Been struggling to find inspiration lately. Maybe I’m just jaded? I mean, how many more shootings can I write about? And the royal wedding was splendid and all, but I didn’t even know it was happening until it was over. (Yes, I’m out of touch.) I’ve been searching for meaning and struggling to find it, even in my triathlon training. Like, who cares? What’s the point? I keep thinking about my friend from college in Africa. I’ve been back in the States too long. Maybe once I finish this grad school thing, it’s time to go where I feel like I can really make a difference.
Below is a poem I originally published on February 20, 2013. It seems appropriate today.
I’m reaching and falling.
I’m hemming and hawing.
I’m trying and failing.
I’m rowing, now bailing.
(Never give up.)
My ideas usually come not at my desk writing but in the midst of living. — Anais Nin
What would you do if a child from a privileged home couldn’t tell you what they were thankful for?
Not a single thing?
Yesterday on facebook, while browsing my news feed, I came across this photo and quote from Humans of New York. Humans of New York is a popular photoblog created by a man named Brandon Stanton. The site features portraits and interviews of individuals in New York — and around the world. While some have criticized HONY, saying many of Stanton’s interviews must be staged, most viewers love the site. I myself like HONY because, to me, Brandon has done exactly what I’ve been trying to do all along: Show that people are people. Continue reading →
I’m talking to people tonight, only I can’t zone in. I’m listening, mostly — as they talk about addiction, alcoholism, denial, self-image, and self-harm. They roll their heavily made-up eyes as they puff on cigarettes and share that their 18-year-old sisters just announced that they’re pregnant and are “super excited” about it. “What do they know about being a mom?” they complain. Their own moms are addicted to heroin, and “Dad ran off with his secretary,” not to mention their 19-year-old boyfriends were killed in car accidents about two months ago. “His blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit. He’d just graduated from AA . . .”
Some of them are old enough to be adults — they are adults — but they’re shoplifting like it’s 1999, and they too would rather drink than work on their recoveries. Never mind that they’ve been hospitalized because of their addictions. They are invincible, and, somehow, it’s everyone — and everything — else’s fault. “I have a personality disorder,” they say, or, “I don’t know. I just don’t know . . .” And they shrug their skeletal shoulders and cast bleary eyes to the floor and sigh.
And I cry a little inside as I look around the room at their faces, taking notes. They are all of them beautiful — each in their own way — but they are sick and cannot see what I see . . . Continue reading →
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Count your age by friends, not years. Count your life by smiles, not tears.”
“The best way to cheer yourself is to try to cheer someone else up.”
.. I’m listening to the radio on my drive home tonight and a prerecorded host message comes on between songs. “Here at Radio 94.7, we think Sacramento is pretty awesome. But what if every person in Sacramento did just one random act of kindness per month? How awesome Sacramento would be then? If everyone did that, Sacramento would be, like, the most awesome city in the whole country!” (Or something to that effect.)
And I was like . . .
Well, okay. First things first: Random acts of kindness equal good, so — yes, intentions are good — and effort does count, so — “Yay, 94.7.”
Please don’t hate me! I was not content with my first version of this poem. Something about the third stanza (and a few other things) just didn’t fit. So I revised it, and here it is. Most of you know by now: This poem is dedicated to “wind.”
From here to there and everywhere,
on and on you go.
I hear you there, or is it there?
Your face, you’ll never show.
O’er sea and over mountain,
continent and plain,
from Asia to the Balkan:
the world is your domain.
At times I’ve seen you angry,
you howl and wreak havoc.
It’s then I shiver meekly,
and stand in awe, dumbstruck.
But when you’re sweet, you’re lovely;
you caress my soul.
Your whispers soft and balmy,
you can take me whole.
And though I cannot touch you,
on wings you fly me high,
to places where I knew you,
under another sky.
I didn’t recognize the man who had appeared out of nowhere beside our table.
“How’s that arm?” He touched my shoulder. “Your dad was so worried about you—and not just about your arm, about your life! How long ago was that, anyway? . . . And how ’bout Hong Kong? Your dad told me you were over there. What were you doing there? Bet ol’ Placerville feels small now! I’ve never been to Asia. Born and raised in SoCal; moved up here and never left. Did a rotation in Dublin once, though. One of the best times of my life. What ya doin’ in ol’ Placerville?”
I wondered, briefly, how the man breathed. His lips hardly seemed to keep up with his mouth. Continue reading →
What I really want is to go back to bed. To crawl back under the covers and hide there. Or else wake up and find it’s no longer humid and that there aren’t gnats all over my floor. And that that bright red spot on my face has faded away.
That’s what I want.
But life isn’t about getting what you want. Some people think it’s about what makes you happy, but I’m not sure it’s about that, either. Sure, it’s good to be happy, but at what cost? The long, warm shower I took this morning might well have emptied the reservoirs of malnourished children living in Africa. Maybe it would have been better to have just splashed my face with water and run out the door?
And what is happiness? Is happiness living in comfort and having everything you need? Or is it helping others get what they need? Is it getting or giving? Is it from within, or from without?
Honestly, I think it’s both. The best Christmas present I ever received was the feeling I got from giving gifts away. This life can’t be all about me, or all about happiness. This life is about so much more: it’s about loving others, and learning to love yourself.