Today I was part of an online conversation with a group of people involved with the Great Lakes Commons Charter, a deep and powerful statement of principles, commitment, and possibility for protecting and honoring these great interconnected bodies of precious fresh water. You can read and sign on to the charter here.
These days I'm listening to Rico Pabón's stunning new CD Todo Lo Que Soy/All That I Am, a delicious fusion of sounds from my Calirican cousin.
Rico and I met when I taught the first Puerto Rican history course at UC Berkeley, not quite 20 years ago, and he asked if he could audit it. He's a brilliant poet and musician, a beautiful, big-hearted man, and a community builder.
I almost never play music with lyrics when I'm writing, but Rico's music, and his righteous, liberatory poetry, feel like an affirmation from the universe, and I find myself listening to it while I work, while I eat, for my morning dancing exercise... Really people, go buy it!
"Don't live in the world as if you were renting or here only for the summer, but act as if it was your father's house. . .Believe in seeds, earth, and the sea, but people above all. Love clouds, machines, and books, but people above all."
Nazim Hikmet, Turkish poet, 1902-1963
By Naomi Shihab Nye
The Arabs used to say
When a stranger appears at your door,
feed him for three days
before asking who he is,
where he’s come from,
where he’s headed.
That way, he’ll have strength
enough to answer.
Or by then you’ll be
such good friends
you don’t care.
Let’s go back to that.
Rice? Pine nuts?
Here, take the red brocade pillow.
My child will serve water
to your horse.
No, I was not busy when you came!
I was not preparing to be busy.
That’s the armor everyone put on
to pretend they had a purpose
in the world.
I refuse to be claimed.
Your plate is waiting.
We will snip fresh mint
into your tea.
by Clarissa Pinkola Estes
Do not lose heart. We were made for these times. I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world right now ... Ours is a time of almost daily astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most to civilized, visionary people.
You are right in your assessments. The lustre and hubris some have aspired to while endorsing acts so heinous against children, elders, everyday people, the poor, the unguarded, the helpless, is breathtaking. Yet, I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is - we were made for these times. Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plane of engagement...
Y si muchos premios he alcanzado, premios fugaces como mariposas de polen fugitivo, he alcanzado un premio mayor, un premio que muchos desdeñan, pero que es en realidad para muchos inalcanzable. He llegado a través de una dura lección de estética y de búsqueda, a través de los laberintos de la palabra escrita, a ser poeta de mi pueblo. Mi premio es ese, no los libros y los poemas traducidos, o los libros escritos para describir o disecar mis palabras. Mi premio es ese momento grave de mi vida, cuando del fondo del carbón de Lota, a pleno sol en la calichera abrasada, desde el socavón del pique, ha subido un hombre, como si ascendiera desde el infierno, con la cara transformada por el trabajo terrible, con los ojos enrojecidos por el polvo, y alargándome la mano endurecida, esa mano que lleva el mapa de la pampa en sus durezas y en sus arrugas, me ha dicho, con ojos brillantes: “te conocía desde hace mucho tiempo, hermano.”
Pablo Neruda Memorias