Tuesday, August 31, 2010

On love...

There is a lot I could say about this, but for now I'll just leave a passage from Mayfly Requiem. Sometimes love just doesn't make sense, but we have to learn to deal with it anyways. I'm not dealing with spontaneous love, love with no explanation or reason, but I know people who have. We do not choose who we love, and the who doesn't matter. What matters is that we love at all, because without love, we are nothing but ego and dust.

Love is a peculiar affliction, but you know this already, my sweet Dia. Bitter, uncontrollable, unpredictable. It washes over us like floodwater, sweeping away all common sense and replacing it with rambling, fluttering sweet nothings. We try to shove it aside and forget our feelings toward mortals, but we are creatures of emotion and the harder we push away, the harder it grips us. We have never been able to escape it.

What is it, anyways, this affliction called love? Attraction? Moths are attracted to flames, but that does not mean they love it and does not make it not dangerous for them. Lust? I don't think so. I can lust after anyone physically appealing, but that does not mean I want to spend a mortal lifetime together. Chemistry? Pheromones? The insatiable urge to relieve a bit of sexual angst? I don't know, Dia. Maybe you know better than I, even though you've now found yourself in a loveless relationship. Maybe this love word so freely thrown around is just a word.

Or, maybe, it is more. Maybe it is a bond, a subtle version of the link we share, a tendrilling vine of souls, spiraling ever closer together. A gentle understanding, unashamed acceptance, a dream which continues upon waking, a futile wish never to be alone again. Whatever it is, love is a lost struggle to us, another relic of the past and memory of the future. Can't do anything about it though, can we? We are meant to love. We are meant to lose. Love is our promise of a bittersweet end, and our desperate, hopeless struggle not to hurt anyone along the way.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Human Rights

I think of strange things while driving in the car. Today I was inspired by a bumper sticker, but I can't remember what it said because I was too busy mentally composing this list.

I'd like to hope that someday we will be socially evolved enough to respect each other as we are, but I know it won't happen within my lifetime. I do not think I am a pessimist, I just have a Utopian dream. Human nature tends toward two extremes, cynicism and unthinking callousness. We either see the world for the mess it is or block it out and ignore the world to focus strictly on our own ambitions. In my utopia, all humans have the same inherent rights, but are perfectly free to be individuals. These rights are independent of government and belong to every human being on Earth.

Love -- You have the right to love the person or persons you are attracted to. It is recognized that love is not a choice, and the gender, race, age, religion, and any other defining factor of the loved is not relevant in the ability to love. Consummation of love between mutually consenting adults is a private matter not to be interfered with by others. Love between people may wax and wane, but it is not a trivial matter and love outside of the traditional male-female relationship is not seen as anything other than another variation of normal.

Bodily Autonomy -- You have the right to do what you wish with your own body. No one, including parents or guardians, has the right to alter your body without your permission with the exception of emergency procedures and reconstructive surgeries on minors. You have the right to make your own decisions about what goes into your body, what your outward appearance is, and what medical procedures are undertaken. Your body is yours and yours alone.

Health -- You have the right to receive and expect medical treatment for any injuries and illnesses sustained. Should you not wish to partake of any medical care, it should not be forced upon you and you have the right to refuse. At the end of your life, you have the right to comfort, respect, and dignity in your palliative care. It is your responsibility to make your wishes known to your next of kin before it is needed, and your next of kin should respect your wishes. You have the right to live without fear for your health due to inability to pay. The patient should come first in priority, and the payment should only be discussed after stabilization of the health condition

Life -- You have the right to live without fear of your life being taken by another. You should not be a victim of war or murder. Your life has worth and it is respected universally.

Sustenance -- You have the right to clean drinking water and enough food to meet your body's needs. Gluttony should never exist in one nation while its neighbors are weathering famine. You have the right to your appropriate optimum nutrition from the moment of your birth until the time of your death.

Environment -- You have the right to a clean world. You have the right to live on land, drink water, and breathe air free of hazardous chemicals and toxins. No corporation should compromise the safety of the people by utilizing chemicals in places where food is grown and water is consumed by humans, animals, or crops. You have the right for your health never to suffer as a result of environmental toxins.

Individuality -- You have the right to follow the path of your choice without coercion. You can choose your religious beliefs or lack thereof, your lifestyle, your career based on your skills, your spouse no matter his or her demographic, whether or not to reproduce, what consumer items to buy, who to vote for, and how and where to live.

