Saturday, December 5, 2009

jarring yet nurturing lessons

The sage and her student were standing by a pool discussing longing and ambition.

"What do you want more than anything else?" the sage asked.

"To perfect my ability to love all of creation the way I love myself," the young man replied.

At that moment, the sage tackled the student and shoved his head beneath the water. Accustomed to letting his teacher shape the unpredictable contours of his education, he did not resist.

One minute went by. Then another. The student began to struggle and kick. His teacher was strong.

Finally she released her grip and the student surfaced, fighting for breath.

"What did you want more than anything else during these last few minutes?" the sage inquired.

"Nothing else was in my mind except the desire for air," gasped the student.

"Excellent," beamed the sage. "As soon as you are equally single-minded in your desire to perfect your ability to love all of creation the way you love yourself, you will achieve your goal."

what's with the violence, stace? you might be asking yourself. well, this 'sacred advertisement' summed up my experience in brazil thus far so aptly that i felt compelled to share it with you, my loyal audience, to save my breath and a bit of your time. however, i have some details to fill in, for your sake as well as my own. so i'll begin with the thesis statement: as per usual, life has knocked me on my ass. i made some plans, took some risks, let my idealism take over, and then had life stare me straight in the face and say, "no, seriously, WHAT are you doing?"

i have been drifting about (in case you haven't gleaned that from previous posts) and searching for ANSWERS, dammit! some days, i feel so happy to let it all melt on the horizon of sugary sand and breathtaking mountains, and just say 'YES!' to that ice-cold cerveja; but other days i quite literally burst into tears and can't even make out the words 'bom dia' to my neighbors. sometimes i can't believe how cool it is to have ended up in rio- meeting professional belgain soccer players and local rap artists and break-dancers and receiving invitations to batizado's at the fluminense football club banquet hall! and sometimes i get all thinky and neurotic and stressed that i'm not practicing yoga every day or going to capoeira, and i haven't taken a single dance class! they say the grass is always greener, but my problem is that i don't even know that i want grass! my varied interests lead me to believe that if i'm not accomplishing everything, NOW, PERFECTLY!!!, then a small (but very vocal) part of me believes that i have failed at life. gee, don't i sound like a barrel o' laughs?

sometimes all it takes is a bit of perspective. as in, no, x-y-z didn't happen, buy p-q-r DID, and those are really amazing and important letters! what good is it to come all the way to brazil and maintain exactly the life i had in the states? why leave? visiting somewhere and living somewhere are two different beasts. i can hear about a place from the comfort of my own home, which, for some, is fine. but i wanted to LIVE in brazil. which means laying in bed at night with firecrackers and gun shots outside my window, and being kept awake until 8am because of the baile funk, or holding the hand of a one and a half year-old in vila kennedy whose grandfather abandoned him at the shelter. transplanting oneself is really difficult and if i leave here with nothing more than a firm grip on reality and on what i want to make of myself (see below for the answer), then, you know what? that's actually what i came here to do! and now i know who to talk to, what it will take to live here and how much i need to make it happen. hell, i know that i WANT to live here!

because i came to brazil, i have learned things that can never be taken away from me. i am part of the social dialogue i so desperately want to engage in. i can speak to issues that interest me rather than just 'knowing' they are important. i know why i believe that educating women is the most important thing we can do for society, and that protecting the rights of children is right there on it's heels. creating a life in line with one's heart is incredibly powerful and it takes TIME. god, it's so annoying when you learn a life lesson and remember the inane and obvious adage you learned in third grade that already explained it all for you...

but beyond the over-arching "life-lesson" i am integrating into my being, i'm saying out loud to the universe that what i want more than anything is to dance professionally. i love afro-brazilian dance and music and i am passionate about creative, group movement. i am dedicated to my physical health and accomplishing specific physical goals as i work towards this career path. so it may shift the direction of my plans temporarily...and it may not, for that matter. but what i've learned is that life requires focus, and even though there are lots of causes and adventures and boys out there (let's be honest...), a little bit of light and satisfaction will always be diminished in me if i don't follow this aching desire i feel inside.

and that's all, folks. that's all you get from me for now, because i'm still processing and integrating this new mentality into my being (for good), while remembering the words of a wise, wise person: "do it now, do it now, do it now!" thanks, chip. and thank you, loyal readers, for being there with your words of encouragement. and don't forget to leave a comment about your own ideas regarding 'longing' and 'ambition'...just for fun...

tchau for now.....and axe!

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