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

 

 

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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

 

45. Sacred Action: Spirit Inside Flesh (Join Saturday’s Storytelling, Flamenco Guitar & Spanish Tapas Event!)

Blog 45: December 9, 1998—Struck by these lines from The Last Temptation of Christ movie I watched almost 20 years ago, I wrote them down:

“The dual substance of Christ—the yearning, so human, so superhuman, of man to attain God…has always been a deep inscrutable mystery to me. My principle anguish and source of all my joys and sorrows from my youth onward has been the incessant, merciless battle between the spirit and the flesh…and my soul is the arena where these two armies have clashed and met.”

This struggle between spirit and matter were deeply tied to the hip pain I experienced back then, when I lived, at age 30, with my parents in New Jersey. In this country of materialism gone rampant, especially back then, I fought to hear my soul’s voice that had become so distant after my family and I had moved from Spain to the United States during my middle school years. My hip injury in my late twenties had granted me the permission and urgency to reawaken this part of me—and my novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, became a way for me to express this.

Today, as I prepare for a local Storytelling, Flamenco Guitar, and Spanish Tapas event tied to my novel, I can see more clearly how this battle of spirit with matter, and the ultimate merging of these has become my life’s work. The other day, as I rehearsed with Ronaldo Baca, Flamenco guitarist and singer, we spoke about this energy, and how deeply it is tied to “duende”, the essence of my novel.

The Spanish Poet Federico Garcia Lorca once described “duende” as a work and battle, where we wrestle those demons and dark places of our psyche to uncover, to awaken, to become an artform longing to be born. This “duende,” he said, is the spirit of the earth “one must awaken in the remotest mansions of the blood,” and it is only in doing do so that duende “announces the constant baptism of newly created things.”

Aren’t Lorca’s words similar to that of Nikos Kazantzakis’s words of The Last Temptation of Christ? Isn’t there a battle we all engage in as humans (if we are willing to be honest with ourselves) of merging spirit with matter, of becoming this invisible life force of “duende” that moves through our visible, limited physical reality?

As more people wake up to this life force within themselves, how do we engage in this righteous battle to become most fully spirit within flesh? (I see examples of this in our recent history: at Standing Rock in the Dakotas, the Sioux Nation has been protecting the waters by standing up against Energy Transfer Partners, an oil company building a pipeline which is intended to transport 5550,000 barrels of oil a day to maintain our comfortable lives. Since the U.S. presidential elections, others have taken to the streets in protest of the results, and it seems, so many of us are waking up, realizing we can’t take our freedom and democracy—or what there is left of it—for granted any more).

At this time of immense change and upheaval, how do we take this essence of “duende” and be the conduits through which life can—through sacred action—fully express herself?

How have you become this spirit inside flesh most authentically?

*This Saturday, Ronaldo Baca and I will be offering a journey inside this essence in an inspiring evening of Storytelling, Flamenco Guitar, and Spanish Tapas. It’s this Saturday, Dec. 10th, at 4p.m. at Awaken to Wellness Center, 1704 Moon St NE, Ste 9, Albuquerque.

My recently-published novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, may also make a great gift this season! It’s 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

Duende: A Creative Fusion of Spirit and Matter

September 24, 2016–Last week, I asked, “Where do spirit and matter meet?,”and this week, as I sat down to write, I felt called to answer this question: they meet when we share our soul’s longing and gift with others through creative fusion and love…when we embody our spirit through creative expression.

This is so much what happened at this past Thursday’s Storytelling and Spanish Guitar and Tapas event I had at my local library with Ronaldo Baca, a Flamenco guitarist, who played guitar as I shared my story of passion and love for the Spanish land and culture that inspired my novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit. About 45 people joined me and Ronaldo Baca, who had chosen to collaborate with me  because he, too, understood and shared the depth of love I had for the Spanish land and her soul that “raised me.”

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My reading began with these words: “There’s a voice inside the earth, subtle, yet there, easing her song, her melody of sweet, nurturing love into every part of our being. This voice–this ancient, primordial song–came to me as a child, from the land in Spain who sang my young child’s soul alive. This evening is dedicated to her and to the novel that I wrote, which comes from her soul.”

Ronaldo Baca played and sang a Flamenco Malaguena before I began, and ended with an Alegria.  It was so beautiful and carried such soul and duende–that 14358994_1297863966891868_4847407625166353127_nspontaneous, raw, creative passion–that I felt a great of wave of gratitude come over me. I then told the story of the earth’s spirit, the soul of Spain, and that place within us as a child that is so alive, and full of imagination and room for spirit to rise within us. It was a sweet, honey-filled way to honor Equinox and the first day of autumn.