Education -- You have the right to a comprehensive, unbiased education. Your abilities are taken into account and you may continue your education along the lines or your preferences and skills. Knowledge should not be hidden, costly, or unobtainable to any who wish to seek it.

Voice -- You have the right to be heard. Your concerns and ideas matter even if they are ultimately unobtainable. No one has the right to oppress your voice and keep you silent. Your voice is your greatest power. Use it if your choose, and let yourself be heard.

Choice -- You may choose whether or not to take advantage of these rights, but it is always your choice and your choice alone to make. You do not have the right to choose for others and others do not have the right to choose for you. Your life is your own to live, but do not expect others to choose to live your way.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


I lose time. Hours, days, weeks, months. I can remember them, but I don't feel like I was actively participating in them. Memories are dreamlike and I can't remember either beginning or end. I lost a week this time. I drifted mentally while doing everything I was supposed to, but I lived in a perpetual fog and acted automatically.

I have narcolepsy. I was diagnosed when I was twenty, at the end of my sophomore year of college. I was napping more than I was awake, hallucinating, and had been losing muscle control as a result of emotions since I was a child. I had a sleep study ordered by my neurologist and was diagnosed, and the diagnosis was reconfirmed when I was 26.

Damn it, it is two days later. I lost track not long into writing this. At least I've been working on my book a lot. It is another time-eater, but not a time-waster by any means.

I gave one of my major characters narcolepsy because it has only rarely been accurately described in fictional literature and on screen. He has my hallucinations, cataplexy, and time-loss. I even gave him my summer time experiment, where I spent a summer between classes sleeping when I was tired to see what my body clock would do. That was the summer right after I was diagnosed, and before I found a medication that worked at all. It was also the summer I wrote The Crystal Lattice.

I am currently unmedicated and have been for several years. I spent a lot of time on a medication called Provigil, but the side effects compromised my health. I was always jittery and never hungry so my weight dropped to 85 lbs. I switched to Ritalin after that, but the effect didn't last long enough and I developed a quick resistance to it. I tried Provigil again a couple years later on orders of a new doctor, but this time it irritated my stomach so much I couldn't keep anything down and my weight started to drop again. I am now just treating my primary coenzyme Q-10 deficiency (autosomal recessive mitochondrial disorder, diagnosed via muscle biopsy when I was 25), and the supplement treatment for that disorder has actually helped my narcolepsy enough that I am functional.

I still have cataplexy, and I still hallucinate. My husband told me I was frantically thrashing and yelling about bugs on the walls a week or so ago. I hallucinated giant butterflies one day in the park while playing frisbee. It doesn't happen very often, but it still happens. I also can lucid dream, hold conversations while dreaming, and am aware of my surroundings while my brain is registering REM on an EEG.

I don't think any of it is so bad. I am intensely creative and am able to be inspired by mundane things. I have an excuse to fall asleep in class, which was upheld by my alma mater's disability services when I was working on my bachelor's. It is not all bad, but my life is dreamtime and I never really know when the next attack will strike. I have a decent amount of control over it since my sleep attacks are overwhelming fatigue and not a sudden drop into sleep, but I don't drive more than 10 miles if I can help it. Narcolepsy is my normal, and though it would sometimes be nice not to have it, it is part of who I am.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


twilight is a clawed embrace,
raking at the golden hour.
a hunger burns unrelenting
but i know not what i desire.
the dark, the stars, a misery,
to touch the gossamer sweet light
with hazy eyes and hazy mind.
the shadows set, transition to gloom,
twilight gloom, a weighted dark,
and sunlight's last remorse.
darkness growing, ever burning,
coldly creeping ambiguous light
the claws of nightfall longingly reach
for my soul, my twisted soul,
which aches for the taloned caress
and hungers with sharpened teeth.
it lasts but an instant,
and then all is dark,
the end of twilight, that fleeting hour,
power fades into the trees,
and my soul retires
until the gloaming of dawn.

(This was written during a sunset thunderstorm a couple of years ago. The photograph was taken at a campfire a different night.)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Life of a Milk Donor

The International Breastfeeding Symbol August 1-7 is World Breastfeeding Week, so I have decided to repost the four journal entries I have written so far on milk donation. I originally posted these on a parenting forum. This might seem a little strange to my male and other non-mother readers, but I assure you guys, this is a completely natural thing and I am not the least bit ashamed of it. If you are uncomfortable with it, just skip reading it instead of harassing me about my choices. My goal is awareness, not criticism.

