Hal Royaltey (hal) Wed 6 Apr 05 15:44
Joining us today is Deborah Santana, whose memoir -- "Space Between the Stars" -- chronicles her young years growing up in San Francisco and her life as a bi-racial person in the early Civil Rights days, her coming of age, her 31+ years married to Carlos Santana, and her continuous search for spiritual growth. Ms. Santana is COO of the Santana Band and vice president of the non-profit Milagro Foundation, which was launched in 1998. The foundation has granted almost $2 million to 501c3 organizations that serve children and youth in the areas of health, education and the arts. Ever growing and learning, Ms. Santana offers her writing and work so that others may perceive life as a walk toward compassion and selfless love. Su. Suttle (aka Susan Taggart), a WELL member since 1998, leads the conversation. Ms. Taggart has been creating entertainment graphics for as long as she can remember. She's been working with her favorite client, Santana Management, since 1986. Some of her work can be viewed on her website: www.nekostudios.com. Her continuing New Year's Resolution has been to update her site, which hasn't been touched since 1997, but she is not known for her housekeeping so it could be decades before more current work appears. Meanwhile, she considers it a historical document, because she will never again create anything, for anyone, for any amount of money, in HTML. Welcome to Inkwell!
Suttle (su) Wed 6 Apr 05 16:21
Thanks, Hal. And Welcome to the WELL, Deborah! It's great to see you here. I've got lots of questions to ask about your amazing book, and I imagine anyone who's read it will have questions of their own. Before we get started, remember that non-WELL members can read Inkwell by going to: http://www.well.com/conf/inkwell.vue/ and clicking on your name in the topic, but only WELL members can make posts. So if you have non-WELL friends and fans who'd like to have their comments read, they can email them to: email@example.com and the ever-wonderful hosts will post them here. So, let's get started! I thoroughly enjoyed reading your book, but I was continually taken aback (as in, Whoa! Did she really just say that?) by the incredibly private aspects of your life that you've written about. What prompted you to expose your life to public scrutiny? Also, how has your story been received so far?
Deborah Santana (dssantana) Wed 6 Apr 05 16:33
Thank you, Hal. Hello Su, It is exciting to be here talking about SBTS. I want to mention that everyone can read excerpts from my memoir, as well as hear samples of the beautiful music from my audiobook at my website: deborahsantana.com Just hearing you say you enjoyed reading my book gives me great joy (or goose bumps, if you really want to know). Many people at my book signings have told me how honest and vulnerable I was in the memoir. My longing to let people know me, Deborah, rather than "oh, you're married to Carlos Santana?" prompted and empowered me to speak about my life candidly. Wanting to be seen as a real, flawed, spiritual person was my motivation. I don't feel I've exposed myself to public scrutiny as much as I've shared the journey I've been on and what I have learned. Perhaps when one's life begins as an outsider, as mine did as a bi-racial child in the 1950s, one develops a strong character. Also, the process of writing took a bit of the sting of my past away. Writing consisted of many hours of developing story, hearing critique from my writing group, re-writing, editing, and when I found a publisher, re-writing again. The stories of my life gained a healthy distance as I honed the craft of writing. The response to my memoir has been overwhelming love. Of course, that's from the people who have read it. The media that have read SBTS has been positive, but there hasn't been national interest, which is fine with me. I loved the process of writing and I love reading at bookstores and connecting with people.
Suttle (su) Wed 6 Apr 05 16:56
I certainly learned more about Deborah than I ever thought I would! I can imagine (almost) revealing the sort of stuff you did maybe at the age of 70, but you're relatively young, and still have teenagers! And you've given them the perfect excuse, It's not like YOU haven't done it, or worse, MOM! How did you prepared your kids for the revelations in this book?
Suttle (su) Wed 6 Apr 05 18:31
(laughing at all the xclamation marks in above post. I'll try to restrain myself.)
Deborah Santana (dssantana) Wed 6 Apr 05 19:55
I hope I have not given our children, 21, 20 and 15, an excuse to experience what I experienced, but an example of what types of challenges life can bring and the delicate balance that exists between living true to oneself and living what others might influence them to do. My intention was to share the vulnerable place in my heart that says, "Here is what I have lived. May these intimate depictions inspire you somehow." The physical abuse I suffered with Sly is the most painful revelation in my memoir and was difficult for our two older children to bear when they read it. Our youngest has chosen not to read SBTS and I am grateful for that. When I weighed hiding my life experiences (which may have prevented me from writing my memoir), I believed I had come through the past with redemptive feelings and positive lessons to share. I don't imagine that life has not been interesting, challenging and full of multivarious experiences for every person here. The quote in the beginning of SBTS by Sojourner Truth, "Truth burns up error," sums up how I feel about every human being's life. If we can stand in our truth and be illumined in the telling and the feeling, then we are victorious.
