Month: July 2017

Sunset on Rio- Shock, Flight, Cleanse, and Saudade

I return to Rio under the Full Moon, and it hasn’t quite hit me yet that my brother is gone. Our heroine Kelly returns. and I realize a new depth to her Daoist mastery: on her back is a crescent white moon within her gold fur,  and within her white underbelly is a gold patch. She is the embodiment of the Taiji!

As I write this now, with one hand, as she continually nuzzles my other arm away from me to have it resting on her. Now, I can choose my words more carefully. My first day back in Rio we had a great shock with Kelly. I was out with her at the park as usual, and she was roaming around free in the grass. My cousin waved to me as she was walking to the bus stop, and I decided on a whim to accompany with her down to the bus.

She was a bit worried that Kelly was off the leash, but I assured her that I put her back on as we get to more traffic areas (nearer to the bus stop), but I ignored her concern down the flight of stairs to the road below the park which I had been several times before with Kelly safely. She was on the other side of the road smelling homes and gates where dogs were when she locked eyes with us and started to trot over. In that same moment, a motorcycle with a car behind it was coming down the street. Time slowed down as I watched the scene unfold and the motorcycle did not see Kelly until it was too late and slammed his brakes as he collided with her. She was pushed and dragged by the well a good 5 meters, and images of her being crushed and killed flashed in my mind.

 

When I was younger, the only dog I’d own- Kaloh a half yellow lab half huskie mix-had been hit by a car after running away one night-I was the one who had opened the door and let her get past me as well as the one who had given up after a few hours on the search. I’ve carried that blame a long time and watching Kelly get hit in front of my eyes was a living nightmare, my cousin was shrieking as well to add to the horror.

Kelly didn’t get crushed, and scurried off faster than lightning back up the stairs to home. I chased after her and let her back in the house before doubling back to make sure the motorcycle rider was ok. He had already left and my cousin had as well, so I wandered the empty street for awhile in a bit of a daze. The guilt and sorrow washed over me for the rest of the day, especially since we took Kelly to a Vet to be examined for her injuries and had to leave her over night in a lonely cage. My cousins worked on grounding me that everything was ok, it wasn’t my fault, things happen, and Kelly had already forgiven me.

Forgiving myself was a longer process, and all I can do is etch a lesson deeper into my heart to be more careful and more respectful of the circumstances in this world. Just like they had said, when we picked up Kelly the next day she didn’t have a trace of a grudge on her heart and loved me as unconditionally as she always had. Since then her injuries, all surface scratches and bruises, have healed and she is still her playful and loving self.

Flight

After recovering on all levels-I had cold-like sickness for a few days after returning from Sao Paulo as well to add onto matters-the next landmark was a Hang gliding tripped I had promised one of my cousins. In the days leading up she was so excited she couldn’t sleep, whereas I kept the reality of it pretty far from consciousness given my fear of heights and not wanting to steal away from the energy of the experience itself!

This is the same ramp my cousins took me to 3 years ago in 2014, and I never even dreamed that I would be running off it at top speed 3 years later. My tandem partner was Luciano, or Popo, and is very reputable and popular among the locals at Sao Conrado:

http://asadeltapedradagavea.blogspot.com.br/2012/06/voo-de-asa-delta-no-rio-com-luciano.html

He’s very experienced, speaks decent English, and was able to say all the right words to calm down my cousin’s bundle of nerves!

The flight was beyond words, as I etched the feeling of freedom into my heart. Relaxation at that intensity with such a gorgeous scene of nature around us-simply exhilarating.

As we approached the beach he began preparing me for landing, but the sudden dip was like a roller coaster ride that caught me off guard! My legs were running in the air like in those old cartoons for a second there before he calmed me down again and prepared me to hit the sand.

My other cousin was waiting at the beach and I spent the rest of the day relaxing and playing in the ocean and sand.

Cleanse

A good friend of mine spontaneously recommended that I lay down in running, clear water to clear out the pain in my heart. This was the exact same method for clearing energies used by the Q’ero Shamans I encountered in 2014, and when I mentioned that to her she downplayed her wisdom as common sense that had been forgotten!