Part one: (written 4/15/10)
You never realize how much something that comes naturally to you is worth until you find someone who needs what you have and can't provide it herself. My hidden talent is priceless to the two women two babies who receive my extra milk. I have a precious gift, and it means everything to them.

Breastfeeding did not come easy to me. My milk came in on the third day after my son was born, and on the fourth, the engorgement began. For two excruciating weeks, every thing that touched my breasts was agony. My husband often had to hold my hand when I fed my son because his small mouth and shallow latched caused more pain than most of my contractions did. My little Bs swelled past a DD and walking up and down the stairs felt like having a pair of bowling balls ripping through my skin. My overactive letdown made my son cough and sputter.

Two weeks of ice packs, hot showers, and no painkillers, and the engorgement finally ceased, though the pain continued for a couple more weeks. It wasn't until 8 weeks that I was nursing pain-free and my son learned to handle the letdown.

At 3 weeks I began to pump the opposite side my son nursed on so I could build a supply for when I went back to work. My first couple of sessions, I got 1.5oz from either side. Within a week, I was getting 2.5-3, and by the time he was hospitalized with bronchiolitis at 12 weeks, I was averaging 3.5-4oz per side per session at work, and 6-8oz from the side opposite of feeding in the morning plus another 2 or so from the side he ate off of. I had 900oz in the freezer and could barely open the door anymore without something falling out. I was freezing 15-20oz a day over what he was sent to daycare with. I pump twice at work, once in the morning after we nurse, once on the opposite side after we nurse after work, and then a final time to clear out the remainder before bed.

I suppose I could have cut back on pumping so I was such an overproducer and tried to reduce my supply, but that seemed such a waste. I had all this milk, was continuing to make more and more every day, and knew someone out there might be able to benefit from it. I researched milk banks and was qualified to be a donor, but quickly realized I didn't want something I made in abundance to be broken down, pasteurized, and sold for pharmaceutical profit. I contacted the local La Leche League and went on Milkshare, and that is where I found my two recipient families.

It turns out dairy-free donors are in high demand. So many babies can't handle cow proteins. I am a long time vegan and still taking prenatals so my milk is pretty much benign and allergy free. I had inquiries from all over the country, but after some deliberation decided I wasn't comfortable with shipping such precious cargo. Through my two contacts, LLL and Milkshare, I found two local mothers, both parents of adopted babies. The first was given about 750oz, the bulk of my original stash, and a week later when the second one contacted me, she received 250oz. I'm giving her another 300 that I've accumulated in the last 3 weeks when we can arrange a time.

I'll never forget the gratitude of either mother when I gave them my milk. Both were amazing women who were inducing lactation, but did not make enough milk for their adopted children. They made the decision to give their babies the best start possible by giving them breastmilk and I was only too happy to help. They help me clean out my freezer, I help them feed their little ones with the most valuable liquid in the world. Both of them thanked me profusely and called me "amazing", but I think they are the ones who are amazing. It is a tough decision to choose to feed your child another woman's milk instead of resorting to formula, but now that I've seen it, I know I'd do the same thing in their position. I've developed an appreciation for breastmilk, so much that I do not consider breastfeeding a "choice". I am helping to grow two beautiful babies besides my own thriving boy. Any little inconvenience pumping causes is totally worth it.

At just under 4 months, my son eats more now at daycare, 12-16oz, but i still pump twice that. A 10oz surplus day is a bad haul. I use my work pumping time to read. I've read 7 books since going back to work, more than I read all the way through the pregnancy fatigue. I'm hungry all the time, but I can eat whatever I like and still safely but slowly lose weight. I'm still a very heavy, though high volume, eater since I want to produce the best quality milk I can. I take care of myself to take care of my son. My son is only on the breast at home so we still get our mommy time no bottle can replicate. I know my body will never be the same, but for the first time I love it because I know what it can do. I can give birth all naturally and I can feed a small village. I now love the battle-scar stretch marks covering my thighs from the edema and slashed across my breasts and abdomen, the new Ds that feel bolted to my chest when full, the occasional leak that reminds me everything is working as it should. I am proud of my body. It is not the traditional skinny waif beauty anymore, but I have faced the battle to motherhood and won. My skin is better than it has ever been and I'm blessed with a total cease-fire with my former enemy AF.