At the end of the event,  one woman came to me in tears and shared how I had reminded her of her magical childhood–of a time when she and others in her family believed in spirits, in worlds unseen, and lived the richness of her child’s imagination. This evening for her, and for others (including me), was a reminder that there’s an eternal door open to us to walk through, at any time, into this place of magic–of duende14468783_1297864270225171_5534532804577011312_o–that we may have carried as a child…and to live this once again.

Check it out: A Short Clip from Storytelling Event

My novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is available on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Child-Duende-Journey-Michelle-Adam/dp/099724710X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1474769851&sr=8-1&keywords=child+of+duende (or can be ordered through your local bookstore).

 

 

 

 

 

25. A Chance Encounter Becomes …

HAVE YOUR EVER HAD A CHANCE ENCOUNTER THAT BECAME MORE?  

BLOG 25: October, 1997—I’m sitting on my bed in the living room of my home in the hills of Oakland, California . I’m not alone. A friend, who is a professional massage therapist, is on my bed as well, giving a massage to Archie, the man I met on the plane ride months ago—the one who inspired me to begin writing what today has become my novel, Child of Duende.

Other friends join me on my bed, or on the couch, or sit nearby. I’m shaking my torso to music blasting “Oops Upside the Head” inside a sequin top I managed to find at a second hand store during my few jaunts outside the house (yes, I’m able to walk, but not far without massive pain). You’d think it were a typical California affair (in December, I end up going to a New Year’s Eve Party where everyone—I mean, everyone—is naked, massaging each other and much more), but it’s actually my birthday. I’ve invited everyone and anyone I know to celebrate my late 20s, and since I’m living out of my bed in the living room, it seems an ideal place to celebrate!

You may wonder how Archie—a man I merely met on a plane—arrived at my birthday party. It’s simple, though. He had given me his card before we parted ways, and I sent an invitation to his Los Angeles address. He thought, what the hell, let’s live it up—as did I—and he arrived with a friend to find himself in my living room receiving massages and having a good time.

The day after my extraordinary birthday celebration, Archie and I meet up to discover if there’s any romance in the cards for us. We talk, on my bed, of course, but nothing goes further than that. He talks baseball and I’m more interested in some deep philosophical, soulful, and romantic encounter. He suggests I drive south with him to Los Angeles and let the wind determine where we go, but I decline. This body of mine can’t handle a trip right now. But we’re both glad that we took a moment out of ordinary time and rational behavior to celebrate life.

HAVE YOUR EVER HAD A CHANCE ENCOUNTER THAT BECAME MORE?  

A Tiny Taste of My Novel

Ρaco’s voice slid deep into the smoke-filled room. Silence sifted into the space between his breaths. Crying with the anguish of a people who had left their homeland centuries ago, he carried a song that still knew its way inside the heartbeat of the earth. Eight-year-old Duende listened. Twenty-eight-year-old Ingrid barely remembered this mysterious melody that came from within.

In the small village of Málaga, on the coast of Spain, where the Mediterranean Sea separated Europe from Africa, from the Arabic cries of “Allah,” and from the Jews’ search for their homeland, Paco and his Gypsy song remained. Duende, raised in this culture, knew this song and its origin, yet Ingrid, tossed into the modern reality of separation, had yet to find her way back.

This is the story of both, woven together by magical vines carrying the blood of the earth and a forgotten way of living.

 

My novel’s prologue provides a taste of my recently released novel, Child of Duende, an adventure of a twenty-eight-year-old German journalist, Ingrid, who returns to her childhood home of Málaga, Spain, to cover a remarkable story: on Señor Ramos’s vineyard, the vines are growing out of control. What’s more, they appear to be bleeding. Can it possibly be true? Ingrid feels a mysterious connection to the increasingly strange events taking place in her hometown, but why?Duende Return Transparent Orange (1).png

As Ingrid’s story interweaves with that of an eight-year-old child, whose grandmother fates her with the name Duende—a word that refers to the spirit of the earth that one must awaken from within—Ingrid embarks on a journey of personal rediscovery. Duende dances with Gypsies; travels below the sea with an earth spirit; speaks with her grandmother’s spirit; and has dreams that deeply transform her reality and Ingrid’s. Ultimately, Ingrid’s return home reveals a truth that has been buried in the ground for millennia. Described by world-renowned teacher and award-winning author Sandra Ingerman as “a beautiful story that will take you into magical and mystical realms,” Child of Duende is a journey home.

**For more information on my novel or on my teaching and healing work, visit my newly-revised website: http://www.michelleadam.net

**Above Illustration is one of several Child of Duende Interior Illustrations by Jenna Kass.

(My regular blog will return soon, with novel passages interspersed. Stay tuned!)

 

 

 

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)?