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

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

20.Perched up High,no Wings to Fly

WHEN DID YOU FIND PEACE IN THE MOST UNLIKELY PLACES?

BLOG 20: July, 1997—I am sitting in my bed in the livingroom of my home in California’s Oakland hills. I have nowhere to go now, no matter what I want to do. I am no longer working and I’ve applied for temporary disability. It’s a strange feeling to be in such a beautiful place with a gorgeous view of San Francisco, the bay, and mountains all around. I am a bird perched up high, on a bed of all things, and yet with no wings to fly. I’m only able to watch and to be still. I am strangely feeling a sense of peace with not moving. I have nothing to prove, nothing to become, nowhere to go. I am here, just me, with permission—possibly for the first time in my life—to be with me.

Prior to coming out west, and before living in New York City for a year, I had spent a summer at Omega, a holistic retreat center in New York State. I had lived in a tent and was first introduced to dance, shamanism, and earth-based cultures then. I used to stay up at night, reading Federico García Lorca’s poems in my tent under the rain, and I felt the preciousness of those moments where art and nature held me in their embrace. Back then, I tried meditating under the trees, but I kept hearing my father’s voice, telling me to be useful. It was a challenge being still, being with myself. This meant defying how I had been raised.

But here I am, and for the first time, I am not hearing my father’s voice, or maybe that of my ancestors, telling me to keep moving, to keep making something of myself, to be tough. I’m broken here in my bed, surrendered in my brokenness. There’s space for me to listen. There’s peace for me to be. During the day, my downstairs neighbor plays Roberta Flack on his record player, and rather than ask him to turn it down, I yell down for him to turn it up. Roberta Flack’s voice resonates “Killing me Softly with his Song” over the hills as my neighbor enjoys a moment of spontaneity. I make the most of life that happens around me, since it’s all I’ve got. And I stop for once in these hills of Oakland.

WHEN DID YOU FIND PEACE IN THE MOST UNLIKELY PLACES?