(Please hit the jump to recipe button above to head straight for the Vegan Chickpea Curry!)
Speaks For Itself
As a general rule, I avoid talking politics. I try to keep an especially low profile on my Instagram feed, where my focus has been to unite rather than to divide; because like it or not, politics are intensely divisive. And even though, yes, we should be able (and mature enough) to talk about this like adults, it’s not often the case. The subjects are heated and often personal, making it hard to keep our hearts neutral and separate from the passion we feel so deeply about the issues we hold so dear.
And as much as I’d like to be able to say that I’m above it all, that I never feel those flares of anger or frustration, I’m not. Go ahead and tell me that a LGBTQ+ person doesn’t deserve the exact same rights as any other human being, and you might see some passion. Try and tell me that women and children don’t need protection from monsters that prey on them, and you’ll definitely see some fury. And can we talk for a minute about why we’re wasting precious time and money talking about the legalization of recreational marijuana when the destruction of our entire environment is at stake? Oh, I can predict frustration like you’ve never seen.
So until I can keep my head consistently level (and trust others to do the same), I give the subject a wide berth. Besides, I’m pretty sure that my stance is fairly clear without me having to say much of anything at all; my love is all there is outlook on life probably speaks for itself.
A Long Shot
But today I need to talk politics. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say that I need to talk political leaders, at least to start. I need to show you where my head was before I get to where my head is. My initial words might be lightly laced with some fury, and perhaps some crippling frustration, but by the time this many-edited version reaches you, I fully expect to be back in balance again. Second only to meditation, blogging things out is one the best therapies that I know.
What else do I know? That it was a long shot that Trump would be removed from office. I had seen a tweet a while back that said: In this instance, impeachment is you and ya homegirls having all the evidence that ya man is cheating but to break up with him you gotta convince a jury of his frat brothers (who was there with him cheating) that your man is a cheater.
When I read that, I felt like it was a 100% accurate depiction of the situation. But there was still that tiny flame of hope; hope that our politicians could perhaps see beyond the blasted party lines and vote with their conscience (and, you know, the law). That tiny flame was briefly fanned when Mitt Romney bravely stood up in support of the removal of Trump. I had the cautious thought surface that maybe I have judged them unfairly. Perhaps they aren’t all frat boys after all.
Well, turns out they are, with the lone exception of Romney. But I kept that tremulous, hopeful flame burning right up until I heard the verdict. And even though it was exactly as I (and probably much of the country) had expected, it still didn’t prepare me for the crushing sensation of disillusionment. Who even are we, as a nation, to blatantly ignore the breaking of our laws and our constitution in such an unapologetic way? Who are we to support such a self-righteous bigot and racist? How is it that we’re okay with sending the message that power and wealth do indeed buy privileges that us mere common folk will never enjoy? And why (why) are we supporting this caricature of a president, constantly encouraging his bullying and small-minded ways?
And as I imagined that smug orange face growing even smugger, I felt crushed by the relentless rule of greed.
Heavy and Helpless
Heading upstairs to shower that night, my head was full of these heavy and helpless thoughts. Who was I against such selfishness and arrogance? I was nothing, smaller than nothing; we all are. We can demand and scream for justice until we’re hoarse, but it rests in the hands of those who seem to think they’re invincible. Who apparently are invincible. And in that low moment, this was how my thoughts were trending:
What are you even doing (besides wasting your time)? Retreat back into solitude, you idealistic fool. You’re done with blogging, you’re done with Instagram, you’re done with people. You’re done. Let the world stew in its own self-created misery; it’s not like you’re doing much of anything to change it anyway.
Very, Very Wrong
Writing it now, it sounds like something of a pity-party, I know. But at the time? All I felt was my crushing lack of power to do good when all I want is to do is to do good. To make this world somehow brighter and better and safer. Instead, I was helplessly trapped by my sudden and unexpected lack of belief in the general decency of mankind. I was deeply depressed by a total lack of confidence in our system and politicians. And there was also this inescapable feeling that something–everything–was very, very wrong.
And standing in the shower, trying not to cry at my frustrated smallness, I heard a voice. Not just a voice, but the voice. The voice that picks me up every time I crash and burn (which seems far too often). It was insistent and demanding to be heard.
Be the light.
Be the light.
Do you hear me? I said, Be the light.
We’re All Lighthouses
If you’ve been regularly reading along, you’ve heard this message from me before. And honestly, you’ll hear it again. And again. You’ll likely hear it from me for as long as I’m able to maintain this small space. And even though it took several repetitions before the mantra broke through my hazy sense of defeat, when I did finally register the words, they instantly–and magically–resurrected that minuscule flame of hope. It wasn’t much, but it was something; it was enough.
“I feel that we’re all lighthouses, and my job is to shine my light as brightly as I can to the darkness.” ~ Jim Carrey
I believe that, I really do. Some days I believe that it’s my only job, to shine as brilliantly as I can through the chaos. But the dark is wily, and apparently capable of snuffing out our lights in an infinite number of ways. It sneaks in through the cracks, making us sad, hopeless, angry, bitter. Defeated. In the worst of it–if we’re not keeping constantly vigilant–it can steal away our love and our compassion. It can dissolve our motivation and our will; our will to be better, do better, live better, love better.