Suttle (su) Thu 7 Apr 05 00:58
One hopes that your honesty and the story of your quest to walk the true path will be an inspiration to others, but I wonder how you can knock down the walls that protect your privacy with such confidence? Where did you get the strength to make yourself so vulnerable? You must have had discussions with your family about your book, because it is also their story, to some extent. Are they all copasetic with your decision to publish?
Deborah Santana (dssantana) Thu 7 Apr 05 10:15
It is all perspective. You look at my revelations as knocking down walls. I look at my memoir as my subtitle says: My Journey to an Open Heart. Because of my bi-racial heritage and growing up in the Civil Rights Movement, I became an adult with an edge and my outlook was that I needed to protect myself from the world. In the past ten years, or so, and in direct relation to my writing and other spiritual work I've done, I've become more confident in who I am and I have released the world's position of separating people by ethnicity, by fame, by class - all of these outer identifiers have little to do with who we are inside. So, my privacy is not important. My oneness with people is what frees me and excites me. Regarding my family's concerns about me publishing: I did not share my manuscript with many family members. I showed Carlos and my sister Kitsaun an early draft, but then I realized that if I received too much feedback from family, I may have become paralyzed and unable to write my truth. My local writing group and my multiple writing workshops in Taos with Natalie Goldberg became the creative circle in which I sat. My family was extremely supportive of me being published and Carlos and Salvador created new music for my audiobook, which is so beautiful. The audiobook also includes my dad, Saunders King's music. When I gave my mother a copy of the hard cover book, I clipped the Sly pages together and told her she could not read them because I thought they would break her heart. Carlos has said, "I wouldn't be married to a person who didn't have the convictions that she has." It wasn't up to my family to be comfortable with me publishing my memoir. It was up to them to find the love and compassion to support my efforts and my love of writing.
Suttle (su) Fri 8 Apr 05 00:44
It makes my heart ache to read of your concern for your mother if she read those pages; my heart also ached when I read about that part of your life. And I was really surprised, too. I've always thought of you as a naturally centered person, someone who must have sprung forth at birth giggling, filled with inner serenity and grace. It never occured to me that you were such a wild child, really. What was it that made the young Penecostal girl jump off the cliff into an alternate universe?
Deborah Santana (dssantana) Fri 8 Apr 05 07:55
Growing up, I followed a wholesome pattern by attending church, being a Girl Scout, taking music and dance lessons, content with the fulfillment of these spiritual and cultural involvements. In high school, I was aware that my friends were having sex, taking drugs and rebelling from their family structures, but I had peace with the life I had chosen. When I was 18 and met Sly Stone, the fact that he was older intrigued me and he was so vibrant and an incredible poet/songwriter. For a cheerleader/choir girl, his life was incredibly exciting and I did not realize that his 7 year age difference or his background of being a seasoned musician, DJ and, I later found out, a pimp (!), was part of his character. My dad, who was also a musician, had never brought other musicians to our home and I had not been to nightclubs or around drugs or older men. I was too young and unworldly to understand that people have core personalities that speak much about who they are and how they treat others. His alternate universe, which I lived in for one and a half years, was enough of a scare for me that it has guided these 33 years since that time. I turned away from drugs, outer glamour, the falseness of fame's lure and have devoted myself to meditation, truth, hard work and fidelity.
Suttle (su) Fri 8 Apr 05 13:26
It must have been terrifying for you when you realized what a wrong turn your life had taken. And it must have seemed the right spiritual path when you and Carlos became devotees of Sri Chinmoy. But it turned out that Guru was as manipulative as Sly, perhaps even in a more insidious way, because he was a holy man. I cannot conceive of the pain you must have endured when your spiritual father told you that you had to have an abortion. But you were obdedient and did as he said. How could you possibly have followed him after that? In the book, it is not easily apparent how many years you, Carlos, and your sister Kitsaun were devotees. Can you talk about this? Why you followed Guru and for how many years?
paul (paul) Fri 8 Apr 05 14:37
I've been reading this book all week, some nights my wife and I have taken turns reading the book out loud. I find it compelling and especially interesting since I lived in a lot of the places in the Bay area that form the backdrop for this book. I'll wait till Su wraps up this first round of questioning to ask a few questions. I feel lucky that I got on the book list this time!
It's a new sun to me (nukem777) Fri 8 Apr 05 15:57
Deborah, what a warrior spirit you have. Your book is an oasis along the spiritual highway of life. Thank you so much for baring your heart and soul. Your openness is probably the most singularly striking feature of your writing, that and your beautiful use of imagery and style. You must be in a blissed out place a lot of the time. Do you find that the ashes that result from the fire of truth and the obvious bonds you have with your family, simply become crusts of bread to share with others, or is it something a bit different for you?
