2:54AM, Thursday night / Friday morning. The lobby of an upscale hotel. Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
The lights are dim and low, but the internet is still working. I'm not sure if it's the flu or whatever, but I picked up some amoxacillin and took 500 mg. If it's bacterial, that'll kill it dead. My friend and colleague recommended I take probiotics as well to counteract it, so I had yogurt earlier and will try to grab some Korean kimchee tomorrow.
Lil Wayne and Robbin Thick are playing in my little white headphones.
My hands up, my hands up
They want me with my hands up
While walking earlier, the bright moon shining through murky clouds struck me as particularly magnificent and I had an idea for a poem about about John Brown and John Wilkes Booth. It turns into a long Wiki-walk about the American Civil War, and I'm this close to getting the poem finished but can't get the ending right.
It's not so aggravating, though; just writing four-fifths of a poem is an accomplishment. Most of the time I can get the ending right later.
Oh, what's that to my right? A man, maybe... 34 years old?... is sobbing in a woman's arms. He's wearing an upscale white branded t-shirt, and he's the tears are flowing and he's shaking.
Where did they come from? How long have they been there? I'm lost in General Sherman and Robert E. Lee and Reconstruction, and music.
I think they want me to surrender
But no, I can't do it
But no, I can't do it!
I take stock. I reckon -- I got a pretty sure sense of it -- that (1) they're together, and (2) that she was screwing around with another man in some form or fashion.
I don't know how I know. But I know.
And then I say to myself, "That's odd and really presumptuous of me. I'm probably wrong, even. It could be 10,000 things."
The poem just won't end correctly. I'm trying to write, "But the last Act hasn't concluded"... something... Sic Semper Tyrannis!... Lincoln ascends to sainthood and doesn't ever fall into perpetual command (FDR) or face the difficult balancing act and fall into corruption (Grant)... his death grants him sainted immortality, an icon of America unsoiled by trivialities, dying on the grandest stage after accomplishing his mission... that government of the people, by the people, and for the people...
...damn it, I can't get it right. I'm going to play some Chess.
A tense and evenly matched opening, fast pace, but I blunder in the mid-game. It's trending poorly, but I make up for it with some of the best rook play I've ever done. I go from the brink of losing to the brink of winning, and then I run out of time. Ah man, it's just one of those nights. Still, good rook play. That was a weakness of mine before.
The man to the right slaps the woman and throws her to the ground.
What the fuck? Did that just happen?
He's holding her on the floor, and they're shouting at each other.
They're like three feet away from me. This is unfolding as though in slow motion.
It feels like a long time, but it was probably only a few seconds before I react. I take the laptop off my lap, and set it to my left on the bench I'm sitting.
I roll my neck, wrists, shoulders instinctively. Inhale. Exhale. Vigilance. Combat mode.
Now, this is tricky. Obviously motherfuckers can not be beating women around me. On the other hand, this could be some sort of lover's quarrel where I'd be in for a world of hurt if I try to intervene.
I'm running the scenario through my head quickly, and my mind keeps keying in on a glass of whisky on the little table they were sitting at. It seems ominous, as if it's going to be thrown, or perhaps smashed over someone's head (mine?), or -- best case scenario -- only knocked over into a mess of sticky liquor and broken glass on the floor.
This calculation isn't so logical, it happens pretty fast. A third Mongolian man shows up, maybe 37 years old?, before I commit either way. He knows both of them, and starts dragging the man off the woman in slow motion. They know each other, all three of them.
Two female staff from the front desk show up and just stand there watching the scene unfold, not saying or doing anything. That's... interesting.
The younger woman notices the glass of whisky, and perhaps our minds think alike -- she calmly edges around the melee, and picks it up, and carries it to quite a distance away.
Eventually the third man, the 37-year old, gets the spurned boyfriend (fiancee? husband?) off the woman. He gives him a, "What the hell is wrong with you?" shove in the back, but it's not unfriendly.
The original guy calms down. It's over. The 37-year-old buddy is getting the sad/angry man out the frontdoor.
Then, the woman walks right up to the man, and slap/hits him hard in the chest.
And we're off to the races again!
He grabs her awkwardly by the head, and half-throws, half-drags her to the ground. She's shouting and crying, he's crying, the 37-year-old-buddy sighs before intervening again (though more halfheartedly this time), and the two front desk women stand there mostly stoically, partially concealing a slight amusement.
37-buddy gets his friend off the woman again and shoves him out the front door. He then offers his hand to help the woman up, and she glares hard at him. He sighs, rolls his eyes, and gives her a "Am I the only sane one here?" look. Her expression changes and she takes his hand and he helps lift her up.
He says something, but I don't catch it. I gather it's, "Don't start this up again! Jeez!"
