Mother

The horizon line is no longer flat
It’s rippled
By forces underneath

I slide through water
As mold grows on my skin

I have no shelter.
Currents thrust me
To where they see fit

I live in the home of whales
And breathe
The oxygen of fish

My food, salt water
Sunlight, seaweed

I’m one with my mother
The Ocean

Rough, powerful
Loving, deadly
Mother of all life

Womb from which I came
And to which I return

As my soul finds its place
Somewhere above or below
My body remains
Is shared among creatures
Becomes soil, food, water
Gives back
Becomes mother
Again

Advertisements

Snorkeling in Beqa and my choice to face harsh weather

The day started stormy. Not a single patch of blue could be seen in the sky, and visibility both on land and under water was poor. It was a miserable day, and the forecast was not promising – four more days of heavy rain on the island of Beqa, a tiny piece of tropical rain forest south of Fiji’s main island, Viti Levu.

Eduardo and I had two options – succumb to the weather and stay in the hotel reading books and magazines, or face the storm and go snorkeling in the ocean. The choice was clear to us. We packed our snorkeling gear and jumped on the boat under the rain. As the boat sped, the rain drops became sharper and stingier. The two of us plus three other hotel guests did what we could to protect ourselves from the cold water and heavy winds. Most of us were shivering.

After ten minutes that felt like half an hour, we arrived in our destination – a coral reef not too far from the island. On a sunny day, we would be able to see the hills of Beqa or even identify some tree specimens. Today, we could only see a gray silhouette beyond the watery haze.

I removed my soaked rain coat, put my mask and fins on, and jumped in the water. As the water enveloped my body, the shivering from the cold vanished immediately. The tropical currents that surround the Fiji archipelago are body-temperature. Strangely, the ocean felt homier and cozier than land.

As I snorkeled around the reef, everything below the surface seemed peaceful. I could no longer hear the rain or feel the wind. The sounds underwater are of a different nature. Corals clicking, crabs pinching, fins splashing, bubbles and my own breathing were the only noticeable sounds. The wind underwater was also imperceptible. Instead, the waves and currents were the forces moving all matter below me. The only reminder of the storm above was the rain drops hitting my back.

The contrast between air and water couldn’t be sharper. While the land was hitting me with powerful winds and spitting rain with anger, the ocean embraced me with warmth. It welcomed me with abundance of life and made me briefly forget the storm. A fleeting thought went through my mind – couldn’t I stay underwater forever?

 

No… I cannot.

Reality hit me and reminded me that despite the weather hostility, land is my home, while water is not. I’m supposed to hop on that boat again and face the cold rain and fierce winds. In the same way, Fiji is not my home. In a few days, I’m supposed to hop on a plane, endure an 18-hour trip go back to the US and face the gray, freezing Seattle weather.

While there are things I cannot control like the weather, one thing that I can control is my choices. Today my choice was to brave the storm and the cold and jump in the water. Tomorrow, when I leave Fiji and go back to Seattle, my choice will be to defy a different kind of hostility. Just like I braved the weather and found peace underwater, in my home, I’ll face the ones who spit on my face and find my ground.

 

My Post-Election Commitments – The #commit2unity Challenge

Like for many Americans, these have been the most hurtful and distressing elections in my lifetime. I’m still grieving – and sometimes panicking – as I realize that many of the advances society has gained in the past decades are at risk, and if everything continues moving in the same direction, things will get a lot worse before they get better. What I’ve seen in these elections was a polarized society driven by intolerance and the surge of extremist groups from all sides of the spectrum.

I’ve taken time since the election results to reflect and listen to different points of view to understand why this happened to my country. I’ve been reading news and analyses, listening to people’s reactions and what they are planning to do now that we know that someone with unpredictable, erratic behavior has taken the most powerful job in the world.

I should say, much of the people I talk to – including myself – are pessimistic and afraid about their future. There are just too many things out of our control that can be disastrous for our safety, wellbeing or even our lives. Despite that, there are somethings within our control that we can do to bring more peace and unity to our surroundings. These small, personal actions may seem insignificant at a national (or global) scale, but if everyone of us commit to doing something in their capacity to bring unity, change is possible.

Inspired by a Facebook acquaintance who has shared her post-election commitments, I’ve decided to write below some actions I plan to carry out to bring peace and unity to my surroundings. Here they are:

  1. I’ll do everything in my capacity to be an instrument of peace and forgiveness. I’ll see any disagreement or conflict as an opportunity to love my enemy. I will always seek dialogue and understanding as opposed to judgement or name-calling. I will do my best to hear all perspectives that are different from my own and don’t evade from sharing mine in a respectful manner. I’ll be open to discovering new points of view and integrating them to my own opinions.
  2. I’ll oppose all forms of racism, bigotry, intolerance, torture etc. by speaking out and denouncing whenever I see someone doing these things. If a friend or acquaintance does any of those things, I’ll try to stop them in a respectful manner. If they prefer not to listen and continue to carry out these harmful actions, I’ll at least pray for them.
  3. I’ll strengthen my faith by praying more and seeking more personal time with God. I’ll write every day and seek daily moments of contemplation and silence. I’ll lead by example and will never, never, never force my faith onto other people or expect them to have the same actions or perspective on life as I do.
  4. I’ll fight for the planet and defend all creatures on earth and their natural habitat. I’ll condemn poaching, trophy hunting, irresponsible fishing or farming, deforestation, pollution etc. I’ll buy organic, local products as much as possible and gradually decrease the amount of meat and dairy I eat. I’ll drive less and walk or use public transportation as often as possible. I’ll encourage people to do the same.
  5. I’ll commit to making art that heals and bring about connection and understanding. I’ll try to show the world that we as humans are capable of loving, and that beauty can change the world for the better.