Deborah Santana (dssantana) Fri 8 Apr 05 18:33
I love that - warrior spirit! So good to hear from both of you. Thank you for your feedback and for sharing my story with me. The ashes from my "Vision Fire" have become knowledge that love is bigger than life's problems, that pain in one's heart becomes flakes of gold - brilliant and shining the way to inner peace, if we can forgive. For so many years, I strove to raise my children to be the smartest they could be, to know God, to serve humanity; I worked diligently so that Carlos's career would continue to grow with musical integrity - always trying. In publishing SBTS and sharing who I am internally, I was able to rest. Somehow the telling of my story brought me to who I am and I could stop trying to be someone I thought I should be. I am not blissed out most of the time, although I do try to reside in my heart, rather than in my analytical mind. It is my perspective that the world is our school, life experiences our education, and I want to receive straight As by learning as much as I can.
paul (paul) Fri 8 Apr 05 19:09
The problems with Sly, the cult, and the other mishaps that people fall in to, why is it so hard to be blinded to these pitfalls? I have to confess I am only on page 149, but I'm going to read as much as I can this evening. I've been reading slowly because it's so worth savoring every word, so well written, the places and people you talk about really come alive in your book.
paul (paul) Fri 8 Apr 05 19:10
should have said "so easy to be blinded . . . "
It's a new sun to me (nukem777) Fri 8 Apr 05 19:53
My brother's take on the title, "Space Between the Stars", was "oh, Sly and Carlos". I'm sure he's right, he sees things pretty straightforwardly. I tend to see things a bit more complex and took it for that and a bit more cosmic in terms of spiritual development. Are we both right?
It's a new sun to me (nukem777) Sat 9 Apr 05 04:48
Would you talk a bit about your dad, Saunders King, his talent as a jazz guitarist, his strength and his decision to stay at home once you kids were born. I find that extraordinary in a time when so many did not even think about such a thing.
Deborah Santana (dssantana) Sat 9 Apr 05 09:18
<it is not easily apparent how many years you, Carlos, and your sister Kitsaun were devotees. Can you talk about this? Why you followed the guru and for how many years?> You'll notice I put "guru" into lower case, Su, even though you had it capitalized. Carlos and I followed Sri Chinmoy 9 years; Kitsaun probably the same time or a bit longer. In the first 5 years, we followed because the meditation path offered us purity. Carlos and I had both come from the 60s drug culture and were seeking spirituality as the core for our lives. I opened our vegetarian restaurant, Dipti Nivas, on the corner of Church and Market not long after we became disciples. The restaurant was an incredible joy and such hard work that I felt I was doing something meaningful in my life and for humanity. There was only one other vegetarian restaurant in SF when we started and people lined up outside our doors to eat every day. After those first 5 years, Carlos and I wanted to leave, but never at the same time. We felt pushed and squeezed by all the rules and regulations, and we definitely were asked to proselytize around the world. But each time we sat in meditation we felt God's peace and light. We didn't understand then that it had nothing to do with the guru and everything to do with the universal Spirit that is available to everyone. Many devotees capitalized the G in guru, believing he had some special in-road to Spirit. He gladly accepted that false deification and said that he was meditating on us and creating the light. Ah, hind sight and maturity.... The beauty of those years lies in eating vegetarian food, learning more about health and organic foods, not drinking or smoking, running and living healthy, and developing a habit of meditating and learning to sit in silence. My only regret is that people followed us there because of Carlos's influence and had negative experiences.
Deborah Santana (dssantana) Sat 9 Apr 05 09:58
<"why is it so easy to be blinded to the pitfalls. . . "> Life is an experience. We learn with so much more certainty through our personal trials and challenges. Innocence is not ignorance. With Sly, I had no experience with deceit or vanities of one person caring so much for himself over others. It was similar with Sri Chinmoy - I had an innocent willingness to better myself and many of us definitely saw something above what we held inside ourselves at the time. At my book events, one question I often get is, "Do you have any regrets?" I look back at my choices in life as appropriate for the knowledge and search for happiness I had at the time. The universe provides a bountiful banquet of options for living. In my particular neighborhood (and I do mean global neighborhood) I met up with the people and experiences I write about in my memoir. There was a reason for every one of them. Did I learn from my choices? Absolutely. Am I a better person - having more compassion and understanding about life - because of them? Definitely!
