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Every Day Acts of Peace

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Monday, May 9, 2011

Cuba 1986, Silicon Valley 1998: We All Have in Common Idolizing Something Outside of Ourself

"We reap what we sew, and when we reap what we sew,
all threads embroider together into a stronger tapestry of inter-reliance."

When I remember Cuba
I recall Lucille’s strong voice clearly speaking these words.

Some days it is as if the wind brings
the song of her inspiration to whisper in my ear.
I met Lucille in a window, her window,
of the bookshop she managed with her husband Albor in Cuba.
They stocked the shelves with their favorite literature,
and all day on their phonograph
they freely played music of their own choice.
I loved to listen to Cuban jazz, Afro-Cuban blues,
and the folk music of the farm laborers and state factory workers.

Lucille spent much time in the window, 
sitting in a chair rocking the Sun to rise, 
then passing the day by talking,
and rocking the Sun to set in the evening.
She often remarked that it was her duty to the world -
she is the one who holds the responsibility
of rocking the sun awake and to sleep,
because she is the one who knows, 
the importance of warmth on the flesh 
that in turn heats the blood flow to the heart.

Her husband, Albor was my cultural teacher.
He took pride in tutoring me in the history of Cuba -
its roots diversely on display in their national literature and music.
I remember how softly his hands held affection for each book,
and how they gestured life into the stories he knew of each writer.

As Albor empathically lectured,
Lucille rocked his words into worn grooves in the floor.

Albor often pursued his line of thinking out loud;

"The world seems divided
into the accidental with intentional results,
the intentional with unintended results,
and the unintentional with unintended results.
It sounds like the same game, but it is far from the same aim."

He would look me in the eye to punctuate his sharing, 
and touch my shoulder lightly when emphasis was necessary.

He always spoke with quiet intelligence to complete his thoughts,
and for my part I always thought about what he said.

Now, years later, more than a decade after he spoke his peace, I recall;

"The world seems divided into the accidental with intentional results,
the intentional with unintended results,
and the unintentional with unintended results.
It sounds like the same game, but it is far from the same aim."

On that day I first heard these words I wondered if the world had any aim, 
and if the games we lived out were created from our own challenges.

Today I complete my own thoughts
by playing along with my own inner dialogue;

"It is not if you win the game,
but if you play games ...
and if you play games,
how do you stop yourself from playing? ...
... with other people's emotions and lives ...
trifling with your own life and feelings."

Over the course of time we spent together
I bought four books from Albor and Lucille.
It was a small price to pay for all the knowledge
they freely gave to enrich my inner world culture. 
They were thrilled with the sale,
it was the most books they had sold in one year.

In their small town most people were literate, 
they all loved to read, 
but no one could afford the price of a book ...
so people paid what they could
to take books out on loan ...
read them aloud or individually quickly
then return them so other friends and neighbours 
could share the wealth openly displayed on each page.

One day, while Albor was hand grinding coffee beans in the kitchen,
I asked Lucille if she ever wanted some of the new technology -
like what they often showed on TV 
broadcast over the sky and ocean from Miami ...
the only television in town was in the one local hotel for foreigners.

Lucille slowed her chair rocking,
edged her big toe into a beam of sunlight, 
smiled and replied;

"Coffee would still taste like coffee,
and sunbeams would still warm the souls of my feet just the same.
Even if some new technology made coffee faster to make, 
tasting the coffee would be the proof of any real progress."

I thought deeply about what Lucille imparted.
In the 1980s, when I lived in Canada
I was working on some new holographic technology...
it certainly would not make coffee taste any better,
nor the coffee bean harvest any easier work for the farm labourers.

My thoughts were interrupted by the silence,
the sound of Lucille's rocking chair had halted.
Lucille was deep in intuition tuning into the Lucille Channel.
She began rocking her chair again and announced;

"Technology-less-tribes 
seem to build on humanity not idealizing technology,
while technology-full-tribes 
build on technology seeming to marginalize humanity ...
yet those humans with technology,
and those without,
share a common sense of madness -
we all have in common the romantic habit
of idolizing something, anything outside of ourself."

~ Other People's Fingerprints ~
Sometime after 1872 Sri Aurobindo wrote;
“Remember you are at an exceptional hour in a unique epoch,
that you have this great happiness, 
this invaluable privilege,