They leave. Things are calm a moment, and then all sorts of shouting, and a door slamming, and a car alarm going off outside.
When I was 16 years old, I decided I was going to stand up for what I believe. I was going to speak up. I was going to break up fights, stop people from getting mugged, fight muggers, tell obnoxious people to cut it out, protect weak people, randomly ask someone sitting and crying if they're ok and if they'd like a Coca-Cola, I'd always be forthright and tell people what's going on, I'd try to help people in their lives, and otherwise just do the right thing.
I figured, most people are cowards. They watch terribleness unfold. The bullies, thugs, criminals, oppressors of the world gather resources to them through intimidation and corruption and crime. Without guardians of the world, evil rules. Without people willing to put their lives on the line, their hearts on the line, without people willing to break a hand to slug a mugger, without people willing to face down a mugger with a knife or get a brick thrown at them after cracking one of them hard... without people willing to shout at a mobster bullying McD's employees...
...without people willing to tell you your mistakes, so you can step your game up, so you can thrive, so you can stop making the same boneheaded mistakes...
...without people willing to stop women from getting beaten, muggers from getting someone, people who mis-use the law for their benefit...
...where would the world be?...
...and implementing this policy has cost me immensely in money, time, and lost friendships and relationships. People don't wanted to be helped; they want to keep running broken scripts. The blackhearted and soul-rotted react with no-holds-barred when their authority and positions are challenged. And the people who allow themselves to be victimized don't appreciate courage and intervention on their behalf, as they carry on perpetuating their bad situations for some mis-wired emotional payoff.
The car alarm finally stops and the fracas has vanished into the crisp night air.
Other people's problems? Yeah. Precisely.
I thought the same thing Sweeney, reminded me of the train piece.
I definitely relate Sebastian. I've made a similar adjustment in my thinking in the last year. I think you can open the door for people and give them the opportunity, but only they can step through.
Loved the longer piece.
You can't really help people who don't want to be helped. Just like you can't force someone on a diet. They've got to have the desire to change.
On the issue of broken cycles relating to abuse, Theodore Dalrymple, a doctor who worked in inner city prisons for over 10 years, has some great thoughts in his book Life At The Bottom:
"At first, of course, my female patients deny that the violence of their men was foreseeable. But when I ask them whether they think I would have recognized it in advance, the great majority—nine out of ten—reply, yes, of course. And when asked how they think I would have done so, they enumerate precisely the factors that would have led me to that conclusion. So their blindness is willful."
Read the rest: http://www.city-journal.org/html/9_1_oh_to_be.html
Love the writing.
Reminiscent of the long piece.. where you have coffee while watching the trains go by.
I hope the productivity run is going well.. it's been too long since I've read Ikigai.
March 10, 2010. Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Late morning.
I pulled on my swim trunks, trainers, and a tank top and walked out of my little guesthouse room, sliding through the cramped restaurant strewn with tables, and out into the hot, dusty air of Phnom Penh. It's a hot day. It'll be good to swim after lifting weights.
I said, "No no, thank you" to the tuk-tuk drivers offering to take me somewhere in the city, pushed through the little crowd, and out onto the street. The streets in Cambodia more resemble alleyways than streets, and I navigate around people and vehicles.
I went down to the end of the street, turned left, and skirted along close to the local restaurants, half-tent half-storefront type places to get food. I stepped into the crosswalk, the Hotel Cambodiana rising in front of me. I check right and then left, and I watch left as I cross, watching for oncoming traffic.
A loud scream rings out. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.
My time here in Los Angeles has been quite the roller coaster of experiences. I've grown so much over the past 7yrs, it's truly hard to believe it's already been that long since I landed in the city of dreams. What's most fascinating is I haven't even truly begun the journey God has planned for me. I've only been in preparation during my time here. I've been on the SHELF, the very back of the shelf where things gather dust cause they're too far back to reach. During my time on this shelf I was being molded by the Potter. Having my character, integrity, nature, attitude and relationship with God tested, shaped and remolded into His image and likeness. He was reshaping my desires to align with His. Cleansing me of my past. Testing my desires to see if I truly loved Him against all obstacles, opposition and trials, to see if I would stick with Him through thick and thin or only when things were going my way, would I allow Him to build our relationship and trust, or hit the road the second things became difficult. He also spent a great deal of time testing my ability to serve others. Teaching me the value and importance of putting others wants and desires before my own.
