stuck

While out in the field on a military operation (training), KidG woke up from sleep with a desperate need to pee. It was the dead of night. They were in the forest. The guards were at their posts and it was dark all around. Not wanting to wake anyone up, he walked out into the thick blanket of night, away from camp and straight into a deep mud pool.

Stuck thigh-deep in murky god-knows-what, he couldn’t move.

And he refused to call for help.

‘It was too embarrassing. There’s no way I wanted to live the rest of my life with this sad tale etched deep in my personal history,’ he said. ‘That’s all that the guys would talk about every time we meet… no, no, no.’

So for the next hour, he struggled in silence. And finally managed to get out of the mud, using his trusty rifle and a long branch. Miserable, he walked back into camp with brown pants. His story didn’t remain a secret though. How could it, when he was the only one with brown pants in a platoon of guys all dressed in green? Every one wanted an explanation.

‘I’d rather tell my story than have everyone run to my rescue,’ he smiled.

And I wondered… how many of us are like him in life? Faced with our personal stuck-in-the-mire moments, is calling out for help instinctive? Or would we rather suffer in silence, work things through and tell our tale thereafter?

*

I’m stuck tonight, between calling off a dance performance and disappointing several people whose trust I’ve worked hard to earn, and going on with the performance but with a different, smaller audience. It’s hard.

We started planning this in April and auditions were already completed, as well as massive coordination from various parties. Rehearsals had already begun but as of two weeks ago, I had to call them off because there was a problem with the music track we were using. We needed to change it. Since then, I’ve searched but nothing. Na-da. There’s nothing as great as the original one we were working with.

*

The first cut of an interview was submitted last weekend and promptly rejected. The entire angle needs to be re-worked and oddly, I’m not surprised. The feedback given is akin to what I felt earlier and all I want to do is beat myself up for not following my gut…

Looks like I’ll be working overtime again.

And be found wearing brown pants at the end of this week.

*

Asking for help isn’t instinctive. With the tight timelines I’m looking at, the only person I dare make work through the night is… me. Yes, I have a great team who has been working around the clock to produce and meet demands. But why would I pull someone else into the mud with me?

Would be nice if the earth didn’t have mud holes.

What are they for, anyway?

*

‘Take my hand kiddo.’ The Dream Maker reaches out to me. ‘I’m kinda huge, you know? And I doubt I’ll fall in.’

I smile.

So maybe there is that one Person I can run to for help.

Hope you readers have one too!

 

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good | bad

Here’s an interesting story for today.

Written by Jake Adelstein from The Daily Beast, it reminded me that there is no real true ‘bad’ or ‘good’ person out there. People make choices. But what they do doesn’t define who they are. They are still human and very much a comrade in times of extreme adversity.

In a singular, defining moment, a person can switch from doing what we deem ‘wrong’ to something ‘morally worthy’. Does that then change who they are?

‘What separates you from a murderer or thief?’ I was once asked. ‘Can you say that there’s not a single part of you that is able to do great evil? And at the same time… great good?’

It stems then from the deepest place where all choices are made.

Who or what holds your heart?

*

“There are no yakuza or katagi (ordinary citizens) or gaijin (foreigners) in Japan right now. We are all Japanese. We all need to help each other.”

– a yakuza member

The worst of times sometimes brings out the best in people, even in Japan’s “losers” a.k.a. the Japanese mafia, the yakuza.

Hours after the first shock waves hit, two of the largest crime groups went into action, opening their offices to those stranded in Tokyo, and shipping food, water, and blankets to the devastated areas in two-ton trucks and whatever vehicles they could get moving.

The day after the earthquake the Inagawa-kai (the third largest organized crime group in Japan which was founded in 1948) sent twenty-five four-ton trucks filled with paper diapers, instant ramen, batteries, flashlights, drinks, and the essentials of daily life to the Tohoku region.

An executive in Sumiyoshi-kai, the second-largest crime group, even offered refuge to members of the foreign community — something unheard of in a still slightly xenophobic nation, especially amongst the right-wing yakuza.

The Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan’s largest crime group, under the leadership of Tadashi Irie, has also opened its offices across the country to the public and been sending truckloads of supplies, but very quietly and without any fanfare.

