Tuesday, August 21, 2012

How to time-travel and warp space

Amidst a pile of receipts and paperwork daily beckoning me to process them sits a photograph of my mom and dad at a refugee camp holding me as a baby. They look happy and peaceful. I don't know how they pulled off that look in the middle of a genocide they hadn't even escaped from yet.

No work gets done on this desk. It has become my basement. That the symbol of blissful family life is buried along with lifeless paper accounting exchanges of digits for doohickies in a pile of "I'll work on it later" bothers me a bit.

Screw it, I'll do it now.

I glanced at the photo and pictured the turmoil happening beyond the wooden frame and behind those deceptively tranquil faces. I imagined my dad to be my brother returning to me from a war, disturbed but composed, at least for the camera. I experienced his temper and irrational outbursts as an unyielding bullet burrowing through numerous people and finally hitting me after passing through him. Seeing his complete innocence in originating suffering and his brave attempt at containing it, blessings poured forth from my heart.

May you be surrounded by protection this day and all days forward into eternity. May you experience comfort, and may faith come easily to you. May you let slip past your heart like sand through your fingers the evils that you have experienced and witnessed. May you relax into an appreciation of how far you've come how much greater you'll become.

As these sincere wishes projected from my being into the living beings in the picture, a wormhole opened up by which the ordinary progression of time was warped and reversible. I saw him, that handsome young man who looks strikingly similar to me, reaching out to help his brothers and sisters but sadly unable to because of his arduous circumstance. Now and before: same problems, differently colored. He still tries to help his poor brothers and sisters, and he still feels imprisoned and unable to help. Poverty in the 1st world is as debilitating as poverty in the 3rd world; the improved medical care and longer life expectancies merely prolong the agony of living with a perpetually frightened mind. By painting the present as a warzone, we remain defensive and emphasize the scarcity of resources, thus pinching off the ambrosia that gushes out of the Earth's pores. Our mismanagement of resources and apparent inability to distribute a very available food supply is simply us blotting out an idyllic landscape with receipts, IOUs, mortgage documents, and other instruments of "busy"-ness. In momentarily letting go of these distractions of questionable utility, I came to see how my family--and possibly many families--paints a picture of war-torn poverty over the present land of plenty.

I can't change them, but I can challenge myself to take on a different view. I don't need to paint the same picture. My brush is ultimately free, even as others' criticisms seek to bind it. I can continue to paint right where they left off in that idyllic photograph, minus the baggage of decades of recycled nightmares. What if they didn't fake those smiles despite the looming clouds of death and torture? What if the initial romance they so artfully depicted was real and the later disillusionment was the aberration? My job is to see to it that those optimistic smiles are not disappointed, that the good dreams continue to deliver. And to believe it is to see it.

1 comment:

seeMOUSErun said...

Wow. It's rare to see genuine thoughts on blogs nowadays. I remember talking with Mary about how blogs are just huge walls of advertisements now. I myself have stopped writing, but after reading this entry, it has not only inspired me to begin writing out my inner thoughts, but it has also given me a moment to try to think back about what my own parents went through when immigrating and why they came to this country. My folks were definitely not escaping a genocide like your parents, so I cannot compare but I do now have a deeper interest for their younger years and aspirations at the times. Great post, Anthony.