Today I purchased Grammarly “premium,” a grammar checker, for about $75. I had received $24 for writing today (a simple amateur review of children’s underwear), so it was a little bit less to take from my husband for my writing “hobby”.
Ever since I watched “Omo’s Child” about the mingi practice in Ethiopia of killing babies and children whos’ top teeth grow in before the bottom ones, I’ve been over-analyzing all my spending.
I’ve always been thrifty; I think that’s normal for someone growing up in an Asian American household. Then being a working college student for a dozen years took me to an even higher level of thriftiness. After college, I took my first baby to work with me for a few years (empowering or exhausting? perhaps both), and now, for the past two years, I’m a stay at home parent with our family of four on one income; I’ve gotten even thriftier. But after watching “Omo’s Child” it’s driven me to a mental place like the end of the movie “Shinlers List” where Shinler wonders how many people he could have saved instead of keeping his wristwatch.
We all have certain issues, charities, groups that are more dear to us than others. For my dad and my sister, it’s dogs. They love dogs more than me. They may deny it, but since I have always had dog allergies, verified by blood tests and hives, and they still choose to have dogs, the evidence is there. I don’t resent it, but I won’t go along with any lies that it isn’t true. I do understand their preference, because there is something wonderful about an animal with the ability to know immediately how you feel, care about it, and comfort you. I won’t do that for my family, I sometimes know how they feel, sometimes care and sometimes comfort them, but so much less than a dog would, so I understand the preference for dogs.
I never thought of myself as someone who loves babies, even though I have had two. I never enjoyed playing with dolls, I also didn’t enjoy menial service towards my own babies, even though I did enjoy watching the mystery of their personalities unfold and seeing how life changed as our family grew. So I don’t quite understand why the particular injustice of mingi haunts me as much as it does, but it does.
Last year I read “Not for Sale,” a book about human slave trafficking. Prior to that book, I had never known how large of a problem it is, but though I feel sympathy for those people, in the end, I didn’t feel called to do anything about it. It didn’t feel as if human slave trafficking was just, but also it didn’t feel as if it was my particular responsibility or within my ability to solve.
I don’t live in or near Ethiopia, I don’t speak the language or know about the culture, there is no reason that I am aware of that I should become involved, but yet I haven’t lost the feeling that “this shouldn’t be allowed to keep falling through the cracks.” That there should be some way to end this peaceably.
In school, Martin Luther King Jr was celebrated (perhaps disproportionately), but I couldn’t resist becoming a fan of his writing. Not only the “I have a dream” speech, but also his letter from Birmingham Jail, or perhaps more so. He spoke of peace, but also of taking immediate action, not waiting for justice, but seeking it today. Knowing social justice is a slow process, but getting started in the now, rather than waiting for society to be ready. I remember him as acting despite not having a clear path, instead of waiting for change to be handed over, carving progress day by day, despite protests from not only enemies but especially from friends and loved ones who don’t understand. I started celebrating Martin Luther King Jr’s Day by carving a baked potato with the face of any civil rights leader I choose (Malcolm X, Gandhi ext). Martin Luther King Jr came to be a symbol more than a human being. He stood up not for African Americans, not for Americans, but for all of humankind. I’ve never been brave enough to learn too much about him, for I’d rather not lose my ideal of him, maybe someday.
There are three things I learned from Martin Luther King Jr’s example: one we humans are all a family regardless of having different preferences or appearances; two what matters more than avoid failure is striving to stand for what is right to the best of our abilities as common people; and three that the though we can’t do everything about everything we can make some difference to something.
So, I am beginning this year with a personal resolution to stop yelling at my daughter. I’ve done very well so far, I’m going to keep checking in with myself and make sure I don’t backslide, but it feels as if it’s already done. Thanks to cookies I used to bribe myself…
But I also hope that I will be able to do something for those other babies someday, perhaps this year, perhaps in the future.
