Stories are beauty. The life documented. The heart's eye-view. So upon this page I share my silent stories with you.
My Life, Love and Pursuit
When I think of life my thoughts rush to the intimate moments I share and have shared with my fellow man and woman. My mind is flooded with memories of every opportunity I've been given, every achievement I have earned, every heart I've hoped to have helped which in turn has rewarded me with the greatest gift of all, the gift of giving.
Where would I be without my beautiful Khmer girls rescued by Somaly Mam. The love emanating from their very cells pouring into my heart and soul changing me eternally in ways I cannot express with words. Their illuminating beauty lighting the room and world around them allowing no darkness anywhere to reside. Their laughter ringing like happy Christmas bells to all who may be so lucky to hear and luckier still to be able with which to join in. "I love you in my heart!" they told me over and again, clinging to their chests, passion for life and loving affection shining in their eyes.
I met these beautiful beings on a glorious March day after an insanely bumpy hour and half long drive through rural Cambodian countryside. The journey to Kampong Cham was only the beginning of my introduction to beauty so pure, so raw and yet not untouched.
As survivors of one of our world's most atrocious human rights violations, these young, would-be indentured slaves have seen a life to which many sheltered, First-Worlders would never be privy. And thankfully so, as the stories I've come to learn would cause even the most callous of my peers to become ill with emotion were they to learn of them in less than the sugar-coated way our society presents them.
Thank God for writers such as Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn, New York Times columnists and authors of my favorite book to date, Half the Sky. Their depiction of our world's continued conflict over equality for women worldwide is as honest as one can hope to find. Filled with informative statistics, clarified myths, and calls to action laced into every chapter, one cannot finish this book without at least a slight understanding of the true importance of the fight to have women be free of oppression and allowed access to education without discrimination.
The idea behind Nick and Sheryl's book is, simply stated, empower and educate a girl if you hope to see change in a community and/or abroad. Even simpler still, the book's premise states, "Women hold up 'Half the Sky.'" All women can realize their potential for greatness and all great men have already realized their need for a strong woman. I do not say this from a feminist standpoint. I do not say this thinking in any way, shape or form that women are at all superior to men. I say this because it has been proven and because he who hath an ear to hear let him hear. I say this... to empower.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, for millenniums the female species, comparatively to its opposite, have been viewed as a thing of beauty. Beauty which is revered, beauty which is lusted after, beauty which is appreciated, beauty which is preyed upon. The latter something of which not one of Somaly's resilient Cambodian girls hasn't fallen victim. Whether by pimp or sex-tourist, local deviant or more heinous still, a father, brother, uncle, grandfather; Somaly's girls have survived the worst of what our world has to offer. And yet, a common thing' which may come as a surprise to you fore it most certainly did to me, these beauties are the happiest children, young women, dare I say, people I've ever met.
Forced into a life of shame and degradation, these 'damaged humans' are so far above the piteous box in which most Westerners would think to put them. In fact, I would go as far as to say, THEY are not the 'damaged' ones at all. AND if anyone is to be pitied it is we of the Western world, as we gripe and complain about simplicities such as not having "enough bars in enough places," or in L.A. where I live, "the horrible traffic on the 405." Yes, it is WE who have a lot to learn from these incredibly evolved individuals who can survive well beyond what would seem to be humanly possible and after, finally in their state of freedom, smile and dance with zest for life, never seeking pity, never once asking, "Why me?"
Love is something easily and quickly categorized as a romantic feeling between a man and woman, woman and woman or man and man. But, for me, it is something all together different. For me, it is not a quest to find a life partner. For me, it is not even the love that ties those of a kindred DNA. No, for me, 'love' is the filler to all of my heart's deepest voids. And I have to say, the moments in which I've felt the most 'love-full' have not been with a man or even a family member, they have been with a small child, a small invisible-to-the-rest-of-the-world-due-to-poverty, child who would look up at me with trusting eyes and simply reach for my hand. This causing a burst of endorphins to explode throughout my being which I imagine can only compare to the first moment, following birth, between mother and child. No, I am not this little one's mother, but for a single moment my world stops, everything hazes, all now in slow motion, the contact is palpable and my heart is over-flowing. In a second's time I have already decided I would throw myself in front of a speeding car or a fired bullet for this tiny, little trusting person. Why? Who knows! But I would. In fact, in that same instance I've already begun calculating how many current assets I have and how I could potentially take this small being ten thousand miles from his or her homeland back with me to the United States to raise as my own. Call me crazy -- I call it... love.