During this time of testing, I've watched less qualified individuals get promotions I had prepared years for. I watched jobs and opportunities be given to others that I was praying and believing for. I've watched others advance while I remained shelved, hidden and unnoticed. I watched others go on grand adventures I yearned & longed for. I watched pockets all around me being filled while mine were being drained, even though I was faithful to tithe and was abundant in my desire to give. I had doors that would change my life forever slam close as I was just about to enter with my dance shoes on, singing and shouting for joy. I had well meaning friends tell me what they've done to make it and what I might be doing wrong to have not made it. I had people look down on me because I don't dress like them or have the fancy things they do. I've had many exciting opportunities dangle before me that I knew I was NOT meant to take, but I could have if I wanted to back out of the ultimate vision and plan God has for my life, to end my immediate suffering. But what then? What is to become of me after taking the less difficult path? After receiving this immediate gratification, what's left? What is to become of my God ordained purpose? I can't even count how many times I allowed myself to feel forsaken, how many pity parties I threw myself as a party of ONE when my heart was broken. Oh ... the tears my pillow has collected over the years. How many nights I've been simply crushed asking God why my prayers didn't go through, why He refused to bless me as "I saw fit." LOL .. But truth be told, any prayer that wasn't answered was only a delay or for my protection .. but at times I didn't want to hear God say yet AGAIN, "Not yet, sweet child, that will take you in the wrong direction, you have much work to still accomplish on the shelf. Soon you will receive all you've asked for. Trust my plan, for it is a GOOD PLAN. A plan to prosper you. To help you. To give you more then you can imagine. To use you immensely. Just be patient. Continue on the path before you. Eventually, you will arrive. Do not give up for I am with you, I will strengthen you along the way."
Most of the time the 'Waiting Process' can be the hardest part of your calling. Doing ONLY what's in front of you. Staying out of God's way by not attempting to HELP HIM. Accepting His will over your own. Praying and lovingly supporting others who are living your dream. Helping others achieve the desires in your own heart. Being excited for other people's promotions and advancements. Dancing with those who have what you can't seem to attain whether that be in health, career, finances, relationships or opportunities. It's a true testament of character when you can be happy for those who advance long before you. When you can get excited for the blessings others are receiving, while watching from the sidelines, covered in the soot from those who have sped past you, while you remain in a state that feels much like neutral. However ... you must not forget, there will come a time when YOUR BLESSING too shall arrive and you will also want those around you to celebrate and dance with you, for your journey to the Promised Land has been long and you will want to rest your feet with those who love you and support you. We each have suffered and sacrificed for our dreams to be fulfilled and we EACH deserve to be celebrated when our time comes. Being envious or jealous of someone won't advance your dream .. it will only make you appear ungrateful and unloving toward those who are in the trenches with you. I've always lived by this mindset >> What you make happen for another, God will make happen for you! As the bible states, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." ------->> You have no idea who's going to put your name up for promotion, who's going to be first in line to celebrate with you ... so get to dancing with all your friends & family, those in the trenches AND those in the palace.
It's important to remember, when you've done everything you can do to accomplish the goal at hand ... you can only trust God's perfect timing to bring it to pass. I surrendered my entire life to Christ 15yrs ago. In that full surrender I included the men I date and the one I would one day MARRY. Thus far every man I've gone out with God has said, "He's not the one for you, let him go!" I even fell in love with a man that had been my friend for many years, and when I went to tell him, God closed that door of opportunity and said, "You can not share this news with him .. he's not your future husband. Let him go and I will free you of your desire for him." Walking with God at times is very much like being navigated through a LAND MINE .. if you don't pay attention to His voice, leadership, guidance and promptings everything can blow up in your face REAL QUICK !!!! And the closer you get to your destiny, the more LAND MINES you find all around you. So I don't move to the left or to the right without confirmation and or direction from God. He's my sole focus. He's my one and only truth. He's the lamp unto my feet and the voice of wisdom unto my heart. He's my husband, my leader, my best friend, my partner in crime and the ultimate love of my life. He's always had me in the palm of His hand and I'll always be forever His.
This year God is calling us to decide if we are IN or OUT! That's not just a call to salvation but to the DEPTH you are willing to GO INTO JESUS!!! Are you going to fully surrender and let Him do what He WILLS with your life? Or were you more or less just hoping to sneak into the flock when the wolves show up behind you? Are you where you should be in your walk with God? To truly answer this question, you need to ask yourself >> Are you making any progress in your spiritual life? Are you walking with Jesus or just standing still? What direction are you moving in? Are you resisting change? Are you running like Jonah? Cause he was eventually caught. Are you using the tools that God gave you, or have you buried them and chosen NOT to use them? What will you need to strengthen your character? What do you need to LET GO of to grow in your relationship with Christ? What is keeping you from THRIVING and doing what you love? Are you ready to go after what truly fulfills you? How bad do you want it? Is it worth the cost of your comfort? Are you ready to give up your OWN strategies and do what God tells you, even if it seems impossible? Are you willing to face Goliath?