We talk so much in this world. Most times, we are talking ourselves to death rather than acting appropriately. It’s time for the talk to cease and for the loving action to begin.
We talk so much in this world. Most times, we are talking ourselves to death rather than acting appropriately. It’s time for the talk to cease and for the loving action to begin.
I sat in the park today, thinking. I didn’t focus on anything in particular. I listened to woodpeckers feverishly pecking away at trees and red pyramids at the top of a swing set. One I saw atop the swing had a vibrant red head, black upper body, white lower body and black tale. It appeared regal. I wondered why it wanted to peck through toxic paint to get to whatever was hiding inside the pyramid.
People drove in and out, some parked for five to ten minutes, others got out to get their morning exercise. I thought about these people and wondered how they saw their lives. What does it mean to them to walk in the park? Why do they want to exercise? For health? To wear a bikini for the summer? Are they walking merely to contemplate life? Or did they leave home to get away from a horrible fight?
I thought about existence and the unanswered question of why we are here. What does it mean to even be here? In 1,000 years, what will sit on the spot where the swing currently sits? I can only speculate.
A dozen more thoughts came and went. They were all theoretical and filled with inquisitiveness.
Photography by zaji, April 19, 2016
Writing Prompt: Green
Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.
i am green on the inside where the grass, shrubs and trees live and grow. i am green leaves flowing through thick veins trying to find their way to calm green waters of life. i am green skies and dark green soil, seeking green seeds that reproduce outside of dark green fertile flesh. my thoughts are green and grow in green rain and sunshine, birthing strong green men and women who build nations. death is green and takes us all to that after-place where green persists, trying to introduce us to a new life.
Writing Prompt: Climate Control
The idea that the weather and people’s moods are connected is quite old. Do you agree? If yes, how does the weather affect your mood?
We are all affected in some way by the weather. I have not met a person who doesn’t have something to say about a rainy day that isn’t emotion driven. Very often the emotion is negative.
I’m a rare fish who happens to love the rain. It puts me in a meditative mood. The water droplets falling from the sky are like little capsules filled with stories about Earth. I often want to stand in the rain and let the stories soak into my skin. The words about Earth could comfort me and remind me from where I came.
Rain is also sexy. It’s a great time for passionate love making. The rain beating against the roof and windowpane conjure thoughts of bodies skin to skin and souls touching places long forgotten.
Deep philosophical discussions that give way to new ways of thinking and being are born on rainy days. There is time to unfold ideas and new truths. Rain is the kind of weather that without a doubt changes moods and minds quickly. For me, it is always for the better. For the planet, it is food.
No one wants to hear that there are days when I feel so afraid that all I want is for the world to end so that everything that makes it ugly would disappear and never return. No one wants to know that some days I go out on my porch at midnight, lay on my back, look up at the stars, and wonder if there are other worlds teaming with life, without war, without sadness, without all the things that make me want to leave here. There are days when I want to be abducted in hopes that the grass just might be greener on the other side of this galaxy. But there may not be something else out there. Maybe I only want there to be so I can escape this equal share of paradise and prison.
No one wants to entertain my thoughts about the beauty and wretchedness of humanity. Because those who see it as beautiful or ugly don’t want to see the other side of their vision. It’s all too temporary to worry about. Where you are in your mind determines which you see, which you view as temporary first. I look painfully at us and other living things that equally have a right to determine the future of this planet, but are not allowed to do so. Animals are abused, trees are abused, every thing that exists upon this land is abused—we are abused.
But we are loved—at times. I see this creep in and I smile. But then I see it quickly fleet away with each new report of humans killing other humans. Still, the love lives in tiny spaces, in the gentle whispers followed by soft touches that tell more than words need to. The love lives in the glass of water brought to my bedside when I am sick. It lives in the smile I receive when I leave my belief riddled intentions behind and let need appear on its own, then, when asked, I help, and not merely to satiate my need to be seen or seem good. Ego cannot live inside true love. Ego eclipses all things impure. Ego causes pain and makes me forget that others have mind and needs and beliefs and ideas. And sometimes, those ideas won’t be mine, and that’s ok. They shouldn’t be. And I shouldn’t force what I believe on anyone. I shouldn’t steal little children from their villages and take them to mine to teach them about my god. I shouldn’t cut their hair and tell them that their language is inferior and that they should never speak it again, ever. Ego, fear and impertinence does this. I have no right to do this to anyone. Because they live here, just like I do, in their skin, believing what they believe. And they didn’t come to me and take me from my beliefs by force.
