Spirit Day

 

For TownselTownsel.day1

November 22, 2014

 

I was catapulted through the stages of grief to arrive in time for celebration.

I woke thinking, feeling, knowing —- this is soul music. Soul music.

Watched an older brother wax poetic clutching the corner of a page and laughed as the uncle teased that his larger paper promised briefer comments

Each of their words poetry worthy of wisdom books.

And the Garifuna traditions I grew up in served me well.

In the place of the Punta drums was a choir whose sopranos trumpeted and tenor section thundered. In the place of Punta dancers were snapshots and images, the most vivid–a motorcycle ride with a glance back over the shoulder. In the place of ocean and palm leaves, navy and green. In the place of the praying women, lamenting novenas like wailing, was my sister Daphne calling down healing.

And when the Isibindi babies–both big and small–framed the path that would take him to his final rest, the sun gleamed and the green seemed to glitter and I smiled at the place of honor given to the next generation, the charge of an ancestor to his descendants: Do more.

And I move toward what awaits thinking, feeling and knowing that that was Spirit Day.

 

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…there and back

Creating

Where have I been.

Where have I been?

Navigating short comings and pondering plans of action that don’t quite seem to take, but I always return to the page. So here I am. Contemplating the ache of losing a friend and colleague and when the dust settled, a student, scratch that– a son.

In the meantime, I lost the direction that I hatched out of Bible verses and old poems scribbled under lesson plan notes and shopping lists. I had just eked out a direction on the couch of my sister-friend-artist when life decided there were other lessons to learn.

So I came back here because I remember the day, the night, we confessed the restlessness in our bones; the ache to create that threatened day jobs and sanity because time was no longer on our side. And we couldn’t pinpoint where the time went. Besides the sudden arrival at middle age, there was the challenge of navigating the daily grind, and taking care of the spirits entrusted to us. What would we do in the new year to remain inspired and creative and artistic? What could we do?

Music underscored the conversation.

There was talk of studying mindfulness to get us to concentrate on one thing at a time. Mindfulness to help steer us back on track when our imaginations or artistic leanings pulled us from the task at hand.

There were resumes to update–ahem, CV’s to create–to truly reflect the experiences that we almost forgot to credit with our growth as artists and educators. There was talk of taking on studies to round out what we know or think we know. There were dates secured for practicing the craft that would open doors to fulfillment.

We did make it as far as debuting a new educator workshop inspired by our past venture hosting an open mic venue called the launch pad. This experience we called, “Your Inner Artist Unplugged” to remind fellow educators of what called them to teaching. Because this is a calling. We all marveled at the original poems and musings that brought the room to tears.

But after that moving Saturday afternoon filled with music, poetry and teacher confessions, my girl moved on without me. She had to. Opportunities opened before her, her prayers for direction answered.  She is  now fully engaged in the first year of her PhD program and is being exposed to people, places, literature and ideas that leave her riled up about impacting education through social justice.

I have nothing to report: a stalled search for a literary agent, partial poems snatched out of the air, Death and dying and a refusal to cry.

I almost didn’t call.

Breaks are when teachers return to themselves and I hesitated to call her because I had no progress to report. Nothing on the list has been completed. Some items barely touched, but I thought if I could just sit in her enthusiasm. If just a spark of her excitement rubbed off on me then I could dust myself off and…

So we re-grouped over new hip hop and old rancheros, her fingers plucking India.Arie’s “Beautiful” on her new guitar like a theme to our friendship, our dreaming and the art of just living. Because I cry in spurts and follow the tears with jokes and she laughs and cries at once, hysterically, until the room is alive with emotion turned musings turned creativity and we move on to the next venture.

Up next a celebration of art for young artists that we call The Writers’ Block Party. This year’s theme is spitfire for the anger, the passion, the pain and ultimately the verve it takes to stand the heat and emerge renewed.

So it feels like old times–securing performers, making song choices and crafting an inspirational line up. But what’s new is that she has added the guitar to her repertoire. She marveled at the performance where a fellow-musician recognized her as a guitarist. Add that to her playing the trombone and the bass and she’s well on her way to reclaiming her Prince aspirations. Then  I surprised us both with a memorial piece to my colleague and mid-life musings that were pointing to a new collection of poems. The first in years.

And I’m glad I called and realized that though it doesn’t look the way I intended, I am right beside her giving our dreams the care and attention we promised because it is ultimately who we are.