Deborah Santana (dssantana) Sat 9 Apr 05 10:46
<Would you talk a bit about your dad, Saunders King, his talent as a jazz guitarist, his strength and his decision to stay at home once you kids were born?> Dad was a monolithic power of support and guidance in Kitsaun's and my lives. We had no idea, when we were young, that he had chosen to stay at home, rather than tour, to be with us. He was there everyday, watching Liberace on TV as we got ready for school, playing his guitar when we returned home, then getting ready for his own gigs on weekends, filling the house with his music, his strength and his coolness. There was always a suspicious, protective tone to his guidance. He had received a tremendous amount of racist actions and he measured people carefully. He questioned Kitsaun and me without blinking an eye if we asked permission to go anywhere with anyone. I understood this more than ever when I left Sly. Hearing his fingers run scales up his guitar strings over and over daily, playing for hours on end probably taught Kitsaun and me as much about jazz, blues and excellence in music as it did about hard work in life. I didn't need to be told that to do anything well, I would have to devote myself wholeheartedly. Here was my mother who worked everyday and worked overtime whenever possible to help us get what we needed. Here was a musician who honed his craft even without public acclaim. They both gave me what I needed to love our three children unconditionally, and to teach them how to be present to themselves and to life.
Deborah Santana (dssantana) Sat 9 Apr 05 10:55
<the title, "Space Between the Stars"> When I first saw these words written, I felt as if I was the dark place in the sky that is not noticed - in between brilliant stars who are living their light. Definitely beside Carlos's stars, insignificant in his constellation because of the attention he received and the way I was not addressed when in his presence. After a couple of decades :-) I felt emotionally degraded - but it was my choice to stay quiet and in the background. As I wrote myself into existence through SBTS, I became more confident and I didn't need to hide in the darkness anymore. I was happy to claim the truth that I was instrumental in running Santana, and how important that was to Carlos. I realized that the space between the stars, the ether that powerfully pulses between the stars, holds the stars in the sky.
paul (paul) Sat 9 Apr 05 11:21
How is your book tour shaping up? Have you made some dates at bookstores and will you be coming to Bookpeople in Austin? Does the audio book version contain the full text of the book?
Suttle (su) Sat 9 Apr 05 12:37
www.deborahsantana.com has all of Deborah's tour dates, excerpts from the book and audio selections as well. I've been listening to the bonus CD that comes with the audio version, Deborah. How wonderful that you were able to include several selections from your father's catalogue. I wanted to hear more! A few days ago I left the CD on the kitchen and was called away to do something else. When I walked in the room later, I heard your voice being interviewed and thought, Why didn't Deborah tell me she was on Fresh Air? It took be a few minutes to realize it was the interview on the CD. I know you spent the last month touring and have more events lined up. Has there been any interest from the big guns like Terri Gross or Oprah? And I have to know: Has anyone optioned the movie rights yet?
It's a new sun to me (nukem777) Sat 9 Apr 05 20:03
I love your quotes, especially "to ....(my family) who holds my heart". That is deep. Would you speak to that a bit please. You have so many gems: "I am a bridge to my parents and the generations of humans who have come to earth to learn what life is truly about." That's a biggie. "I continually become a new person, a transfigured body, whenever I transcend an outdated belief or change my focus and expand my dreams." What sorts of things help you to transcend, change focus, and expand your dreams? "Portions of me have died hundreds of times." Why is that do you think? Do we keep resurrecting old selves or is just the process we all live with? Or something totally different for each of us? And, finally, your daughter's beautiful ode to her grandfather at the end of the book, ...."he is in me." You have certainly passed it on. The joy and healing that abounds in your book is so liberating, refreshing and moving in the best possible ways. You have done us all a great favor. Blessings and beams to you and yours.
Deborah Santana (dssantana) Sat 9 Apr 05 20:09
<Have you made some dates at bookstores and will you be coming to Bookpeople in Austin? Does the audio book version contain the full text of the book?> Hi Paul, I have been loving my book store events! If you look on my website: www.deborahsantana.com you'll seethe bookstores I've been to already and where I am scheduled to go (which is added to weekly). I would love to come to Bookpeople in Austin and will ask my publicist to inquire of them if they want me. The audiobook is abridged - with 5 hours of me reading, a bonus CD with music from our son, Salvador, my father, Saunders King, and two unreleased tracks from Santana. As Su mentioned above, there is an interview with Carlos and me as well (I seem to keep forgetting about this!). I have only listened to the audiobook once in its entirety. I listen to the music CD often, especially Salvador's first track where he is playing the grand piano, and the second track where he is on piano and Carlos on acoustic guitar. They recorded these songs just for my audiobook, so the feeling of the tunes is heavenly. When I listened to my story when the audiobook was first completed, the painful parts and the end when my father dies, were emotionally draining. Please let me know what you think if you listen.
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