Worlds of Understatement

All is quiet.  Rain falls, stills, hushes the mind;  The sun is slow to break open the day.  The morning silence nurtures the heart, sharing a natural rhythm.  Wisdom from the garden whispers a language of universal oneness, deepening my relationship with the sacred, with the slow unfolding moments of time, with the extraordinary gifts found in an ordinary day.

I breathe it all in, savoring every fine detail of the understated life.  I gaze at the newly placed purple orchid, fierce yet, delicate holding prayer on my nightstand.  I drink in the moment when my 9-year old son places his small, soft hand into my own as we walk to his ball game.  I listen to my mother’s voice over the phone as we make plans for Easter.

In my writing sanctuary, I relish in Antonio Machado’s poem, pasted with purpose above my desk.  I read his delicate, soft spoken words, this beloved Spanish poet full of song.  I fall into the sound of silence once more and am fully alive.

The poem reads, “My song never strove for glory, nor to linger in the minds of men; I love worlds of understatement, weightless and delicate as soap bubbles.  I like watching them paint themselves with sun and grain, float beneath the blue sky, quiver suddenly and break.” 

Peace, joy, sorrow, they live with a fullness in these worlds of understatement.

Fanning the Flame

I came home from Panama with a renewed passion for living, a hunger for a higher level of engagement with life.  I don’t know why I came home with my soul-stirring.  Was it the colors of Panama that made me aware of the lack of it in my home?  Was it the poverty that made me question the waste I allow day in and day out in Sonoma?  Was it Panama’s sweet slowness that made me want to soak up every drop of each day in a far too busy and overly scheduled existence?  Clearly, I had buried my passions during the grey, dreary months of winter.  Perhaps even longer than that, could it be years? 

In the past, if you were to ask me what word best described my essence, my true nature, I would have said passion.  But here I was, slowly rocking myself to sleep with the predictable wintry weather and never-ending routine. 

Panama, with its tropical rainbow personality, its close to the ground, ‘in your face’ living, its fertile rainforest terrain, its lack of concept in time and space, simply took, shook and woke me from my sedated stupor.  I came home, awoken to lush wine country, to Spring in the air, to the sun warming the vines, nurturing the flowers, feeding the birds and sunning the trees; Nature’s passion further fueled my wanton desire to expand the person I was meant to be; take higher my place in life and at the same time, lose myself in it all. 

I remember, Henry Miller, the American novelist once wrote, “Develop an interest in life as you see it; the people, things, literature, music-the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people.”

No matter my age, passion is what keeps me feeling engaged and alive, but the flame must be fanned, the fire stoked daily.  I must look at my passions for writing, reading, music, art, connecting to family and friends, helping people and animals, traveling, gardening, cooking, winemaking and wine tasting, walking, and breathing as daily offerings, lotus gifts that keep on giving to others and myself.

“The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware,” Henry Miller also wrote.

Passion is at the core, creation until we reach the bittersweet end of life.  And even then, we become food for worthy worms.

Pearls of Tradition

When I was in Panama, feeling the hot sun on my skin, the cool breeze on my face, lying on the hammock reading and taking in her easeful ways, I thought about my own experiences growing up in Hacienda Heights, California. 

The purple and pink Bougainvillea blooming wild in Panama made me nostalgic.  The rich colors of this South American plant evoked memories of my childhood where my mother and father brought Argentina (their native country) into our own home. 

As a family, not a day would go by that we didn’t share in a hot yerba mate, a traditional Latin American drink that gathered us together in the afternoons to “matear and hablar” about our daily lives.  On special occasions, my mother cooked my abuela’s homemade Gnocchi and served Dulce de Leche, a caramel like pudding, for dessert.  When the mood was right, we watched my parents dance the tango, true poetry in motion in our living room.  I even remember a time when we played Truco a popular, Latin American trick-taking card game together as a family.  Spanish was spoken in our home, allowing me to speak it to my own children today. 

Yesterday, my son Nicolas turned 14 years of age.  When I asked him what he would like for his birthday dinner, he told me, “abuela’s Gnocchi and meatballs.”  Anyone who has tasted my mother’s delicious, perfectly textured Gnocchi knows this is no trivial feat.  I put my fear aside and made my mother’s Gnocchi (which was my grandmother’s recipe) by myself for the very first time.  I felt my mother by my side in the kitchen, watching.  I have to say the Gnocchi turned out delicious, just like my mother makes it. 

I had arrived.  These experiences are pearls of tradition that serve as metaphor for something very rare, fine, admirable, and valuable.