But my truth is hard. My truth sends me within. So I go there and let the layers peel back.
Humans can be ugly beings, with beautiful ideas not yet born. When the ideas exit the mind-womb, we become creators of things. Sometimes the creations are words and symbols strung together to form possibilities never before imagined. These take shape and give us something to do while we figure out why we are here. In my world of truth, I am too afraid to tell anyone that in truth, we know nothing. I cannot argue whether all things can be knowable, because that also falls into the realm of that which we do not know. But for now, the fact remains that no matter what we all believe, no matter what belief we latch on to, a god, no god, creation, evolution, a big bang, at the end of it all, we have no way of knowing (at the moment) any of the things we claim as the source of our existence. Because we weren’t there at the start of it all to claim it as the end of the conversation. While not impossible, we may never find the truth, because that would require a time machine that could take us back to the start of it all, to a god, to a molecule, a gas, a speck of matter-less formless darkness with sentience or without, where we could sit and watch what that first event looked like that has led us to where we are now, in this space, on this planet, at this keyboard, with me typing words given to me by those who came before me, insufficient words that do nothing to express the depths of what I am thinking and feeling. What I feel and conceptualize have no symbols that can form my thoughts into something tangible for all to understand. So I write this not in hopes of coming to an understanding, or to somehow bring clarity, but to simply write and vomit forth these simplistic symbols that are a poor substitute for what I imagine psychic abilities would solve.
No one wants to hear that I think we are all children on this planet, spiritual infants crying for mother’s breast milk. Violence—wars, murders, abuse of any kind—are the telltale signs of our infancy. We’ve been taught to see this as a normal part of humanity, rather than an abnormal part of our spiritual existence—if there is even a spirit to point to. This could all be a waste of time, the notion of spirit and purpose. Writing this could be a waste of time and energy, a pointless musing leading to a pointless end. So few can hear this. Because we’ve been taught that energy never dies, so even if we have discarded the notion of god, we’ve given ourselves another god, energy. So now, we latch on to that, and claim it as our new truth, when in fact, without the benefit of a couple thousand years to physically and continuously observe energy, we actually do not know how it behaves. Maybe we perceive it as not ending because of our limited observation. In fact, it could die, after a mere one thousand years, and from another source, new energy is born. Simply put, maybe energy isn’t immortal, but because we are not immortal and can live only a century at a time at most, we have yet to know that energy is mortal, and may very well die after a thousand years or more once we closely observe it from a specific source under controlled conditions. So few want to hear my mind and my truths, because who am I? I am just some chick, typing words on a screen, thinking. Thinking. Thinking. And feeling. And wondering like so many before me have wondered. See, I’m not supposed to think, because the world has taught us that only those with a degree in what they are thinking about are allowed to speak. But science did not develop merely from experiments, all science begins with the idea.
I am an idea, maybe. Possibly. Imagine I am an idea born from a mind that is no god, but merely alien species. Maybe we are the dreams of another species and we think of ourselves as real. Maybe when we die, that is the species waking from its dream.
No, my truths aren’t worth hearing or reading. My ideas aren’t for the Earth bound. They come from a place of pain. They come from wanting a better world, one that isn’t filled with fear and ego that drives man and woman to behave as though in an insane asylum. I want us all to say, “I don’t know.” I want us to chant it until it melds into our DNA and seeps into generation after generation. I want us to be humble, say it, admit that we don’t know, so that the madness can stop and we can refrain from forcing ourselves and ideas and truths on others, but rather, let all our truths and all our ideas just be a conversation, a bucket filled with thoughts that we see and can drink from if we wish, not by force.