I am nursing while writing this one-handed and I plan to breastfeed until age two and will continue to donate until I don't have to pump anymore. I have many varied skills and talents, but being a milk donor has brought me a bigger sense of self-worth than anything else I've done. All babies deserve the best start to life possible and I've helped bring that start to three.

Part 2: (written 4/29/10)
I gave one of my recipient mamas a big surprise on Tuesday. She lives two and a half hours away so it can be difficult for me to get milk to her since we obviously both have little ones. My family was driving through her town on their way home from visiting us, so I had them make the delivery. She was only expecting 200-250 ounces, but I sent her 450! I didn't realize I could make so much extra in a month plus a little leftover from earlier. I was shocked the day before, when I did a preliminary count of the storage bags in my freezer and came up with 90 bags. I freeze in 5-6oz portions, so she got over 450oz for her gorgeous little man. This was enough to supply them for about a month, since she was able to breastfeed him some herself. I kept 50oz in my freezer and have continued to add since my big freezer clean-out, round 3, on Tuesday.

As of now, I have donated somewhere in the neighborhood of 1500oz to two different families. Being the science nerd I am, I had to do some calculations to put my excess milk into different perspectives...

1500 ounces is...

11.7 gallons

44.4 Liters

187.5 cups

46.9 quarts

93.75 pints

44,360 mL

30,000 calories (at 20 calories/ounce)

99.5 lbs (at 8.5 lbs/gallon... this is 5/6 of my post-baby body weight)

And this is only from my extra! I've produced so much more than this for my own son, since he's on the breast at home and gets sent to daycare with 16 ounces on weekdays.

I find these numbers empowering. I suppose I could have done something silly, like take a bath in my leftover milk or make a metric ton of soap (I actually did make a little from expired daycare leftovers), but my milk is worth so much more than that. It was worth the initial agonizing pain and latch struggles to watch both my son and two other babies grow and thrive because of the incredible gift I am giving them. Maybe I have an altruistic streak, or maybe I just hate to see something precious wasted. I am proud of my body and what I can do. I love it even if I don't always love to look at it. I found I am almost euphorically happy to help other mothers in such a profoundly personal way.

Since my parents made my most recent delivery, they finally understand what I am doing and how much it means to both myself and my recipient families. After my mother saw how full my freezer was after emptying it not a month earlier, she finally got it, and no longer admonished me to save my extra in case I ran out. She had me in a time when new mothers were counseled to keep timers handy and only feed for 5 minutes on a side. No wonder so many ended up resorting to formula to keep up with a hungry baby! I know my little guy would suckle for 45-60 minutes at a time when he was a newborn, so expecting a grazer to only feed for 10 total minutes is asking for a hungry, unhappy baby and a low-supply mother. Anyways, she understands now, and after my family finished the rather strange task I gave them of delivering body fluids to a complete stranger, I received a happy text from my mother exclaiming "The dairy truck has been emptied! You just made someone very happy."

Milk sharing is not a new thing, in fact it is as old as humanity itself. I decided to open up and write about it because so many people now think it is strange or even disgusting. I have extra, someone else needs more, it is only natural for us to cooperate in making sure everyone involved has the right amount. I am so happy my body does what it is supposed to do, and more. I guess in a way it is one of my callings, to make a small sacrifice of convenience on the sometimes rocky path of motherhood. I now live for others more than myself and I wouldn't give it up for anything.

Thank you to all who have read this and my previous entry. I hope you all realize what amazing people you are, no matter what paths in life you choose.

Part 3: (Written 6/8/10)
My freezer is once again mostly empty, but the belly of my little recipient isn't. Both my own little firecracker lovebug and the handsome little man adopted from Africa who I currently donate to are growing big, healthy, and chubby thanks to this amazing substance my body is able to provide them. It is the most valuable substance in the world, simple and natural and far tastier than gold, diamond, or oil. My milk is a cornerstone for their futures, a foundation to grow their bodies upon.

To date, I have donated 2100oz of breastmilk to two babies. My most recent donation was on Sunday, a substantial 600oz that I accumulated over 5 weeks, which along with what his mother can provide will feed my little recipient for at least a month. I've donated 1350oz to him and thanks to my donations and smaller donations by several others, he hasn't needed formula since he was less than a month old. All I've asked in return is reimbursement for the storage bags, a nominal amount I just use to buy more storage bags.