Last year I became aware of and fascinated by the concept of Lokahi, meaning the Hawaiian concept of restoring something broken to wholeness. It also represents a connection between humankind, God (or spirituality) and the land (or nature). It’s a trinity that exists as one, many other people may have been introduced to that by religion, but I’ve never been particularly relgious.
When I first became interested in helping end mingi the first internal criticism was “what about taking better care of your own kids?” So yes that is my responsibility, that is a higher priority, I will do that first, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be some time or some way to help the other children later.
I’ve been wanting practically all my life to be more of a real writer, perhaps publish a book or series of articles, but I didn’t have a reason.
Jerry Jenkins, the author of “Left Behind” (an interesting fictional story) and mentor to many beginning writers, had always said that a writer has a message to bring to the world. I didn’t have one. I liked writing for writing, I enjoy words, enjoy the craft of writing, but one day I began to understand. The best-writen books such as “The Book Thief” sometimes fall far behind books less eloquently written that speak of the remarkable truths of humanity such as “9 Habits of a Hands-Free Life” or “How to Win Friends and Influence People” or “Meditations”. Ryan Holiday also describes that it doesn’t matter how good your writing skills are if your story is strong, the story matters more than the writing.
Almost all my life I’ve had too many book ideas, last year I tried to pick one that stood out to me over the others and none did, so in an effort to free my soul of the past and generate new ideas I got rid of all my past book notes. And for the first time, nothing new came to me.
Which is probably good because I have a ten-month-old son and four-year-old and a whole lifetime to write.
Yet, I feel more human when I write. So I prefer to write a bit each day. I prefer to get better, to keep learning, to experience the world in that way which clears my mind best and improves my mood. So since I’m writing anyways I wouldn’t mind a meaningful project.
I contacted the foundation who takes care of the children who were saved and what they are in need of is mostly money, having produced a video for exposure they need money to feed the kids ext. I’m not comfortable taking the money my husband earns for that, I’m not comfortable fundraising for that without having more details and also I’m not an extrovert. But perhaps I can use the motivation to take my writing to the next level. Perhaps I can do some paid articles I otherwise wouldn’t be brave enough to do and be able to donate that money without taking away from someone who doesn’t feel the need to support the same cause that I feel a need to support.
It would fit three needs I have, one motivation to do professional writing, two a feeling I have a deep underlying message behind my writing worth spreading, and three that I have a purpose to my life (whether self-ascribed or ascribed by fate is unknown to me) that is a worthy “ikagai” (reason to get up in the morning).
I took my daughter to see “Frozen II” on December 25th and although I was never very in love with the series, I do resonate with the feeling of knowing there should be more connection to something that I’m passionate about in my life, that even though other people value what I’m currently doing (raising kids, teaching, ext) I don’t, it’s something I don’t resent, yet containing a hollowness that lacks a way for me to use my unique skills in a way valuable to me. I hope that I will be able to change that this year. Even if I can’t do much to change the world for the better, I think trying will change me and allow me to live fully.
Henery David Thoreau said, “I don’t want to die without ever haven fully live.” I think that if I died today that would describe me, I’ve lived, I’ve traveled a little, but I wouldn’t wager that I’ve ever fully lived to my potential. Not that I have to do something that everyone hears about, but there is an internal feeling that although doing everyday chores with love and honor is a wonderful service to my family and somewhat the larger human family, there is some part of me that could be used that is instead languishing.
I’ve like using Grammarly for spelling corrections for the past few months, but this is the first article I’ve written in the Grammarly system and I haven’t enjoyed seeing the assistant that describes my honest soul as “a bit band in engagement”… perhaps I am, but it’s a bit uninspiring to be confronted with that, I’m not sure if I’ll hide the assistant or write somewhere else, but I think what I won’t do is change my truth to gain a higher rating from a computer. For me, writing is so much about being a human being and so little about tricking the computer system for ranking, if it ever becomes the other way, I think that will be the last day I write.