Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Fabric Of My Existence

It is almost three months since I left Santa Fe and arrived in Sicily. With only a few possessions, and without usual contacts with the outside world, the song of the wanderer has become my anthem and rhythm of life. All I have are moments, and each is a gift. Furthermore, what I do with these gifts is entirely my choice. Being able to choose is perhaps the greatest gift.
In Barcelona, over the centuries, a dazzling mosaic has been created and continues to unfold. I immerse myself and become part of the picture. While absorbing influences and making contact with this pulsing life, I change and transform. What is experienced becomes the fabric of my existence that continually is woven into an ever-evolving tapestry.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Commune With Ghosts

Walking into the ruins of a home arouses many thoughts and powerful emotions. To explore the remnants is to commune with ghosts of lives past. Many people avoid such places and find them creepy. As I explore the abandoned dwellings near Darrical, it is obvious nobody comes to these buildings with their crumbling walls and broken roofs open to the sky. Often, thickets of shrubs surround them, and occasionally a tree has grown inside. Yet doors still open, and I enter like a guest, wandering room to room through the silence, observing the hand of time slowly obliterating vestiges of lives once lived.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Play From The Heart

May 22,
“You will like it here,” Pepa said with a big smile as I got out of the car at Plaza Nuevo in the old, medieval quarter of Granada. As we exchanged goodbyes, her eyes brimmed with laughter, and then she sped away.
Left alone on the street I soon found a room to put down my backpack, and went out walking, curious to see an important Spanish metropolis. It is cosmopolitan, but homespun, with fewer of the grand buildings and monuments of cities like Paris, or even a similar sized Italian city like Florence. Nonetheless, the bohemian atmosphere captures my imagination and I can understand how Spain has bred many great artists. The celebrated dramatist, Federico Garcia Lorca (1898 – 1936) came from Granada, and also was murdered here by fascist supporters. I have never seen a city so marked by graffiti. It is everywhere, and although some might find it repulsive, I look at the artistic, (if delinquent) merit, and the vibrant, primal qualities of line, color and subject. It adds a psychological twist to a place that is known for attracting students, intellectuals and artists.
Along a tree-shaded walk by La Alhambra, the famous city of Sultans and Kings that is now part of Granada in the old quarter, a young gypsy fellow caught my eye. He sat on a bench, strumming his guitar, with his brown dog at his feet. Both appeared ragged, and the youth had a hardened look, wearing sunglasses that hid most of his face. His long greasy hair, his scraggly, thin beard, and dirty fingernails, told me he lived on the street. Yet, to let it be known that an aristocrat lived behind the veneer of a vagabond, he wore a coat with fox fur collar. It was open in front down to the navel, revealing his bare chest. I slowed my walk and took a picture, then approached to ask if I could take more. He spoke in accented but quite understandable English, and replied, “it will cost you.” I had no coins, and pulled my pockets inside out to show him.
“Then you can’t take pictures.”
Sitting down on the end of the bench, I said, “You are playing your music for free.”
“Yes, well this is my life. “
“And you play from the heart.” I observed.
He resumed strumming flamenco chords. I quickly fell under the spell of the pure sound from his beat-up, old guitar. As I listened, a full, strong feeling grew inside. Looking around, I wondered at the people walking by, tourists who did not slow down, but cast furtive, passing glances our way. He began singing a soulful flamenco song.
“What was that?” I asked when he finished.
“Lagrimas Negras, (Black Tears) from the CD Bebo & Cigala, and he wrote down the words so I could buy the CD.
As we talked about his life, and a little about mine, I understood how he unequivocally lived a gypsy life—without illusion of what he was missing in exchange. A bit of sadness was in his philosophic attitude about the sufferings he bore and how it cut short his relationships, for he could not offer anyone much more than his song. Reaching in my wallet, I found a five euro note for him. He barely touched it, but gently pulled it to his side of the bench. Brightening up, he said, “Now you can take as many pictures as you want.”
I never saw his eyes behind his sunglasses when we exchanged hearty handshakes goodbye. As he took up his guitar again and I began walking away, I imagined there was a hint of the same laughter that was in Pepa’s eyes when she dropped me off in Granada.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The River Of Time

Carol asked me if during my travels, I get tired of a place and want to move on to the next adventure. In the ten weeks I have been on my “artistic odyssey,” it has seemed as though moments are seamlessly woven together into a whole. I am in a dream, and it is unfolding on its own. Each part is important and not to be rushed along, but fully experienced. I am not in a hurry to finish anything in order to get to something else. The river of time has me entranced from moment to moment and I simply experience traveling downstream, enjoying the ride, knowing ultimately I will arrive in a great ocean, but the river is already part of this ocean I am journeying toward.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

