Paciencia Y Fe

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

legacies?

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,

I’m home.

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!”

Ollin

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13 comments on “Paciencia Y Fe

  1. No te preocupes Daniel your time will come. You already inspire all of us and I am completely honored and grateful to be your friend. Gracias for all your words and your stories because it helps me to continue in this journey of ours. I might not be a writer but I am in the same struggle as you…..the struggle to fulfill our purpose in life. Thanks so much! No Pares, Sigue sigue!

    • Thank you so much Gilbert! The feeling is mutual, hermano. It’s been an honor and I feel very fortunate to have you as my queer xicano bro for all these years. You too have inspired and motivated me with your passion and determination, and I am so appreciative of all your apoyo, and wise advice. Gracias, hermano!

  2. Melissa says:

    I agree. We do have certain responsibilities as writers to never forget where we came from. We should honor the people who have supported us from the beginning and keep all of our stories alive. I don’t take that responsibility lightly.

  3. Agatha82 says:

    Si, tienes que tener fe y paciencia Ollin🙂
    My Spanish is rubbish but I do understand a lot – more so than I can speak but I was actually born in Chile but left as a kid (English/German descent so I was always called “Gringa”) but I know how important it is to have a writer like you, who will speak about those myths and legends most people do not know about. So do it, you know you can!

    Yes, keep going, be determined, do not tell yourself “one day I hope to be published” tell yourself “one day I will be published”

    Sigue, no pares, tienes que correr🙂

  4. Lua says:

    “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.”
    Fantastic post Ollin, I can truly relate to this! I also believe that I have a responsibility towards my community, and that is to tell their stories… Not just because I have to, but also because I want to. As a storyteller, I want others to get to know these people, hear their stories and I want help people see that even if people live on the opposite sides of the world, they still go through same emotions, same feelings which carry them through this journey called life…
    Stories are a big part of any culture, and it would be such a shame to see them die… It is our job to keep them alive, keep them breathing…🙂

    • Smander says:

      I read this and honestly thought, ‘but what is my community? What story am I responsible for?’ I suppose part of my Anglo-Australian identity is a sense of cultural inferiority. This may sound strange but on the whole I don’t think many of ‘my people’ are proud. I know I often look to Europe for a sense of inspiration and connectedness. I wish I could say that my roots are strongly in this soil and that I know whose story I need to tell. Sadly, this is not the case. I tend to write outside myself…

      • Well I think there are those who also tend to write out of their personal identity. The stories and cultures of your immediate family, or extended. Or if not that you’re own story as you grew up. The culture of your hometown, etc. In the Heights I would say is more about the town “Washington Heights” and the main character’s upbringing there, than it is about the Latino in general, although through the story of this community it touches upon a universal experience of Latinos and all immigrants in general. I think Smander if you go as specific as possible into your life experience, you’ll find the story you need to tell. At first it may seem boring and stale, but I have begun to find that the best stories can sometimes be discovered right next door to my childhood home. Thanks for dropping by and good luck writing!

    • Very true Lua! That’s why I find your stories so fascinating. You take me to a world at once familiar but at the same time very different from mine. I still relate to the universal truths you touch upon, but I also feel so intrigued by the different culture and ideas you address. Don’t stop writing about your community Lua! We all love it!

  5. I want to see this so bad!!!!!

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