The Inagawa-kai has been the most active because it has strong roots in the areas hit. It has several “blocks” or regional groups. Between midnight on March 12th and the early morning of March 13th, the Inagawa-kai Tokyo block carried 50 tons of supplies to Hitachinaka City Hall (Hitachinaka City, Ibaraki Prefecture) and dropped them off, careful not to mention their yakuza affiliation so that the donations weren’t rejected. This was the beginning of their humanitarian efforts. Supplies included cup ramen, bean sprouts, paper diapers, tea and drinking water. The drive from Tokyo took them twelve hours. They went through back roads to get there. The Kanagawa Block of the Inagawa-kai, has sent 70 trucks to the Ibaraki and Fukushima areas to drop off supplies in areas with high radiations levels. They didn’t keep track of how many tons of supplies they moved. The Inagawa-kai as a whole has moved over 100 tons of supplies to the Tohoku region. They have been going into radiated areas without any protection or potassium iodide.

The Yamaguchi-gumi member I spoke with said simply, “Please don’t say any more than we are doing our best to help. Right now, no one wants to be associated with us and we’d hate to have our donations rejected out of hand.”

– excerpt from article by Jake Adelstein

*

While I don’t agree with what the yakuza has done in the past, I applaud them for the way they stepped in when no one else could.

To read the full article, head here.

the hurting world

15 minutes late for work, I got off the train at my usual station and joined the mob rushing towards the escalators. I had just turned my head to check my card, when a shadow at the corner of my eye made me look up.

Swish, swish, swish… He was a cleaner I hadn’t seen before.
Swish, swish, swish… Elderly, hunched and quietly doing his job, I’m not sure why but I was entranced by his lone figure.

A few minutes later, the crowd was gone but I was still standing there, hidden by the station’s signboard, watching him. My mouth was filled with words, but I was afraid to give them voice. My intellect didn’t quite know what to make of my heart’s odd behaviour.

I walked away.

*

Just as I reached the lift lobby, another cleaner walked past. He had a hole in his throat.

‘Throat cancer,’ the Mother said to me. ‘And because of the operation, he now has to breathe through that hole.’

‘How does he speak?’ I asked.

‘He doesn’t… well, not the way you and I do. He had to learn how to articulate through that hole.’

*

Walking through the corridor towards my desk, I passed by Crazy. She was a video editor that I worked regularly with.

‘Morning!’ I chirped but was completely ignored. Something’s not right…

I saw JapGirl and immediately asked her if she’d noticed anything about Crazy.

‘She’s going through something, but I’m not sure what,’ she replied with a sad smile. I understood that look. Crazy was one of JapGirl’s best friends.

‘Should we say something? Do something?’ I asked.

‘I’m not sure. It looks like she wants to be left alone.’

So I left her alone.

*

‘I am so sorry I’m late!’ the Dancer exclaimed as we sat down at our favourite eatery for lunch. ‘Things were just mad at work and I couldn’t get away.’

She was an hour late but it was fine with me. I had work to finish too, and truthfully, I was a tad reluctant to leave the office.

‘Don’t worry about it,’ I smiled as we tucked into our beef goulash. ‘So how have you been?’

And it all came pouring out – her problems with a team that she’d worked with for years, a horrid misunderstanding still unresolved, the sleepless nights that left her tired, the frustrations with her inability to dance because of her injury…

‘i just don’t know what to do!’ she wailed.

‘Then you’re in a safe place,’ I said. ‘You’re an accomplished woman. You’re famous because of what you’ve done in the past… I mean, come on! I can google you! How many people can I do a google search for information on credentials and history? But now, you find yourself in places where you can’t be strong… and while I know it’s frustrating, maybe this time, it’s about the journey, not the end-goal. Can I ask… what was your deepest desire when you first came in to church?’

‘I once asked myself that,’ she slowly stirred her cold soup, ‘And I had no answer. So I took a pen and began to draw. For reasons I didn’t understand then, I found myself drawing trees. Big, strong trees. One after another, till they became a huge forest. And then I got it. I wanted to grow people, to see them become strong trees, to help others who can’t do whatever it is they want to do.’

‘What do you think you’re learning, from all these things that are happening around you?’ I pressed in a little more.

‘I’m not sure… I just feel so out of control.’

‘Maybe that’s what you’re supposed to be learning,’ I smiled. ‘To let go. To not be in control but to let another greater power work through you instead.’

‘I think you’re right. I’ve never felt this way before…’ she said. Then with a loud wail, ‘But noooooo… it’s so difficult!’

We laughed and then I had to run. I was 30 minutes late for my next appointment.

