Posted by: tierratemplada | April 1, 2013

Why tierra templada?

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What is tierra templada? It’s a climatological term which, loosely translated into English, means “the temperate land”. Temperate means moderate, neither here not there, hot nor freezing, heaven nor hell: a limbo of self-imposed mediocrity. I chose this for the title of my blog because I want to write about the world that surrounds me and the more I look, the more I think we are all willingly trapped in this land of in-between, afraid to climb lest we fall.

In an episode of “King of Queens”, Carrie wants her husband, Doug, to score some points with his boss. Here is what he answers: “Carrie, it’s how I survive: staying nameless and faceless. Not too good, not too bad. Right on the cutting edge of mediocre.”

I think Doug speaks for all of us out there: we all have an urge to stay in the safety net zone, just hide our head in the sand, huddle in the sterile bosom of sweet routine. I suppose a Freudian would say that we want to crawl back into the warm succoring safety of the maternal womb.

Sure, we crave money, fame, recognition, but we’d rather it fell into our hands. We are too lazy and/or scared to get out of our comfort zone and get it ourselves. Instead, we play the lottery. We gamble. Some of us try to cheat our way: stealing, prostituting ourselves. I talked to a male whore once. He said he was just saving up money for tuition, that he wants to be a math teacher. I hope he succeeds, but here’s a thought: doesn’t cheating your way to the top sort of eliminate the point of it all? If you take a helicopter and just fly to the peak of Mount Everest, will you gain anything? A cool Facebook photo asides, nothing will change. Life is a hurdle race. If you just walk straight to the finish line, what’s the point? Why waste your breath?  It’s like taking an autostrada all the way through Italy and never once stopping to take in the sights. A waste of an increasingly precious fuel.

Truth is, mediocrity is in our nature. We are essentially average creatures. We are ground-huggers. Afraid of heights. Afraid of water. These are all instincts encoded in our brains millenia ago to keep us from falling off cliffs. And yet by some miracle of determination, or foolishness, we have made it all the way to the Moon and back. What drives us? What makes us special? I say it’s the capacity to dream. The audacity of hope.

We dare imagine the unimaginable. We think beyond the here and now. We take fantasies and make them real. There are cells in our brains which make this happen. They’ve grown fat and sluggish with Big Macs and beer, but they are still there, somewhere. I say we whip them back into shape. You don’t have to aim high. Take small steps, one after another. Throw away the remote. Stand up and change the TV channel manually for once. It’s possible. It’s been done, believe me!

Sure, we’re all cowards by definition. I remember a time when I was scared shitless just going out on a date. Or for a beer. I was one of those kids who’d rather spend their whole lives in the safety of their rooms and computers and video games. Well, I’ve made some progress. I’ve been on dates. Not all of them ended well. In fact, some turned out to be a different gender than I’d thought. As Tim Curry sang: Don’t judge the book by its cover…But the point is, I conquered my fears. I tried. That’s more than can be said of many. The other night, my friend said he felt like writing a poem. I said, so write one. And he said: I can’t. My answer was: so do it anyway. Trial and error…

If you’ve managed to read this far, congratulations and as a token of my gratitude, here’s a poem from my upcoming book titled, you guessed it, Tierra Templada. Enjoy!

Tierra Templada

It’s a glacier life out there.
Leave it to the good people of this age
to freeze fire for better best-before
and sell it by the cubic meter.
No salmon odyssey for you Mr. Snowman:
popsicle fingers, frostbit dreams,
late-night howls, secrets, confessions
drowned in liquid nitrogen and rimed to neat
cube-of-life compression: eyes half-open,
lips aquiver, crystal tears and congealed blood
bonds as if some self-proclaimed operator
ran commercials, disrupting live exodus.
Global warming is a witch tale
to scare little icicles.
We’ve thrust boys and fat men overboard
and hanged Prometheus.
Having gone through Hell,
we dare not venture Heaven and bury roots
in Tierra Templada.

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Responses

  1. nice title of the blog, although it reminds me of all that in-betweenness articles on cultural contexts of translation, and makes me shiver (don’t you think that our beautiful spring weather + a nasty cold are sufficient reasons for shivering?). But, seriously, I will follow the blog.

    • hehe, you are right. right now, I would give a lot for some time in tierra tropica : P


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