Thursday, March 16, 2017

Letter from Barcelona


I miss writing letters. I really do. Finished my three-day course in Barcelona and had two hours free and a beckoning park next to the hotel. Nothing would have made me happier than to lean against a tree on a Spring day singing with promise and write to friend or family. Like I used to. Something like:

“Dear ______,

Spring is here in full glory in Barcelona! Perfect temperature, the beginnings of blossoms, birds chirping overhead interrupted by the squawk of swooping parrots. Across the way is IKEA and down the block McDonald’s, but the heart of Barcelona still pulses with its unique character. Small bookstores, tapas bars, the 24/7 parade on La Rambla. The Mercado where I bought figs, cheese, bread, grapes and wine 44 years ago for a memorable picnic on Tibidabo? Still there! (Though discouraged to see a Dunkin Donuts next to its entrance! Intruder, be gone!) I just want to take a breath here, sink deeply into this remembered moment that is exactly the same whether 44 years ago or 4 days ago, asking only for a certain kind of presence and attention to the world that is fast fading. The kind that allows for a full exhale, breathing out the busy world, and then savoring an inhale that still has the capacity to smell the flowers.

The closing to my course is one of the better ones I’ve crafted, the Estonian song in a spiral, breathing together in 3/4 time, that meter of childlike innocence. Singing through each vowel of emotion while swaying as one body, then a hand on the back of the neighbor in front to feel the vibrations and then our head laid on their back with our ear pressed to the bone. Vibration to vibration. Humming the last chord until it fades into silence and a moment to savor that silence before slowly lifting our heads. And without fail, cheeks wet with tears. And this time with mostly men. Imagine! And then my closing words, different each time. Today (translated from Spanish):

“Vibration has no race, no religion, no color, no country. It lives in every object and living being and as such, how could we not be connected? When we craft vibration into the harmonious tones of music, we give children one of the greatest gifts anyone can give. Thank you for doing this important work. Uh-uh. Oh yeah. All right. That’s all.”

So that’s who I was half an hour ago, somebody trying to make a difference and celebrate difference and erase difference. And now I’m nobody in particular sitting under a tree that doesn’t care to know my name, but wholly welcomes me, writing to an old friend who knew me when and knows me now and isn’t it a blessing to keep this knowing going?

Thanks for listening, old friend. You see how we are together even as we are apart and it’s always worth trying to say that out loud.

Happy Spring,

Doug”

That’s the kind of letter I wanted to write. But truth be told, I discovered that there was a taxi strike today and I had to take a bus and that changed everything. So instead I wrote this in the airport on my plastic-keyed computer in a sterile hall instead of a bird-loud park. And instead of sending it to a particular friend, I post it here on the blog (which very few of my friends ever read!) just to remind myself what it used to feel like.

Now here’s the weird thing. There’s absolutely nothing stopping me from writing real letters to real people! I still know how to write, they still sell paper, envelopes and stamps and the post office still delivers mail. Maybe my belated New Year Resolution?

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