I don’t know anything. All I’ve written can be discarded. I am not attached to it in any way. Much of what I’ve written could be right, but it could all be wrong. Maybe I’ve said too much, or nothing at all of importance. It’s all convoluted to some and coherent to others, it depends on where you are inside yourself. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter much, because it’s all just a question. I release the answers to whatever is out there, a god, the universe, nirvana, the darkness, the light, you, me, the nothingness. I release all the symbols typed on this screen. They are not mine, really. They belong to nothing and no one. They are thoughts that float in and out of my consciousness. I fearlessly release them, yet fearfully hope for the answers to come, for something to come. Maybe all I need is a time machine, to take me back to the beginning of it all. Maybe then we can all relax, leave each other alone and enjoy whatever this is we are living. Maybe.
Writing Prompt: Help
Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.
Giant black garbage bags sat to the left and right of her. They were sentries protecting her from the nothingness she fell further into each day. Tan holed socks over crusted unwashed feet kept out some of the chill. She untied the bag to her left. She rummaged inside looking for another sock, but nothing changed since yesterday. She knew this deep down, but like a child on Christmas Day she hoped that she possessed Santa’s special red velvet gift bag that produced whatever one asked for from thin air. There were never any new socks to be found and Zoe certainly didn’t have Santa’s bag. All she had inside were the vestiges of a life once lived. To lose or have anything stolen from her bags would doom her to permanent homelessness and a past that would be erased as though it never existed. So she kept them close and tied her knots tight so no one could see what was left of her life after the fire.
Zoe needed help and asked for it many times. But the system kept her in an endless loop of wants and needs that could never be fulfilled. She pleaded for help, often pleading with only the air and wind, and sometimes a God who seemed to have forgotten he’d made her. She was an only child and her parents who had died were only children. All her grandparents were dead. She was alone, forced to face monthly periods and a growling stomach on the streets of Manhattan, or as a mole underground where light and air were only for those with money. Most times, it was food or maxi pads. Food always won because blood could not be eaten nor bartered for socks. Instead it stained her life each full moon and reminded her that help would never come; but the full moon would never end.
There was no help for her. Only endless days of coins hitting tin cups, an empty knotted stomach each week and crimson blood on the sad full moon.
I attended a nutrition seminar today. It was refreshing to see a nurse practitioner who actually addressed eating habits when faced with patients with serious health problems. So few in the medical industry address the foods we eat as one of the major causes of most dis-ease. Processed foods are destructive to our system, tossing it out of balance and causing cocaine like addiction eating habits.
She talked about the foods that make us well and those that make us unwell. The room bubbled with questions and surprise at the many revelations about what we eat and how the body functions (reacts) when we intake certain foods.
It was a good evening. Very informative.
And as you come closer to yourself, you are coming closer to the universe. And the greatest moment in your life is when you accept the mystery of existence as it is without asking any question. You have understood one thing, that existence is mysterious and is going to remain mysterious. There is no need of any knowledge. That means you have settled with the universe as mysterious and you have settled with yourself as innocent. This is the second birth. In India we have called this state dwij, the second birth. And this is our search here.
– Sat Chid Anand
The drawing into self each day becomes a moment with something infinite. I am communing with all that is, without being aware of all that is. It’s the paradox of life. We see but cannot see. We understand yet do not know. It is all a waiting to be known, a mystery that thrives off its own elusiveness. I ask questions, yet, in many ways, I do not. It is moot to do so, even as we unfold new truths by introducing the questions that cannot be fully answered.
We ask questions to solve the “mystery” never realizing that we are the mystery. Our existence is the unanswered question. We are the truth waiting to be found. We are here, each doing whatever it is that we do. We create questions. We create answers that may or may not be the truth. We know everything and nothing at all. And sometimes this is fine, the not knowing. At other times, we are not at peace with the mystery, so we continue to create questions in hopes that we are asking the right ones. At times, never realizing, that questions might be the problem and to ask for something to be revealed closes us off from our rebirth and an ultimate truth.
I don’t know. It is all talk and creation of ideas that attempt to decipher the mystery, or, the non-mystery. At the end of all this, we don’t know. We only believe and hope, then hope a bit more, so we might find something at the end of our wonderings. Maybe, just maybe, we might find that what we sought was not knowledge, but Self, the only real mystery that matters. It may all be about the Self.
