Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Spread Love

Ladies say: "El Gringo Rumbero is all about the love." It's true. But most people in this town don't have time for love. We are so caught up in the rat race, the seemingly endless cycle of production and consumption, that we have forgotten about the big picture -- the broader cycle of life, death and rebirth. Love may not conquer all but it is the life experience par excellence -- through love you truly experience being in the world and you have knowledge of that which makes us all live. In love both of the fundamental ontological elements come together -- ecstasy and agony. Also in love you feel intense, strong and powerful while at the same time utterly insignificant, banal and subject to the whims of that which makes us all live. In love you bravely submit to your fate.

The other day I was riding the subway downtown when a man boarded the train with a guitar. He raised the guitar to his chest, threw his head back and began to play. And as his eyes rolled back into his head he began to sing. His songs were devotional hymns that he himself had written (I checked later and couldn't find them on the Internet) and they were love songs. They expressed the joy and suffering that is the fundamental intuition of life -- existence at its core -- the truth one finds in love. Suddenly I understood why love songs are rooted in spiritual hymns and chants. That strength that is realized only in unconditional submission that comes through in hymns is identical to love. His songs were those of the human being in its crudest most raw form, the human being at ground zero, the human being in all its wretchedness but also in all its glory since it's only then that the human is indistinguishable from the rest of the universe and closest to the sublime -- in love. When the man finished his last song he dropped his guitar, opened his eyes and looked at all of the passengers who were all holding forth crisp green bills in their hands for the musician. Looking at each one in turn he said in a slight Jamaican accent, "thank you ladies and gentlemen... I hope that my music has brought peace and love into your hearts." And, as the train came to a stop and the doors opened, he turned without taking any of the money and left the train.