Around the world in 150 pages?

sikh plane

I have started and stopped so many blog posts. The problem with my writing is that it only seems to come from intensely personal places. The loss of my father started my fingers flying and then weight loss prompted me to expose my self in more than one way. (By the way, that has been holding steady, for those interested. I’m working on those pesky body dysmorphia issues at the moment. Who is that in the mirror? A horse of a different color, surely.) Short stories have been started and stopped. A novel idea has bounced around in the back of my brain and sprinkled a few pages. But, since the novel was not really very novel, those soggy pages are abandoned. I have even gone so far as to take a Creative Writing course at the local community college. I do love the course and have met interesting folks. A few of them have unique voices that jump off the page. I want them to write more, I want to hear them speak to me, and I find my own voice muted in comparison. It all just falls flat at the moment. But, perhaps, perchance, might and maybe and it could possibly just be, in its inexplicable way, divine inspiration has struck. (That’s going to turn out to be a pun, by the way.)

What has always moved and fascinated me was the multitude of ways that humans try to connect with each other, with “the other”, with the divine, and with their inner selves. These efforts broadly fall under the heading of “religion”. If you’ve known me for five minutes or met me on an airplane, if you sat next to me at Starbucks or sat across from me at a table for eight in a ballroom, you know I taught World Religions for five years. I know, I belabor it. You are all pretty sick of hearing about “When I was teaching….” or “One of my old students just…” But, those years were the most rewarding years of my life in terms of touching and interacting with humanity. So much was shared, learned and gained — by me. I hope my students got something along the way, too, but I was the greatest benefactor.

So, where is this all going? I am struggling as someone who wants to write. I am despairing in our current divisive political climate. My voice has been silenced in many ways but still seeks a way out. And I am left with no inspiration and have started to hate the pronoun “I”. And then I (there it is again) saw an article yesterday about a Sikh man who was unknowingly photographed and snapchatted (or Instagrammed, who the heck can keep up?) on a flight and the man who was taking his photos was captioning that he was afraid of the terrorist when the turbaned gentleman got up to use the bathroom, was relieved when this terrifying figure fell asleep, that he was “still alive!”, etc. Lightning from the blue! A blog about religions of the world. For laymen. You know, normal people like you and me. Something not intimidating, not full of esoteric and highly metaphysical and philosophical tangents, perhaps with personal anecdotes, approachable, factual and as judgment free as humanly possible. A Huston Smith for the commoners; a guidebook for our globalized world. My old course, in blog form, and without the constraints of Catholic doctrine and adolescent students.

So, that’s the idea. If I can stop one Sikh from being mistaken for a terrorist, stop one more Muslim from being persecuted for the beliefs and actions of a subset of his faith, stop one more woman outside a Charlotte Indian grocer from having a gun pointed at her while she is nursing her baby, explain what the heck karma really is, shine a little light in a darkening world, then that is a reason to write, and it is very personal indeed. Oh, and it is super fun to write about all of the Hindu gods and goddesses and the music of Matisyahu. Bal Shem Tov, anyone?