*

Back-to-back meetings and coping with a shoot that was scheduled at the last minute, the day passed by and before I knew it, it was 8pm. With a sigh of relief, I packed my things and turned off the lights. Walking out, I passed by Crazy again but she looked no better from the morning.

‘Love you…’ I texted her but hours later, hadn’t received a reply.

*

Hurting people with untold stories. When do you leave them alone and when do you intrude into their world?

See the woman on the train, the man driving the cab you’re riding in, the guy seated at the bus-stop, the colleague beside you… there are hurting people everywhere.

‘Is there a reason why I was placed in this precise spot on earth?’ I asked the Dream Maker. We were watching the non-existent stars in our night sky.

‘What do you think?’ He asked.

‘I think there is. But how do I help anyone?’

‘Love them.’

‘But how?’ I wrinkled my brow.

‘Smile. Look at them in the eyes. Let the love be genuine. Sometimes, that’s enough for the day.’ He said.

‘That’s enough?’ I didn’t get it.

‘Build it daily, one brick at a time. You’ll know what to do when the time comes…’

‘Easy for you to say,’ I laughed, chucking Him on the head. ‘You’re God!’

‘And you’re Mine. What makes you think you won’t know otherwise?’

*

This time, I’m writing out the plan in them, carving it on the lining of their hearts.

– Hebrews 10:16 (MSG)

 

the struggle

He was so excited. The box held such potential.

Just before dinner, he unpacked the model kit and began building the boat, piece by piece. It was a little too complex for someone his age but he didn’t care what the label said. It was all tremendously intriguing. Half an hour later, the enthusiasm waned and he was struggling. Crying out in frustration, he tore pieces of tape and threw them into the bin.

‘They don’t work!’ He sobbed. His eyes were tearing but it never occurred to him to ask for help.

I sat there watching him in silence.

‘Have you read the instruction manual?’ I prodded.

The little boy picked up the booklet, stared at it for a while, then threw it aside. I didn’t know then that the instructions were all in French. Five minutes later, the boy was banging the table and throwing the pieces that didn’t fit on to the floor. Quietly, I watched him although my heart ached. When was he going to ask for help?

‘Mommy… can you help me?’ He finally looked up, tears streaming down his face. I didn’t want to hurt his already broken pride, so I showed him how the tape worked and where he could attach it to fix the sails. The boy’s little fingers began its work again. And then… the boat materialized.

‘Look! It works!’ He shouted, ‘Look! Watch me!’

I watched. And saw my life and its perpetual struggles.

How many times have I found myself trying to make sense of life with the logic that I acquired over the years? How many times did my pride break when the best of plans, efforts and commitment yielded no results? How many times did I push myself to tipping over before I turned to the Dream Maker and said, ‘Help me, please?’

Too many, too often.

Oddly, watching the boy struggle made me love him so much more. All I wanted to do was wrap him up in my arms and absorb the angst. Did the Dream Maker feel the same way, watching me struggle to make sense of a world that is too complex to understand?

*

Hope.

I fear that word.

Images of failures, frustration and disappointment cloud my mind whenever I find myself in the place where – as a dreamer – I long for something to happen but am scared that it wouldn’t pull through. I don’t want to be disappointed. But that was because I was trying to do it all on my own.

I’d hold the instruction manual to my goals in my hand, its rules and guidelines memorized. I’d make sacrifices, in hope… but I was depending on the wrong person to make it all happen.

You see, my dreams were birthed in the supernatural realm – the spirit. And what’s birthed in that realm is made flesh there too. Natural progression can only bring you to the point where you almost break, you can’t go on. Nothing works anymore.

‘It doesn’t make sense!’ I’d throw my plans to the ground. The worst bit was the shame that came with my failure.

Just like the little boy.

That’s why I’m making a change from this minute on.

I’m giving up.

I’m letting go of my plans and I’m going to recognize the weakness in me.

‘Can you help me, please?’ I turn to the Dream Maker. And I know… this is my beautiful moment. It’s the tipping point, if you’d please. This is the place where it all changes for the better.

‘Here,’ the Dream Maker’s finger points my next step ahead. He doesn’t intrude because He wants the plans to be fulfilled in my hands. He wants to see me glow with pride at what I did.

Except… I didn’t do it. He did.

*

The greatest struggle in living the impossible life is NOT the impossibility of every challenge, every mountain, every problem.

The hardest thing is giving up on yourself, and giving it all to Him.

Hope.

It sings to me.