multicultural
does not describe me fully
it is where to start



Saturday, June 5, 2010

Water As Leit Motif


Is there a leit motif in your life and in your writing? Mine is water. Indeed, the defining image of this blog is a waterfall. Its inspiration comes from a scene in one of my novels in which the young protagonist escapes her mother’s attention and wanders off to a nearby waterfall. While there, she experiences a mysterious sense of wellbeing, which she yearns to replicate for the rest of her life. My other novels also feature important scenes on or near water. I have written a short story collection whose common thread is living on boats. So water is an important theme in my writing.

It is also a recurring theme in my life. I have mostly lived within sight or walking distance of large bodies of water. I am in awe of desert panoramas and have joyously hiked mountain trails but my deepest self is drawn to water. Is this because I was born on an island?

The real estate market usually attaches a premium to waterfront property, suggesting that the desire to be within sight of water is common. I’m sure historical reasons (like being next to trade routes), environmental (air quality), and prestige of location et al. can account for this desire. Or is there something else at play here? Since we are as much as 78 % water, is it a matter of like yearning toward like? We spend our gestation in a liquid-filled amniotic sac, so are we just yearning towards our origins?

Moving away from hard science, some ancient religions have deities with water identification. In the African Ifá religion and its Western syncretistic variants like santería, each person is thought to be intrinsically a “daughter” or “son” of a particular deity. Does my predilection for water suggest I could be a daughter of Yemayá, a deity associated with water? Interesting thought.

And that is where I will have to leave this post, at the level of interesting thoughts. I don’t have any answers. I simply observe and wonder, particularly at myself for what seem to be instinctual responses I have not consciously generated and do not fully understand.

I would love to know if you have a leit motif in your life and in your writing.

11 comments:

Maggie May said...

wild nature- foxes especially, the ocean in storm, thunder, the sky, wind, sexuality, passion

Sun Singer said...

Like Maggie May said, wild nature. There's such a sensuality in it and, as your post suggests, there may be other lures and associations between us and the natural world that are outside the realm of science. I grew up along the north Florida coast, so I, too, have an affinity for water. But truly, it's more often the water flowing away from a mountain snowfield than a gulf or ocean. But still, the ocean also calls me.

Davin Malasarn said...

I realized awhile ago that I was writing about animals all the time. As a biologist, I think it comes from my belief that there is very little distinguishing humans from other organisms, and so I tend to explore animal reactions along with human reactions to identify the overlap and differences between them...if there are any!

Judith Mercado said...

Maggie, Malcolm, Davin: thanks for sharing this with me. I feel as if I have just met you for the first time. It's just fascinating what motif will move an individual.

Judy Croome said...

Judith, water is such a powerful symbol and one I used in my literary novel (the ocean as a return to the womb of the Divine). In my personal life, while my Mom is drawn to the ocean, I'm drawn to the mountains. And cats. Let's not forget cats.

Judith Mercado said...

Judy, I would love to read your literary novel. Let me know when it is available.
Judy

SAMUEL PARK said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
A Cuban In London said...

I admit that at the beginning I fell in love not just with your writing but also with that image. Thanks for telling me where the motivation came from.

We have the same leitmotif. I love water. Maybe it's got to do with being born in Cuba, surrounded by water. Or maybe it's my Zodiacal sign: Scorpio. I could stare at the sea for ages.

What a beautiful post. Yes, you could be a daughter of Yemaya. :-) She is one of my favourite orishas. In Arara they call her Afrekete. I love teaching her dances, too, because she goes from quiet to violent very quick. The piece that usually goes with her turbulent state is called 'alaro' (sp?). And the soloist is supposed to spin, spin, spin, endlessly until she is 'possessed' by the orisha (montada).

Many thanks for such a fab outing. There aren't many bloggers (of the ones I know) who write about santeria with so much passion as you do.

As for politics, I loved your response. In fact, I am now drafting a post about that subject: how unfair we are (yes, me, too) to politicians many times.

Greetings from London.

Judith Mercado said...

Samuel: Water does lend itself to so much. It can be ferocious, as in waves during a storm, or gentle, as in a trickling waterfall, etc etc.

Cuban: I’m not surprised we share the same leitmotif. And I would love to witness one of your performances. The one you describe of Yemaya sounds wonderfully passionate. I’m looking forward to reading your followup post on politics.

bermudaonion said...

If I have a leit motif, I don't know what it is. I was born on an island as well, and do love the water, but really feel alive in a city. I guess I need to find a city on the water.

Judith Mercado said...

Thanks for stopping by, Bermuda Onion.