My own son's well being is certainly not being neglected by my donations. I simply make too much and instead of leaving the extra in the freezer until it is no good, I am putting it to good use. I pump at least 30 ounces a day in addition to exclusively nursing when we're together, and he usually only takes 15 at daycare. He is not on solids yet and has never eaten anything but my milk. He gained almost two pounds last month and should be somewhere around 16 at his weigh-in for his 6 month appointment in two weeks. His feet are starting to hang off the end of his carseat. I'd say that is pretty good for a baby who started out at a tiny 6 lb 5 oz and 18.5 inches long. I'd swear my milk is caffeinated even though I don't consume caffeine because my little boy is a bouncer, dancer, kicker, of extraordinary energy. He'll play in his jumparoo for an hour straight without getting tired, doesn't take more than cat naps, and sleeps soundly for 9-10 hours a night. I either have super milk, super baby, or both.

I'll have to find a new recipient family next month since my current one is moving far out of the area. They weren't really in the area to begin with, a 2.5 hour drive away, but we managed since they lived in the same city as my in-laws. This last time, recipient dad drove all the way out here to pick up the milk. I'd like think it was worth the 5 hours in a car, since my donation will feed his little one for a full month while they get settled and find donors in their new city. I don't think I'll have difficulty locating a new recipient since dairy-free donors are in high demand. The only difficulty I foresee is choosing... choosing which baby receives my donation, figuring out whether I am willing to ship the milk even with the recipient paying and arranging all the shipping. It is hard giving up something so personal and meaningful, especially when it is hard to guarantee it reaching its donation without damage, and especially during the summer heat. It's hard to chose between families when every family has an equally heartbreaking story to tell. So many babies can't tolerate or thrive off of formula and can't digest milk proteins, and so many adoptive families and low-milk supply mamas want to give their little ones the gift of breastmilk.

I am about 1/4 of the way to my two year goal, and I don't see any reason why I won't be making at least a couple more donations. My little boy's intake has gone up, but I still freeze at least 10oz extra per day. This strange and often overwhelming gift I have is his as well as mine. Up until this point and until we introduce solids in a couple weeks, every ounce of him was grown by my body, both before and after birth. I might leave the messy solids feeding primarily up to my husband, but my body is no where near done providing nutrition for my little lovebug yet. I don't know how and where this journey will end, for we are still just under 6 months in. I feel I still have a lot to give, both to my son and the children I will donate to. This ride is taking me to places I never even considered before, but I am so glad I was able to hop on and enrich the lives of those I have shared my milk with so far.

Part 4: (Written 8/1/10)
I began celebrating World Breastfeeding Week a day early by cleaning out my freezer. To most people, this would mean defrost and disposal, but for me it is something far more meaningful. You see, I cleared my freezer when I donated my 22nd gallon of breastmilk via a 700oz donation to a family who drove 700 miles round-trip to pick it up.

What was my extra milk worth? An ounce per mile, 128 miles to the gallon, 5.5 gallons. Enough milk to supplement a low-supply mama with ongoing health problems and her baby for at least six weeks. Most people wouldn't make that trip, but those who would know that an ounce of mother's milk per mile is worth far more than the gasoline it takes to retrieve it.

Would I go so far if I was in the same situation? Probably, but I've been lucky so far. Low supply is not something I've had to deal with so I don't know exactly what I would do. I do know we are definitely not a formula-feeding family. I guess it works for some families, but it is not for us under almost any circumstances. I know I would find a donor if one was needed. One thing I have noticed in the three families I've donated to is that the entire family is on-board with the decision to use donor milk. This weekend was the second time it was just the husband or husband and an older child who came for the pick-up. They were extremely grateful, and more than that, they understood. My husband knows my wishes if anything were to happen to me. He knows where to seek donors and what to look for because he saw it from the donor end.

My bond with my son is more than just holding him and looking into his eyes while feeding him. I am growing a person, a little man whose future is being shaped by the actions I take now. My body grew him when I was pregnant with him, continued growing him while I exclusively breastfed him, and is now further growing him as we are slowly introducing solid foods. Up until 6.5 months, every inch and every ounce of him was grown by my body. There is both power and empowerment in a bond like that. My body is not only doing what nature intended of it, it is going even further. I have not fed one baby, but four, four unique individuals, one entirely grown by me, and three growing with my assistance. I may end up being just a small part of their growth, but I was part of it so we share a bond far greater than mere strangers, even though I have never met any of them in person. Every painful early latch, every moment of severe engorgement the first couple of weeks, every minute spent attached to the pump was worth it. I am giving just a little bit to the future of the children I feed.