We learn from history that we do not learn anything from history. – Mark Twain
Mark Twain brilliantly and succinctly assessed the culture and the issues we continue to face. A century later, all one need do is look around. Look at the news, look at how humanity is being treated in various parts of the world. Humans oppressing other humans in ever more cunning and sadistic ways. We learn nothing from history. Nothing. Instead, we continue the cycle unabated.
I’ve watched movies since I was not much more than 8 years old. I grew up on TV shows such as the Twilight Zone, Thriller, The Odd Couple, Gilligan’s Island, The Honeymooners, and a long list of horror & sci-fi films, too many to name. Horror and science fiction were what fueled my imagination and taught me many life lessons. I quickly fell in love with dystopian films that allowed me to see, with crystal clarity, the sort of worlds I hoped to avoid. Each film gave its spin on a future world where the proletariat accepted his/her oppressive lot without complaint.
During my more than 40 years of watching dystopian films, there was an understanding that lived beneath the surface of my psyche. It was a known element that I never allowed to surface until only a few days ago. There is one primary thread that runs through every dystopian film and book ever created; 95% of the people in these stories believe that their way of life was normal. They did not think they were in a dystopia.
This realization hit me like an avalanche, consuming my thoughts and filling me with unexpected fear. I wanted to disappear from this place, because I realized that what we are currently living is a dystopia. But like the characters in the films and books, we are so steeped in the culture we don’t realize that what we’ve come to accept as normal, most certainly is far from the case. Like many dystopian films, those living in it defend it, often to the death. Isn’t that our present condition? A great majority of the population defends our current way of life, or feel powerless to change things. The handful that do see the glaring issues are typically ostracized or labelled as crazy conspirators.
Essentially, we are living the dystopias we believe ourselves to be far removed from, merely because the many films and books are deceptively made to seem worse than our current conditions.
Loot at Logan’s Run, Soylent Green, V for Vendetta or Cloud Atlas. Each culture developed an ideology that the people were either forced or tricked into adhering to, often through generations of miseducation, misinformation, disinformation or simply exclusion of information critical to making an intelligent assessment of one’s own social and culture condition. Although the ideology was oppressive and socially enslaving, all but a handful could see it. The one or few who attempted to change things were treated like criminals attempting to over throw a “free” and “democratic” government, not the evident dictatorship that it was.
How could the “troublemakers” not see that Big Brother was not only legitimate, but needed by the people? The people protected Big Brother. Big Brother kept peace and order, evidenced by the lack of war on their doorsteps. Life was orderly. Systematic. War was made in other lands in order to maintain the demands of Big Brother. The world would be forced into submission by those in power, because only their way of seeing the world was legitimate.
Our dystopia may look different and feel different, but it is, nonetheless.
I won’t list the things about this culture I find abnormal and abhorrent given that it would take far too much time. But much of how we live is contrived and illusions we’ve created that hinder us from achieving real and effective planetary and individual growth—physical or spiritual. As a collective, as an Earth village, we are not doing well.
Look around. Think about how we live and imagine a better way. I don’t want to give in to the false notion that this way of life is normal or all there is. Normal for who? I won’t allow someone else to create or recreate my sense of normal. Too much is going on for us not to see that something is terrifyingly wrong.
© zaji, 2016
Photo Prompt: Vibrant
This week, share a photo of something vibrant. Vivid colors, a lively portrait, or perhaps a delightfully colorful landscape, if you’re in a warmer climate. Let’s wash the web with a rainbow of colors to keep the winter gloom at bay.
When I first saw this photo prompt, I was excited. Sadly, I looked around my room and saw that everything looked rather dull except for the many books that laced the room walls with various colored spines. I thought about photographing them, then I remembered my crystals and stones.
Crystals, rocks, stones, gems.
The planet is abundant with these life forms. Like many flowers, shrubs and trees, they come in thousands of vibrant colors and shades. Crystals, gems, et al, typically have more of a variety of colors than flowers. Isn’t that amazing?
This photo I share of my babies is a reminder of how vibrant our planet is. The wonder of color is not reserved for flowers alone.
Feng (wind) shui (water). Most who are familiar with it immediately conjure balance, peace and positive energy flow. I am drawn to the simplicity of it and the role minimalism plays in creating the most balanced and effective spatial flow.
