Me, Mike and Manny circa 1966

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Have You Seen My Sisters?

for my niece Nina on her 15th birthday

They carry 3 lighted candles wherever they go.  One sits at the crown of her head, one in the flat right palm, the other on the left.  They carry the lights in perfect balance.  One for the mind, one for the body and the last, the heart.  Do you see how they move, the eyes gazing out into that horizon, the chin level to the ground, the focus so clear into that future?  They move about the obstacles before them—trees and stones and animals—swiftly, gracefully as rivers flowing east.  See how they never take their gaze away from the horizon beyond.  All in perfect balance.  The mind, the body. the spirit.  All in tune with the earth and the wind and the sisters around her. 

I want to learn this dance—how to balance these lighted candles—how to move and sway and never lose sight of where I am going.

Dance of Lights
I must have been only three the first time I saw them dancing.  We were living in Canada and I had just finished doing my first public performance, a dance with other three-year-old girls, little ducks, moving to a mandolin, flapping our wings, the shoulder blades poking out of our red and white dresses, the elbows fanning the air, our feet bare and dusty from the linoleum floors.  The other itik-itik dancers and I sat on the cold floor watching our older sisters, nurses mostly, dancing in the dark cafeteria.  The only lights were the flames above their heads, or rising from the palms of their hands.  In a line they moved towards us and back, and carefully they got down on their knees, on their bellies, on their backs, the candles still lit and perfectly balanced and they rolled to the left and the right and then like logs they spun around.  Candles steady.  No wavering.  No faltering.

I was propped up on my elbows, afraid to blink, waiting for something, I don't know what.  Nothing startled them.  Not the curve of their hips, nor the tilt of their head, not the collapse of a metal folding chair in the back of the room.

This is what it means to be focused.  To balance.  To let everything connect—the mind, the body, the spirit.  I want a life like that.  I want to gaze ahead of me and move confidently—the candles lit, the flames dancing but not wavering, not shifting, not taking me off my course.

Pandanggo sa ilaw  all day, all night. 

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