With those commitments in mind, and knowing that love and compassion can be passed on from person to person and reach people and places well beyond an individual’s social circle, I’ll challenge two friends of mine to share their post-election commitments and pass on the challenge to two additional people. I’ve created simple and flexible rules for this this challenge so it can be scalable to as many people as possible. Here are the rules:

  1. Once you are challenged, create your commitments to peace and unity. These commitments don’t necessarily need to be written down in a list like mine, but it should be communicated the way you feel more comfortable. You can communicate them through a video, painting, monologue, poem, photo, song or anything sharable on the internet.
  2. You can have as many or as few commitments as you wish.
  3. Don’t diverge from the theme Peace and Unity. This challenge is not for you to share your political views or generate any discussion that can bring controversy.
  4. Once you crate your commitment(s), post them to your favorite social media platform on a public way and use the hashtag #commit2unity
  5. Challenge two other social media friends to do the same.
  6. Refer to this blog for the rules.

Are you up for the challenge?

Election Night

Tonight
A spear pierced my chest
It injected in my core
The pain of all humanity

All of us
From the lowliest to the loftiest
Poor, rich
Women, men
Immigrant, native
Gay, straight
Of all races, countries and religions
I think of them all

But tonight
My chest bleeds
For the most forgotten
The pain of the menial is the pain of mine
Their torment is my torment
Their tears are my tears

Tonight
I want to scream to the world
With the thin air dribbling out of my bloody lungs
That there’s someone praying
Quietly, droopingly, but incessantly
For the lowliest of the lowliest
The poor, gay, black…
Or anyone
Who didn’t have the luck
To be born white, male

Tonight
My will is to give a universal hug
Embrace the forgotten
Comfort them all in my arms

But I also want
To embrace my fiercest enemies
The very people who think I don’t matter
The ones who grope my pussy
Who think I’m worth less because of my gender
Who call me rapist because of my country of origin
Who mock me because of my disability
Who lynch me because of my race
Who call me terrorist because of my religion
Who hate me because of the people I love

Tonight
I’ll embrace them all
The oppressed and the oppressor
Equally

Because I want to believe
That love is still possible
That forgiveness is still the answer
That the prayer of a stabbed soul is still worthy
And that humanity’s end goal is still heaven

Shadow Constellations

From my hospital bed, I have nowhere to look at but the white ceiling above my head. My diversion is to muse over the tiny pores that form constellations of shadows on the Styrofoam ceiling tiles. There are pores of all sizes – from the ones big enough to immediately catch my eye to the ones that are barely visible. Between the tiles, aluminum joints – as white as the tiles themselves – make sure the ceiling doesn’t fall over my resting body.

Today, the hospital ceiling is my universe.

I imagine a negative sky where the stars are the pore shadows, and the cosmic blackness is the reflective white Styrofoam. I source to my imagination as my surroundings offer me nothing but hoariness.

Oh! There is the North Star! This one just looks like Scorpius. Is the cluster over there Lyra?

When I was little, I used to stare at the night sky for hours and notice the heavens and moon move from east to west in a coordinated fashion. From day to day, I would notice small differences between the star positions, and after just a few nights of stargazing, I could predict what constellation would be in what section of the sky at a given time.

The nightly movement of the firmament around me gave me a sense of safety and stability. No matter what happened to me or the world I lived in, I knew the stars would always be there, like celestial guardians. They wouldn’t change, they were predictable. The stars became my friends, my only reliable companions. Every night, I would tell them secrets, ask for advice, vent my daily frustrations, cry… After each conversation, I’d always feel better and sleep peacefully.

Today, on this hospital bed, I try to make sense of the little pores on the tiles. As I look at them, I remember the seemingly infinite hours of stargazing during my childhood. I try to find the similarities and patterns. But as opposed to the night sky, these constellations don’t move around me. They are static, dull, boring.

Soon, when I’m able to lift myself up, I’ll stand up and draw lines connecting the ceiling dots. Aquila, Cygnus, Hercules, Ophiuchus, Sagittarius… all these constellations will be born out of plain whiteness. It will be my gift to the next person who lays here. While their bodies get the deserved rest, their minds will have something to muse.

Sleep

Of a no-hoper, who’s left to take heed?
No one, nothing but coldness she’s given
1:00 a.m., one Xanax to make her sleep

Her companion, the droplets of her weep
Her mistakes, she knows won’t be forgiven
Of a no-hoper, who’s left to take heed?

Tonight not even light will make her see
The dormant hopes that remorse has hidden
2:00 a.m., one Xanax to make her sleep

His presence couldn’t help, but make her weak
Ashamed and guilty, she had to leave him
Of a no-hoper, who’s left to take heed?

She wishes one day she’ll find the key,
The answer to make her tempers even
3:00 a.m., one Xanax to make her sleep

The stars should show a map for her to seek
The brilliance she’s lost but still believe in
Of a no-hoper, who’s left to take heed?
4:00 a.m., one Xanax to make her sleep

Cowardice

She showed up in a summer skirt,
A form-fitting t-shirt
And low neck.

Between her breasts, a pendant
Containing his initials.

It didn’t bother me at first.
I was too busy.

But she went away.
I went home

Bringing a haze
Of swaying letters,

Emblems of the merriment
She enjoys with him

Compared to the complacency
I bear with my woman.

The letters swam in my mind
All day
And all night
And all day…

Reminding me
Of my misery
And envy.