Every other day I sit in front of the computer to write. No matter what.
I like consistency, as one of life’s very few aspects I feel in control of. Most of the time ideas come to me easily, like a flash in the middle of the night or while I’m out with the dogs; at times while I eat or when I close my eyes. When that happens, I follow the images and words like a thread leading me to where I need to go. Today is not one of those days. I got nothing for ya. Mind blank, thoughts coming and going yet carrying me no.where.
So, why am I here? Because I am persistent, a puppy staring straight into your eyes as soon as you put something in your mouth. She won’t stop until she gets some.
I remember learning about the duende in one of my college creative writing classes. I loved this term at first sight, like walking into an enchanted forest and discovering a whole new sparkly reality. If you are not familiar with this word no worries, here is one of its google definitions, “The duende is an earth spirit who helps the artist see the limitations of intelligence, reminding them that “ants could eat him or that a great arsenic lobster could fall suddenly on his head”; who brings the artist face-to-face with death, and who helps them create and communicate memorable, spine-chilling art.”
In one of his lectures called Play and The Theory of Duende the great Federico García Lorca, explains, “. . .there are no maps nor disciplines to help us find the duende. We only know that he burns the blood like a poultice of broken glass, that he exhausts, that he rejects all the sweet geometry we have learned. . . .”
Furthermore, in the oh so well articulated words of Clarissa Pinkola Estes, “El duende is literally the goblin wind or force behind a person’s actions and creative life, including the way they walk, the sound of their voice, even the way they lift their little finger. It is a term used in flamenco dance, and is also used to describe the ability to “think” in poetic images… Whether one is the artist or whether one is the watcher, listener, or reader, when el duende is present, one sees it, hears it, reads it, feels it underneath the dance, the music, the words, the art; one knows it is there.”
Today my duende is लपटा lapata- not showing up, thus bringing to mind the many times humans have not shown up in my life. Are you familiar with this feeling? Of being let down, alone, forgotten, an empty bottle of water left on the dirty floor of your car. “Write about what hurts, Elena.” A professor of mine used to tell me.
And so I do.
One of the first times I became familiar with the pain of being let down I was a teen-ager. I had made plans with a group of friends to get together, one of them was supposed to pick me up. I started waiting ten minutes before, I like punctuality, and I continued waiting and waiting some more, an hourglass slowly dripping sand that’s going nowhere. I recall looking out the window, as if nonchalantly checking the condition of the pavement or something. “Elena, he will be here any minute.” I tried to reassure myself. I even went down the five flats of stairs to wait in the noisy street of Milano, as if by standing there my friend would appear out of nowhere. He never did. I still see myself walking the steps in reverse, one, two, three. Stop counting, it’s of no use! A stone sitting on my chest. How did it go away? I can’t quite recall, actually. Come to think of it, it probably never did, since here I am writing about the incident forty something years later.
I believe pain never really leaves us. Once it gets to you it makes itself comfortable, scooching its easy into the crevices of your being. Over time, tic- toc, it transforms itself into something bearable, it changes its shape giving way to different forms, alas not necessarily less painful.
In yoga we call these pangs samskara, mental impressions, scars from the past that find a home in your (tight) hips, or in the littlest parts of your heart like a leech sucking your energy instead of blood. Are you familiar with these feelings?
So this all brings me to the consequential topic: expectations. Do you see how the two go together so well? When you except nothing from no one your level of pain substantially diminishes. Less disappointments less pain. Like A+ B= C although I should probably stay away from algebra since it’s definitely not my strongest topic. When nothing is taken for granted everything that is given to you turns into and unexpected gift, something to cherish. A sweet cherry freeing its sweet taste into your dry mouth.
Just like life itself. What if you show up every day open to Divine Grace? What if you step out of the way you think things should unfold? How about if you gracefully said yes to infinite possibilities? I discovered that when I rely less on humans, we are all limited in some form after all, and surrender to the Divine, I mean really surrender heart open, mind closed, so much unexpectedness finds its way to me. Have I found the source of happiness? I don’t know. I certainly brought to light a way to make peace with the inevitable pain that is part of the human condition. And oh how liberating is that.
My wish for you is that you too in your sweet way let go of the struggle, bow to the mystery of life and allow it to hug you in its own Divine embrace.
Thanks for reading ❤️