Since turning forty, some things have become clear to me. For example, that bachata music is beautifully overwrought, like the kind of poetry you can write in Spanish—like this one, for example, from a book of poetry for Puerto Rican schoolchildren :
Madre mía, hoy es tu día
y yo te doy mi alegría,
que es lo que te puedo dar.
Madre mía, yo quisiera,
que tu pena fuese mía.
Qué más puedo desear?
“My dear mother, this is your day, and I give you my happiness—for that's what I have to give. Oh my mother, I wish your sadness were mine. What more could I desire?”
Or this, from “Itinerario para náufragos”—náufragos meaning “the shipwrecked”:
Vivir el movimiento que habita las palabras,
conocer la apariencia, amar la soledad
de los frutos caídos y que, ahora,
con la luz de la tarde
desvelan el pasado en las ruinas del tiempo.
A sorry translation: “To live in the movement that inhabits words, to understand the meaning of surfaces, to embrace the solitude of fruit that has fallen—and now, with the afternoon light, they keep the past from sleeping among the ruins of time.”
This translation is lame partly because I’m not sure how the infinitives in the first two lines fit with the third person plural in the last. But who cares! What is this about? I have no idea. I just find it strangely stupendous. I’m moved by poetry in Spanish more than any poetry in English except maybe Walt Whitman, because he, too, gives voice to the most vague, exalted sentiments in unrestrained, unapologetic flights that sometimes choose not to return, leaving you high.
On the other hand, I’ve been clued in to the value of balance. Such an ordinary thought--banal even. I was wondering the other day why I intermittently fantasize about a totally different life in which I’m one of those people who search out props and necessary items for movies, or scientific operations. In a book I read I learned that this job has a name. It isn’t “procuring.” Anyway, it boils down to hunting for interesting things in a new place and then buying them with someone else’s money. Perfect for me. In my other life, I participate in a floating household that tries to maintain a high degree of self-sufficiency, give voice to its creative longings, earn money, and raise a small child far from most of our friends and family. And things break. Like, relatively important things. Or someone gets sick. Someone gets in a snit. What is wrong? I used to blame it on the boat, lack of money, bad food, isolation, whatever. Now I realize those are just excuses. Deepak Chopra spoke to me in a dream. He said, This moment is perfect. And I said, I like that better than This Moment Bites. And I said, When we feel crazy, let’s shout—silently, if necessary—OM! And he said, Do whatever you need to do. And I said, Deepak, it actually works!