When I think of feng shui, however, I typically think of it in terms of my home or work space. More recently (the last two days) I’ve realized that feng shui’s rules of spatial arrangement could also apply to my cyber life.
My computer files need some work, my external hard drives are a mess, my browser bookmarks are a mess. Every aspect of my cyber interactions need work—email, website backend files, electronic writings. Nothing is in feng shui order. Yes, I have items in folders, tucked away so they do not clutter my desktop, but they are not organized under any particular system and still clutter my computer in general. How quickly do we find ourselves running out of hard drive space?
In more cases than I care to admit, I have things saved that I have not touched in over a decade and may never touch. My writings of course are partially exempt from this, still, there are some writings that should be placed in a cyber fire and never resurrected.
The principles used to create a feng shui’ed home are the same principles I am attempting to use to organize my cyber world. Simple, minimalist, organized, positive flow. Everything in my cyber world should be easy to find.
I’ve observed that some who are not hoarders in their tangible life still fall victim to the hypnotic pull of being a cyber-hoarder. Why? Because it’s easy. The folders are tucked away in a corner of their computer they never really need to revisit. But as many of us know when it comes to feng shui, any clutter anywhere causes mind clutter and imbalance, whether in your home, at your workplace or in your cyber world.
The basic principles of feng shui help me to navigate the landscape of ones and zeros, and ultimately lead me to an efficient way of creating the positive energy exchange required to simplify my cyber world.
The first principle seems to be irrelevant when it comes to our cyber life. But our cyber world has become for most of us a living and breathing entity. It is now a part of the survival of many institutions on Earth and the bread and butter for those who work remotely. This living entity is what clarifies the second principle. The cyber world connects us in a way many could never have imagined. Yes, we are all connected spiritually and through Mother Earth; but everything we create in this world becomes a part of our complex social and physical existence, adding to the connections we form.
We are now connected through an energetic force that we’ve learned to manipulate; we are now living wirelessly, utilizing the discoveries of Nikola Tesla to connect us worldwide and exchange ideas and creations that would have taken months of travel across seas, years of language translations and cultural education to even begin to touch the surface of the many ways in which people now live and interact on the planet.
The final principle requires letting go of everything—things, people, ideas, opinions and ego. I have learned that necessary change cannot occur if I am trapped in old ideologies and behaviors. I must delete the files that I’m attached to but have not given any attention in over 10 years. They no longer serve me and only clutter my hard drive space and my mind space. Even more so my spiritual space.
I don’t know if others have taken this approach to feng shui. But I believe that if we look at our cyber world more closely, we might find that it could be a major source of blockage. Wind and water must flow, or everything dies.
Wind and water play a major role in making the elements we now use to interact in our relatively new cyber world. Therefore the principles of feng shui in the cyber world apply whether we accept them or not. We intensely interact with our ever growing cyber world, directly or indirectly. It all affects us.
Let’s patch our chi by adding feng shui principles to our cyber world.
© zaji, 2016
Young adults are an interesting bunch. Currently I have three in my home. One is here only temporarily and will be gone in another week. They are 19 (girl), 20 (girl) and 21 (boy). Don’t let their ages fool you. They are conspirators.
My partner baked incredibly delicious pies that they’ve all fallen in love with. Several people who’ve tasted his pies continue to come back for more. One friend, a man who carves headstones for all the local graveyards and mows lawns on the side for a little extra cash has been struggling to hold onto a whole pie. His nephew and son have decided that sharing is caring. So he is often left with only a few slices after they’ve confiscated their share of his pie. Our next door neighbor, a petite elderly Southern belle with a flowering smile, who at her ripe age takes weekend trips to New Orleans to see her beau, has raved about my sweetie’s pies which she claims are “exquisite”. In her eyes he is now a “fine chef” whom she wouldn’t dare compete with. According to her she’ll stick to making her cold hors d’oeuvres and let my sweetie manage the flame.
The pie adventures have gotten so intense that when the youth in the house were told that one of the pies they were salivating over was not for them, but for the grass cutting headstone man, they decided to take matters into their own hands and left the attached note atop one of the pies will we slept. Imagine waking up, heading to the kitchen to ensure the pie has not been molested, and you are met with this.
