88. My Soul is Tender after Spain

BLOG 88—(present reflections tied to February 2001 journal entries about my healing journey and my return from presenting my novel in Spain)—I returned almost a month ago from Spain, from a book tour with my novel in Spanish, Niña Duende: Un Viaje del Espíritu, presented in four cities (Madrid, Murcia, Málaga, and Granada) and six venues. My journey to Spain was a homecoming, a return to the land that had shown me my soul. And this time I came with my novel, written while in the U.S., a kind of exile from that home.

My soul is tender now, not just because my gift as a writer and healer and as the person I am were beautifully received, but because, upon returning home to New Mexico, I now feel a truth I wrestled with almost 20 years ago, when healing from hip pain in New England.

Back then, while in pain and learning to listen to my soul’s voice, I wrote about feeling angry at being asked to “unmask” myself. I had worked with shamans from Ecuador, translating for them in events, and one had told me, ever so subtly, that maybe my whole journey of healing was about become soft again, about softening, which for me was a kind of “unmasking”.

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Me as a little girl in Spain (front, left)

Twenty years ago, that meant becoming that little, vulnerable girl I had once been. “How dare you ask me to soften when I’ve worked so hard to gain the power, strength, and courage I have had to survive,” I wrote in my journal in 2001. “I feel the younger person I was didn’t have any power or value, and that all the power and value I had, I had to build from the ashes of my father’s blaze.”

It’s especially interesting reading those words of long ago, when today, a month since returning from Spain, I awoke from a dream that resonated with what I had written. I dreamed I was in high school again, and I had just come from Spain to the U.S. and felt extremely alone inside those school walls. In my dream, I felt what it had been like back then, entering into an environment that had been so harsh and foreign to me. And I woke up feeling the angst and trauma of it all, while also getting how I had coped back then by shutting down, becoming depressed, numb, and disconnected because it wasn’t safe to feel the pain of being a stranger among all these students I was meant to connect DSC01189with, yet couldn’t. I got how a part of me had, as they say in the shamanic world, lost a part of my soul when I came to the U.S. and needed to survive.

As I lay in bed this morning, feeling all of this, I got so clearly that this is so much what happens to all of us. Every one of us experiences different traumas that we need to survive, and in order to do so, a part of us leaves, shuts down, disappears. We keep on going, appear normal to the outside world, but later, somewhere down the road, we pay the price, because a part of us is locked down, gone, and without this part, we are not whole. And then we hit some big wall in life—as I did with my injury and not being able to walk—and then the journey backwards, toward those moments in which we shut off and dissociate, begins. Because we must go back and retrieve those parts of us that we left somewhere else while we were busy surviving.

This morning, after my dream, I meditated, and I felt my soul’s tenderness. I really felt it. Because I got so clearly that all the places in our lives where we stop feeling, where we have to override our soul’s tenderness, our soul’s beautiful soft body that is as light and agile as the wind or a feather, need to be felt. We need to feel these moments where we weren’t really present, where we checked out, and we need to check back in, with immense compassion for our soul’s beauty and tenderness. We need to feel, and feel, and feel again, and less the fright we felt, and more that soft, vulnerable part of us that we shut down yet wants to be seen…that truly human, big-hearted part of us that we need 65205100_2304147666339710_1329517034966351872_nwith us so we can be our full soul-selves in our bodies. Then, and only then, can we experience true joy for living.

Ironically, when I came back from Spain this time, I met up with a woman who had been in my high school class in New Jersey, yet was now living in New Mexico. And what I discovered is that we had a lot in common and were very much on a similar spiritual path. Yet this time, unlike so many other times I had returned to the U.S. from Spain, I was able to feel that child I once had been who had gotten lost in the U.S.  I returned to New Mexico to make peace with that trauma I had experienced as a child when I had originally come to the U.S. from Spain. And now, that tenderness of my soul, that soft body, can more fully come home inside me.

I see now, that when I, or any of us, feel that sense of agitation, that disconnect in our lives, that it’s really a call to feel that tenderness that is our essence, and inside that space, to feel those parts of ourselves that were left behind and that long to return, to be seen, to be felt, to be whole within us again.

My Novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is a story of returning home to the earth inside and all around us. It’s now available in Spanish as Niña Duende: Un Viaje del Espiritu, that’s available on Amazon at Amazon Page or at www.michelleadam.net. It can be ordered at a local bookstore or directly from me (for those outside of the U.S.) as well. Also, watch a brief video on “duende”, “the spirit of the earth” in Spanish: https://youtu.be/FaRK7wOHcJU, and in English: 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

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