So, my Pursuit? To save a Life, therefore finding Love and in so doing causing me infinite Happiness. I'm a simple woman. I view the world as a simple place. And the only area where I've been told I lack a sense of simplicity would be when it comes to my vision. Although, I happen to think the ambiguous 'they' are wrong. I don't know. YOU tell ME. I have a vision... to abolish slavery. Not easy. But, simple? I think so.
Higher Consciousness = Happy Peace
It's six o'clock Christmas Morning, I'm on a beach chair in the sand facing the Sihanoukville, Cambodian seaside. The sky is a pale, pale blue, etched with clouds and the faintest pink color mixes with the blue, painting a spew of purple just due east of me. I am calm. I am at peace. My heart is full and my heart is broken at the same time.
Last evening, the hotel I, Somaly and our group are staying in had a gala for the Christmas holiday. During the festivities, a group of children ages five to sixteen helped us celebrate with singing. Their light and dark blue uniforms hinted that they were from a local school and the nature of their songs suggested it was most likely Catholic or Christian.
The group sang a collection of, perhaps, ten songs. They had choreographed little dance moves as well as interpretive hand motions. It was engaging for the gala attendees as a whole. I think I can speak for everyone when I say it was certainly the high-light of the somewhat ill-planned evening's entertainment. The previous performers having not been so... uplifting? But it was more than a mere positive energy that the young ones brought. It was something else entirely.
It's truly remarkable to be in the presence of perfection. I don't mean the distorted societal image of perfection. I mean perfection in it's true form: innocence. We have a tendency as humanity to lose sight of our perfection, however, we are quickly reminded of it when we experience the "ah, they're so cute" -ness of watching innocent children glowing in their perfect present-in-the-moment-ness.
I wasn't one. I wasn't one of a few. I was one of many, if not, all, last evening, who felt the deep, enlightened beauty emanating from the singing school children. We were touched, engaged and warmed because what we were experiencing was true love. And by love I, again, am not referring to distortions created by society. I mean acceptance.
Of course, in this moment of feeling such overwhelming amounts of love, I instantly had flashes of all my wonderful, beautiful heroes. The baby girls, teens and young women who have survived the atrocious acts of some of our worlds most deeply unconscious suffers of agonizing pain. Suffers who, instead of being enlightened out of their pain, chose/choose to inflict that pain onto my girls and the many like them victimized by human trafficking and a modern day slave trade.
My mind went to Srey Noot, and Nett and Nee and all of the young children at Kampong Cham Center. Then my mind jumped back to these beautiful innocent little ones who are growing up protected and loved and of course I resisted what is. I thought, this is how it is supposed to be. This is how our world's most enlightened beings should be treated. Not enslaved! Not raped before they even fully develop! Not abused for a small fee! It's not fair.
Of course, the moment my mind thought 'it's not fair' I was instantly in anguish and tears followed not long after. I was sitting in Somaly's lap curled up like a child being held by a loving mother, sobbing my eyes out, because I cannot accept what is. But that's okay, because I'm doing one of my other three options. Since I most certainly cannot walk away from it, I'm left with my choice to change it. In that moment of anguish I wasn't present I was elsewhere. But I'm back now and I'm taking action more than ever. I will end slavery or I will die trying.
Will you come with me? Will you join me in raising our world's collective consciousness so we create a vibrational frequency so high no negativity will dare to penetrate our vast bubble of light!?
I am a part of everything because I love. I am the girls. I am you. You are me. We are one and only as ONE can we end this atrocity, this sin on humanity. Join my heart. Join my hands. Join my love. I am the change. You are the change. We must Be the change. It starts with me. It starts with you.