Monday, November 24, 2008

A Life Already In Session

In Brazilian Portuguese, they have an expression "a onda", which roughly means, "jumping on a wave." This is how we felt on our first day returning to Salvador, Bahia. After being away for almost a year, busy with our lives in the U.S., the warm local breezes greeted us, as we were swept up into a life that was "already in session" for us. Traveling with our friend from Los Angeles, Carl Reece, who manages a legal search firm, we arrived late, the night before - however, guests arrived early at our apartment the next day.

Joe and my, first guest was our apartment manager, Alain Zamrini, who rapidly reviewed our current situation in regards to needs and necessities for the space. His fun yet "business only" attitude is always welcomed, in a partnership of such lengthy dependency. We were next regaled with insights of property acquisitions from our neighbor and real estate extrapolator, Burt, who provided a clear plan for successfully negotiating the Brazilian legal maze, that would lead to his retiring off of multiple property purchases in Salvador. A dream easily fulfilled with wit, resources and a stomach for shifting currency valuations.

The highlight of the day was the appearance of the elegant, wise and humorous, Carson Philips, our dear friend, whom we were fortunate enough to celebrate his birthday with, that day. His elegance in word and motion enfolded us in the luxury of living life in this temperate climate's sensational goodies. His infectious personality has many here gravitating to him, including the brilliant young doctoral student from Columbia University, Paulo Sergio, who is working on his dissertation about the changes in the racial progress in Brazil. Of course, the conversation was made most lively when the intersections of progress in Brazil and in the U.S. were compared. Joe, as you may know, is always quick with perceptions and insights from his extensive experience on the subjects. As usual, humor was the best means to delve into the depths of so serious a discourse, so laughter was a constant refrain.

Of course, no luncheon would be complete without a stroll to the beach, where we were met with sights galore. One may think that the beach is a place for solitude and rest, but not at Porto da Barra. It is a virtual cacophony of voices, bells, whistles, music, yells and whispers that could assault one's senses, were it not for the ravishing visuals that accompany them. A parade of some of the most stunning people you can imagine pass in front of the luscious landscape, in a harmony of beauty that can literally take your breath away. Served capirinhas, while seated under umbrellas, provided for us, we surveyed the visuals with repeated praise and discernment. It was the type of distraction that melts away the concerns of Wall Street and the auto industry in a flicker.

We later resolved to have a birthday dinner at one of Salvador's finest restaurants, Lafayette, pronounced [la'phi'yet'chee]by the Brazilians, perched over the water on the edge of "Cidade Abaixo" (Lower City). Joined by Harold Jones, recent owner of a stunning penthouse here, we feasted on seafood that was flavored in a way that only the Bahians can do. Carson was in rare form as the guest of honor and made it an enjoyable evening for all.

We look forward to the unfolding "a onda" that flows in our direction this week.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Tears of Joy

Tears are a little gift that God has given us, which I am oftentimes too embarrassed to use, publicly or even privately. They stream from the same place but for different reasons, yet, with the same purpose, which, in my opinion, is to cleanse the soul. My tear ducts welled up and overflowed with unbelievable joy the night Obama won the presidency. The world doubled over in tears of ecstasy, all at the same moment, which made me happy to add mine to the mix, without any embarrassment at all - however, in the privacy of my own home.

There are those tears that joyfully accompany such glorious events as weddings and prideful moments, that seem to punctuate our feelings, like icing on a cake. Or the tears of sentimentality that allows us to connect to the memories of that which preceded us and begs us to join in the bliss of it.

We all know the tears that trickle down our cheeks because of the loss of someone or something that was dear to us. They wet our sleeves and our pillows in those most private of moments, oftentimes, when we are sure others cannot see the hurt that consumes us. They purposefully seem to wash the pain that is so deep that it knows no end or resolution and act like a God given salve, to bridge the emotional gap that is cleaved from our inability to accept a loss we do not want.

Then there are the tears that erupts suddenly from something that is so uproariously funny that laughter is not enough to contain one's reaction to it. These are the rare moments that are impossible to predict or create because spontaneity is a required precondition for it to occur. One's inner soul is racked to the core by the silly implausibility of a circumstance or situation so that it's cleansing is so complete as to leave nothing there for the moments that follow.

Tears can also flow as a mixture of joy and sadness simultaneously, as they did yesterday for me at the memorial of our dear friend, Philip Reed. Someone who had touched my life so deeply, in such a funny and loving way, could also be felt as he reverberated throughout the hall, in the tears of others. The joy of his existence in our lives as a friend, brother, leader, giver, instigator, fighter, activist and lover, were happily expressed by these emotionally encompassing tears that soothed our souls and carried his touch.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Hope Springs Eternal

Like many of you, I am watching this critical election unfold, with hope and anxiety wrestling for control of my emotions. With so many things in an unbelievable state of chaos or flux, I find that the hopes of an Obama administration, somehow being one of the only salves that I can depend on. I am unsure as to what I will feel once this battle has been won, but, surely it will be a mixture of many other feelings, which will include anticipation and expectation.

Like many of you, I have been watching every twist and turn of the election and have been barraged with information on every person and issue involved. I now know more about the lives of these candidates than I do about some friends and relatives. I now know more about healthcare, taxes and shrinking economies than my bursting head can handle. And, now more about musicians, rappers, cartoons, web videos and activists actors than I have ever thought possible rallying around these candidacies. I have called potential voters both in my area and in other parts of the country like their lives depended on it, which it does.

Like many of you, throughout my life I have hoped for many things (jobs, careers, relationships, recognition, homes, stability, etc.), yet, my hopes today extend so far beyond my personal scope and now seem to encompass the very health of our nation. Our connection to the success and failure of others has never seemed so real to me as now. The images of the incredibly long lines for people waiting to cast their votes in this election shows that we have all wakened up and realized that it is not just our civic duty to vote, but, a physical effort to resurrect a slumping nation. We are going to have our say this time around, because letting others make that choice for us, has allowed for decisions that do not correspond to our needs.

Like many of you, hope is a very ephemeral essence to hold onto, yet, it is a most satisfying anchor in today's headwinds. The hope of change is something that we all can hold onto, not just in the embodiment of a great leader but in our own ability to change things within our personal spheres. Our first step toward CHANGE is the casting of our vote and from there rebuild our world.