My cousin’s friend group is a bunch of good-hearted Christians that I have been connecting with during my time here. For this last week in Brasil they arranged a retreat at a Sitio- (farm like property out in the state of Rio). When we got there and they took me to a river with the perfect depth for my friend’s advice I was overjoyed at the synchronicity. The cool running water cleared a lot out of me, and the verse of the Dao de Jing “Water nourishes all things, but does not lord it over them” floated to my the surface.

I waded down the river a ways where a tree taught me the meaning of letting go of control and trusting in the unfolding of Nature. That’s been a common theme this whole trip, and I was glad to embrace the wisdom on a deeper level. That night the atmosphere of the group was a bit tense, as people went off and did their own thing and I was moved into action when the words of my cousin struck my heart “I just want this to be over and to go back home for us all to go our own ways.” I had been a bit of an outsider of the group, and had not fully opened up about my spiritual experiences or life story. I saw this chance as a way to open up in front of everyone-as terrifying as that was. Lucas, the man on the far right of the bridge, translated for me as I shared my painful experiences with mental illness and my desire for everyone to appreciate the gift of this present moment and to love each other. Things shifted after that, and everyone came together putting aside their surface level frictions. My heart felt infinitely better after that, and I had a deeper gratitude and understanding of my own history.

Whether I believed in a greater plan or not, I could no longer argue that my experiences had no use when it comes to affecting positive change now. I feel honored to be able to share my story, have it listened to it, and see people letting themselves be moved by it. I’m in the process of writing about them into a story in the hopes that more people can begin to understand what we call insanity and those that are going through their own processes of change.

I look forward to Peru, and continuing this process in a safe setting where I can face a lot of those deeper fears that have been hiding in my unconscious, driving a lot of my impulsive emotional reactions through life. Who knows what adventures await?

As for now, thank you Brasil. Thank you all the beautiful people I met here, because you are the ones I am here for. Until next time,

Saudade

-Arthur, “Rolozeira” Freeman

 

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Categories: Adventures and Insights

The Yin the Yang-São Paulo

The largest city in the Western Hemisphere. That’s what drew my brother to check this place out, and I was happy to tag along and meet a cousin of mine that also appreciates motorcycles.

We arrived at 6am and had one hell of a day. After meeting my cousin and having breakfast, we were told the bus to take to the popular Avenida Paulista. My brother and I opted to walk there and take in the sights, and an hour later we were enjoying a Japanese museum with lots of bamboo.


Now before coming I knew that Sao Paulo was supposed to be the largest community of Japanese outside Japan, but for the first thing for me to experience was a musuem of Japanese art, Mitsubushi propaganda, and woven bamboo took me back a bit.

We traveled onward, enjoying the beautiful street art that covered entire sides and local street entertainers painted as clowns. After relaxing in the park, we decided to amp up our next ambitions and walk to Liberdade- the Japanese neighborhood. Perfect place for the Freeman brothers! The ambition part was that my cell phone had no battery and had to rely on our limited Portuguese to navigate ourselves there. An hour or so later we arrived, and I tried inquiring about the Daoist Society I wanted to check out. No one had heard of it, and my cell phone didn’t have enough battery to look up the address. We gave up and returned through the Metro to my cousins, only to discover we were only 100 meters away from the destination! Exhausted, it was for the best that Fate didn’t guide us there. We rested up for an early rise to check out the beautiful Ibirapuera park.

The park is often compared to Central park, and it was the perfect place to do some morning Qi Gong. The modern art museum is truly recommended, they had an an interesting exhibit designed to change the way you approach food- there was even staff that would perform a shamanic egg healing! Stuart was not up for this experiment, so I let myself gladly be the subject as the xama traced the egg around my channels to suck up all the bad energy, stress, tension, and worries. The ritual is finished by breathing out three times the rest of your struggles into the egg, and the egg is thrown away not fit for consumption!

