We meet Masters everywhere, although we often dismiss them as part of our common extraordinary lives. The first meeting with Ernest Hemingway happened in Havana, Cuba, one of the places where the writer lived.
A colonial coffe-shop in the heart of Havana; a couple portraits of the writer hanging on the walls; chocolate skin cuban waiters mentioning how much my father looked like him. The event didn´t mean much to me at the time: I was a teenager in love with a salsa dancer from Santiago de Cuba, still finding my way in the world. Those portraits and the comments that came directed to my father meant one (lame) thing: there was an American writer who looks just like my father – that writer used to live in Havana. All right. Big deal.
Years later, I found myself in Chicago, at the house where Ernest Hemingway was born and lived the first years of his life. The spark I had – perhaps fairly – ignored more than fifteen years ago, came back to haunt me, a ghost-master chasing his pupil.
I had come from New York and Alaska before arriving to Chicago (teaching, performing and lecturing) so my bags were naturally packed with books (my own, for sale and books I had bought along the way). One more won´t hurt – the addict thought to herself.
I bought “A Moveable Feast” at Hemingway´s museum (near the house where he was born, also transformed into a museum). It seemed light enough for my overloaded traveling bags and a good introduction to his work. It seemed light.
This was the beginning of another Door, one of those doors that change your life forever.
Reading Hemingway reminds me of the feeling I got when I had the chance to study with the Egyptian Dance Legend: Souhair Zaki. Once you have a direct contact with these Masters, no matter what field you´re in, your whole perspective changes, opens up to higher dimensions. Once I saw Souhair Zaki move in front of me – no explanations required -, I remembered what Oriental Dance was all about. Once I started to read Hemingway – no explanations required – , I remembered what writing is all about. Same process: same luxury: same awakening.
It´s obvious: no great work can come out of copying the past but we must know the past in order to break away from it. Just making sure I break away from the best and hoping you do the same.
Detail: Hemingway does look like my father – those cute cuban waiters were right. Wondering what that means 😉