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

 

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58. Checkmate with Ourselves

BLOG 58: January, 2000—I remember now where I was on the eve of this millennium. Do you? I was in Taos, New Mexico, in the mountains somewhere far away from civilization as the entire world braced itself for what we called “Y2K” (when all computers would possibly shut down, and the world as we knew it).

As we all prepared for a Y2K disaster, I was in the middle of nowhere, drumming in the new millennium with my friend Eric Perry and others. I barely remember that time, other than the fact that I had flown out to San Francisco, CA, from my parents house in New Jersey, to pick up my car (I had left it there a few years earlier because I wasn’t physically up to driving it back East after becoming injured). Eric came out to California to drive my car—with me lying down in the back—on a journey East, or at least halfway to New Mexico, where he lived.

When Eric and I arrived in New Mexico, I helped him decorate his room and we visited Acoma Pueblo, a native village on top of a cliff set up for tourists to visit. Due to my long term injury I wasn’t able to walk  much, but enough to see this village and befriend a stray dog who followed us to our car. After the dog looked at us with longing eyes and a guard told us to take him—he didn’t belong to anyone, he said—Eric, who could barely take care of plants, became a dog owner. We named the little one “Acoma.”

By the time New Year’s Eve approached,c31d532e140f6c8af13c69ef86fc2705 the three of us were drumming away in Taos. Despite being out in nature, I remember feeling disconnected—even in Albuquerque where the Sandia Mountains that had once called me were. My body was still struggling to walk, and my soul questioning why I had stopped in the middle of the desert on my way to California almost four years earlier only to break myself and still be struggling. Why had I followed a spiritual call only to be broken and to feel disconnected from all that had initially connected me?

That year, 17 years ago, my father had called me to tell me he would fly out to Albuquerque to drive me and my car back to New Jersey, to my parent’s home.  I accepted and soon my car and I were back with my parents.

It was a strange place to be—in the same place, or worse, than I had been four years earlier. It was only later, when studying with one of my spiritual teachers, Martín Prechtel, that I would understand that space I was in. We’ve grown up inside this “empire,” he’d say, and we’ve learned to live with the empire mind. Yet, he’d explain, there’s another part of us, “the barbarian,” the one who’s wild, free, connected to nature, our nature, that wants to come home.

In a world where we have continuously fled, especially West, there comes a time when we’re forced to stop, he’d say, where we face “check mate.” Neither the Empire mind nor the Barbarian can move as they are in stalemate, seeing the other for the first time and determining how to make peace w540ab52e39f2f19b2fea568f2462612aith one other since both are a part of ourselves (my apologies to my teacher for not sharing this as eloquently as he did!).

As I look back, I see now, that I was in a place of checkmate, unlearning the parts of my mind that had imprisoned me while getting to know this Barbarian part of me that had rarely had a voice. Relearning a way of being, and making peace with what has been, can be long journey—one that isn’t just about this lifetime, but many before, tied to our ancestors and this long earth walk we’ve all made, I later realized.

Today I feel at peace, and I’ve become a beautiful woman who honors her soul’s path. But, I realize that this place of checkmate, this slowing down, and even being stuck for a while, is always with us. We live in a world that demands we keep up while drawing our attention with endless technological inventions and constant marketing. So coming home to the Barbarian part of us, to our freer, more connected nature, requires daily mindfulness. It requires we know that following our soul’s voice is a commitment, and a muscle we must exercise so we don’t become lost inside the hustle and bustle of this empire we live in.

My Novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is a story of checkmate, of coming 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

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

 

 

50. Hand Outstretched to God: Time Carves us into Magic

BLOG 50: May 20, 1999—I was angry at my father inside my dream of almost 20 years ago. In that nighttime journey, I had discovered sculptures of Italy’s Renaissance artist Michelangelo below a pile of ice in a freezer. I was angry at my father for directing conversations toward rational conclusions that had nothing to do with the emotions present in the room. Discovering Michelangelo sculptures below frozen items in my dream seemed akin to discovering the magic, beauty, and life that lay below the frozen emotions of that time.

Back then, I carried a truth that lay smothered below a stoic, cold family dynamic where emotions were avoided at all costs. My truth was this: I loved my father so f8a6f93aae60db2e9ec200da2001c08avery much, and I also felt immense hurt and pain (including physical pain) in not being able to share this love with him or feel it from him, or from others in my family. We had learned to be tough and independent, and strong women (I am one of three sisters, and my mother), but we had never learned to express love and that aliveness, which, for me was who I really was and longed to be in this world. I was this sculpture at the bottom of a pile of ice, longing to be carved out into the magical being I was.

Today, the person I was, and the family I once had, has become—with time having carved magic out of stone—a Michelangelo sculpture, so alive, and life-affirming. Just last week, I was with my family—my father, my three sisters, my mother, and my father’s two sisters, Ingrid and Sisi, from Argentina—because my father has been very ill. We all came together to be with him as he lay on a hospital bed in the living room, too weak to stand or take care of himself anymore.