Can you believe they signed it? They need to move out.
Nearly everything that happens between life and death is a question mark.
The questions haunt us and we make an effort throughout our lives to answer that which cannot truly be answered. Sometimes the questions magically become answers we hang on to in hopes of knowing something for sure.
But when all is said and done, we know nothing for sure, no matter how much we claim with passion and vehemence, with Bible, Koran, Torah in hand and our god assuring us that what we believe is right, because we can feel it. We’ve prayed about it, meditated on it, chanted it, we are sure of it.
Everyone feels their belief deeply and with a sureness that threatens to assimilate, destroy and convert civilizations, and possibly stop time.
They are right and everyone else is wrong, and that’s all there is to it. God came to them in their dream. Muhammed came to them in their dream. Jehovah came to them in their dream. Buddha came to them in their dream. The Universe came to them, the Void came to them; the Idea came to them in their dreams or as they beseeched their God, or as they sent entreaties up to their Universe.
Everyone says the same thing from one end of the globe to the next, giving name and idea to what they’ve attached to, while dismissing what others have named and attached to. The few who accept what others believe still sit inside a belief they know for sure; their thoughts are all there could be. The others will one day see, they say.
We will all one day see a truth we may never return to share with those left behind.
memories trace a path to our doorstep. the familiar knock interrupts our living. do we open it? or do we send the memories away, back to their past where they belong. maybe we should remember, so the bad stories they bring cannot return. so the bad stories can be banished from our future. maybe we remember, so the memories of our children’s children won’t need to be sent away. they will be welcomed because they will be good and worth having over dandelion tea.
Artist: mohammad shadeed (DeviantArt.com)
I remember the first time I realized that I was not immortal. I couldn’t have been more than 10 years old. It was a strange revelation that didn’t really frighten me at the time, but somehow made me acutely aware of my existence. Everything looked brighter and more alive. I paid closer attention to my body and sentience. At the time, I didn’t have the words to describe what I was feeling, but as I look back on it, I remember my actions and can now put words to what I was feeling. I was awake.
In later years, still before I became a teenager, a tinge of fear creeped in. Greater realization surfaced and I knew that one day I would die. Twelve years old and I knew, with certainty, that I would one day not be here. I didn’t know what that truly meant at the time. The immediate feeling was that I would be gone, without memory, emotion, thoughts or words, a space of nothingness. Then the typical defense mechanism to ward off this fear was to attach myself to my family’s belief system, Christianity. I realized that this attachment was out of fear of being extinguished and fear of a thing no one really knew anything about.
Now, I have released myself from all afterlife belief systems created by religions. I claim no labels for how I believe. I simply live in the realm of possibility and let my mortality sink in, guiding me to a place of peace and acceptance of that which I know nothing about, death. I’ve learned that no matter what I believe, that belief won’t change what will be or what is. The truth of death lies beyond my beliefs and faith and ideas and notions. Whether I believe there is a god or no god won’t matter. Truth will be whatever it is. So I examine and accept all possibilities as they surface. Primarily, I ask the question, what if evolution and creation are both wrong? And the way in which we got here, in this place called Earth, is something beyond anything our human minds can imagine or conceptualize.
One thousand years ago, religious men, scientists and doctors were sure of this or that idea or theory about the world and the human body. A thousand years later people look at those men as ignorant and not having the resources or ability to understand the “truths” we’ve now discovered. A thousand years from now, a group of people will look back at us, shaking their heads and wondering why we were so ignorant and lacking knowledge of “truth” about the world and self. We sit in our moment in time and think we know because we have our gadgets and toys that tell us this or that, or we have our faith. Every age has its gadgets and toys, yet, new discoveries dismiss previous discoveries, or hone them, bringing clarity to what was once believed to be true.
In the end, we know very little about life and even less about death. I try to remain humble and make no claims about what is or might be, or even what isn’t. I don’t know and there is no way for me to know. Any “knowing” I claim is merely belief brought on by faith and fear. Faith and fear don’t define truth. Truth is what it is.
