A Favorite Face of God
If you don’t know where to start
(What to give someone
Who has everything)
Just do sweet things for God
Whose heart’s conveniently at hand:
Just pick like a flower
A favorite face of God
Just do sweet things for a friend
Attempted Spanish translation:
Una Favorita Cara de Dios
Si no sabes
Por donde comenzar
(Cual cosa que dar para una
Persona que ya tiene todo)
Solo haz dulces cosas
Para Dios cuya corazon esta
Convenientamente a tu lado:
Como coger una flor
Una favorita cara de Dios
Solo haz dulces cosas
Para un amigo
Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Invocation:
“Towards the one, the perfection of love, harmony and beauty, the only being, united with all the illuminated souls who form the embodiment of the master, the spirit of guidance.”
Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Prescribed Daily Mantra:
“My thoughtful self: Reproach no one. Bear malice towards no one. Hold a grudge against no one. Be wise, tolerant, considerate, polite, and kind to all.”
(This is another reinstallation of a lost post–for apparently an act of vandalism–from 2013, the current series of which is biographical, detailing how I ended up living in Guatemala, and devoting myself to metaphysical poetry)*
Let’s see how far I can push this fate metaphor.
So here I am, year 2002, newly installed in Guatemala, newly unencumbered by job or stateside girlfriend, with no reason to have to go back to California, and its constant concomitant economic struggle. For instance, maintain a car, insurance, gasoline, pay the rent, the utility bills, etc. Way too much to manage as a pensioner. So work in California would be necessary, and let’s face it, after you’ve spent the day harassing the wolf at your door, you’re pretty spent yourself. And good luck with that art project, that expressing your heart project.
Read about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs** and you‘ll notice the self-actualization part (the art part) is at the top of the pyramid. Which means everything below it has to be satisfied first. Only then can you begin to quench your thirst for self-expression.
Which means everything below (with its broader and broader base) comes first. For some reason, survival tops creativity. Go figure. And actually, a disturbing case could be made that love is a luxury–so I thank God for divine philanthropy!
Alternatively, here in Guatemala I was economically liberated, what with savings, two pensions, cheap rent, cheap food, etc. etc. I even have a combination maid, cook, and butler person who comes in three times a week—an utter and total sweetheart by the way—and guess what? I taught Alicia to cook! Or at least how to cook gringo cuisine, of which she’d been particularly ignorant. (as opposed to hotshot me)
For example for her first lesson, I gave her two separate recipes. One for coleslaw, and the other for bread pudding. She got the notion that it was all one recipe, and so mixed cabbage, mayonnaise red onions, and freshly ground black pepper into the custard. (Her chickens ate farty-hearty that night!) Yet now her piecrust is flakier than mine! (And I’m pretty flakey!)
But I digress.
So I decided to take advantage of my big chance at Mayan pyramid climbing. But as I said last week, there were issues, like which art do I choose? And once again, fate took the tiller in hand.
Now I’d been writing poems since I was fourteen. Even one in French! And the only art I’d dabbled in was around 1983, when I’d persevered with the wonderful book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. So I knew of the soul-satisfying repose that accompanies an artistic fugue state. (Especially on your inner harpsichord!) And I did well (As does EVERYONE who gives this wonderful book a chance). And so I was open to the visual arts when, again, fate intervened.
And as usual it was in the form of some illusory romance, which for me seems (so far) to have served the same purpose as the proverbial carrot on a stick dangled in front of a donkey (to keep him moving forward).
So one day I am in Deliciosa, the little specialty store in Antigua, mostly frequented by gringos (looking for those otherwise hard to find gringo-fancied things) but this day also by a statuesque Chilena, denombre Maria Eugenia. She was of Palestinian extraction, though her family lived in Chile, and so she was quite tall (5’ 10”) both for a woman anywhere but especially so in Guatemala where the indigenous women can range as short as four foot six. So she stood out. And we caught each others’ eyes, but what’s a guy supposed to do, amble over and say, “Didn’t we just have a moment there?”
So of course, I, this shy guy (with women) just smiled back as invitingly as I could, and left the store. I was headed to my then apartment just beyond Parque San Sebastian. And she must have left just after, but by a different two sides of the same giant rectangle we described, me going home and her going to visit her best friend, a gay artist, who lived hard by the park. So when she turned the corner, I turned the same corner from the other direction and suddenly there we were, eyes inches apart. And of course we had then the icebreaker of our “moment” in the store. I couldn’t foment the “moment” before but with this fated coincidence filling my sails it was full speed ahead and it turned out what with her studying to speak better English, and me Spanish, we soon hatched a plan to meet and help each other out. Mutuamente. And so we spent the next three days together, at least during most of the waking hours, having fascinating conversations. She was like Bette Davis off on a witty monologue which at the end each time was punctuated by some hilarious twist on the situation. So I was good and hooked. Would have been bad and hooked but she wasn’t interested in that. And through much pursuit never could I quite get her to pull that trigger. But she did say, you have to meet my best friend, the fateful Dani, short for Daniel. (The aforementioned artist).
It took a while for the friendship with Dani to take off. Because he didn’t know English and I didn’t know Spanish. I’d managed with Maria Eugenia because she knew a species of English. Her problem was mainly she didn’t know the past tense and so while there was for that some initial confusion as to if she was a practising present-day polyandrist. But by and large she had command of English sufficient to keep the communication amusing as hell.
I wrote her a romantic poem (My first in Spanish! I wish I had preserved it. I showed it to a new half gringo half Guatemalan friend who said if a guy were to have given her such a poem it would have made her weak in the knees) but Maria Eugenia (also known as Sheny as for some reason all the Maria Eugenias in these parts are also so nicknamed) got scared and by a fateful coincidence was offered lucrative employment far away, and though I did end up inheriting her apartment (with the patio view of nothing but the natural, the floral even, except in the distance the oxidized copper green dome of a two hundred year old cathedral, and a volcano not seven miles away, which at night featured a ribbon of red lava trickling down the left hand side, like the left hand of God.)
I think she threw me her apartment like one throws a roast to detain a dog to cover one’s retreat. She later allowed as how I’d been too tempting for comfort. That was flattering so I made do with that.
And so then there was just me and Dani, the fabulous Venezuelan artist, who became my art teacher.
So the fate theme is still hanging in there, tale-wise. Asi que more next week.
God be with you,
*Any who would like to see the earlier in this series of how_I-got-to-Guatemala reinstallments are referred to these urls:
**In case any want a Maslow refresher course, check this out: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs