The Weekly Photo Challenge is Weight(less). We built a plunge pool about six months ago, and I can tell you that there is no better feeling than floating in the cool water when the temperatures are wickedly hot.
The Weekly Photo Challenge is New.
“I am no longer afraid of becoming lost, because the journey back always reveals something new, and that is ultimately good for the artist.”
― Billy Joel
One of my favorite books is Travels with Charlie: In Search of America, by John Steinbeck. In it he says, “A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you
control it.” As I reflect on the old year and usher in the new, I am reminded of this quote.
For I have learned…many times the hard way…that my journey through life is a reflection of the lessons life haphazardly tosses, always reminding me to pay attention, learn from my mistakes, and most importantly to let go of the fear that can cripple my creativity, my compassion, my understanding, and my outlook on life.
In 2015, I wish you all a wondrous new journey filled with love, compassion, and understanding. The journey back home always reveals something new and exciting. Enjoy getting lost.
“There are ultimately two choices in life: to fight it or to embrace it. If you fight it you will lose – if you embrace it you become one with it and you’ll be lived.”
― Rasheed Ogunlaru
“Alice came to a fork in the road. ‘Which road do I take?’ she asked.
‘Where do you want to go?’ responded the Cheshire Cat.
‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered.
‘Then,’ said the Cat, ‘it doesn’t matter.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
There comes a time in all of our lives, when we are faced with a life altering choice. Which story do we tell? Do we choose to end our stories in acts of quiet desperation? Or, do we choose life to write more chapters? Either path we choose is fraught with anxiety…for we can expose our vulnerabilities and our fears, use our voices to shout to the world, and possibly be silenced or worse…unheard. Or, we can disguise our fears and worries in a landscape that portrays paradise…until…until…one dark night the pain erupts with such force, that in quiet desperation, all rational thought disappears, and we choose death.
Several days ago, our expat neighbor committed suicide. He chose to end his story. It reminds me that life is fragile. His tragic death shook me up and made me doubt everything I once believed and question the very foundation of who I am.
I awoke this morning with the intention of writing about meeting places for a blogger’s travel theme. Then, I saw this quote and my thoughts were quickly diverted to group behavior, a sense of belonging, attempting to understand nationalistic pride, and where the seed of violence originates.
I have several issues with the quote by J. Krishnamurti. Mainly, what is wrong with a sense of belonging? People form groups for numerous reasons: companionship, security and survival, affiliation and status, power and control, and achievement. I believe power, control, greed, and intolerance…especially intolerance… are what breed violence.
I listened to John Lennon’s Imagine, while I was writing this post. In a perfect world, a life without violence is ideal. But, we live in an imperfect world, with unique and varied ideas, beliefs, thoughts, and traditions. We are not all the same, nor can we pretend to share the same beliefs. It is unrealistic to think that we can ever hope for sameness. The best that we can do is to hope for tolerance and understanding in our tumultuous world of differences.
“You can only chase a butterfly for so long.”
― Jane Yolen, Prince Across the Water
From a very early age, butterflies and moths have been my totems. I have always been enchanted by their graceful movements and their vibrant colors. Although they symbolize different things to different cultures, universally, they represent change and transformation.
“The world is a looking-glass, and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face. Frown at it, and it will in turn look sourly upon you; laugh at it and with it, and it is a jolly kind companion; and so let all young persons take their choice.”
― William Makepeace Thackeray
I have often wondered why mirrors are a prized possession of the poor in Latin America. We all have mirrors, but in Nicaragua mirrors are a luxury. They are very expensive and there are many mirror salesman that travel the dusty, cow manured roads in search of buyers for their precious portals. My neighbor has a large, faux gold framed mirror in her living space. It hangs high on a dilapidated wall, the only shining adornment in her dirt-floored shack… if you don’t count the picture of Jesus beside the TV, which is wobbling against the cement block wall.
In the Mesoamerican culture, mirrors were used as a portal to another realm. I imagine them gazing into this mysterious portal, unable to interact, yet performing time-worn rituals to call forth the gods of love, health, and riches. This venerable tradition evolved from their early beliefs that the smooth surface of water could be used as a potent tool for divination, seeing the unknown, portals to the sacred caves, conduits of the supernatural forces, and as synonyms for the power of the sun. Before mirrors, bowls of water were used to examine the reflections of sick children. If the child’s reflection was dark then his soul, or tonalli in Nahuatl, had escaped from his body. I wonder, were the ancient ones frustrated because they couldn’t enter nirvana…constantly chanting “Beam me up, Scotty?” Or, were they satisfied in the powers of divination only with the ability to see the unknown?
This novelty of reflection continues in my little community. Peering into the mirror, the children let out a burst of giggling glee. They have the same reaction when I show them the digital photos I’ve taken. Then, I begin to realize that for people who have next to nothing, a mirror is an unattainable luxury. I am dumbstruck. It is hard for me to imagine a world where self-reflection is an unattainable luxury.
But, mirrors, as well as digital photography, can change that. They enable the poor to see the world through different eyes. I experience a moment of pure bliss in watching the children look at their reflections in the mirror and on my camera. They laugh at it and with it, considering it to be a kind of jolly companion. Pity and sympathy for their impoverished lifestyles vanish with the revelation that they are truly happy. This family chose to look at the world with optimism and joy. The world is their looking-glass, and gives back to them the reflections of their triumphant faces. This simple moment changed my perspective of poverty. Their looking-glass reflects hope for this troubled world in which we live.
“Why does every road eventually narrow into a point at the horizon? Because that’s where the point lies.”
― Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration
“Hope is the moonlight filtering through the trees,
Hope is the silent prayer that we make in distress,
Hope is the promise that we make to ourselves,
Hope is the happiness that we visualize,
Hope is the horizon that we reach, if we try!”
― Balroop Singh
Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions. ~ Dalai Lama
Francisco’s 85-year-old grandfather, Don Cabo, is one of the happiest people I know. When Francisco visited us last week he said, “Oh, I have many problems. I wish for to have happy like my grandfather, Don Cabo.” Then he told the following story about his grandfather’s ancient bull horn. (Told in Francisco’s words to me.)
The Bull Horn
My grandfather is the happiest person I know. He never get angry like my grandmother. In December, Mayans come to visit us. They stay in our houses. My grandfather was very happy to share his life with them. He played his old bull horn for the Mayan people. He like to share his customs with the Mayans. The Mayan people enjoy my grandfather. After the Mayan people go back to their country, my grandmother look for the bull horn and discover that it was lost. She tell my grandfather and they look in all the places for the old bull horn. My grandmother discover that the Mayan people take the bull horn and she become very angry. But, my grandfather, the happiest person that I know say, “I am so proud.” “Why are you so proud for the Mayan people take your old bull horn?” my grandmother shout in very angry voice. My grandfather say, “I am so proud that the Mayan people put value on my old bull horn to steal. There are many things they could have took, but they choose my old bull horn, which is of great value to me. For this, I am so proud.”
I wish for to have happy like my abuelo,” said Francisco.
“Me, too, Francisco,” I responded. I was touched by his story. There was a lesson to learn here. For happiness does not just appear. Instead, it springs from our actions and our attitudes about life. Don Cabo understands happiness. He understands compassion, lives a positive and giving life, and enjoys every minute of every day. I hope the Mayans are happy with his ancient bull horn. ( I printed this photo for Don Cabo. I took it in 2004 when we attended his granddaughter’s birthday party.)
Be Happy Today! :-)