The days together were long, but rich, holding my father’s hands, feeding him, massaging him, and helping with the most mundane of tasks. With his two sisters, he sang songs of their childhood years in Argentina, and when it came to the Argentinean National Anthem, my father’s voice filled the room with a passion I had never heard before. For those moments, all of my father’s weakness and slurred speech left him inside a celebration of the life he had lived and shared. IMG_1639.JPG

Unlike earlier times in his life, he reached out to each of us, shared his love, his gratitude, and pulled us toward him to receive and give love (there were other more challenging moments too!). And at one point, he asked my mother to lie on the narrow, hospital bed with him and they held each other. They made up for words and emotions unspoken during so many years past.

Then, my father asked us all to sit in a circle around him, as we did our best to prop him up at the side of his bed. He told us to ask him anything we needed to ask him. He would answer honestly with a clear “yes” or “no”, he said. There we were, five grown women with my father, trying to ask him questions that he felt were senseless (because we already knew the answers). What he wanted, it seemed, was to clear the air, for us to express any emotions or concerns we carried that needed to be spoken so he could go in peace knowing we were okay.img_1636

It’s as if my father wanted to melt any remaining ice covering these magical Michelangelo sculptures we had all become, and that he too had become. All the pain, all the years, all the wrestling that my father and I, and all of us had done, to become the beautiful God-creations and works of art we now were, had all been worth it. We were finally here to love and live so deeply together, present to life and death, and to each other, during this final leg of my father’s journey on earth.

*My novel Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit is about this journey of coming home to the magical creations we are. Check it out on Amazon. It’s currently at a Promotional Rate, but this ends soon: 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

Celebrating Duende at Barnes and Noble!

Jan. 25, 2017: Listen to that song, that voice, a call out that comes from the deepest, most moving place of our mysterious soul. Can you really hear it…this llanto, this cry out that has never left us…not during wars, dictatorships, and horrific terror inside our brief, but intense human history?  Can you hear the depth of this LLANTO, this “song of the earth,” this most life-affirming voice of the soul that never quits, that is here today, in this moment, during this unique time of friction and immense change in our human history?

This Saturday, at Barnes and Noble, I will offer a taste of this Llanto, this cry out, this deep soul’s song and melody that is tied to the story and birthplace of my novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit. With my novel, I bring to you Gypsies, nature spirits, Flamenco, and a return home to the earth and her wisdom, her Llanto, and cry out. I offer you a taste of that which inspired me to write this novel, which came from a journey of my heart, back to Spain, to the memories of my childhood in high-desert fields that raised me and an ancient culture that has forever left its imprint on my soul.

In traveling along the threads of this ancient culture that wrote the story of my novel, I begin with Spain’s Gypsies who have long carried an enduring spirit of music and dance, of Flamenco, of Deep Song, Cante Hondo. These nomadic, song-wielding, magic-making people, who arrived in Spain from India, brought with them the sounds of 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 Gbarnes-and-noble-event-jan-2017ypsies 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.

My novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is about this deep longing that cries out for another way…or more clearly…a way home inside this earth place. It is about discovering that, even when we’ve lost our way, and feel despair, there’s a way home, inside, inside of us, and inside the land that calls us on a sacred journey of aliveness.

If you are in New Mexico this Saturday, from 1-3p.m., please join Ronaldo Baca and I for a live weaving of storytelling and Flamenco song and guitar at Barnes and Noble, Coronado Mall, Albuquerque, that promises to stir this ancient Gypsy spirit that knows the way home. And, if you are too far away, check out my recent video, which tells the story of “duende”, the spirit of the earth, tied to my novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit! https://youtu.be/yEJoQpKYK3I

Also, check out a limited-time promotion of my paperback novel and a VERY SPECIAL Kindle price of 99 cents on January 28th (the price goes up a dollar every day after) on Amazon: http://a.co/9scIar2

 

49. Capturing Love Inside these Butterfly Wings

BLOG 49: Feb. 15, 1999—“Love spreads her ashes on my bed tonight, the nightingale calls a sound of surrender. The feelings in my heart are distant cries, unavailable to myself,” I wrote eighteen years ago in my journal as I lived in my parent’s New Jersey home at age thirty, inside that place we perceive as stuck, when, in actuality, we are growing deeper, and becoming more grand in our love.

“I fear what I love is lost, lost only in that is it not mine,” I wrote. “A line of sweet perfume inches across my heart, a love so sweet, so divine, the creating of it hurts. It is a deep knowing that all I have is now, and tomorrow may leave like a butterfly leaves its cocoon…that in order to love, I must surrender to myself, believe that the tales will weave their threads into the world, and be humble to spirit that moves through me and knows better.”

Back then, I couldn’t have imagined how much I’d grow inside the prison of my pained body and life. But today, when a friend shared with me how stuck she was, I found myself 92e75215218006444b25b7f037b11c25telling her that her “stuckness” was a gift. We come into this world and learn to be a certain way, it seems, only to get so-called stuck because we need help putting the breaks on our life, on our old ways, so we can slow down enough to make a drastic change and finally see and walk our soul’s path.

Most recently, my father had numerous operations in his fight against cancer and pain. He too is experiencing being “stuck”, living almost daily pain and uncertainty as the butterfly that he is prepares to leave the cocoon of this life. I pray it’s not too soon, but I also know that every minute we have here is to share our love, and for me to honor my father’s presence and that of my parents before it’s too late. After all, my poem of years ago still holds true: “All I have is now, and tomorrow may leave like the butterfly leaves its cocoon.”

*Check out my new YouTube Link on DUENDE, and the spirit of the earth that we are. Also, my novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit is available 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