The Afro-brazilian museum was also wonderful, with the layout being pretty unconventional as far as buildings go. They let us take pictures so you can see some of the pieces on display on my instagram.

 

Next we took a bus up to the center of town to get an Eagle’s eye view of the city. I nodded off half way through the bus ride and when I came back to my senses we were a few stops later, but I saw on the map a place called “Jardim do Luz” and knew where I was headed first!

To our pleasant surprise there was a cave! A cave within the light…doesn’t get better than that. The vibes of the cave were pretty awesome and in the center there you can see a natural sort of stalagmite altar, I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s looked at it this way.

After heading up to the highest point in the city and having some champagne, we go to the Mercado Municipal-famous for its giant meat sandwiches and hundreds of market stalls.

From there we walked south back to Liberdade to re-find that Daoist Society. Even when the Mercado was closing down, the rest of the city was coming alive with lots of hustle and bustle of street vendors opening up. We came across a magnificent cathedral that towered up into the night sky, all under the Full Moon of course.

We make it to the Daoist Society and they are very happy to allow us to join their Baquazhang class. After a good warming up and moving my shoulders in ways I didn’t know they could, we learned Circle Walking and the first Trigram Palm Strike: Earth- Embracing the Moon. Its a pure Yin palm and was perfect for the atmosphere of the trip and my own growth in learning to let go and surrender to the beauty of each moment. I applied this while eating dinner with my cousins that night, appreciating their company for what it was despite our language barriers.

The next day our cousins had gotten tickets to us for the 20th annual Festa do Japao. Hah! A year ago I was in Japan learning Capoeira, a Brazilian art, and now here I am in Brasil spending a day immersed in Japan! I was in a very playful mood as I spoke Japanese with some of the calligraphy presenters, and enjoyed an Okonomiyaki that was nowhere near as good as my host mother’s! Watching Aikido, listening to Taiko drums, and painting bamboo… what a surreal day!

We finished our trip leisurely exploring some more of the city, and seeing that cathedral in the daytime (this time with a political protest added in at no cost!)

My brother was at that end of the trip “ah, well now that was well and good. I’m glad I got to reflect and explore, but now I’m ready to go home and live the rest of my life!” I am truly grateful for the time I got to spend with him. I had been looking forward to it for so long, and now that it’s passed by what seems from this moment a blink of the eye… Saudade. A word worth committing to heart, as I’m sure your heart knows the feeling better than any words can describe.

Until next time, brother.

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Categories: Adventures and Insights

Colorful Salvador

We spent a few days in Salvador, the third largest city in Brasil. A wonderful beach town filled with Afro-brazilian cultures. My brother Stuart was drawn to this place because of his time spent training as capoeirista. Our journey from Rio was a 33 hour bus-ride, which took us through the rolling landscape of Brazilian countryside through safari like landscapes and shanty tin-roofed towns.

The first impression of Salvador came from a beautiful half-moon that filled the sky! This is the closest I’ve been to the equator, and seeing the Moon from this angle. When you are south of the equator, the Moon waxes from left to right-opposite of the northern hemisphere. There seemed to be some deep symbolism in the Brazilian way of life and how it approaches fullness from the opposite direction-both hemispheres growing to the same completeness from opposite sides.

Our hostel was in the historic district of Salvador, and we were greeted by David. I was surprised immediately at the tempo of his speaking speed. I had all but given up on trying to understand multiple cariocas speaking at once at the speed of sound. David’s speech was like a soothing melody, and at first I guessed it was because of his experience with tourists. The next day, as we took in the vibes of Salvador, we learned that the city had a laid back tranquilo atmosphere. Well-except for the protests that left the museums we were looking to explore closed, but the street art was phenomenal! The level of quality and respect that street artists had for each other’s art (read: they didn’t graffiti on top of nice works):

https://www.instagram.com/healcyon_way/

(I haven’t figured out how to download photos from instagram, but the whole process of downloading then uploading then embedding was getting cumbersome. We’re in the 21st century so it’d be easier just to follow me on there and have access to the full album of each place I visit!)

