Monks inspire me.
This morning, Connor and I woke up around 5am to watch the Monks of Luang Prabang, Laos, receive their alms. Monks are allowed to eat from dawn until around noon and they can only eat food that has been offered to them.
So at dawn, every morning, all the villagers wait on the street for monks to come walk by. All the villagers offer little bits of extra food- sticky rice, mangos, apples- and the monks take just what they need, for their one meal of the day.
This happens every morning.
When our alarm went off at 5am,
we rolled over and said we’d do it tomorrow.
Monks inspire me: their personal will to find enlightenment.
These villagers inspire me: their personal sacrifice of food, of sleep.
Connor inspires me: his honest intentions to sleep later.
Maybe we should all just own it.
All of these things, they come from bearing our soul, out loud. They come from knowing ourselves, knowing what we want and what we need and what the difference is and what the difference feelings like.
They come from helping others.
I don’t know much.
Lately, I’ve found myself floundering in an ocean of unknowing.
That’s just the way I like to live my life- constant questions bombarding and slapping me.
I’ve climbed mountains before and I’ve heard glaciers break. It is the single most epic thing I have ever experienced. It is poetic beyond my ability to do it justice. It is historical. The ending of history; the apocalypse is real time; slowing breaking Mother Nature’s white velvet gown, ripping it’s seams, thread coming undone, unraveling and you pray to Her that you only hear it’s crash and you don’t see it’s tumble.
I imagine it’s similar watching and hearing a bomb go off- falling from the sky like giant droplets of robot rain, running and looking back, running and looking back, and grabbing the ground and feeling the earth dance under mankind’s greatest hand, a royal flush of greenery and scenery and blood, shrapnel piercing the skin of trees and the skin of teens and you pray to Him that you only hear it’s explosion and don’t see it’s fire.
Similar yet, to being shot by someone who is supposed to protect you. Eyes open, unable to run, unable to breathe, frozen in a slow motion of emotion; the revolution at your finger tips. You are finished and you are just the beginning and you are an all out ending to the greatest story ever told: your story. Reduced to a video, reduced to blood on the pavement; blood near the car seat; blood dripping from a hoodie, blood dripping from the poplar tree.
I am sorry.
I find myself lost in a field of unknowing.
I do not know what to do. I cannot own it-
my intentions, my truth.
Did you know that most mountain climbers die on the decent? We take photos at the top, we celebrate with meditation and lunch and calling our mom’s with the only chance of good cellphone service. And then we go back to real life, away from our wannabe second home. We bucket step into the snow, we rappel from high rocks, and our feet fail us and we let go of the rope and we rush and we fall and we plummet: gifts from the sky.
Did you know that Laos is the most bombed country, per capita? The Second Indo-China War made sure that this country became a land of unexploded objects, freckling rice fields and schoolyards with gray balls of fire from the sky, must be a toy, must be a gift from the sky. It will take 100 years to water that fire out.
Did you know that “…An unarmed black person living in [the 100 largest US] cities was 6x more likely than an unarmed white person to be killed by police. An unarmed black person was almost as likely as an armed white person to be killed by police”; while walking in peace and power, walking to work, to school, to home; land of the slaves and home of the silenced voices; guns are our right, in the right, white, hand; Uncle Sam’s finger pointing, saying, ‘him, selling CD’s, him next’, saying ‘him, in the car with his girlfriend and small child, him next’, that point, that ‘I want you’, like a gift from the poster in the sky.
I am sick.
Traveling is dangerous?
Life is dangerous.
Life is dangerous and gruesome.
Benjamin Franklin once said,
“write something worth doing
or read something worth writing”
Right now, I’m sitting in the eighth country I’ve visited this year. I’ve written, for the last sixth months, about adventure and political learning’s and frustrations and the happiness in smelling a new place for the first time and the sadness of goodbyes on the road.
I often think
‘I am doing it. I am living life. I am living the life’.
I am fortunate.
I now confess, to Franklin and everyone else: it’s not worth reading, not in the truest sense.
We need to write with the blood on our hands, about the blood on our hands.
“Sit down at a type writer and bleed”,
There has been enough blood.
Again, for the people in the back:
There has been enough blood.
Let us write about the blood: tell me the color and the texture and more importantly,
tell me the purpose of all that blood.
And, to Franklin, none of it has been as worth doing, not nearly as worth doing and accomplishing as the change that must now occur.
This world needs to change; our country needs to change.
It is time to ask and answer some long time coming questions.
It is time to be quiet and let other voices fill the space and the void.
The mountains, they echo.
They call and they echo and they say ‘climb’. They never say ‘descend’. And the people say ‘we surrender’. And we call it a ‘secret war’.
And our politicians say ‘you don’t matter because you’re brown’.
And our police officers say ‘hands up, I’ll shoot anyway’.
Let us stand upon the mountains we’ve climbed thus far.
Let’s us help our friends to the top.
Watching struggle is a sick and twisted fetish we’ve developed.
Let us stand upon the mountain of the 1920 Women’s Right to Vote, the mountain of the 1965 Civil Rights amendment.
And let us demand more,
from the gift in the sky,
for the rattling earth,
for fire within us,
for our true intentions.
Let us scream at the top of our lungs
‘This fight isn’t a fight. This isn’t a war. This is peace in it’s truest form.’
Let us be like the monks and ask for what we need, silently, every dawn until enlightenment.