Saturday, February 02, 2008
Brazil Brasil Brasel Oh Hail
The Plane Ride Back
by my boy Luke B out of Chicago, he just went to Brazil and wrote me this so I tought I would share since Dan is gone. This place is gonna be on and poppin.
Well, I guess this is it. The end of a dream. I will wake up soon, and be in my own bed in my own house in the city I have called home my entire life. But, I don’t want to wake up, because this dream is incredible. I am peering out of the airplane window, looking below onto the night lights of some irrelevant city in the midst of its hustle and bustle, or possibly settling down for an evening of relaxation. Nonetheless, I am sitting on this seat miles above the ground, in a place of meditation. Thoughts and memories of the people we have met in the short, 3-week vacation to Brazil. A short, 3-week vacation that will continue to grow and dance through my soul like the intricate and unpredictable Samba. Some things I will never forget; the culture, the genuine generosity of the people, the mesmerizing views in Rio de Janeiro, the array of music, the intense sun, the passion, the connection with nature, the naturally delicious tropical fruits, the public art, the beauty…It is one of the only countries in the world where a woman will invite you to live in her home as you are falling head over heels for each other, even though you have known each other only a few days. A country where passion and seduction take over the heart and mind, leaving no desire and no will for resistance. A woman of which love is planted born and grown. And through this flower comes me, a soul happily waving in the wind, taken by the strong, Brazilian gusts and set free to sail through the breeze of her warm love. A country where you follow what makes you happy, and your smile is fuller because of it. The same reason why the people are coerced into dance from the sweet sounds of a 4-piece samba band’s enveloping rhythmic grace; in the middle of dinner in an open-aired restaurant in which I have just started to touch my food as I see women all around me get up to sway their hips and move their feet with smiles so large because of this classic Brazilian song which inspires love and beauty in this room all around me, and I’m sure the entire country feels the same way. I’m sure the entire people feel the movement of passion and spirit. I’m sure the entire people feel the urge, feel the need to dance in this hypocritical setting. In this country where poor have no materials, where poor have one room in their house, where the streets are their houses and everyone shares the street, and everyone shares the chores. A country that has so many poor people hungry and skinny is the same country so rich in land that fruit hangs on public streets from public trees ready to grab. A land so vast that it spreads deep into the immense jungle. So dense that humans have never been able to explore the entirety. An exotic country; vast in wealth and hungry for change.
Brazil is a country of people. Not time. Time is different. Time does not hold the same urgency and demands as it does in America. Therefore, the people have more time for seizing the moment. This moment happens to pass by so many people as they rush by late for something else, that they forget to experience these moments that are passing by. And seizing the moment means looking around you. Walking down the sidewalk and looking into their eyes. Their eyes passing you by, walking past you on the slim sidewalk next to a dangerous street of buses and cars dodging and weaving each other. Their eyes quickly estimating your character, quickly assessing your potential. The only country I know where people thoroughly enjoy each other for who they are, because life is short and life is beautiful and the best way to spend life is with other people. A country where people comfortably express their enjoyment with old friends, new friends, and strangers alike; everyone cohesively dancing to the melody. Because strangers are neighbors, and communities are made up of neighborly strangers; and trust and distrust, and conversations and accountability, and structure and order, and freedom and noise, and life and death, and the care for others, and the care for self.
A country of sweat. A country whose people walk smooth and slow under the heat. A heat which pulses the heartbeat to an easy tempo and allows for the mind to relax and forget about the stress of strict punctuality. Where time is not digital, but more like a dream: a surreal pace. Where one’s heart guides him to his path and direction; not worried about those whose eyes follow his shadow out of observance and wonder and what people may think of his actions, only concerned in what feels right. Because when someone is happy, there can be no higher feeling. And this is what feels right. A country whose generosity out powers it’s capitalism. Where business employees redirect you to another shop to better find what you are looking for, rather than try to convince you to buy a product from their store. And in redirecting you, sometimes they will even guide you the entire distance, either out of genuine kindness or possibly boredom. A country whose people must be accountable. A country of minimal privacy. Where what you say will be heard, and blurted, possibly tainted, so you must speak truth, you must speak you, because it will always come back full circle. A country of minimal privacy. Where your music is heard in the other room, in the other apartment, out the open window to the street. Where you are aware of your communities relationships and relations with each other are publicly viewed and assessed.
