Yeah, I’m a streetlight!
Chillin’ in the heat!
I illuminate the stories of
the people in the street.
Some have happy endings.
Some are bittersweet.
But I know them all and
that’s what makes my life complete.
And if not me, who keeps our
Who’s gonna keep the coffee
sweet with secret recipes?
…this corner is my destiny…
Where it’s a hundred in the shade,
but with patience and faith,
we remain unafraid,
– Usnavi, “In the Heights”
I saw In the Heights this past Thursday with Lin-Manuel Miranda and it was AWESOME! If you haven’t heard of this musical I urge you to go out and buy the soundtrack now, and go watch it live as it goes on tour through the U.S. It is my favorite musical of all time for several reasons, but as a Latino writer it is very inspirational. The quote above always reminds me of how important it is that I continue to tell the story of my community. That my identity and my purpose have so much to do with me fulfilling my role as the community’s storyteller. I feel the same way as Usnavi, the central character, does in the play. I know the stories of my family and my community, and that’s what makes “my life complete.” If I don’t tell those stories, if I don’t keep moving forward and write my novel–who will? Who will give voice to my community? Who will give voice to our unique history, our myths and our culture? Who will keep up our legacy?
As a writer, we can always choose to write something that is more “mainstream,” that has nothing to do with our culture, or with our family history, or with anything having to do with our personal identity. But that would be like leaving our home for some far off island, and leaving the people we know to fend for themselves. To leave our “home” would be to revoke the important role we have been given: the role of the community storyteller. Storytelling is not only our job and our responsibility, but it’s also who we are. Most importantly, if we don’t tell the stories that we know and the ones that have been passed down to us, those stories will die with us. There’s nothing more tragic than a great story going extinct out of the gross negligence of a storyteller whose responsibility it was to tell it.
When things get tough, and I begin to forget what my role in this life is supposed to be, I put on the In the Heights soundtrack and blast it loud in my car. I sing along with the brilliant music and lyrics, and the characters remind me to be patient and to have faith that everything will work out for the best.
I‘m a storyteller. All I have to do is keep telling my story and one day, one day, with paciencia y fe… maybe I’ll win big.
Have a great 4th of July weekend everybody!
Look at the fireworks! Lighting the night sky….
– “In the Heights”
much “no pare, sigue sigue!”
To follow the Courage 2 Create and find out what happens to Ollin and his novel, you can subscribe by inserting your e-mail into the subscription box in the top right corner of the sidebar! Subscription is completely free! Thank you for subscribing!