Astonished might be the best word to describe my response to the extraordinary gif featuring the reportedly blind Native American George RedHawk’s amazing animation of Polish artist Tomasz Alen Kopera’s 2014 oil on canvas titled “S14.” That it had been posted by the TedX Colombo chapter along with the following quote from The River of Winged Dreams doubled the intensity of my surprise:
Hearts rebuilt from hope resurrect dreams killed by hate.
The image of the flame-breathing eagle (or possibly hawk?) atop the head of a man appeared to me like an angel of the more fiercely hybrid variety described in traditional texts of the King James Bible. I was struck by the parallel that the TedX Colombo group drew between it and the quote. And then the sense it made not only became very clear but reminded me of Emily Dickinson’s famous lines:
“Hope” is the thing with feathers -
Hope in this New Year 2016, after the carnage and heartbreaks that have dogged humanity since 9/11, cannot make a difference in the form of nothing more than passive contemplation. It has to exercise strength in the manner described by Charter for Compassion as compassionate action. But before anything else can be employed to make a meaningful difference, hope itself has to remain intact within the hearts and souls of individuals.
The word hope (or a form of it) appears some 29 times in The River of Winged Dreams and 39 times in Journey through the Power of the Rainbow: Quotations from a Life Made Out of Poetry. On this first day of the year 2016 I find myself invoking the word not so much for myself––though there are many reasons I probably should––as for all those who may have reached a point where they feel there is no such thing as hope. Or if there is, that it is meaningless in the face of calamities currently overrunning humanity. Those who believe that to be the case are at liberty to give it meaning of significant applicable substance.
Consider, for example, the millions of refugees whose determination has gone beyond redefining their individual lives to changing the course of history itself. Think of the wrongly-imprisoned men and women whose faith saw them through years of agonizing injustice and whose examples of forgiveness inspire so many others. Witness those whose struggle to breathe the toxic air of outrageously polluted cities have turned their desperation into rallying cries for nations to take definitive action to correct the extreme destructiveness of climate change.
The Bridge of Silver Wings
The short excerpt below is from the introductory essay “Deliverance in Action” which was first published in The Bridge of Silver Wings poetry collection and later included as part of The River of Winged Dreams. It is shared at this time with the hope that humanity in 2016 can reverse the deadly trends of the past and create new life-sustaining legacies truly worth celebrating:
The truth is we do not always know how we go from falling off the edge of one cliff to running with determination beside the ledge of another. The Bridge of Silver Wings is what I’ve come to call the unknowable unquantifiable process of deliverance in action.
Is the happiness that everyone wishes each other at the beginning of a New Year possible? It certainly would not seem to be for the millions around the world who find their very existence threatened by potential immediate deletion with every second that passes. The good news on this day and every day of the year is that those conditions do not have to remain the same.
© New Year Day 2016
Bright Skylark Literary Productions
My AuthorsDen colleague Ronald Hull commented recently that I seem to have successfully managed the art of literary social media network hobnobbing (my descriptive language, not the impressively cerebral Ron’s). The compassionate behind-the-scenes team that helps me remain connected knows it has more to do with their willingness to lend an indispensable helping hand than with any techno-savvy or social-media wizardry on my part. Also, for me, it’s more like visiting diverse friends and associates in different virtual neighborhoods when time allows.
The team, however, can only do so much and some issues have to be dealt with through as much direct engagement as possible. Two big examples are the upgrade at Creative Thinkers International that has been in progress since the beginning of 2014 and the lamentable shutdown of Red Room back in July. The CTI upgrade is largely a matter of working with and adjusting to rollouts provided by the Ning/Glam Media Network. As many Ningians and members of various social networks have discovered, adapting to those rollouts can be a very tricky dance (Check out The Splendidly Revitalized Colors of Change ).
Endings & Beginnings
The Red Room shutdown was unexpected and has proven challenging for reasons that are more than sentimental. Blurbs for posts shared on Red Room were automatically shared as status updates on several Facebook profiles as well, so that distribution outlet has been lost (See The Saving Grace of an Old School Strategy and Impulse ).
There were also more links connected to books, articles, stories, poems, videos, and photographs scattered around the web than I could begin to count or think about removing on my own. They had accumulated, after all, over a period of nearly 7 years and were then rendered dysfunctional in less than a week.
Making the LinkedIn Connection
There is, however, that old saying which goes, “When one door closes another opens.” Sometimes even 2 or 3 new doors open. Just as Red Room said goodbye, LinkedIn issued an invitation for me to publish blogs alongside some of the world’s leading organization and industry strategists (A recent share Let’s Fix It 7 Steps to Help Replace Legislated Fear with Informed Compassion ).
Because I have become so accustomed to posting works of a definitive literary or journalistic nature, I was uncertain about how effective such a move might be. In the end, the challenge was one I could not resist and to date I have shared just over half a dozen posts on LinkedIn that combine advocacy for the creative arts with entrepreneurial, social, and political concerns. In addition, I also found myself living up to my pledge to support the Charter for Compassion organization in ways I had not previously anticipated. (Like this Creative Flexibility and Annihilated Lives )
I think that upon signing the charter at the beginning of 2014, I might have presumed that the signature, a few retweets of Charter statements, and some shared links were as far as my involvement would go. Thankfully I was wrong. As the world began to realize the full magnitude of threats posed by groups such as Boko Haram and ISIS, as well as by domestic violence and homegrown terrorism, the Charter provided me with an extended platform to address such issues.
On top of all the above, there was also the launch of the blog Tao of the Rainbow, about which I will share more in that specific space.
The year 2014 thus far has meant negotiating a lot of important exchanges. Determining exactly how influential or significant those changes are may have to wait until 2015 gets underway. For now, the only thing I can say for certain is that at least a few more very interesting developments are on the way, which is generally about how things tend to go in my world.
© Oct 25, 2014
Contemporary award-winning American author of classically-styled works in history, poetry, creative nonfiction, speculative fiction, and journalism.