Life is a journey. If you are a writer--and you know who you are--this is one of the most important pieces of information to keep in the forefront of the chaos in your head. There are no guarantees. Enjoy the journey!
The battlefield is full of sandals, saffron robes, hope, rage and riot shields. Burma is teetering on the edge of change. Hopefully. The largest anti-junta movement since 3,000 protesters were gunned down in 1988. I can't stop thinking about this situation. I'm obsessing, so I suppose I might as well write about it.
The thing I can't stop thinking about--since I know little to nothing about Burma (the U.S. refuses to acknowledge the present terrorist government's name change so I'll follow suit) is--what are these people thinking? All of them...the monks, the controlling government, the men standing there ready to kill peaceful protesters? I mean, these are human beings and they could be any one of us, any one of our neighbors, or our children. So, what's the controlling thought process here? The only motivation I can come up with on the side of the SHADOW is: FEAR. And the only motivation I can come up with on the side of LIGHT is: SELF-SACRIFICE.
Now, we all know how easily fear controls people. It not only controls the masses, but it controls the people who are controlling the masses. It is the puppet-master. The guy standing there with a gun pointed at a chanting monk does not want to pull the trigger, but he will. Not out of loyalty, but out of fear for his own safety or maybe even that of his family's. No big mystery there.
But, self sacrifice. This has always been something confusing to me. So, this is the thing I'm trying to untangle in my head.
(If you haven't had your coffee yet, this would be a good time to pause and read later or grab a cup.)
As I hold the belief that we are all equal, it is hard for me to consider an act of self-sacrifice as noble or just. I believe you should not consider yourself greater than another person, but you should also not consider yourself less. Love is acceptance, not sacrifice; sharing, not giving away; helping to fulfill another’s needs as your own, not instead of your own.
That said, yes--I would jump in front of a moving truck if it meant saving my child. But, only because I know my emotional limits, and I would rather die than live without my child. So, this is actually self-serving.
I suppose there is a bigger issue here, a larger purpose. It is not one life sacrificed for another. It is a life sacrificed for a greater purpose. For all life in that region to have freedom.
Freedom to choose how they spend their time and energy in this lifetime.
I am coming to wrap my mind around the courage it takes for a woman like Aung San Suu Kyi to sacrifice everything--her personal freedom, ever seeing her children again, or getting to see her husband before he dies--for a cause larger than herself.
Of course, we can always hold out hope that no more lives are lost, no more sacrifices are needed.
Of all the images in my National Geographic this month, all the beauty and magic showcased from Southeast Asia, Belize, Egypt and Alaska--this is the image that moved me.
It is a monk in Thailand walking with a rescued tiger.
To have loved, nurtured and cherished life so completely that you can walk side by side in peace with even the danger--even the teeth and claws-- and still be unafraid of things others would fear--would run screaming from--but you are not afraid because you have faith...
This is the last bloom of my back porch plant enjoying its time in the spotlight. I was staring at it early this morning in the sunlight, its scarlet petals juxtaposed against the withered brown of its predecessors, and--as staring at something too long always does--it led to questions I have no answers for.
I decided that these little red blooms are not the plant but the product. I would even go as far as calling them its poetry or sculpture or a burst of glittering fireworks to celebrate some private event. They are art.
They are also fleeting.
If one bloom falls off, the plant is still the same plant. When all the blooms are done for the season, the plant is still itself. So--here comes the question--what exactly needs to be left to still be the same plant? What is the essence of the plant? The visible parts? The leaves and stems? The moist fingers that stretch themselves through the soil looking for nourishment? Or is the soul of the plant the seed? Is that the only part that cannot change, wither or die and still be the same plant?
Are seeds the only bit of physical reality and the rest of our world is simply art?
Since I began this blog, I have been focused mostly on the craft and business of writing. The rules, the players, the do and don'ts. In honor of all the changes occuring in my life and Fall creeping in, I'm going to shift my focus to writing for the sake of writing.
Writing for the sake of beauty. Writing for the sake of profound joy. Writing for the sake of being in love with the written word. Writing for the sake of practice and toning.
A few things have been brought to my attention lately by subtle tap tap tappings on my subconscious. Under close scrutiny, they all boil down to the fact that I have stopped looking, stopped being aware of my surroundings, and stopped trying to find and create beauty. The obvious thing is I've stopped taking pictures. But, there is even a root to that issue that runs deeper.
I could blame these self-imposed blinders on the fact that I am so focused on other things that I don't have time to take time out. Or, I could blame it on the fact that shooting weddings completely burned me out on photography.
The truth is, I don't like my surroundings and so I've walled myself off and rarely pay attention to anything outside my own mind chatter. The truth is, I can find beauty in the glittering man-made skyline of a city and I can find inspiration in the flat, wide open, cobalt skies above ocean and sand, but I feel completely trapped and claustrophobic surrounded by a country landscape. Not that a country landscape isn't beautiful in itself, it's just that we all have parts of physical existence that we resonate with and this isn't mine.
Maybe it is the unexpected chilled air this morning that woke up my mind, maybe it is the live-in-the-moment mentality I've been trying to operate my life by. Whatever it is, it comes baring a message I can't ignore any longer: find beauty anyway. It's there. Even in things we hate, there is something to love. So, this is my new quest. Be mindful. Find something beautiful in my surroundings every day.
I may write about it, I may photograph it...some days it may be all I can do to just notice it. Eventually, I'm hoping that this will become second nature again, this paying attention...
...being the observer of sapphires and rubies in raindrops, being a grateful witness to the sacred dance of the long grasses and discovering new angles on the old gravel roads.
This feels like a new fork in one of those old roads on my writing journey.
The thing about being a writer is we are all other things as well. We have other jobs, other responsibilities, many different directions our energies are needed. At this moment, this is my biggest challenge.
Life has changed. I am drained but I am tumbling back down the mountain to rejoin the living. I am feeling the ebb more than the flow and empty of creation, but I am still a writer and the universe will not let me forget it.
On a flight this week, my husband sat next to a lady from Canada.
"You'll never believe what she does for a living!" he says to me. "She's a molecular biologist! She has created chimeras!"
For those of you who know what I write about, you can imagine what a thrill this was for me. I have been trying to get a molecular biologist to consult on the part I'm currently working on and haven't been able to get a response. And when he told her about my current book, she replied,
Some things about me. I’m addicted to words. I’m more about quality than quantity. I am a gypsy at heart. I want a Wu Li tattoo but can’t even commit to a bumper sticker. I believe in both evolution and the power of love. My children are the only things I am sure about in this world. My favorite wine at the moment is Tilia Merlot. When I’m upset I hit the bookstore or the shower. I am an earth sign, but I feel most at home near the ocean. I have a white golden retriever who owns my heart. I can’t commit to a belief system because that means I’ll stop searching. I’ll freely admit I always have more questions than answers. I love physics and hate math. Florida is my adopted home state. I believe in the power of yoga, meditation and our own thoughts. I love storms but have a tornado phobia. My life dream is to travel and live in hotels. I am afraid to fly. I am a walking contradiction. Welcome to my humble space.