Letter from a father to his adult daughter: the challenge of being free today

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Daughter, because of those strange things in life, someone recently had the kind gesture of approaching me with the songs of a woman named Natalia Lafourcade, as she is known in her artistic circle, and one of her many lyrics caught my attention, especially for the spiritual force that comes off when he sings the theme down to the root, which made me suspend a piece of writing that I had been building for you for months as an intimate and very personal way to celebrate your arrival at 18 years of existence. You don’t even know how many times I’ve listened to the song to try to find a small crack that allows me to get to the depths of its message, because I’m sure that its lyrics go beyond how simple its verses seem to say.

Now, like any diver, I have come to the surface to breathe and I return to the subject of your 18 years. It is said that many times one wants to write about a subject, but in the end it is the subject that prevails. In my case, it happened when, at a good time, this woman’s voice crossed my mind. At first I believed that those lyrics were inspired by love, like all the lyrics of many songs, even in the love of a couple.

This is how the person who, with his masterful hands, led me to this new musical space, let me know. To me, on the other hand, it seemed to me that it was a tribute to whom one carries in his entrails, in his roots, in his walk through this life, and then I thought of you. It was in such a simple and direct way that it seemed written long before. I’ll come back to the song later.

María José, you have reached the age of majority, that is, you have reached the age of 18 as indicated by a law that set that age to say that you have overcome the stage of childhood and adolescence and now you can see the world with other tools that the Youth gives them to you, like this with a capital letter. The 18-year-old is not clear to me why that number was chosen to designate it as the age of majority, and I understand that some will say that it was the result of many sociological and economic studies and even capriciously.

In any case, reaching them means assuming responsibilities and for that you have to go to a state office to have your ID issued, the document that accredits you as a citizen of this country. Before that age they treat us and look at us differently, but one longs to take that step to try to do things that sometimes our parents deny us with the argument that it is for our own good: or so one thinks.

I tell you that for many years that grace was granted to those who reached the age of 21. I was 18 like you, and since I reached 14 I couldn’t wait to turn 14 because I felt that with them I achieved a kind of emancipation, a freedom to make of my life all the things that until those years were so only dreams.

However, life showed me, with its ability to do things as it wants and not as one seeks them, that such freedom that one achieves will be useless if one does not manage to open a path as a person with it. It is not about being free for the sake of being free, but what one has to do with that freedom. The years will make you understand.

I tell you now that my first dreams were so short when I reached that age that I just wanted to fulfill them so that a policeman in El Bagre wouldn’t bother me anymore when he surprised me in any public place and took me out of there, leaving me like a nobody before the others, especially in a town where healthy entertainment was scarce and one had to enroll with other friends to visit bars and saloons and thus feel important within that tribe. Life, as I told you, does things as it pleases.

It happened that I set out to find importance in the card, which had just been issued, and with it in my wallet I entered a bar in the town in order to provoke the policeman, who was the commander of the station, to be exact, and who told me something and the very animal did not even have the slightest gesture of annoyance when he surprised me very smugly in the middle of that room, seized by a table, with a couple of women and three more friends and with the backdrop of one of the most beautiful vallenatos that have been composed to reflect how life treats us: “Tiempos de la kite”.

So, contrary to what happened to me before, now I forced the authority, dressed in olive green, to come to the table to ask for documents and ask me: what are you doing here? But no, because the blessed document was of no use to me. There I realized that 18 years were for something else.

I return now with the singer Natalia. Her name is María Natalia Lafourcade Silva, of Mexican origin, from Mexico City, where she was born on Sunday, February 26, leap year 1984, but lived her childhood in a town called Coatepec, in Veracruz, surrounded by music and art already who is the daughter of Chilean musician Gastón Lafourcade Valdenegro, who is also a professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico and a teacher at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Querétaro.

Her mother is a pianist named María del Carmen Silva Contreras, and she also has a specialty in musical pedagogy and creator of the Macarsi method for musical training and the comprehensive and human development of children, the same method that her daughter Natalia adapted and practiced. to try to recover from the aftermath of a blow to the forehead from a horse. In short, this method was a way to help her in her rehabilitation through music.

