How time flies and the world flies with it! A month ago I was on Maui, on the other side of the planet from this Prague apartment where I’m now preparing for my first workshop of the 8-month European season that lies ahead. These past weeks Martina and I have been in Brazil, first blissfully off the radar in a wonderfully old-world village where river meets sea in Bahia, then at Ciranda, Carioca’s Amazonian-like community outside Rio de Janeiro for our tropical vacation workshop High on Life. Impossible to encapsulate that experience in a few words! Sitting here tapping at this keyboard, I pause to listen, and I’m there again: inner silence and all around the ceaseless rhythmic murmur of the jungle. Closing my eyes I find us, a circle of men and women guided through the night rituals by Carioca, alternately singing and silent, everyone awed by this man’s musical virtuosity while we are uplifted on visionary wings transporting us into the mystic realm.
My imagination recaptures a different night, at Rio’s Carnival, and quiet contemplation explodes into multi-dimensional samba-drumming celebration. Dazzlingly surreal creations made of junk materials as fabulously imaginative as Hollywood sci-fi are escorted by ordinary human beings transformed into creatures, gods, goddesses, heroes, villains and always the exotically erotic bodies dancing samba’s sexual life-blood.
Then there are our daytimes together in the circle. They tell different stories of opening to eachother, opening to ourselves through each other, and learning as a meditation to surrender – with some inner and outer argument! – to those imperfections that only trouble us, the paying guests. In this laid-back land that is still haphazardly stumbling out of the third into the first world, the residents wonder that we mind! Brazil has still not yet grown out of the cliché that has hounded it since the middle of the last century: “ the land of the future – and always will be”.
This is not just the way things are in our reclusive jungle haven. Rio right now is a crazy maze of road-construction designed to meet the coming World Cup hordes, and later the Olympics. The present is indeed a future-oriented traffic jam. And of course, the present is never really any kind of jam. It simply is.
Back in 1935 – AD or BC doesn’t matter – T.S. Eliot gave us “the still point of the turning world”. That is how I came into my jet-lagged day this morning. The still point is where I am home again, no matter where I am nor how my world whirls from one scene to another, one land to another, one season to another, one time to another. Only here now does it all come to stillness. Only here is it all real. The most beautiful of everywhere I’ve been these past weeks is always here now.
March 13, 2014