The Consolation of Sufism

Yesterday was a good day, especially considering the kind of day it could have been. On Friday, rain was predicted from Friday evening lasting through this coming Thursday. Awakening on Saturday, the weather was instead quite pleasant under a blazing blue sky. There was a kind of festival at the Calatrava bridge very close to my apartment on the Turia where various bodegas and other food and wine vendors from the Comunitat Valenciana had brought large amounts of their wares for vending at the pavilions there. Ten euros got us ten tickets, five for a cup of wine each and five for a sampling of food each, as well as a nifty carboard hole-tray for perfect maneuvering of an also complimentary wine glass and small bowl. There were several hundred Valencians there, relaxedly sampling the fruits of their great comunidad autónoma. It was during this pleasant event that I realized how low stress my life was in comparison with anything I had experienced in the United States, related directly to the lack of a need to commute. I had no worry of planning for anything, which in the US and in Atlanta especially always couples with it the stress of planning for travel time. Here is a city of almost one million people that just do not have the harried rat race, a city with the metropolitan population of Birmingham, Alabama in a space that is walkable in two hours and without such traffic and commuting. We are fools to continue to live that way of life in the US.

Later that evening was a series of events under the umbrella term of Nit en Vela (White Night in Valencian) that had the greatest highlight for me at two AM in Plaza de la Virgen, where a group of three musicians and a DJ crafted “ethnic” music as it was billed, which translated to music from the Middle East and points towards the Orient. In delivery it was really, really good stuff – certainly the only truly good music I’ve heard over here with the exception of the flamenco performance. The percussionist had an instrument that was something like a cross between a djembe and a tabla, and his extremely versatile hands, fingers, and sense of rhythm lent me to focus on his part. After a bit a whirling dervish came out, something I’d always wanted to see, and this performance beat my expectations. The way the dervish spun around a fixed axis with such fervor and the body poised in such reverence formed a natural invitation for the spectators to become a part of this search for a divine connection. My rising elation, however, was broken by those with whom I was standing – the Americans once again. “What is that kind of music?” one of them asked. “It’s a Middle Eastern, or maybe Persian, kind of music,” I replied, ready to have my eyes drawn again to the increasingly focused dervish. “I think it’s defintely Indian,” they replied. Rather than explain that due to the rhythmic and scale structure it was probably not, I just let the dervish whisk it away from me and take it to the Architect. Another to the side remarked, “Man, you’d have to be smokin’ some really strong shit to want to watch that!” An greater affront to the right to worship. “This is amazing” was my reply. The next number was an Indian one, and most of the crowd had an excited smile on their face and a significant amount of groove in their thangs. We came to get down, and they provided the environment it takes; they connected us to the musical Brahman.

Now I only have a small amount of time before the great adventure of Barcelona > ITC > (road trip?) begins. I take flight on Thursday.

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Preston

Agent of Change, Former of Entropy, Seeker of a Stateless World.

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