All The World’s A Stage


“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. Each has his entrances and exits, and each one in his time plays many parts.” Shakespeare

Darrical, Spain, is a small stage with so few actors as to be almost a one-man act. The backdrop is simple: a tiny mountain village with no shops or telephone wires, just a cluster of whitewashed houses on a steep hillside. Many of the homes are empty and falling down. The only noises to break the silence are birds singing, roosters crowing, dogs, goats with bells around their necks, wind in the trees, the river, the buzz of flies, and occasional sounds of human activity.
The actors are few, so each plays a noteworthy part. There is a drunk, a mysterious kleptomaniac, a town majordomo, an old goat herder and his wife the cheese maker. My hosts are Carol, a reserved Scottish actress and director, and Rolf, her jolly German jack-of-all-trades husband, who plays accordian and sings folksongs. They are in their mid-sixties. Higher up the hillside, in one of Carol and Rolf’s houses are two delinquent German teenaged girls and their German government caretaker, who monitors their reformation from drugs and loose living. Further down the hill are a couple of British expatriates, also in their sixties, who are retreating from livelier days, and spend time tending a small English country garden, hidden in a bamboo forest by the river. I am in the mix—a traveler/artist/writer, referred to as “cowboy.” Other free spirits come and go, like the artist Pepa, a vibrant young Spanish woman who speaks fluent English, and lives in Darrical part time. All the characters mix feely and loosely.
Since there are so few actors and actresses on this stage, each is keenly aware that all are important and gifted players. How wonderful, when Rolf, sweaty from working in the sun, throws off his shirt, takes up his accordian and begins singing. Carol has been in a subplot of her own for years, trying to get people to quit throwing rubbish down the hillside or stuffing it into empty houses. Instead, trash bins are now at the village entrance and are emptied once a week. She and Pepa put on an art festival once a year. The German girls are almost always with their caretaker, who watches them like a hawk lest they run away from the stark life imposed on them. They smoke cigarettes and sunbathe nude around their house. Sometimes they join our group for conversation in Spanish, German and English. I paint the village scenery, standing in one spot for hours, staring at the white walls. Pepa sometimes models her stunning Spanish features for me, and I have several times gone photographing her among the streets and ruins. Meanwhile, there are always swallows among us, singing the score to our little Spanish melodrama.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Primeval Callings

Now I know what it is to be a bird following primeval callings, traveling across continents. In Darrical, Spain, I feel as though I exist among my fellow travelers. Swallows have just arrived home from their winter sojourn in Africa, and seem quite happy here in this mountain village with its little river running through it. About the same size as sparrows but sleeker, most of them are black with white breasts, and coloring around their beaks. They fly right into the whitewashed houses, inhabited or not, and sometimes build nests on them. To sit and have a meal on a veranda is to also experience birds that come and visit only feet away. They don’t walk on the ground, or pick up scraps; they simply alight on a wire or ledge, join the occasion for a while and leave.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Leaving Venice

Each time I think of leaving Venice, my heart says no. It is strange, the powerful grip I am in. Like a lover that cannot bear to leave his beloved, only longs for more time together. This afternoon, all in a few moments, I saw placid water reflecting harmoniously the blue sky and the colorful light from homes, bridge, and boat. Suddenly, with the whisk of an oar, the water rippled and the perfect picture vanished. So now, my watery Venetian reverie is disturbed by fate. Currents take me onward, to Spain and other adventures.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Shifting Sands Of Time

People who know Venice understand that it is beautiful and grand, a place of joy, and also sad. Bells ring, violins play, and there is laughter in the streets and from the cafĂ©’s. Lovely footbridges arch over innumerable canals. Walking in the narrow passageways, the little common plazas called campos offer meeting places throughout the city. Shops offer art, finery, delicious food and drink, as well as everything else needed for comfort and convenience. To feel deeply all this, is also to understand that Venice is a castle made of sand, always crumbling bit by bit. It is ephemeral, like a dream. Everything creaks and sways, and the walls crumble. A feeling exists that it could all simply disappear.
Somehow, I relate mystically, and understand that beauty, comfort, and fortune are likewise fleeting and even as a dream. Everything enjoyable is also disintegrating. The grand sand castle that is our earthly life today is gone tomorrow. So now, I live the dream, and understand that in the end, all is endless transformation and beingness, ultimately gathered up in eternal spirit. All we can claim is spirit, and we must be conscious of how it is eternal, beyond the shifting sands of time.