The night is one of quiet celebration. Appropriately, it is the evening of the Autumnal equinox.
The air is cool in the high desert of Temecula; A light jacket perfect. The stars shine above me as aircraft slowly blink their way across the sky. The palm trees are still sentinels in pooled light of amber streetlamps. It is quiet except for crickets and car tires in the distance.
I just achieved the two certifications that have saved my new job and launched my second career. I had only nine days left to spare.
I have tokens for marking the months of hard work it took me to achieve this.
I just finished a very fine cigar, the best I have had in a year. It was bought from Bob - at least that is the name gives.
Bob is the fellow who sounds and looks as if he is from India, and runs the strip-mall smoke shop down the hill. His shop is small, but he built an excellent walk-in humidor for his shop. He is rightfully proud of that humidor. He assured me that this cigar from one of his top humidor shelves is truly excellent. He was quite truthful, and I will tell him so when I see him next.
The other token is the first novel I have read in two years. Most people who know the younger me would be slack-jawed in shock to read the sentence immediately preceding this one.
I just picked the novel out this evening, and it is different from my usual fare of science fiction and fantasy. It is a story of a woman of Cuban decent, and her sugar-industry heiress grandmother who fled Cuba as a teenager immediately after Batista fled the island.
It is written in a poetic and romantic style, and jumps smoothly from the late 1950's era of the young woman fleeing Cuba to the days of her Journalist granddaughter returning her ashes to the land she loved.
"Next Year In Havana" is the title, and I am in love with it after the first chapter.
The book is paper in my hands, a tactile joy I have missed.
The cigar was so good that it was painful to have finished, and I was loath to put it out. It was completely synchronistic for the tone of the book I am reading, on several levels.
So is this writing poetry? What I am giving my reader in this moment?
I would argue that poetry is the art of putting heart into writing of the small poignant moments of life. It is the art of bringing those moments to life and magnifying them for the reader.
A piece of the story is all I can give, but let it be a piece that you can look at in words with your heart's eye and maybe fall a little bit in love with.
Yes, I am living this, loving this moment, and laying it at your fingertips.
Perhaps the air here in California tonights smells faintly of the ocean after the afternoon breezes from San Diego have finished their journey up the Temecula valley.
Just as one of the characters in my book is scenting the warm salty air of Cuba upon her return to the land of her immediate ancestors.
The rest of her journey awaits in the soft paper of the pages in my hands.
The rest of my journey awaits me on Monday morning.
For this weekend, however, I will have my feet in Temecula and my heart and mind in two very different times in Cuba.
All I have to do now is turn another page...
By: Daniel A. Stafford
Compassion is the greatest sign of humanity.