The other side of death truly is a mystery. No one can prove to anyone else what it will be. All claims are claims of faith or science of the current times (which could become science of the past in a thousand years). I’ve come to accept this and leave myself open to all possibilities, including those possibilities I have yet to imagine. I leave room for it all. Because when all is said and done, I might find myself at the other side of death and neither creation nor evolution will be standing there waiting for me as the answer. But something else, hopefully more beautiful than either.
Everyone has a vice. Most people have several under their belt. Doesn’t matter if everyone you’ve ever met says they love you to pieces. You best believe there is at least one or two things about you that they simply cannot stand. But they overlook it because you’re simply as cute as a button and twice as nice.
I most certainly have a laundry list of vices. Some that I’m fully aware of and trying to remedy. Some that I’m aware of but have yet to find the will power to stop. Some that I’m unaware of and that probably drives others bonkers. They subtly try to tell me, but I’m too dense to understand. Maybe I’m being willfully ignorant or maybe I really don’t see it as a vice. Maybe what I’m doing is, to me, as normal as peeing.
No one is perfect and ever will be. We all decide what we are willing to deal with and what we are not. In the end, someone has had to deal with us and our vices, whether temporary or long term. Judging the vices of others should be done with restraint given our own infractions.
That written, a vice that gets me all the time. Can someone PLEASE tell me why I must be forced to deal with folks eating with their mouth open? I mean, really? I do NOT need to see their food being masticated (as though it were cud) in their saliva as they chomp like a cow. Even worse, some of the mouth-open-eaters cannot seem to keep the food in that hole in their face. WHY? And do they notice it? It would seem they do not, because the napkin seems to never leave their laps as they continue to chew as debris sits on the side of their face, staring at me as though it being there were MY fault. Because you tend to expect better from these “adults”, you think, they must feel that. After all, I feel even the slightest thing that touches my face. Don’t they feel it? Apparently not, because they continue to chew, and talk, and chew and talk, as though nothing particularly odd is going on. The food in their mouth stares at me, because of course they are talking to me–still–while eating, mouth agape. The food that leaves their mouth while talking misses my poor plate by only inches. If my food could talk it would curse me out for subjecting it to such slackness. Meanwhile, I am forced to turn away, and further forced to make the grueling decision as to whether I should tell them what I believe to be the obvious. Did I ask if they can feel it? Just making sure. So, I try to do the proper thing and tell them there is something on their face. They put down their fork–finally–then proceed to clean their face with the napkin. Much to my dismay, they have simply shifted the debris from one place on their face to another. Sigh. Food still in mouth, they say thank you. A piece of debris from their un-swallowed food lands on my knife. I can’t.
The island of Jamaica is small. When I was a little girl, however, it seemed large and imposing, a big place filled with adventure–it was the world to me. I was less than five years old, but I remember the feel of the small rocks beneath my toes as I walked barefoot down the long hot country road. Now, to walk barefoot on stones leaves me wincing in pain. I’ve become soft. But I remember what it was like to feel skin to ground, comfortably warmed stones, and freedom. The freedom stays with me.
Some say memory is fleeting under five years old, yet, I remember even a time of darkness; before the face of my mother, grandfather and favorite uncle; before Jamaica. To be aware of darkness and my existence within that darkness has always been a strange thing for me to carry. It sits inside me, like another life lived somewhere in a place I can’t remember clearly. But I remember a drive-in movie, a memory that stayed with me so deeply and so persistently, that after finding no clues to lead me back to the origins of the memory, I began to think that maybe it was my imagination and not a memory. I wanted to open a drive-in theater, dreamed of the day that I could bring my experience to others, so they could feel the joy I felt on that day long ago. It was like a relentless dream that would never leave me in peace. Forty years later I would mention this memory to my father. With wide eyes, he told me that he was the one who took me to the drive-in movie in Jamaica. He still wonders how I remembered that. I was not yet four years old.
My grandfather built the house we lived in. He was a beekeeper, farmer and a fierce protector of his family. He’d watch as I sat on the hillside playing with tiny red flowers, the name of which I cannot recall, and string them together to make necklaces and bracelets. They were the most unique and interesting flowers I’d ever seen. I don’t remember who taught me about their interesting qualities. But to be able to string the stem of small flowers together with the tops of the flower itself, connecting one to another, is something I have never seen again. They were beautiful and I would spend hours adorning my tiny body with them. I would never see those flowers again.
