Life Lessons

As I write my way to freedom, I find that life is all in the perception of it. Unless, one is in the military or in the midst of a battlefield, or like me, from Malaysia, still embroiled in battles already won and established in law in the United States, nothing is black or white, screaming a compulsion, either life! life! or death! death!
There is a certain ennui in the society of leisure.

In my distress, I often hear my late mother laugh, not unkindly. She told me a story once to encourage me about a great Indian king and poet who by some miscarriage of justice was imprisoned. He gazed at the moon, risen in the night sky beyond the prison bars, drew himself up to his full stature and commiserated with the moon, “Oh, how sad it is, said the king, “that the moon is imprisoned behind these bars.” I remember then as now, the potrait my mother painted with her words and I see in my mind’s eyes the king drawn up to his full height. The king possessed freedom and generosity of spirit that could not be contained. My mother made her point and changed for life, in that moment, my perception of life and poetry. My life was to hold its own cups of sorrow that I was to plead with God, even before I knew Him to remove from my lips, but He did not.

As a poet, I am the better for it. “A poet,” Carolyn Campbell, an Evergreen poet & artist friend once said in conversation, “is oftentimes a seer. One who sees ahead.” At the moment I look ahead and can only imagine and dream a future. I am not unaware that many other Americans are out there on the battlefield fighting a battle that I have run away from. To remain on Malaysian soil, thinking, feeling and writing the way I do is suciede. In the words of Steven Gan, the award winning journalist and editor of MalaysiaKini, “there is freedom of speech in Malaysia but not freedom after speech.” In this battle, I have only the breath I draw and these words.

So I write here. Looking oftentimes over my shoulder. Fearing my inner passions. The yearning for dignity. The anger over injustice. The sheer waste of human life…the carnage…and then I am reminded of the example my mother cited. And I am encouraged…for life is in the perception of it. I draw myself up to my full height and gaze at the moon, beyond me, there is always a God who stoops down to make me great. (Psalm 18.v35)

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