"The realization of dreams, like every battle for freedom, has always required compromise to one degree or another. When the result of a concession, however, is the mutilation of your soul or the cancellation of someone else's future, then it may be said the desired goal was corrupted or destroyed rather than attained." –Aberjhani (from Dreams of the Immortal City)
There are two quotes at the beginning of Dreams of the Immortal City Savannah. This is the first, by the author and Catholic monk Thomas Merton (1915-1968):
“It is true that a person always remains a person and utterly separate and apart from every other person. But it is equally true that each person is destined to reach with others an understanding and a unity which transcend individuality…” (T. Merton from A Life in Letters)
These wise and useful words from Merton illustrate one of the primary themes of Dreams of the Immortal City Savannah (Cyberwit.net Publishing) which is the necessity of individuals and social groups to reconcile themselves with one another to achieve sustainable peace and mutually-beneficial progress. Merton referred to that necessity as though it were/is an inevitability described as "an understanding and a unity."
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968) called it "an inescapable network of mutuality" and the "inter-related structure of reality.” I have tended, for some years now, to think of it as a convergence of historical confluences which either align the priorities of individuals and societies with historical trends or place them in conflict with the same.
Navigating the Dynamics
Living in the 21st century means mindfully deciding exactly how one fits into such ideological configurations. That is also about the way it was when Dr. King and Merton were formulating their conclusions during the 1960s. And It is what we see in the pages of Dreams of the Immortal City Savannah as people navigate the dynamics of such issues as: personal conduct in public places, assessing the value of long-held cultural traditions in a world of rapidly-evolving multiracial demographics, and maintaining a healthy sense of self within environments made toxic by factors like greed, xenophobia, demagoguery, and other debilitating regressions.
A good example of the invigorating challenge before us is "Cities of Lights and Shadows and Dreams," the very first story in the book. It is described in the following synopsis:
One of the great compromises people sometimes have to make in life is accepting that plans do not always work out as preferred. In Cities of Lights and Shadows and Dreams, the author becomes preoccupied by a strange false memory of being in Paris, France, just after World War II, a time when a number of African Americans had made their way to The City of Lights. Tears in the fabric of this memory allow him to see himself in another later time in his hometown of Savannah where he talks with singer India Arie and others about the visit to Paris but which in fact has never taken place.
The story introduces the parallel themes of displacement, expatriation, attempted escape from painful conflict, and unavoidable return as the narrator imagines what it was like for author Richard Wright (Native Son, Black Boy) upon his arrival in Paris and struggles to make peace with the reality of his actual life in a very different time and place.
Or we can look at it this way: journeys and destinations are not one and the same. The first has to be engaged with a great deal of committed flexibility and enthusiastic perseverance before the other can be enjoyed with any amount of secured satisfaction whatsoever.
Co-Author of Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance
Creator of Silk-Featherbrush ArtStyle
About the Author:
A passionate reader, committed writer, artist, photographer, dedicated practitioner of mindfulness, hurricane survivor, maker of poems, believer in the value of compassion, historian, award-winner, journalist, adherent of beauty, and student of wisdom.