Wednesday, April 6, 2011

leaving and finding my level

"out front" march 12. 2011

winter in what my friend linda calls "the eastern woodlands", brings about a quieting of the spirit.
this quieting can be experienced as the softest of silences and then also as a quelling, a dampening,
an extinguishing and even an ending.

three weeks ago i returned from cuba.
the privilege of visiting such a beautiful country is fading a lot slower than the tan i acquired while i was there.

cuba figures larger than many countries in my own cosmology by virtue of my lingering fascination with che guevara whose revolutionary stance and idealism appealed to me as a teenager scouring the upturnings of the 1960's for whatever felt good and right.


life's circumstances have dictated that my two journeys to cuba have been as a tourist and as a tourist whose apparent priority is rest. i feel compelled to acknowledge that i feel guilt for addressing that need but for those who know me intimately, the nature of the way i work and live my life is such that rest is a commodity that i of necessity must avoid. however, my body (and by extension my mind) are all i have in order to secure my place on this worldly plane and so rest sometimes calls to me and in all kindness to my body,
i answer its call in fullness.

brother che, how could i have known that someday the needs of my body
would rise above the needs of my mind?

the discord between this choice and the echoes of my teenaged revolutionary fantasies was mediated by the fabulously present live music of a group of musicians who appeared regularly throughout my stay in cuba. the energy and the very human qualities of their music, the jazz like interplay and the complexities of their african influenced polyrhythms brought a quality of presence that allowed me to elevate above the discordant experiencing of the surface of my life past and present and to feel something of the voice of a people who have known hardship for so very long and yet who in my talking with them
are so entirely proud of what they have achieved.

22 comments:

Dan Gurney said...

steven, I would love to visit Cuba. I, too, have a long and deep fascination with this country especially since the Soviet Union dissolved, leaving Cuba to adapt to a much less oil-dependent economy. They are like a case study in sustainability. Sadly, so sadly the my country does not see fit to send anyone to Cuba unless it's to Guantanamo Bay.

OceanoAzul.Sonhos said...

Che Guevara, foi de facto uma figura controversa mas empolgante na história politica do povo cubano. Não conheço Cuba mas não consigo ficar indiferente à sua história, à beleza do seu mar e das suas praias lindíssimas que vivem no imaginário de qualquer pessoa.
Have a good day steven!!
oa.s

steven said...

dan it is in many respects a beautiful country. it is also very poor in some respects. some of the rigidity i observed regarding freedoms that i can assume as a canadian but which cubans can only dream of were difficult for me to accept. the next time i go i'll be spending time in the countryside with my son. steven

steven said...

good morning oa.s, it is indeed difficult to remain indifferent to its physical beauty while at the same time recognizing the absence of some of what i consider to be essential freedoms. the country has stayed more or less true to the aims set by che but it has a long way to go before the people are truly content. steven

Ruth said...

How do you avoid rest, Steven? I am intrigued by this statement, and by the nature of your life and work that compel you to avoid it.

I am glad you prioritized rest on your trip to Cuba. I hope it lasts long in the "systems" of your body and soul.

steven said...

hi ruth - thankyou for your comment. how do i avoid rest you ask? well, it avoids me! time flies and i have work to do, stages to pass through that require work to arrive at an ending -which as you know are also beginnings - as i get older, my body is less accomodating of those intentions, noble as they might be, and asserts its need to slow down or even stop. the morning sitting works wonders but isn't compensating for the accumulation of difficult to process energy that comes from my work as a teacher and so . . . . . cuba. i'm thankful for the healing that took place!!! steven

Bonnie said...

I gave a little gasp as I read the title to your post, steven - misunderstanding and thinking you were leaving blogging.

It's good to give your body what it needs, after all it is what houses that fine mind of yours. Hope you can find moments for physical renewal without having to wait for your next trip to Cuba.

Tess Kincaid said...

I imagine visiting Cuba would be a bit like time travel. Beautiful post, Steven.

hope said...

Everyone needs time to recharge their batteries. Good souls get to do so in better locations. :)

lorely said...

and as you rest the body you feed the mind...I believe they are equivalent friends...soak in some of those rays for we Midwesterners who have yet to find our Spring!

Bee said...

I can fully empathise/identify with the need for rejuvenation through sun and music! Sometimes the body really does require a shut-down period.

The picture of you lying in the sun (and also the tanned profile) make me smile!

I've never been to Cuba, but we lived in Trinidad for several years and I've visited many islands in the Caribbean. No matter how many problems beset the islands, I always find that the inhabitants maintain a unique joie de vivre. It's the sun! I'm sure of it.

Jo said...

I hope you will never feel guilty again for heeding the needs of your body, Steven. It works so very hard for you and serves your purposes so well. Do be kind to it in return, and acknowledge its contributions by respecting its needs. Okay? Sermon over.

Cuba is a place I've wanted to visit since becoming part of the ballet world. One single ballerina, Alicia Alonso, is responsible for creating the National Ballet of Cuba and some of the greatest dancers of all time. She had no money, and only the most spartan facilities, yet proved that anything can be accomplished if one has a vision.

She's just one of many inspiring Cubans.

Dulce said...

Good choice to visit history alive, Steven

steven said...

dulce i'm not sure how long the cuba i visited will remain in its current state and so i am grateful for the opportunity to visit it in as messy and pure a state as it is. steven

steven said...

jo it's a lifetime of habit that accompanies the use and abuse of the body i am borrowing while i am here. i'm grateful for the tiny sermon. really i am! one detail of my stay in cuba that will never leave is the sense of place for the arts. if my own country canada could adopt a similarly embracing attitude!!! we could achieve so very much in ways that aren't apparent right now but which could change the world. steven

steven said...

bee thankyou for providing your informed and understanding commentary!! taking care of my body takes many forms. some are salutory and come in the form of fitness, good food and drink. but what isn't offered with any frequency is rest. stress-free rest. this was all about the latter. sun and music - two healing forces. steven

steven said...

lorely - i noticed i was losing some of the features of mind that i value and that's a large part of why i agreed to take on this trip. when the body is overwhelmed, the mind will soon follow in kind. in the next week i'll be unpacking some of my cuban experience so press your face up to the screen and enjoy some colour and some sun. steven

steven said...

hope i love that rationale!!! i have in mind some other holidays that will be less about passivity but will afford me the rejuvenation i really need to give my body and mind. steven

steven said...

tess - there's something almost medieval about cuba but then there are sensibilities that are about thirty or forty years old that have a resonance that you might recognize from your childhood. steven

steven said...

hi bonnie - thankyou for your kind wish. steven

Liza Ursu said...

Being proud of their achievements. That resonated with me. I would love to visit Cuba.
Rest without guilt, otherwise what's the point?
Another marvelous Steven, thank you.

Linda said...

Leaving our woodlands and traveling to Cuba in the winter, has to be an extraordinary change in every way possible. From cold and quiet to hot and spicy, from white snowy woods to vibrant beaches, it has to be a total change to the senses. Change is good, the warm sun on your face is always good and not having reports and language connection inservicing from the board for a week is a wonderous thing. You can lose yourself in the Caribbean rhythms. =D