A new day. A new opportunity to make conversation with a stranger, to wish a friend happy birthday, to smile and secretly hope that your smile will be returned in kind, to tackle your to-do list, to love and to be loved. To FaceTime your sister and catch up on things that in reality would take years to catch up on. To make that neglected phone call, to share a meal with a friend or alone, but not really alone, in that much needed solitude. To think about those who have touched your life, and wonder if you may have meant as much to them, and whether they still think of you. To try and see the good in the world, and to engage in it, even when you don’t like what you see. To read another page, another chapter, hoping to devour the whole book, wishing that the day could go on forever so that you could memorize all the words. To have those moments that are so good that you want to close your eyes and freeze time, and stretch the moment further and further and draw circles around it. To collapse in your bed exhausted and spent. To dream, and to surrender to the magical act of sleep, where consciousness shifts to unconsciousness. And to start it all over again tomorrow.
Happy New Year everyone!!! Hope your 2018 is off to a wonderful start. Have you set any new year’s resolutions? Here is my list of ten resolutions for the year:
- Visit 10 hot spots in Ottawa with my friend Hetal
- Be more like my Mom (this may take many years!)
- Get a job I love, pay down debt, be financially savvy
- Complete my Creative Writing Certificate at U of T (it’s my final year!)
- Turn 39 (LOL I have to make sure I achieve at least one of these)
- Travel to a place I haven’t been before
- Take part in Walk In Her Shoes in Ottawa (perhaps Sophie Gregoire will be there again this year?!)
- Read lots of good books
- Dance, smile, and laugh a lot… and learn to let go
- Visit my friends in T.O. as often as possible
Also here are a few foundational things that are important to do on an ongoing basis, that set the stage for accomplishing any goal, and ensuring that I live healthily and happily.
- Eating healthy and cooking lots
- Regular yoga practice
- Spending lots of time in nature
- Facetiming my grandparents
- Lots of laughter!
I’d love to hear your resolutions if you have any!! It’s always easier to get things done with the support of others, and especially knowing that the universe has your back. And finally, even if nothing gets done… there is always rebellion. ;-)
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
This evening I went to see Carmen Aguirre speak at the reference library. Earlier in the day, I’d read a Globe and Mail article about her journey, and I was transfixed by what she had experienced in her life. I was curious to see what kind of woman she was, what her experiences had meant for her. She had that twinkle in her eye, of a person who had been through a lot, and seen the light through the darkness.
She talked about PTSD, and how the childhood rape had never left her. I couldn’t believe how she was able to talk about such trauma with a sort of detachment. In fact, she was able to address most of the tough questions very evenly, even while the people asking the questions were breaking down in tears. One woman spoke at length in Spanish about how her mother had joined the resistance in Chile, and to this day, she has been unable to find her, but lately she has been having dreams about her mother and she feels as though her dreams are a sign that she should seek her out. Carmen advised her on human rights organizations to follow up with – although she said that most people who join the resistance change their names (she had), and it would be almost impossible to track someone down.
The rape occurred when she was only 13 years old, by a man who had been wanted by the police for years, known as the Paper Bag rapist, because of the way he would cover the victims eyes with a paper bag. He later went on to be convicted of more than 14 sexual assaults, even though it is suspected that he was responsible for hundreds. She describes how during the rape, she escapes her body and becomes an eagle that soars overhead. It is a stunningly beautiful depiction of her spirit, and how she experiences something that is at the depths of evil, the absence of love, light, and anything good. It is so beautiful the way she describes it, and you can picture that eagle, flying high above her little 13-year-old body, that is being forever altered by this one man.
Thirty-three years after she was raped, she faces her rapist in prison, with another woman, Laura who was also a victim. It’s hard to understand the compassion that she has for this man, and I could see people in the audience shuddering as she talks about their encounter (“It’s nice to meet you again” he says). She said something to the effect of “I am him”, recognizing that she was part of him and he was part of her. I wish I remembered her exact words because they were perfect. She has genuine compassion for this man, who most of us would hate with every cell of our being. It reminded me of a quote that I read in Aphrodite’s Daughters, in an essay about sexuality and evil. “Even if we never have done and never will do an evil deed, we would be fools to ignore the potential for evil that lies within us all”, the author says. She references the words of Thich Nhat Hanh, a well-known Buddhist monk, as he reflects upon an incident that he witnessed during the Vietnam war.
I am the 12-year-old girl, refugee
on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean after
being raped by a sea pirate,
and I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable
of seeing and loving
Carmen talks about her childhood as part of the Chilean resistance in her first book, Something Fierce: Memoirs of A Revolutionary Daughter. This new memoir, which flashes back to the rape that altered her life is called Mexican Hooker #1. She is a fierce woman who has led a revolutionary life in both senses of the word.