Shortly after, my mother migrated to America. She carried with her an education, a nurse’s license and two daughters, one who could read at four years old. While other children were dragging blankets or dolls through the house, gripping them for dear life, I would have a book in tow. Many doubted I could read. But after reading through a few books, those who couldn’t believe it quickly discovered that I was in fact reading, and reading well.
Writing followed close behind. While I would take short breaks from writing during my years in primary school, it never left me. By the time I entered Junior High School, I was infatuated with poetry. One day, a few years later, I would accept my destiny and step into writing as a career. I realized I was passionate about storytelling and sharing my ideas about the world. I wanted to bring readers into my mind, my experiences and my way of seeing our existence. I wanted to become a griot, but knew I couldn’t reach as many in that role. In lieu of becoming a true griot, I decided that ink and paper would be my voice box, my oral tradition to spread far and wide. I would pass my words down to my children and grandchildren and help them to imagine us sitting around a fire as I fastidiously recounted stories until sunrise. The written word would be my sound and echo, vibrating on the hearts of those who read my creations.
Writing has for many years now become a dear friend to me, a warm cup of tea, a walk on the beach, a talented lover, a heartfelt laugh, a sunny day, an intellectual debate, an unfolding of memory, thought and the unfailing wisdom of imagination. It is my passion, my first love. When you love something, it needs nurturing and requires us to give our time to it, generously and without complaint. We do it unconditionally. We do it because it is all we desire to do. Anything else would be a source of discontent. We hone our love, making it better and stronger each day. We recognize our shortcomings and work to improve with each word.
I believe that when you’ve found a thing you love, it should be less a dream come true and more a life you’ve decided to nurture through doing something that is, and has always been, your passion. When you are passionate about a thing, you have no need to dream. Your passion will be all you know and will ever want to know, and never something you wasted time dreaming about. I’ve never had to dream of becoming a writer. It has been my whole life, leaving no time to dream, only time to be.
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A candle sat on the table at the outdoor cafe. The wind blew softly, barely stirring the flame. Forks and knives tapped plates creating a different kind of music. The flame seemed to dance to it as though a memory were conjured forth. The quick flicker gave clue to this conjuring, this thing from the past that was remembered because it could be.
Did anyone notice the candle, with its sentient flame? Or did each person who passed through the outdoor cafe simply eat and talk, engrossed in their own memories, in their own past that would never recall this candle that had seen and heard many wondrous things.
Sitting on a dresser is an empty glass that contained fresh pineapple juice squeezed only thirty minutes ago. Next to it are three books, Martian Chronicles, In the Time of the Butterflies and Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand. Looking at the books make me smile. I received my packet from my teacher in the mail yesterday. I did a good job with the work I turned in. Her letter to me was motivating. It is time to put the books away, however. They’ve served their purpose. I need to prepare for my next packet.
A small black purse is also on the dresser, with pieces of my life zipped inside; a couple of debit cards, a business card from a literary agent I’ve been meaning to call and a library card that I haven’t used in about a week. My little pocket camera sits close to my wallet, which also shares a space with my iPad. The camera is my second memory, capturing the details I sometimes forget. The iPad is merely an extension of my computer, a place to carry those things I might need from time to time.
More books are stacked between carefully carved wooden bookends. They remind me of my to-do list and the next set of books I’ll need to read for class. The book ends look like West African women from an ancient time. I conjure a past I never lived but wished I could, a place so far away and long ago it feels like a dream I once had about being free. Dreams of freedom are really only dreams. There is no freedom here. But there can, at the very least, be a good life. We can make that for ourselves. Tonight I’ll dream of a good life. Maybe in some distant future my dreams will grow wings after emerging from their cocoon, manifesting into things that not only live and breathe in a new way, but can fly to places far away, into times so far from now that wind and water would have worn away any memory of what was once here. The rest would be hidden beneath sand and earth too deep to excavate. I would fly to that place, into freedom’s bosom.