Sunday, April 23, 2006

flame, the lotus & rebirth...

after an all too long hiatus filled with stress and challenge, an arduous move to silver lake (i.e. a million trips up 53 steep stairs from hell, only to be welcomed on the first night by gunshots far too close for comfort) and a case of itchy fingers...the blog finally got the best of me. it took some racking of the brain to remember my login name, but i reign victorious and so here i am.

it's been almost 6 months exactly to the day since i last wrote about my final day in delhi, and 6 months later, the experience is still fresh and alive in my mind. jake and i have noticed, on more than one occasion, the many similarities between LA and delhi...the burdensome traffic, the throbbing sounds of too many souls packed together like sardines, the brown haze of pollution, the sheer weight of humanity. and much to my delight, the corner liquor store proprietors are all indian and love to chat. as i made my purchases this afternoon, the gentleman clerk came alive telling me of the graciousness of his country. while putting the nag champa into my bag, he asked,
'are you needing matches?'
'no, thank you'
'how will you be lighting them?'
'i have a lighter at home'
'i see', he replied. followed by a pregnant pause. 'in my country, we are never lighting the (rattling off a word that sounded nothing like nag champa but was nonetheless amazing in its melody) with something unnatural. we are using it to clean out the bad energy and we are only using natural flame. so here are some matches. use them, don't use them. you can be using whatever you want'
i took the matches and began a new ritual.

which got me to thinking about all things 'natural'...

the environment is finally being given the consideration it deserves these days and thankfully so. i've become obsessive with my recycling efforts and minimizing my carbon emissions (love gozero!). i take my own bags to trader joe's and find myself wanting to give the thumbs-up to anyone driving a hybrid. i like to think of it as my own personal renaissance...a return to the principles to which i was totally devoted to when i was 18...the preservation and responsible stewardship of the natural world. that was 14 years ago. what went wrong in the interim?

i have a lot of excuses and none worth detailing here. i'm disappointed in this lengthy lapse of judgement. but that's not to say that i was completely out of the loop, just not as committed as i should have been. collectively as a human race and personally as belonging to one of the most polluting industrial nations in the world, i can't think of a better time to regard the natural world and the fragile ecosystems that surround us. i'm beyond disappointed at american corporations' insistence on exploiting the planet, like finding ways to justify blasting off the tops of mountains to 'mine' for coal (in fact, don't even get me started on coal and its consequences). at the risk of sounding like too much of a west coast hippie, it's so obvious to me that there is a balance to be struck between using resources responsibly and protecting the environment for future generations. surely it's possible to further technological advances while also acting as the guardians of the natural world without having to grow dreads or start wearing birkenstocks. i struggle with the notion that as humans, we are a natural organism. how then can we then get so far off the mark and ignore the devastation we wreak in pursuit of the perfect SUV experience?

which brings me back to the liquor store, my new bob marley matches and strangely enough, india...

india: so beautiful and yet so tragically polluted. the land of trash fires and plastic bags buried feet deep within mounds of earth for as far as the eye can see. and yet despite the haze floating densely above new delhi, even the simplest gesture of lighting a stick of incense with a natural flame is revered...if that isn't a maddening duality, i don't know what is. and maybe that's exactly what india taught me and what i continue to learn even at live with both and strive for understanding.

which now brings me to the lotus...

the lotus blooms in even the most polluted environments, thriving in muddied, shallow waters and yet is unquestionably a symbol of beauty, not to mention an iconic symbol of tranquility. now i'm not suggesting that we can continue at this self-destructive pace and expect to suddenly bloom a devistatingly gorgeous flower from the muck. i'm thinking more along the lines of making something negative, positive. maybe it just took moving to my own new delhi to be passionate again about preservation.

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