Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Cartoon 13: Day of the Dead

The Mexican legend of the Day of the Dead tells us that on two days of the year (Nov. 1 & 2), the dead come back to visit us.  To welcome them, people here build altars for the spirits of their loved ones, adorning them with all of the things that the departed enjoyed in life...fruits, candies, chocolates, sweet bread, tequila... The streets are filled with smiling skeletons dressed up in elegant clothing.  The holiday has a mischievous and playful tone. As I understand it, it's a way of embracing death as a natural, normal process, not something to be afraid of...

To celebrate, I gathered with a group of about 25 people, a few I knew but most I didn't, to make a procession through the main strip of the downtown area. We all dressed up as skeletons and danced and played music and stopped in various parts of the city to tell ghost stories.  People walking the streets stopped to watch and listen and some joined us as we continued our path.

Im trying to keep this post short and sweet but I have to tell you guys about the drama and the incredible power of looooove and music and dance to squash it!

So we arrive to our final destination to tell our last stories and do our final dances and we find a guy there with a huge crowd predicating in English about the sin of celebrating death!...but he wasn't just preaching, he was yelling like crazy and telling everyone that if they don't believe what he says they are going to hell.  I was like what is this guy doing here? He doesn't even speak the language! How could he think that he understands what is being celebrated here?   Did I go back in a time machine to the conquests?  I was so mad I could spit.

Anyway, so we see him and he sees us and we are like 'Crap. What do we do? This could get ugly...'  We all look at each other and with out even talking we decide as a group to just keep on moving and pick another spot in the plaza to continue our celebration. So we move and form a circle and start to dance and the frigin guy follows us! He actually brings his microphone and his translator and his whole crowd over to us and starts screaming, 'You are all going to go to hell!  Devil worshipers!'  He got louder and louder and we danced harder and harder.  He got madder and madder and I swear our music just got more and more beautiful. I lost myself swaying through the crisp night air, elated by the unity within our group of strangers.  We peacefully held the space and no one was lost to this mans' violence.  I assumed that he would go on forever, we responded to his violence with the strength of our song and I didn't even realize the moment when he left. By the end of our celebration almost his entire crowd had joined our circle and was movin to our groove :). 

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