nowhere to go, nothing to accomplish. Just you. Alone. Would you be able to be still? Would you be still enough inside to feel your spiritual hunger?

Almost twenty years ago, while living in my parents’ home in New Jersey, that was my story. But being still enough to hear my own longing was anything but easy. I struggled to walk, but slowing down inside, being still, remained an immense challenge.

“I hear a voice on the radio in the other room, the sound of a busy world. It distracts me. It makes it hard to hear my hunger. It numbs my existence once more, and builds within me a hunger that so often reappears in extremes, in grand desires to escape the chaos and find a place of stillness to hear myself,” I wrote in my new journal I had just dedicated to hunger itself. “This is the modern world after all. This is the challenge we all face in hearing and addressing our hunger. What once was with us every day as a joyful hunger or longing has become a kind of ravaging ghost that you and I don’t know how to see, yet we feel it grab at us, tease us, make us restless.”

Back then, hunger was a kind of longing for what I couldn’t have in the moment no matter what I did. I wrote, “I can address my hunger by relocating, in my mind, the places where hunger was most awake, most present, and in ways, sweetly: the fields in Spain, the long b6cc3f020432ec5efd545b633828c5b9waiting for God to appear, for a voice to speak to me before a magnificent landscape; driving west out into desert, wide-open skies; or more magnificently, standing on the mountains, the Sandias, watching the bright white clouds, like cotton balls, spreading their wings throughout the entire stone and tree landscape; or driving, driving along the roads of New Mexico, chasing the clouds, with pinks, blues, oranges, purples, tormenting the skies with a surreal godliness that I longed to reach, to hold onto, in my most humble way, by driving, driving, and not slowing down.”

Then, when I found moments to be still enough to feel my hunger, to hear the words that wrote stories into my novel, I traveled inward to faraway lands. “Hunger, she sleeps sweet ashes in my chest, a silence longing for itself,” I wrote the lines of a brief poem. “I hear her stumbling sounds in my heart. I listen and I write.”

With nowhere to go, I wrote, and I allowed words to be my meditation. It’s no different today, as I sit here sharing my reflections of past and present. After a week of moving too quickly for my soul’s pace, and prior, with a month’s time with m1e98d8e0a905478eea6d6f086bf020b7y family and father before his passing, I cherish coming back to this page. Back to you: stillness and hunger.

When I was crippled by pain, my time of
forced meditation—of writing my novel and discovering the story inside “the remotest mansions of my blood”—was a blessing of sorts. I lived inside a cage that required the inside come out. But, now, as I share my novel, travel to be with family, and juggle teaching, writing, and bringing my art into the world, there seems so little time for slowing down. The hunger remains, but its more subtle, less drastic. The hunger is for the quiet, for the listening inside, for a place of presence that can’t be found in all the running around.

It’s found here, though, as I write, as I watch the moon rise, as I let the sound of all this technology, all this doing, be taken over by bird song crawling along the vines in front of my New Mexico home. The song has always been here. The moon, she has always been here lighting the night sky. Yet I am the one who has changed.  In making time, as once I was forced to do, to feel into this stillness that carries my hunger, I can find my way back to me, to all that I has always waited for us inside this presence.

*My novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is a story of following this hunger home. Check it out on Amazon: Amazon Page  or at www.michelleadam.net. Also, watch a brief video on “duende”, “the spirit of the earth”: YouTube Video

 

42. Be Still To Be With Love

BLOG 42: October, 1998—“The last rays of autumn, before winter’s claustrophobia, force me to find hope elsewhere,” I wrote in my journal almost twenty years ago in my parents’ house in New Jersey. It’s ironic to look this far back into the past and track my writing of a similar season as now, here in New Mexico, where a select few leaves fall, and cooler winds prepare winter’s arrival.

“I try to explain how your visit is meaningful, how the sun is meaningful, and how tomorrow is not an experience I can count on or want to rely on as a scapegoat for today,” I wrote back then about having seen my friend, Eric, who was visiting as he prepared to go into New York City to audition for Opera. “But your mind is elsewhere, wanting, without knowing, the solitude of reading your book, the reassurance that you are prepared for tomorrow with the right notes on the keyboard when you audition for the part. And I sit here, a conversation with myself it seems, wanting to describe what it’s like to be, day in and day out, trapped in a house, without friends or the ability to act on my life…what it’s like to be a victim of solitude.”

“I want to describe what it’s like to depend on people’s stillness to share a few moments of love,” I continued writing. “I say nothing after shallow attempts to speak, because I feel my throat, my eyes tearing, and my understanding that we as so much more than ourselves and each other when we are together…that we are the places we have been, the actions we take, the dreams that we run after like strings pulling us into our past. We are states of mind that intersect and part at different points of understanding. And how now, at this point, I am standing alone, without reason, dreams, place, or action, and I will be none to you unless you know how to sit real still as I have done.”

As I read these words of so long ago, I am amazed by their wisdom, and how, in my vulnerability and limitations, I learned much more about life than all this doing we live. Recently, a week ago, here in New Mexico, I faced the end of a beautiful, yet short relationship. Afterwards, I felt empty and longed to touch and be touched. I didn’t know where to go, what to do, to fill this vacancy. c842c559b6600bae2b90c559a4bf7dd0But, bit by bit—after crying, grieving, and letting go—I inched my way to my meditation altar (mesa, actually), and I sat still. With my breath, I sent white golden light to all of me, and with love, touched the inside of my skin, sending the most delightful hug to all parts of my body that intersect with the outside world. I smiled.

Maybe, I am finally returning to my words of twenty years ago. I am being with myself as I had wished others could be with me…in stillness so I can be the breath of love that fills my entire being. I never realized how delicious my own presence could be for me, how I can be the loving touch I so longed for in all my solitude.

*My recently-published novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is the culmination of my healing journey. 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