Big World, Little Windows
I’m on a journey, as is the case for us all. With much of my writing there is a duplicity in my thoughts. For in this moment, I am in Vietnam, on a geographical journey, but of course my life, like all of yours is a journey too.
In this particular statement : “Big World, Little Windows” I refer to the very insular views I have of the world. I try very hard to experience with sincerity and honesty the world “outside” my window. I often take the path less chosen and go to places where many of my friends say “why on earth are you going there ?!”. I’m given to thinking, as I write, that when people ask me why I have ventured up mountains on solo expeditions, I often say, if you need to ask why, you probably would not understand the answer. Please don’t think this view as arrogant. It’s not meant in that way.
I suppose, I just have interests that are different to most of my friends and family, and as far as why I go to places, often off the “beaten track”, I guess it’s just my internal voice or soul wanting to be rid of the chains and tethers that society can be very quick to impose. (?)
You may very reasonably argue that I am only tethered by my own boundaries. That’s a hugely valid argument. As I have written before, I grew up in a family that had a very set routine way of existence and rarely, if ever, was there deviation from this routine.
For me though, I know that through my experiences of stepping outside the “box” I have learned so much…..and that learning will not stop until my final breath. This begs many questions which I ask of myself. These questions in some way all comeback to trying to be more externally aware, instead of being blinkered by the over virulent views of the media.
So………writing as I feel, the following questions “spilled” on to my “fruity tablet”.
1) Do I know what it’s like to go for days without food ? Answer : yes
2) Do I know what it’s like to fear for my life ? Answer : yes
3) Do I know what it’s like to feel so much pain I want to die ? Answer : yes
4) Do I know what it’s like to feel emotionally bereft and almost dead ? Answer : yes
5) Do I know what it’s like to have no shelter for days, weeks, months…..Answer : no
6) Do I know what it’s like to trek 10 miles each and every day, barefooted, to a well for water ? Answer : no
7) Have I ever been to the centre, or even close to an event of serious natural disaster ? Answer : no
8) Do I know what it’s like to live under the constant threat of oppression by totalitarian dictatorship ? Answer : no
9) Do I know what it’s like to sell the clothes on my back to feed my kids ? Answer : yes
10) Do I know what the pain of being deprived a relationship with my children is like ? Answer : yes
11) Have I ever been incarcerated for peaceful, non-violent activism ? Answer : no
12) Have I ever experienced physical torture of the most awful kind ? Answer : no
13) Do I know what it must be like to have to squat in the gutter of a road and try to make a living from selling things that other people have discarded in rubbish ? Answer : no
14) Do I know what it’s like as a child to have to wade through piles of rubbish THREE STOREYS HIGH to collect plastic and glass day after day, and to live on the VERY edge of life ? Answer : no I do not, but I have seen and spent time with people who do.
I could go on with this list of questions ad-infinitum, but that would serve no purpose. I suppose, what I am trying to express in the above is that I have had 50 years of life experiences in a western civilisation that has protected me from the extremities of existence.
So, I look at this “big world”, through extremely small windows (the latter being my eyes). So, what does that mean ?
Well for example: I recently met a 66 year old man in Yangon, an artist and painter, and as we shared some common interest, I couldn’t help but wonder of the things he’d seen in his lifetime. The uprising of the people of Burma/Myanmar, the emphatic victory of the NLD (National League for Democracy)in the May 27th 1990 elections. Then the immediate crushing of this victorious movement of the VAST majority of the people of Myanmar by a corrupt minority of Militia gangsters with thousands incarcerated in conditions that you would think cruel for a dog. Yet thousands more peaceful spokespeople “disappeared”.
I wondered of this man’s pain and loss and of the experiences of the society that he had seen in Myanmar. I really wanted to ask him to explain to me the inspiration behind his work, which has reached a significant international market, yet, he is not allowed to travel to accompany his exhibitions.
I find my journey, like yours, has doors opened and others shut. Other doors are there, but if you do not push them they will not open on their own. As I talked with Sein, I could not help but wonder will we ever see peace in the world ?
Will we, in our lifetime, see a coming together of human beings, from whichever culture or creed, that allows us the freedom to practice our faith and traditions with appropriate and complete respect for others and their faith? And will we openly embrace each other warmly and with non judgemental arms ?
Love will always find a way, I do believe that. I also believe that the power of love and acts of the same, I mean real love that is compassionate, forgiving, forging, coagulating, is a hundred fold stronger than the impotent power of, and acts of hate.
Yes, I am looking at a big world through very “small windows”…..but for as long as I breathe I will seek out the marginalised folk, and as long as I am able, I will write about the amazing people I meet.
As is often the case, I sometimes wonder from where these thoughts come. I realise I am immensely lucky to have the freedom to travel and meet people from different cultures, and I also recognise that in some small way I have a responsibility to share these experiences.
Big World, Little Windows
Big world, little windows
Dissolve the pains and thaw the snows
Breathe a moment then ask yourself why
The desert storm seemed to pass us by
Was it by chance that we escaped
The torture and the rape
Our children and our women
That “chance” was not afforded them
And again who the hell am to try
As Daw Suu said “one person am but I”
Liberation comes from fearing not
Not the holding onto what you’ve got
Free yourself of the those chains
Prepare yourselves for the monsoon rains
Ask not what my country can do for me
More what I can do to set my people free
Fear not the way you may die
For death is just the next good bye
I wonder can we think
What we leave in print or ink
For the life we live right now
Should be treasured somehow
Yet not to the detriment of compassion
But more to democratic fashion
And please don’t dare
To think that you’re alone out there
Thousands have gone before
And after you will come many many more
I wish you all, peace, hope, friendship, and solace in your darkest hour, and courage in your pain, and love in your journey.
….and if this should by any chance reach you in your sacrificial, unjust, incarceration, then know this……..you have a world filled with friends who would swap their position with you in an instant.