The Church of Tango - Book Review
The Church of Tango
by Cherie Magnus
Find it on Amazon.com here: http://www.amazon.com/The-Church-Tango-Cherie-Magnus/dp/0615573541/
Cherie has been an inspiration for me from the time I started tango (and my tango blog) over three years ago. She has been the voice of encouragement and wisdom and now, after reading her memoir, I have a sense of why that is. Her book is not a "tango book" per se (at least now how we normally think of them) - it is really a memoir of the life that brought her to tango. It is a taste of how tango (and dance in general) changed her life. In fact if I have one complaint, and really it's not a complaint as much as a meek request for a sequel, it would be that her book ended too soon. (Una tanda mas, Cherie!) I wanted to know more about her tango life, though much of those thoughts, experiences, pieces of tango wisdom, can be found on her fantastic blog - http://tangocherie.blogspot.com/.
The beginning of her book contains one of my most cherished Joseph Campbell quotes,
"We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the life that is waiting for us."
Her life, at times, is a very hard illustration of his point. She has had a very tough road to follow and her story reminds readers that change, even gut-wrenching, life-overturning change, is what propels our life forward. We can either own it, or get run over by it (my words, not Cherie's - she's much more eloquent on that matter.)
Many tango memoirs start with a broken heart, an affair gone badly - but to lose one's husband, to find yourself facing a life on your own when your identity has been so tied to your spouse, that is another journey altogether. For me, it is the scariest thing I can imagine - but that's only the beginning of her story. Cherie struggles through so much and yet has so many triumphs. This isn't a romantic tale of running away and having adventures to distract one's self from life's difficulties - but more a chronicle of a soul finding its home. To borrow something that Pema Chodron wrote - Cherie's story is one of leaning into the sharp points. It is, in places, heart-breakingly difficult to read. I couldn't read it at work for fear of having to explain my swollen eyes and red nose. It's worth the struggle to follow her path - her writing makes it impossible not to keep reading. For me, her writing mirrors how I think of tango - honest, human, vulnerable.
I recommend Cherie's book so highly (as well as her blog linked above.) It's a very personal, very moving book that, like Cherie, has much wisdom, inspiration and encouragement to impart.