Joy Harjo posts reports here on her trips and other happenings.
Native Joy for Real was featured by Alan Cheuse today on NPR. You may also order the CD from WINGS PRESS at:
http://www.wingspress.com. While you're there check out Bryce Milligan's other titles. He runs a fine publishing house out of San Antonio.
ADVICE: Do not respond personally to negative press, blogs, to any attack in print or other media. To do so gives dignity to a maker of opinion.
REALITY: You will be tempted to respond especially when you are at your most human, that is, laden with frustration, exhaustion, struggling to find footing in the middle of your next creative project or otherwise battling doubt.
from Buenos Aires journal:
When I travel through this world, in airports, on the streets of American cities, in the countryside, in stores and universities and hotels, on planes and in cities and small communities around the world, I keep my eyes open for those who shine, those who have opened to perception and knowing beyond the mundane perception of usual human reality. I usually detect it first in an attitude about the body. There’s integrity, cleanness of intention. It’s difficult to describe. It might be the compassion in a hand gesture; it might be the angle of a hat, the unassuming graceful step in a mad knot of commuters. The movements are ever humble, and those bearing this knowing do not ever call attention to themselves. I watch the dip and sway of energy, and attempt to adjust my vision beyond my own need to see what might not be there. I used to allow myself to be deceived because I naively wished to assume the best in everyone. Oddly, to be more discriminative means to open up the vision. This allows more light and perhaps more vulnerability. And paradoxically, there is this shine in everyone. For most it’s heavily protected, behind walls of religions, beliefs, rules and fears. For some it appears in a flash, with the opening of the soul in a laugh, or compassionate tear. Few walk about the earth in utter awareness and focus. They give off light and when you are near them you feel closer to the earth, closer to the sky, to yourself, all at once.
The final proof is in the eyes. They will tell you everything from the condition of the soul to the emotional weather of the moment. You can travel thousands of years in a mythic journey in which you are renewed or be stabbed in the back in a mere second by others. When you look into someone’s eyes you peer close to the soul. To do so holds sacredness. That’s why myAunt Lois Harjo warned me about photographs. They can hold a piece of the soul frozen until the paper and solution disintegrate.
(We are holographic in mind, body and spirit. This is the trinity, also called the Upper, Middle and Lower worlds.)
I rarely see this level of being. And cannot predict a sighting. They are beyond hierarchy and appear in every particularity of economic class, sex, nationality, and educational system. They don’t belong solely to hierarchies of time and place. As we walked Florida Street in Buenos Aires, still recovering from a grueling schedule in San Miguel de Tucuman, jet lag, and worn with maneuvering with a crippled Spanish I was concerned with ducking hawkers, watching tango dancers perform for the swarms of tourists, listening to street musicians who ranged from children forced to sit with accordions they couldn’t play (they were of the age and inclination of my grandchildren who were concerned with the tricycles and dolls) to genius and much lesser talents singing or playing for coins for rent or food, and a flood of tourists followed by beggars and pickpockets of all sorts, all in my search for family gifts, and for the perfect leather jacket. (The dollar is good here.)
In this midst of this human soup I found Martin, or his eyes found me. The shine was unmistakable. I did not have to look twice or even question what I saw there. No pretense, no walls, no distance between me and the creator of light.
We had been up since dawn, still confused between the sudden transition between summer and winter, north and south, the trade of one country for another. We had breakfast that morning in the generous buffet at the hotel and went out into the neighborhood to see the sights, including the cemetery, especially Eva Peron’s sepulcher. A controlling and angry spirit inhabited the northwest corner of the cemetery. We got out of his section quickly. I noted that each section had it’s own cat guardian. One was very friendly and accompanied us from border to border of its territory. The next cat watched alertly but did not follow us. Another watched from a distance…all the way through the cemetery.
We had lunch outside at an expensive tourist café across from the walled cemetery. The light was perfect. The noon sun cut the winter shadows of the morning. We ambled back, stopping for a dessert of ice cream, through a neighborhood that reminded me of St. Germaine de Prix in Paris and then crashed at the hotel, still exhausted from travel and performing. That night headed back to Florida Street . It was there I caught sight of Martin. His eyes shone and called me over. According to the society of money he had no reason to live, let alone shine. He was parked in his wheelchair, hunched and curled with cerebral palsy. To speak he had to use a stick in his mouth to point to letters and words written on a board. We spoke for awhile. Made jokes and laughed in the border between Spanish and English. What he gave was immense gift of joy. It immanated from his bright, black Indian eyes. They made a compelling humble light. When I eventually turned and joined the throngs I looked back and could no longer see him. But I do still see him there, now. I want to write that I will not forget him, but I may, because though I am committing this memory to paper, or virtual reality, writing doesn't always securely attach to the long distance memory of the heart. What does? I don't want to forget the way back.
Sandra Cisneros, the University of Iowa Crew and Me after the taping of the Garrison Keillor Literary Friendships Show in Minneapolis, May 15-2005