Long days and nights of summer mist; consistent poetry workshops on Mondays; daily walks in the woods, every day with more strength and presence; evening feasts to cicada rhythms with visiting family and friends; swimming in the pool; tending to the garden; and meditating, healing my hips, and writing my novel’s story led to a special moment on August 18 on Skimmilk Farm in New England…
… that special night I finished my novel, which back then was simply called Duende. This 80,000 word manuscript began merely as a short story with no goal other than to follow the hunger that lay inside my aching body back in 1996, yet four years later it became my novel. I let out a sigh of amazement as the stars filled the skies on that August night on the farm. And not only was my novel finished, I was also healing my hips and beginning to walk again.
“Last night I finished Duende,” I wrote back then. “I completed my book at about 2 a.m. and then sat in front of my mesa, my altar, taking in the message and love of Duende, the spirit that rests in my bones, that is my bones, wanting to speak. As I wrote the last pieces of my novel, I felt the hunger, the altogether chaos and wildness of that earth-honoring self that I was, that we all are. I sat with that part of myself that surrenders to knowing, to truly understanding; that stands in the middle of the jungle, in that space of not separating from the jungle that is my body, that is myself, crawling its vines, its seemingly chaotic and random living through me, through us…that part that doesn’t try to figure out and dissect what is (for that will kill us), but surrenders to not knowing all the answers; because to know it all would be to separate ourselves from source that is so much bigger and vaster than ourselves and yet is ourselves as well. To contain this vastness would be to kill ourselves, to destroy the very part of ourselves that yearns to fly and live and truly taste the truth of our existence. This, I felt, was the duende that led me to write my novel and the very story that wished to teach me and others about an essence of life that we all have access to.
Back in 2000, I thought I had finished my novel, yet there were many more layers and chapters to write. I don’t regret any of the lengthy process of it. Not one bit. Not the years with several agents who shopped my novel to big publishers with optimistic reviews but no takers. Not the years of rewrites and further rewrites. It all became a part of a journey home to duende, to this spirit inside me that I continue to celebrate every day. The end of my novel then, and the publication of my novel more than a year ago became, in essence, the beginning of my true, fully-realized life.
Today, as we celebrate Thanksgiving, I stay home nursing an intense cold. But I’m grateful. I am grateful that the life I live now comes from deep within me, that it comes from my spirit, my essence coming first in whatever I do. There’s a sense of peace in this, a sense of knowing there is nowhere I need to go, that the richness of each moment is here, inside me, and around me. If I honor my creative spirit and surrender that which guides me in each moment, all will be okay.
A few weeks ago, I also offered a Shamanic Writing Workshop with Burt Kempner, a fellow author, and remember feeling gratitude for having completed a successful class. At one point I was with my partner, Gorky, and he was sharing with me how wonderful the class had been. As he said these words, I began to cry a sense of recognizing that I had come home; that I was doing my life’s work on this earth, even if it was bit by bit as I worked a so-called day job. What a gift to be with someone I loved and to share in the harvest of all that I had worked so hard to become!
On this day of Giving Thanks, I give thanks to the fact that I not only published my novel (after completing it 20 years ago!), but that I can share my work and my life’s passion with my partner, family, and friends, near and far, who have seen me grow into the person I have become (and thanks to those who dropped off Thanksgiving food to me!). What a blessing to be surrounded by love and also be guided by a vaster universe that weaves its magic through me and all of us!
Blessings to you All!
Michelle Adam is an experienced writer, teacher, and healer. She recently published her novel, Child of Duende, after twenty-plus years as a magazine and newspaper writer. Her articles have appeared in The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education Magazine; Hibernia Magazine, an Irish magazine; Vista Magazine, a Hispanic insert of major national newspapers; and multiple other publications.
Michelle has also been a photographer and artist; has taught middle school students Spanish for the past dozen years; and has worked as a healer and shaman. Michelle has created healing and teaching circles of song and sound, assisting others in awakening the spirit of the earth, “duende,” within them, and creating a space for the celebration of life.