Sitting near Galata tower in Istanbul and scribbling some thoughts about diversity and art:
In its truest essence, diversity sings of unity, of wholeness, of divine likeness. We are one, not in spite of our differences, but because of them. They are the embodied, living proof of our common humanity, a world united by its need for meaning, community, love. Art, which is the breath of all culture, awakens this collective body. It wipes the sweat from our brow, soothes the blisters on our tired hands, comforts our worried minds. It speaks of things unseen but felt, of beauty, of mystery. I like to think that, in this broad definition, art gives us hope.
Ego feels like a heavy fog that blows in and clouds the wild landscape of the heart, hiding its vast and endless beauty - the fierce crags of honest uncertainty, the gnarled cedars of self-reflection, the sprawling canyons that howl and speak mysteries from undiscovered places. There’s an infinite world beneath this naked self. Only the ego could believe it’s seen it all.
This guy was sitting on a bench at the train station in Mumbai, begging for money. I had an orange in my bag, so I gave it to him. He took the orange, lifted up the blanket covering his lap, and nodded to a multitude of wounds, stretching his hands towards my face in desperation. I had no idea. I was thinking, "You're hungry. Here's an orange," and he was probably thinking, "that's nice, but my leg is falling off."
I was sitting on the balcony of Open Hand Cafe, reflecting on everything, the three long days spent in the hospital, feeling a little sorry for myself, and taking slow, unmotivated bites of porridge. I was looking down onto the chaos that is India. streets that never stop, people constantly on the move. Below me was a rickshaw driver, who's feet seemed to be on backwards and who's ailments left his face severely deformed. I watched as he tried desperately to sell postcards to the tourists leaving Open Hand, and, ironically, I watched those tourists ignore him, pretending not to see a man who's face was melting and who's feet had grown in the wrong direction. The head-turn twenty feet later, when they were free and clear, confirmed that they had indeed seen him. In that moment, as I sat and watched this happen, it wasn't the ailments that struck me so desperately. I felt the shame of all those tourists, knowing very well that I have too often allowed my insecurities and fears to justify my passive rejection of the poor, the hurting, the homeless, as if fear was a reasonable excuse. I couldn't imagine that kind of rejection, that kind of pain, and I began to weep. India will do that. India will make you weep.