Sunday, April 29, 2007

31 Months

Yesterday we went to a Floricanto Conference in Palm Desert that honored Tomas Rivera, who was the first Latino to hold a chancellor position at one of the University of California schools (Riverside). He was a poet and teacher who campaigned for the rights of minorities in the 60's, 70's and 80's using the creative spirit of the arts, culture and education. Practically everyone we met at the conference was influenced in some way by the actions taken by this person decades ago.

It was an incredible experience those who are parents may one moment, quite embarrassing as well. As they began the conference, the organizer, who just happens to be a distant cousin in Xtina's family, began by speaking a little about Tomas Rivera and the foundation of the twenty-year-old event. Well it was at that moment that Lucas decided that he really was the focus of the event and seeing an opening, ran upon the stage and greeted everyone heartily. As I tried to wrangle him without making too much of an ass out myself he skittered and jumped barely out reach until I simply had to go up on stage myself and capture the little guy.

Now, I am the type of person who grew up doing everything in my power avoiding awkward moments such as these. I kept my my shut if I wasn't positively sure that what I was going to say wasn't stupid in some way. I waited in the wings so that others would step forward before me. I pretty much protected myself unless I absolutely had to act and for the most part, it was very successful strategy. I had situations that I'm not proud of as I'm sure we can all relate. Yet, when I look back on how I acted as a child I always regret that I began with hesitation.

So, even though my first reaction to Lucas' spontaneous burst of attention-seeking was a twinge of shame at being his father, when I later was free to think about it without my prejudices getting in the way I actually was pleased with him. For much of his early life Lucas has really shown a tendency to be little shy around people whom he's not acquainted with. This was probably one of the first times that he was eager to show the world who he was without pause, happy and buoyant. Whatever I do as a father, the one thing I do not want to do is squash his beaming creativity. I want him to jump at the chance to express himself before others with courageous confidence. I want his voice to carry loud in the world.

A Floricanto is an organization of people celebrating writing, food, music, art, culture and education in order to affect the world in a positive way. The fundamental element of the Floricanto is the recognition that each human being has an inherent creative spirit that longs to come forth with expression. This creativity within us is such a vital force. It has the ability to take aspects of our nature that threaten to cause destruction in our lives and change them into something positive, to turn poison into medicine.

Each of us has negative tendencies that, if acted upon in the wrong way, can destroy our relationships, our lives, our communities, even the world. This hateful, violent and unique characteristic inherent within all of us is the source of all the tragedy we witness and experience in our lives. But, when we deal with these negative tendencies using our creative spirit, we are able to transform that tragedy into a powerful force of hope. This is the only reason patrons of the arts continue to insist that we infuse our culture with the beauty of creativity. This is how the philosophical power of humanity has transcended the ages to guide us and push us to excel as a race of beings.

Xtina and I have always wished to discover a community like the one we participated in yesterday, but for some reason we've never found it here in San Diego. After my experience sharing and learning at the Floricanto, my resolve to develop similar communities where I live has only grown stronger. In order to create a new future for our children we have to respond to all of the negative forces around us and within us in new creative ways, since it's quite apparent that the way we currently respond in our culture isn't working.

And Lucas, I want you to always remember that your voice is powerful and just as relevant as anyone alive. Think creatively and you'll never find the need to shrink away from a challenge or hesitate to take action.

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