Skip to content

Duende

May 18, 2009

Two years ago, I went to a Colbie Caillat concert. I was to meet a friend there, but that friend bailed on me at the last minute. I already had the tickets, so I had two choices. Go alone and unload the other one, or unload them both. This was before Colbie made it big, it was a small venue, and I knew that she was about to go big. I didn’t want to miss the experience of a small concert in an intimate setting, because this is really how her music should be experienced. So I went, and while standing in line found a group of four girls who needed a ticket. Problem solved.

Turns out those girls were from the same small town in Arkansas that my mom and her family are from. One of the girls, Brenna, lived in New York (the others were visiting), and we talked most of the night in between songs. At the end of the night, we exchanged numbers and made promises to see each other again. For one reason or another that never happened, but being two friendly Southern girls we kept earnestly trying. Each time something would prevent us from meeting up.

This afternoon I got a text from Brenna, inviting me to the same venue we met at. Her friends had bailed on her for a concert- both ironic and serendipitous. My schedule was free enough to join her. I knew nothing about the band playing and had little expectation to be honest. I was just so thrilled to be finally hooking up with her after two years of back and forth.

What a delight, then, that a few moments into the first song a wonderful three part harmony filled my ears from these three men playing guitars.

I remember as a child hearing that some language had something like 10 words for love and I was bewildered. How could one word have ten in another language? Of course, having never experienced ten types of love, I couldn’t grasp such a concept. But the most mystifying thing to me was that suddenly I saw that my language was possible of failing me in some form in the future. I should have known then that words, no matter what language, would fail me fairly consistently through out life. Language as a general rule is merely one of the many fallable ways of conscious expression.

And then there are those moments that defy expression at all- they can be experienced consciously, but not expressed properly. The Spanish gypsies have a word for such a moment- God bless them (and He generally hasn’t). That word is duende. If you were to look up an actual definition of duende I can assure you it would fail. Miserably. Duende is a moment, as much as a thing. It is both a physical experience as well as an emotional state of being.

As the three men’s voices, all of them strong, clear and yet in perfect synch with each other moved through different notes, I was reminded of a very specific experience of being one of three voices, myself. Three voices moving together to create something more than the sum of its parts.

In that moment, in a New York club, surrounded by people I barely knew or didn’t know at all, I closed my eyes and let myself revel in that memory. Not of specific events, or a specific time. It was the memory of something else. This was duende.

When the soul unplugs, puffing itself up with breath. And then, without warning, whether welcome or not, it begins to sing a song. Carrying its tune to the edges of the self, both physically and spiritually. Singing loud and clear in a language created by God himself.
Can the body house such a song? The soul pushes out, longing to leap out and dance to its own tune.

Who can blame it?

And then the soul exhales. And the moment passes. All your left with is the memory- the knowledge that life, like those voices, is more than the sum of its experiences, more than something that even science can explain. And consciousness, no matter how impossible to understand, has let you experience something that words will always fail to explain.

The soul is bound by no earthly language, anyway.

Advertisements
2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 28, 2009 10:06 pm

    This is a beautiful, beautiful post, both in subject and in language. Words did not fail you this time, my friend.

  2. June 3, 2009 1:48 am

    This is, perhaps, the best blog post i've ever read. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: