I think it may have started with the photos of old Rio. Someone posted a series of black and white photos from the 1890s to the 1970s, and I found myself looking at them with a dreamy kind of nostalgia, as if I’d been there and was missing it.
But of course I’d never been there. I was born in the USA and came to Rio for the first time in 1990. I think what I was longing for was a sense of tradition, something I’d actually had a taste of when I was involved as a percussionist in Rio’s famous Carnival for more than five years in the early 90s.
I soon discovered that what I’d been missing was a hands-on involvement in Brazilian musical culture. I stopped playing samba a number of years ago, and hadn’t really thought about it much—until now. So I found myself glued to YouTube for several days, watching videos of old-time samba players and wondering if all of that had been lost to me.
Then one evening I started watching what I thought was a video clip of my favorite samba singer, Paulinho da Viola, but which turned out to be a full-length documentary about him. In the film he repeated many times that there’s no reason for nostalgia or longing, because nothing is lost to the past—in fact, it isn’t really in the past at all. “If I take an old song and play it, then it’s now, it’s not in the past,” he said. In fact, the name of the documentary is “My Time is Now.”
With that thought in mind, I downloaded a bunch of sambas to my iPod and pulled out my dusty tamborim (small drum played with a stick) and tam-tam (a hand drum), and tried to play along with some of the tunes. I was amazed at how bad I sounded and how awkward I felt, but I knew it was just from neglect. I took Paulinho’s advice and brought something from my past that I thought was lost, into my present. And now there’s really nothing to stop me from improving it.
As I thought about this experience, I realized that I could apply it to other situations in my life as well. Can you think of a situation from your past that could be “rescued” by bringing it into the present?