Thursday, January 22, 2009

Martín Espada on Barack Obama

Litany at the Tomb of Frederick Douglass
Mount Hope Cemetery, Rochester, New York
November 7, 2008

This is the longitude and latitude of the impossible;
this is the epicenter of the unthinkable;
this is the crossroads of the unimaginable:
the tomb of Frederick Douglass, three days after the election.

This is a world spinning away from the gravity of centuries,
where the grave of a fugitive slave has become an altar.
This is the tomb of a man born as chattel, who taught himself 
to read in secret,scraping the letters in his name with chalk on wood;
 now on the anvil-flat stone a campaign button fills the O in Douglass. 
The button says: Obama. This is the tomb of a man in chains, 
who left his fingerprints on the slavebreaker’s throat so the whip 
would never carve his back again;  now a labor union T-shirt drapes itself 
across the stone, offered up by a nurse, a janitor, a bus driver. 
A sticker on the sleeve says: I Voted Today. 
This is the tomb of a man who rolled his call to arms off the press,
peering through spectacles at the abolitionist headline; now a newspaper
spreads above his dates of birth and death. The headline says: Obama Wins.

This is the stillness at the heart of the storm that began in the body
of the first slave, dragged aboard the first ship to America. Yellow leaves
descend in waves, and the newspaper flutters on the tomb, like the sails
Douglass saw in the bay, like the eyes of a slave closing to watch himself
escape with the tide. Believers in spirits would see the pages trembling
on the stone and say: look how the slave boy teaches himself to read.
I say a prayer, the first in years: that here we bury what we call
the impossible, the unthinkable, the unimaginable, now and forever. Amen.

~~~ Martín Espada


Tips for Better Life

1. Take a 10-30 minutes walk every day. And while you walk, smile.
2. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.
3. Sleep for 7 hours.
4. Live with the 3 E's -- Energy, Enthusiasm, and Empathy.
5. Play more games.
6. Read more books than you did the previous year.
7. Make time to practice meditation, yoga, and prayer. They provide us with daily fuel for our busy lives.
8. Spend time with people over the age of 70 & under the age of 6.
9. Dream more while you are awake.
10. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants.
11. Drink plenty of water.
12. Try to make at least three people smile each day.
13. Don't waste your precious energy on gossip.
14. Forget issues of the past. Don't remind your partner with his/her mistakes of the past. That will ruin your present happiness.
15. Don't have negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.
16. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
17. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a beggar.
18. Smile and laugh more.
19. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Don't hate others.
20. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
21. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
22. Make peace with your past so it won't spoil the present.
23. Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey is all about. Don't compare your partner with others.
24. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
25. Forgive everyone for everything.
26. What other people think of you is none of your business.
27. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
28. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.
29. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
30. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
31. The best is yet to come.
32. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
33. Do the right thing!
34. Call your family often.
35. Your inner most is always happy. So be happy.
36. Each day give something good to others.
37. Don't over do. Keep your limits.
38. Share this with someone you care about

Lisa Alvarado

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