A country where the rumor is crime. And death. And injustice. And the rumors talk directly to the people; and death haunts directly the people, and crime exists directly in the culture, because survival is difficult and equality is suffering because the poor are hidden from the direct riches of the bounty of the beautiful lands which they live. And the anger is risen directly from the injustice which the people suffer. And the injustice is given directly from the brutality of greed, which stems inequality and hunger. Where nobody is fat because everybody is thin and seemingly underfed. But everybody is fit because everybody has focus and determination and strives for comfort, and strives for existence, and strives for freedom, and thus needs to dance and needs to feel and needs to live because life is vital and life is the needle of the drug and love is the emotion in the sun rays and we need to join together and celebrate the beauty of breath and song.
A country where I have never been assaulted, and never been robbed, and never been taken advantage of. A people whose eyes I have seen. Mistrusted and trusted. Judged and turned to, spoke and listened to. Whose eyes I have learned from, knowledge borrowed and passed along. Knowledge of genuine culture, genuine difference and at the same time acceptance.
A country of loud, passionate talk; on every block can be heard loud vocal expressions of people completely absorbed in their thoughts and feelings, and the will to share. The passion in which Brazilians express themselves can not be compared. The intensity in their eyes, the commitment of their bodies translating their words into gestures, and the onlookers and listeners who are watching and observing the situation before they take a side. The intensity of their thoughts, the confidence of their minds sets them at ease to describe their thought process. Public speaking is a norm, public viewing is the samba in their blood; people watch without being self-conscious. No fear to speak your mind, because if you don’t it is too easy to go unnoticed in this country whose population continues to grow. Where its people can be seen on sidewalks, in the entrances of small shops, sitting at outdoor tables drinking beer, on a bus driving at ridiculous speeds, on the beach between lovers. Anywhere you find Brazilians in mid-discussion, you will find the soul in their words, and in their breath.
A country whose poor neighbor the rich, white neighbor the black, hand and machine work side by side, the lively sea neighbors the lush land. Where a homeless boy sleeps on a millionaire’s doorstep. Where a favela’s ever-growing slum looks eye-to-eye with the high-rises of Copacabana and its wondrous, adoring, and enchanting shores of beautiful beaches. A country of hypocrisy where sin resides right next to paradise, living in close proximity at all times. A country of perjury. Heaven and hell in the same city on the same street in the same house. Where what’s wrong is sometimes what’s right. A country where beliefs and feelings battle each other for control. Religion and passion maintain its disagreeing existence. A country whose tourists arrive stiff and pale and leave tanned and comfortable. A country whose jungle-green and canary-yellow colors inspire song and cheer throughout the entire land, friends and enemies singing with one another their country’s song:
Brazil, an intense dream, a vivid ray
of love and hope descends to earth
if in thy lovely, smiling and clear skies
the image of the (Southern) Cross shines resplendently.
A giant by thine own nature,
thou art a beautiful, strong and intrepid colossus,
and thy future mirrors thy greatness.
amongst a thousand others
art thou, Brazil,
O beloved homeland!”
Where a country like this exists can only be south of the Equator; where heat and sea and lush land and jungle and white sand beaches and racial mixtures, and cops and robbers and good people alike exist all in harmony with each other; good and bad, heaven and hell, right and wrong. A country one must experience in order to know the world’s limits. A country no tourist goes only once. A country exotic to all and dreamlike when told about that it captures the imagination into a story-like image which. It is better than anything you have ever heard. A country, a land, a dream: BRAZIL!!!