Lhasa de Sela: A Bid farewell by Diana Rivera

“Then I’ll die three times and be born again
in a little box with a golden key
and a flying fish will set me free”

–by Lhasa de Sela

I think it was professor of mine that once said that performing artists are like athletes of the heart. In their ability to relinquish their ego and become a trained vessel for creativity, they go so deep within their human form that they traverse to the formless. The power of their imagination alone crosses the light bridge from their heart to their audiences within milliseconds.

When I first heard the voice of Lhasa de Sela, I felt we shared a common universal heart. For those who do not know her, take this opportunity to learn briefly of what she meant to me and a rainbow of fans world-wide now and before her passing January 1st 2010 to breast cancer. She was 37 years old.

Lhasa de Sela, the American born singer grew up in the US and Mexico and her colorful life appeared to be a gypsy like caravan of experiences, which led her to live in France and Montreal. She seemed to have been adopted by any culture she landed her wings. She sung in English, Spanish and French. Here is her website: http://lhasadesela.com/

The resonance of her voice, her emotional depth exposed, her intricate lyrics–all of it took me in as if I was a traveler who, after a long journey, had been invited into the home of the most unique artist who would then become a life-long muse.

Here she is, live:

Her albums serenaded many travel passages, as I was piecing together my existence and harnessing life purpose. Since she was so willing to go to the deepest emotional crevices musically, she almost supplemented my desire to do it. I think she did something similar to a lot of people and  so much more. I never knew her in form but I knew her, formless.

As that long-lost friend that took me in on my travels, I have been reflecting over her life for the past month or so, and ended up falling back in love with her song “Soon This Space Will Be Too Small” on the Living Road album.

Here is a glimpse of her lyrics:

Soon This Space Will Be Too Small

Soon this space will be too small
And I’ll go outside
To the huge hillside
Where the wild winds blow
And the cold stars shine

I’ll put my foot
On the living road
And be carried from here
To the heart of the world

I’ll be strong as a ship
And wise as a whale
And I’ll say the three words
That will save us all
And I’ll say the three words
That will save us all

Soon this space will be too small
And I’ll laugh so hard
That the walls cave in

Then I’ll die three times
And be born again
In a little box
With a golden key
And a flying fish
Will set me free

Contemplating on her life and these lyrics, I wonder about the emotional cloak of human expression. How was it for her to wear it? Was she able to take it off? What were those 3 words that would save us all?

From my understanding, Lhasa withstood an amazing battle against breast cancer. January 1st her adoring audience bid her farewell so that she, as her song foreshadowed, can be “born again in a little box with a golden key and a flying fish” that has set her free.


The creative individual–and I mean anyone that utilizes creative fervor combined with a commitement to service in others as Lhasa did–contains a rare ability to embody and utilize  the human condition. When this individual takes on the ‘weight’ of the world, it can create a vulnerability in one’s body, mind and spirit that must be addressed and swiftly.

How have you been addressing the emotional intensity of  work in your body? How balanced have you been? If imbalance exists, what might be something you can do to fortify the very ground your creativity lies on?

Published in: on February 7, 2010 at 3:11 am  Comments (6)  
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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Your writing about this artist is very beautiful, Diana. Life is always changing and moving us in new directions. I believe that it is the power of our creativity that gives off the unique scent of life– like the delicate flower that was manifest in Lhasa De Sela’s life and music. Thank you!

  2. It was the great French actor and writer Antonin Artaud who wrote “Actors are atheletes of the heart.”

  3. Yes, yes, yes. That is it! Thank you for the connection Madame Pom Pom–love that name!

  4. Diana, you have such a beautiful writing voice! Because of you, I learn about amazing artists that I would otherwise not know. Thank you!

  5. Beautiful tribute. She gifted me one of the most moving concerts I have ever been to. I never knew how one could journey through a single word before hearing Lhasa break apart a word and sing individual letters, giving them so much power and individuality. Thanks for this!

  6. Thank you for sharing this, Diana. I fell in love with Lhasa’s creative spirit the first time I heard her sensuous voice and beautifully haunting lyrics, three years ago.

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