Through repeated lessons, I’ve come to understand exactly how the darkness works its sorcery on me–stifling my words, dampening my hope, muzzling my voice. I’ve seen it countless times even while drafting this one single post. Be quiet, it growls. Your words mean nothing.
I can listen; in fact, I did listen. Several times. Shutting down my computer in disgust at the ineffective weakness of my light. But every morning, I got back up and tried again, tossing out the repeated prayer for guidance and knowing that the darkness can only win if I let it.
So what if my voice is small and imperceptible beneath the roar of greed? So what if no one is even listening or even cares? Not a single human will hear the prayers of the solitary yogi meditating in his Himalayan cave, but do I think he makes a difference? I do, I definitely do. Because underneath my words, as underneath his prayers, is a steady current of love. Invisible, invincible, effervescent love. We can’t see it or touch it or measure it, but that doesn’t diminish its effectiveness. And I believe that love (light) is the only thing that can destroy and outsmart the darkness.
Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule ~ Buddha
The darkness will try and snuff out my light again, I can guarantee it. And likely through the same avenues that it usually takes. It knows and feeds on my struggles with those who refuse to see any perspective other than their own; the lack of compassion can frustrate me to no end. Can’t you see that there’s another side to everything? I want to shake those others until their eyes open to something bigger than their own small world. Their own small desires.
I even know there’s another side to this Trump disaster. My utter lack of comprehension and understanding alerts me to the fact that there’s a piece that I must not understand. What is it about half of the population that can support such blatant–yet celebrated–ignorance and prejudice? There must be something, but as of yet, that something eludes me.
But I need to constantly remind myself not to waste my time worrying about cosmic justice; people like Trump will one day reap their own heavy dues. My spiritual beliefs in reincarnation, karma, and the unending patience of God help to (usually) keep me steadily focused on my goal. Because I believe that one day Trump will be the victimized and objectified woman. He will one day be the immigrant child torn from its parents, starving, scared, and alone. He will one day be the poor, struggling to keep his family fed while the rich of the world ignore and belittle his plight, clutching their wealth ever closer. And one day he will stand on the other side of his useless wall and wonder how he could be so judged for having been born on one side of it rather than the other.
One day, he will be blessed with the understanding of what it means to live the life of the small, the weak, the poor, the desperate. One day–one lifetime–compassion will bloom in his heart.
And the truly sobering truth is that I have no time to waste judging Trump or anyone else; I have more than enough on my own plate. Concerning myself with myself is a humbling and full-time job. This light of mine (that I hope can one day shine without interruption) currently needs constant nurturing, reassurance, sustenance, and attention. It’s such a tiny light against such a big darkness, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. I won’t apologize for thinking that this world is heavy and often bleak; it is. There’s a lot of ugly out there, constantly feeding off of even uglier ugly. But that’s not to say that there isn’t light–potent light–because there’s so much of that, too. Light that’s stronger than the darkest dark can ever be if only we don’t allow it to be snuffed out.
And it’s a constant reassurance to know that I’m not alone; I’m not the only light trying to stay lit in the darkness. I’m not the only one choosing love over hate, unity over division, peace over war, compassion over greed. Together our weak, and sometimes tremulous, lights make one big and blazing army bright enough to burn through even the thickest murk. And I’m writing this post to remind myself of that. As many times as I need to.
Be the light.
Be the light.
Do you hear me? I said, Be the light.
You know I heard you; I always hear you. And with the publishing of this post, I keep on shining, at least for today. With this post, I flip off the darkness. My light may be weak, and it may be quiet, and it may not be heard by a single other soul, but it’s still burning. And I’m going to do my best to keep it that way.
I hope that your week is overflowing with your light. And if it isn’t? You can have some of mine. Many blessings ~ Melinda
- 2 cups buckwheat (soaked, drained, rinsed)
- 2 cups cooked chickpeas
- 4 cups coconut milk
- 2 large portabella caps (sliced small)
- 1 medium onion (diced)
- 2 cups broccoli florets
- 1 medium zucchini (sliced or cubed)
- 3 celery stalks (sliced)
- 1 small kale bunch (rinsed, de-stemmed, torn small)
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
- 1-2 teaspoons chili powder
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
1. Add the buckwheat and 4 cups of water to a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer (uncovered) for 12-15 minutes, being careful not to burn. Remove from heat and let sit (uncovered) for an additional 5-10 minutes.
1. In a deep skillet, sauté the onion in 1 tablespoon of oil until soft and golden brown. Add the mushrooms and continue to sauté until all of the water they release has been cooked off.
2. Steam the broccoli, zucchini, celery, and kale until tender, 8-10 minutes.
3. Combine all of the curry spices in a small bowl; whisk to combine.
4. Add the 4 cups of milk to the onion/mushroom skillet along with the curry spices; whisk well. Add in all of the cooked vegetables and chickpeas; cook gently for another 5-10 minutes. Serve hot on a bed of warm buckwheat.
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