In life, there are wars. Some on huge, world wide scales but most are closer to home. We fight and battle with friends and foes about things that mean everything to us at the time but then mean so little when we look over our shoulders at the damage already done. The cause never seems worth the affect that it has after it’s been caused.
Our whole lives are riddled with “explosions” or events that come to pass like proposals, pregnancies, promotions, deaths, arguments, divorces or even simpler things like kind gestures from strangers or stupid things you did as a child and with each explosion, a piece of shrapnel embeds itself in your soul. A trace of that event gets left behind and i’m not just talking about vague, faint memories. I’m talking about those strong, hardcore, unrelenting memories that still bring about the smells, tastes and feelings of the exact moment when they were made. Sometimes, these pieces of soul shrapnel serve as strong yet pleasant reminders of days gone by but some of them go towards creating who we are today and who we will become later.
Much like Lily and Harry Potter, for instance. When Lily died trying to save her son, the love she had for Harry was so strong that the trace it left behind protected her son and prevented him from being killed. Of course, the magical world of our buddy HP is a little (okay…a lot) different from ours and the shrapnel left behind from our life experiences probably won’t stop us from getting murdered when a crazy person runs at us and impales us with a twig he found in the park that he claims to be the Elder Wand HOWEVER it can impact us in a huge way, if only in a muggle way.
There have been moments in my life that impact me in a greater way today. When I turn towards a certain path that is similar to one I’ve travelled down before, a piece of shrapnel will dig in and will either fill me with a warm and fuzzy feeling that tells me the path ahead is a good one to take or it presses into a regret filled balloon that i’ve hidden away deep in my soul, which bursts and floods me with a reminder of who I once was and why I’m not that way today. For use of a better word, I cringe and there’s a reason why things from our past stay with us in such a way.
I have a vast amount of memories that make me flush red and make me question if I really ever was THAT person. Memories of accidentally spraying a table full of my brother’s friends with my mouthful of Ribena because he made me laugh. The image of that crisp white table cloth spotted with purple splotches mixed with my dribble still makes me squirm in horror. Or the memory of discussing a particular classmates notoriously awful body odour in an attempt to be funny, cool and accepted…not realising said girl was already in the room listening to my every awful word. At times I’ve been a truly, horrid, badly timed, clumsy, unintelligent, oaf of a human being and those little pieces of shrapnel that dig in when history is about to repeat itself serve as a damn good reminder of what I once did wrong and how to avoid it now.
I don’t think we will ever reach a time when there are no more explosions. We reach a point when there are less explosions but every time we tread in unchartered territory in our lives (and let’s face it, when are we NOT treading in unchartered territory!), when we have no maps to guide us and our torches have lost all power, we’re bound to step on a few land mines here and there. Luckily, we have family and friends who tread the ground before us, usually due to them being older and so they do what they can to help us. They shine their own torches on the debris they’ve left behind from their own explosions so that we can tread a little lighter.
Not all explosions are bad, however. Explosions are merely unprecedented, unexpected events which includes all the good stuff like proposals and new babies in the family! We welcome that kind of shrapnel so that when it twinges in our souls, we’re filled with that glowing feeling that comforts us in out darkest hours and whispers from inside that our own happiness isn’t impossible nor is it entirely lost. It’s those pieces of shrapnel that frantically twist and turn when you’re dealing with a new explosion, trying to show you that things haven’t always been this bad, therefore they won’t always be this bad.
By the end of our lives, we’re covered in battle scars and riddled with shrapnel and that’s not a bad thing. A life lived in fear is a life half lived, after all and if we’re too scared of moving forward and we constantly stick to what we know, we never progress. Yes, progressing means we run the risk of being hurt but you’re far better off standing at the end of a journey looking back at how far you’ve come rather than standing stationary for years on end at the starting line, looking longingly into the distance at where you could be.
How the world is celebrating the life of Nelson Mandela.
