Archive for January, 2015


On the Other Hand…

Sitting in a dark movie theater, watching all the previews of the upcoming movies–many of which involve fighting or strife because those things make great stories–and I think about how the dramas unfold. I think about the ways in which the hero is put down, the ways he’s knocked around, pushed aside, and cast out. As I think of these things, I picture a hand with fingers slowly closing into a fist.

Then comes that line-in-the-sand drumbeat followed by violins (or guitar, depending on the movie) and the moment arises when the hero has taken all he will take and he comes out swinging that fist, because that makes great movies.

In real life, we deal with all sorts of things on a daily basis but it’s not the heightened drama of the movies. There are times, certainly. Times in war, times in protecting our families, times in standing up for what’s right. But most times, they’re just times. And most enemies are just people.

In real life, it’s hard to do nothing. We think it’s cowardice but it truly is difficult to do nothing. And yet, it’s even harder to come out swinging. But what if there’s a third option?

What if we don’t shrug and do nothing, nor come out swinging that fist of fury? What if we look to the other hand, the one with fingers outstretched, and offer it? What if we make understanding and bridging the gaps a priority over drama?

On the Other Hand...What happens then?

I sat in the dark thinking about this. And when the movie was over, I walked out into the light and looked at my hands, still thinking about this.

~
Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a blogger, poet, and traveler.

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The Long Silence

The Long SilenceIt’s been a long ten days since my last blog post.

I’ve written. Oh, I’ve certainly written. I spend my days reading and fiendishly writing. But when it comes to posting anything, well, the world seems so full of news and disaster and commentary that I need to fall silent. Couple that with a sense of mourning over the end of #Project365, and I can firmly say I have felt the passing of each and every moment these first ten days of 2015.

The sense of mourning is a surprise, and surprisingly, is also familiar. I felt something similar when I finished my first book–this feeling of nothing to offer, as if friends have shown up for dinner but the pantry is bare, and a feeling of smallness, as if I’m looking up from the bottom of a well with the ground level towering so very far above me.

I find myself wondering what others do when they finish a written project. Is the strange mourning a necessary step, a nod toward the legitimacy of the project at its end? Or is it just the change of focus that is so disruptive to the system? I ask that last question because as soon as I recognized this feeling as the same I had after finishing my first book, it ceased in causing chaos and the aloft pieces started falling into place.

Silly enough, I thought that without blogging daily, I would delight in the free time and in the ability to devote myself to other projects. And half of that is true: I built a schedule for working on new writing and I’m diligent about keeping up with it. The fact that there is a schedule to run to, a structure to climb, if you will, is like seeing the stars from that well bottom.

It’s the other half that’s so intriguing, that I would miss the daily chatter in my head and the constant lining up of words to be read immediately. As with most things, just when I think I’ll run, arms flailing, mouth erupt with squealing laughter, away from a tough job the way school kids launch themselves upon recess, instead, I walk, calmly toward the waiting sunlight while wistfully missing the work at my back.

Ah, but these are the mark of life well lived, of chasing down a calling. There’s much to be said for standing at the bottom of the well and yet seeing those stars. There’s much to be said, too, for getting creative and making something from nothing, which is what you do when you think the pantry is empty. It’s what you do when you line words up on the page.

And as for the need to fall silent in the midst of disaster, it’s not what you think. It’s a very alive, active, thought-filled awe of silence. It’s the quiet moment of taking a breath before you speak.

In everything I’ve been thinking and writing and deducing these last few days, the thought that returns to me again and again is this: The human spirit amazes me.

Nous sommes Charlie Hebdo.

~ Jody Brown is an author, blogger, poet, and traveler. To read about her current writing projects or donate toward their completion, see JodyBrown.com/writing.

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