Since the start of 2020, I have been returning to my roots. Having been born in Havana, my heart has always been drawn to Cuba and the Cuban spirit. I gravitate instantly to wonderfully loving and joyful Cubans like my beloved friend, spiritual brother, and high priest of Cubanismo, Jorge Porrata. In January, Jorge helped me conduct a survey of fellow Cubans on the nature of the Cuban spirit.
I discovered what it is that I find so compelling about my birthplace, its people and culture. The two factors that Cubans most commonly associated with the Cuban spirit are: 1) a deep connection with nature; and 2) the desire and ability to rejoice in life. Let's look a little more closely at each of these.
For many of the Cubans I have met and admired, nature isn't something apart from themselves. It lives in them, and in their bodies. They know how to feel and savor the rhythms of life; their connection to the elements; the natural beauty that surrounds them; sights and sounds; tastes and scents; plants and animals; forests, oceans, and rivers; sensuality and sexuality; romance and passion; friends, lovers and family.
Very closely linked to that is the capacity to rejoice wholeheartedly in life, including all of its cycles and phases--its ups and downs. The word gozar is an important part of the Cuban vocabulary. It comes from the Latin gaudium meaning "joy" or "delight." This is not mere enjoyment. If I ask you, "Did you enjoy that movie you saw the other day?" and you say, "Yeah, it was pretty good," that is not the kind of enjoyment that Cubans are describing. They mean rejoicing fully, which is enjoyment to the nth degree.
For me, these two factors are inseparable. I express my Cuban spirit when I REJOICE IN MY CONNECTION WITH NATURE! And I have come to realize that this is what my life has been about, including my passion for sacred music that led me to start Global Chant and write The Chanter's Guide; my powerful connection with play, which I described in The Way of Play and which led to the establishment of PlayHaven; the profound love I feel for the practice of Repose, which opens me up to nature on a consistent basis; my 30-year obsession with creative inspiration, as described in Deep Creativity and my TEDx talk, "The Art of Creative Inspiration"; and most importantly of all, my passionate love and adoration for my wife Maria, who inspires my Cuban spirit to sing, dance, and celebrate the blessings of this life on a daily basis!
At a time when chaos and despair are all around us, I see an obvious path to a brighter future. Humanity has to get back in touch with nature. More than at any other time in the history of our species, we humans have become disconnected from our own bodies; from human touch; from family and community; from sensuality; from the joys of tending a garden or walking in the wilderness; from the cycles of the sun, moon, and stars; from clean air and water; from pure, unprocessed foods; and from a sense of our place in the universe.
As we reconnect with nature more fully and take our cues from those who know how to rejoice wholeheartedly in that connection, we can begin to let nature show us how to heal ourselves and our world, how to become better stewards of this beautiful Earth, and how to integrate ourselves back into the web of life so that we can feed and nurture the incredible biodiversity of this planet.
I am about to unveil an exciting new project that I believe has the power to initiate the evolutionary shift that the current times demand of us. We have no choice now but to step up and assume our role as important members of the global ecosystem. Please stay tuned for a big announcement in the days ahead. Here and Now, Baby!
I want to hear from you! Please share your questions and comments. And sign up for my newsletter, where I will pass along the insights, ideas, and inspiration that come my way.