I do not know where I will go from here. I resigned from my job recently because I realized the immense amount of overtime I was doing due to recent environmental disasters and the horrible stress was not worth the small paycheck. I was turning most of my paycheck right around into daycare and I was losing far to much time with my family. I gave my two weeks notice and that was it. I trained my replacement, packed up my desk, and became a stay-at-home mom on July 23.

I am still pumping in the morning and before bed because of my oversupply and so I have extra milk to mix with my son's food and for babysitters. I am freezing at least 10oz a day, which is about what I froze before I quit my job. We bought a used chest freezer for the garage a while ago, but haven't been able to hook it up since all of our downstairs furniture was in the garage following a flood and repair work. Once we get it running, I'll start filling that freezer. I imagine barring anything strange happening or my supply tanking, I'll be donating again in the future. My son is 7.5 months old and I would like to breastfeed him until around age 2, so we have a lot of time and a lot of milk left.

I don't need to change the world on a large scale. I only need to better the lives of those around me and those I can. My experiences donating milk have changed my outlook. I now know what gratitude means. I know about bonding and sacrifice and love, and I don't need to look any further than the photographs of the families who have received my milk and even more, the eyes of my child, asleep in his room above my head.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


We are a culture obsessed with time. When, how old, wake up, go to sleep, deadlines, schedules, weekdays, weekends, paydays, due dates, deathbeds. Wear a watch, set the alarm, hurry, hurry, don't be late! Ticking and tocking and chiming and tolling. Past and future are always in our thoughts, but what about the present? How can we even live for our futures if we don't pay attention to the now?

We worship time unintentionally. We hang or place shrines to it in nearly every room in our homes, wear its symbolic representation on our wrists, watch its long arms tick ever so slowly toward the end of another workday. Its cry wakes us in the morning, and we are sure to reset it before bed at night. We become slaves to its whims, doing the same tasks at the same time every day as we cross off dates and months and years one by one by one. We lose the small moments as it pushes us into the future. We cannot escape its unyielding wrath or its ultimate plan for us. Time has become our master, and we its slaves.

Time deities are widespread in world mythology. Chronos, Father Time, the Fates, Kairos, the Norns, Kan-Laon, Huh, Vertumnus, Geras, Mundilfari, Manu, Death. Whatever it is called, it is the beginning, middle, and end of our lives, a pervasive presence we cannot escape. Some cultures are far more hurried than others, but all spend energy fighting time. There are miracle cures and fountains of youth, life support and life-long restrictions of diet, sex, and happiness, all with the intention of extending the reach of an individual's time. Immortality is too often sought through extending one's own life unnaturally instead of through leaving a legacy for the future.

Slow down. Breathe, just take in a long, deep breath and absorb your surroundings. Watch a spider build a web, watch your children play, watch the washer complete a cycle. Mesmerizing, isn't it? The present is where everything happens, but we are often far to worried about what comes next to take any of it in. We lose our own childhoods dreaming of the future and lose our children's to deadlines and over-scheduling. Suddenly, our children are grown, we are old, and the future holds only the promise of an end.

I am not saying forsake all duties and scheduling, but take some time each day and just savor the moment. Discover something small and beautiful. Spend time with those you love. If you don't at least once in a while, you'll find all of sudden that you are at the end of your time and full of regret over what could have been. Recognize that the smallest moments are often the most meaningful. Do the things you always wanted to do today instead of procrastinating further, for you never know which day is your last. You never know when Time will come to claim you, so spend every day eliminating potential regrets.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


When I was fifteen, I visited Japan as an exchange student. I spent a day on a boat on Lake Biwa 琵琶湖 . I remember nothing of the day, other than this rock. It stood far out in the water, far enough that no land was visible from any side. It stood tall while everything around it was drowned by unrelenting water. On the surface, it was quite small, a tiny island peering above the waves, but beneath the blue-grey, it was a mountain. It was the one mountain to break from the watery depths of Biwa and crown the waves with simple glory. Beauty in solitude. Unrelenting dignity despite being out of the element of all its peers. Sometimes, one must experience a bit of loneliness to break free into a new realm of understanding. Stand tall, and do not be afraid to stand alone if the thundering waves threaten to drown you into obscurity.