Just One Day by Gayle Forman
Chapter Twenty-One, Page 133
In the airport after the flight delay the Jewish woman next to me
offers me two latkes wrapped in an oil-soaked napkin and rests her head
on my shoulder. She wants to visit her granddaughters for the holiday
but is afraid that now she will be too late to see their smiling faces.
In the sharp cheekbones of her gnarled face, the Holocaust
is nowhere to be seen. Only love. Only tiredness. Only her grandchildren,
whom she gives thanks for today and has every right to do so
even as the ghosts of lost grandchildren in the camps still walk the earth.
The child from Rwanda fidgeting in his father’s lap next to the vending machine
has eyelids so tiny two pennies could rest on each
like the closed eyes of the dead, but the genocide that killed his mother
and left the raised, ropy scar on his father’s left bicep
does not shine like a floodlight from both pupils. Only life. Only joy.
Today, his life and the life of his father are something to be thankful for.
A flight attendant props herself against the terminal door
eating a frozen Thanksgiving dinner with a plastic fork,
nametag says her last name is Whitecrow. I inquire of the origin
and she speaks with excitement of her Native American heritage,
spooning turkey into her mouth at the same time,
exclaiming over how happy she is to come home for the holiday
that for her means family and friendship, not extermination
or the Trail of Tears. She has made it into her own
without forgetting her ancestors and their struggles.
The Kurdish-speaking elderly Syrian man staring up at the electronic
departing flight screen is gesturing widely to his young wife
standing beside him, showing any passersby a photograph
of his smiling, cherub-faced newborn baby girl
waiting for him at home in the arms of his mother.
He mentions nothing of chemical weapons or “honour killings.”
Just thankfulness and the smell of his house, kebabs and hummus,
even as the wreckage outside the walls curls around every window,
even as his dead brother, a soldier, never leaves the back of his mind.
And when the delay is finally over, my mouth is filled with latkes,
my head with beautiful languages and gratefulness
for this extraordinarily different group of people
who may be coming home to bullets and restricted zones,
or high-end apartments and comfortable beds,
but doorways filled with love all the same, and not one of them
has been solely bound by their difficult histories
like butterflies pinned to a stained mounting board.
They are not their histories.
They celebrate separately yet together.
They are allowed to give thanks too-
giving thanks does not mean they have forgotten their ancestors or their pain.
It is not a crime for them to be grateful despite the ruins of their pasts.
Their holiday may not be your holiday, but that does not mean
it cannot be recognized as one.
History does not define people. People define history.
November is American Indian Heritage month. Did you know that there are at least 562 federally recognized tribal nations in the U.S.?
Matika Wilbur is attempting to photograph every one. Wilbur, of the Swinomish and Tulalip in Washington State, sold everything she owns to travel the nation taking portraits of her people. She calls the series Project 562 and aims to debunk myths about American Indian culture. “I’m not a Halloween costume. I hope to encourage a new conversation of sharing and to help us move beyond the stereotypes.”
"We are still here," she says. "We remain."
I want every version of a woman and a man to be possible. I want women and men to be able to be full-time parents or full-time working people or any combination of the two. I want both to be able to do whatever they want sexually without being called names. I want them to be allowed to be weak and strong and happy and sad — human, basically. The fallacy in Hollywood is that if you’re making a “feminist” story, the woman kicks ass and wins. That’s not feminist, that’s macho. -Natalie Portman
right now, someone is falling in love. someone is having their first kiss and getting the butterflies in their stomach. someone is holding their newborn baby. someone’s having a birthday. someone is laughing so hard their stomach hurts. someone is having a really good dream. someone is falling asleep thinking about someone they love. someone is dancing. someone is getting proposed to. someone is happy.
I just want to see Chicago, New York, and London during Christmastime because they always seem to be the most magical places god damn it, I’m a sentimental hopeless romantic with an overwhelming amount of love for Christmas