In the evening after a delicious shared pot of seafood moqueca, we had the good fortune of seeing a meeting of several schools of Capoeira play together in a roda. This is a circle that is formed by the participants, where many will be playing musical instruments-the most famous being the berimbau. Funny story-I joined the Capoeira club while I was in Japan-and had the chance to play a berimbau. It is not easy, my hand went numbs several times just trying to hold it, let alone keep up with the rhythm and the beat of the group! Much respect to Stuart who had made his own out of piano wire and bamboo back when he used to practice this art.

The moves they displayed in the roda were astonishing, I got to see true mastery of this art. An elderly man (my guess 50-60s) had an excellent flow and precise control over his body. In the game, because capoeira was designed to disguise martial arts training from slave owners, the elements of dance are mixed with fighting and in this way you do not ever attempt to injure your opponent. The fascinating thing is how clear it is who the ‘victor’ would be as the two players face off in the ring, kicks flying centimeters away from faces and sweeps that knock opponent’s off their center. We were not allowed to participate without the right outfit, but this may have saved us some sore bottoms.

What we weren’t aware of before leaving for Salvador was how rainy it is during the winter season. This kept the tourists crowd away, but it dampened my hope for a nice beach day. The best chance we were going to get according to weather reports was a 60% chance of rain on Saturday. We set off, because hey if you’re at the ocean and you’re in the water the rain doesn’t change much then! We set off in the opposite direction of the historic district into the so-called “dangerous” part of town to catch a bus. The hospitality at the street stall we had breakfast in was beautiful, and I was filled with joy at seeing a mother working with her daughter at their own little shop.

First thing was first at the beach: I drank from a fresh coconut and we went up to the Jesus statue that looked out over the sea. It began to rain lightly as we enjoyed wind and the view. Like out of storybook we descended the hill where Jesus was on toward the beach and the sky parted and the Sun began to shine on us. I immediately was drawn to the sight of bodyboarders! I was hungry for some waves that could be ridden after the frigid waters at Copacobana and the aggressive riptide at Barra. We walked the length of the beach, and Stuart checked out the lighthouse while I relaxed with the waves. We made our way back to the surfers, and I tried out my new “go with the flow” technique of not fighting the waves. I faced that fear of going deeper into the waters, a man with a Black t-shirt that had the number 13 guiding my path (away from the rocks). I had a trans-formative experience when I let the waves take me and I curled up into a fetal position-completely relaxed in the flow-feeling reborn as I was carried to shore.

We recharged for body-boarding when a happy musical man offered us grilled queijo coalho on a skewer with his portable coals. His happiness was so infectious, basking in the moment was effortless. The bodyboarders were getting ready to leave, but they agreed to rent me a board for an hour or so. Getting past the breakpoint of the waves was the hard part, but navigating the turf of other surfers and when to catch a wave was much harder! They didn’t have fins that fit me either, so I spent most of the time working up courage to let a wave crash down on my head.

I let my brother have his turn with the board, and lived vicariously as I saw him catch a wave. It slammed down on him but his grip on the board kept him out in front of it. During the bonus minutes we had it, I paddled out again with the determination. Well, not so much determination as it was an acceptance “so the wave  might crash down on me and I go for a tumble, so what?” I also was eavesdropping on my renter who was instructing a girl on how to bodyboard, and tried to copy the angle at which to catch the wave. I caught one wave for a little while, and then found I was at my limit for pushing past the where the waves broke. I used the board as a bed until it was time to go.

We walked and found a beautiful place with a view of the ocean to eat some octopus risotto and a shrimp salad. My brother confessed that if  money were no object this would be the perfect place to have a second home-to dodge the winter year round. I felt incredibly blessed as the sunset, and to add onto that the fare taker for the bus gave us a free ride because he didn’t have change for our bills!

The last day in Salvador was the Festa da Bahia, and you can watch some highlights from the great parade on my instagram. With only three days, we didn’t get to experience too much of the rich spiritual practices of Salvador, so this post definitely doesn’t do justice to the depth of this magical place. Check it out for yourself (during their spring-summer months!)