She, since she was two years old, had shown signs of having artistic aptitudes and says that she met with the neighbors and began to sing songs by other artists. For that, she took flute, dance, theater, piano, saxophone and singing classes, which allowed her to venture into music at the age of ten without major worries. You may be wondering if I want to put a mirror on you with this story. It’s not about that, on the contrary, it’s about proving to myself that sometimes you want to do things and it’s not like that. It is what God disposes and commands; whether or not one believes in Him.

Let’s see why the song caught me from its first verse and above all in the voice of that woman: “I keep crossing rivers/walking through jungles/loving the sun/every day I keep pulling out thorns/from the depths of the heart/In the night I continue lighting dreams / to clean every memory with the sacred smoke”.

It is from there that it seems so similar to a testament and that forced me to go back many years to try at least to look at the precise moment in which yours began from my existence, and the truth is that I still have not I have found a sensible explanation that allows me to remain calm about the one and the other, despite the fact that I have always declared myself to be a rationalist.

And I am given to advance, not without some fear, to the letter that follows and that says “When I write your name on the white sand with a blue background / when I look at the sky in the cruel form of a gray cloud, you appear / and a later climb a high hill / look at the past, you will know that I have not forgotten you”. And then it seems that the light comes on that illuminates the path to know that after me you would have to follow, as I once read in I don’t know what book that says that children are nothing more than the extension of their parents, that yes, with the improvements that the experience delivers so that they are better in each generation. Or at least that was what I read.

Natalia’s story tells that after living for several years in Coatepec, she moved with her mother to Mexico City, where she entered the Anglo-Spanish Pedagogical Institute, and in 1998, thanks to her talent, at the age of 14, she joined a pop music group called Twist, made up of Tabatha and Pamela, former host of a TV Azteca children’s program, the same one that disintegrated the following year.

In the year 2000, producer Loris Ceroni listened to the demos he had received from Natalia and decided to produce his first solo album. It was when she appeared in the city of Dolores Hidalgo in a concert organized by the ‘Colegio Licenciado Álvaro de Osio y Ocampo’, where she received great recognition within the country, say the chronicles of that moment.

Now, over time, this activist has received numerous national and international awards, including two Grammy Awards, fourteen Latin Grammy Awards, five Latin American MTV Video Music Awards, among others. Just so you know, among his most outstanding songs are “Tú Sí Sabers Quierome”, and “Hasta la Raíz”, which helped me to recompose the path I had traveled to celebrate your 18 years.- His lyrics keep telling me things like these: I carry you inside / to the root / and no matter how much it grows / you will be here / Even if I hide behind the mountain / and find a field full of cane / there will be no way / my moonbeam / for you to leave.

The world, since it is a world, has always been full of difficulties, chaos, wars, fights between brothers from the same country and nation, so what we have today is not new; even when one looks at some history books one discovers sometimes, not with a certain blush, that we had worse times, as when Christians were thrown into the arena of a circus to be the tender food of lions while hundreds of spectators cheered to repeat this show sponsored by the caesars of the time, who just lowered the thumb to end the battle.

They say that Christians prayed for themselves, when in reality they did so for the lions, their victimizers. From there comes that phrase that says that to the people, in order to blunt reality, you have to give them bread and circuses. Total, today we are in the same, my dear María José.

I wouldn’t be able to put burdens on your shoulders like, thank God, they didn’t put them on me or force me to follow this or that profession, this or that art. I am what I am because I think it was inevitable, so I don’t see any major problem if for now you haven’t been able to get a place at a university.

Also, one should set their own goals and not let others set them for them. They are the ones who impose those goals on you, the ones who at the end of the afternoon tell you a failure because you didn’t meet them. We were born to live our life, not to be branded.

This, of course, does not mean returning to the wild state of total disobedience in a family. No. What it is about is reflecting on what we really want for ourselves and if those who are by our side would be willing to be our support and thus move forward.

Well, I, depending on the circumstances, tell you that here I am. Happy 18 years, three months and six days of life and those that the Creator has deposited in your personal bank, which I hope will be many to be well lived.-

Natalia’s song ends as follows: “I think that every moment I survive while walking/And every second of uncertainty/Each moment of not knowing/They are the exact key to this fabric/That I am carrying under my skin/This is how I protect you, you’re still inside here.”

El Bagre, Antioquia, Monday, January 14, 1985
Medellin, Saturday March 26, 2022

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Letter from a father to his adult daughter: the challenge of being free today