If you live with your heart open, fear becomes an adventure….
I was ready, I guess. I was of age. In many ways, I had less than most—living on the plantation, saving pennies for food, fighting for floor space by the window, never seeing Father, tapping trees at dawn with Mother. And then there was my arm: I was leaving home with a terrible secret hidden under the sleeve of my blouse…. But I was leaving with a good education. I had a strong foundation in several faiths. I was a hard worker, and honesty came easy. I did not have much of an ego left, but that would later prove to be advantageous. I had birds of paradise, monkeys swinging from trees, the roosters crowing at dawn. I had sunshine, and warm rain on my cheeks reminding me that life is about moments. There were shiny rubber tree seeds in my pocket representing the power and beauty of growth.
Mostly, I was leaving with Mother’s voice in my heart; it made me feel safe, as safe as a girl with only one good arm could feel….
I had an incredible childhood, if you think about it. I literally won the lotto when it came to school. And those diamonds in my pocket were priceless to me. They were the reason I had anything at all. My arm brought panic, but sports changed my life. When I threw the shot putt, no one stared at the scars on my arm. Their eyes followed the path of the ball. And then they cheered. They always cheered more loudly than I thought my throw deserved. My childhood has been blessed. It’s perspective, I guess….
And when I left my mother’s arms, I felt joy and freedom. And this girl who made all Cs in school found more success than she ever could have dreamed. Despite my rather busy career life, I perpetuated extra-curricular traveling activities, too. I have hiked Mount Bromo in Indonesia; Mount Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia; Mount Sinai, Isreal. I took a Viking Cruise from Sweden to Norway and Finland. I’ve cruised along the Yangzi River in China; the Nile River in Egypt; Niagara Falls, Canada; Galapagos Islands, and the Amazon River in Peru. I went scuba diving in San Lucas in the Caribbean. I learned to Surf in Hawaii and California. I took a Sand, Surf & Air Balloon ride to watch the sun set in Dubai. I hit the slopes in Australia, Switzerland, Prague, America. With a pack on my back, I traveled all over. And this is the best, I parachuted out of a plane from 20,000 feet at Perris Lake, California.
But I was always searching for peace in the jungles of Malaysia, the Sistine Chapel, and the Krishna Temple. In marathons in Hong Kong, Europe, and Malaysia. I prayed in the temple in Sri Lanka. Prague? Berlin? They were fascinating. I’m so blessed, but life was not still when I visited those places. That came gradually.
“Peace starts from within in the hearts of each of us.” Gandhi said that. It was the Father of India’s message to the world. Everyone can make a difference. It brings me great peace to visit this temple and see the shrine to Gandhi. I like to meditate and feel the serene energy on the lake there too. I look forward to daily meditations. I have found balance; it anchors my soul. At last I have found my way home.
Whether I am with my Buddhist mother, my Jewish husband, or the Headmistress at the Catholic Convent School, I am one with everyone, as they are with me, as we are all one with the Source. It’s a very free way of thinking. I don’t know that it’s for everyone. I just know it’s for me.
Even though we were poor, those six years at Chinese school took that feeling of wanting away. I was too busy, for starters, to think about my secondhand shoes. Education helped my self-esteem immensely. And the school had this grand church bell announcing a new day. It should have been at the top of the Notre Dame Cathedral, this magnificent bell, not at my little school. I can still hear it today: music to my ear.