Monday, April 4, 2011

Two Pieces of Wisdom

 Last week I went to a prayer group that my wife organized and for one of the activities we had to draw pictures of whatever images flashed through our minds.  The first picture that I drew was actually the second image to whisper through my mind, me and my imaginary future family.  I'm not sure why I drew a family, I'm not even certain I want children.  I may never be completely certain.  But I guess family has been on my mind a lot recently and I felt guilty drawing a future with no kids, so this is what I drew:

I'm pretty sure Misty and I can't conceive black haired Asian, black haired African or blonde haired Caucasian kids, so it looks like we adopted in this imaginary future.  I don't think I'd be comfortable choosing a child to adopt (or making any decision) based solely on skin color in the real world*, but when you draw a pretend family on paper you've got to pick.  Every crayon is a conscience choice and I'm almost always in favor of more diversity rather than less.  Areas where I think diversity is most important: food you try, weather, ideas you listen to, hobbies, who you give love to and the cultures you try to understand.

Would I like to pass my genetic code on to the next generation?  Sure, I think most people have a biological and emotional desire to do that, and it's entirely possible that I will do that one day.  But I also have a desire not to over-burden our already-low-on-resources world.  I think adoption is a wonderful way to help children in need while also passing my wisdom on to the next generation.  Currently, I think the two most important pieces of wisdom I've acquired are 1. Love everyone equally (regardless of their religion or what their eye/skin/hair color is... and even if they hate 'Star Trek'.)  and 2. Find and then Follow your Bliss/Dreams/Passion.  And from my experience if you want your kids to learn something, you have to show it and live it.  You can't just talk about it, kids will follow your actions not your words.  Which is why my bathroom is so messy? Anyway, what better way to show my children that all people are equally deserving of love than to grow up in a loving household surrounded by brothers and sisters of different ethnicities?

My second picture is much simpler I think.  It is the Japanese flag with my heart at the center.  This was the first image to flicker through my mind and the second one I drew because I don't want it to look like I've only got one track in my mind, thinking of Japan 24/7.

I recently had a long-time friend ask me about the spark that ignited my love of Japan.  Where did it all begin?  As long as I can remember, I've been interested in Japan.  As a kid I remember watching anime and the Nagano Winter Olympics and wanting to know more about the culture and the place.  I think Japan is the first culture I encountered meaningfully other than my own.  But my love of Japan really began in college.  I had just lost a girl I was madly in love with and I had no idea what I wanted to do with my future.  Because of these two things my grades were floundering and I was in a general state of depression.  But a new semester was starting regardless of my feelings, so I signed up for Japanese 101 to meet a language requirement.

Studying Japanese carried me far away from my problems to another place, another culture where the language was beautiful and I didn't even know the word for heartbreak, literally.  I was a happier Jeff in Japanese class.  Japanese gave me a feeling of joy.  Maybe it was because I was getting closer to my dreams; dreams that weren't even a thought yet, they were only a feeling.  Don't all dreams start with a feeling of joy?  There's a song from the movie, 'The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian' called 'The Call' that I feel captures my love of and journey to Japan.  In it, Regina Spektor sings, "It started out as a feeling, which then grew into a hope, which then turned into a quiet thought, which then turned into a quiet word.  And then that word grew louder and louder, until it was a battle cry!"  You should really just listen to it below, it's better that way.  Why do we really love the things we love?  I don't know, but Japan has always and will always hold a very strong and very special place in my heart.  So it's no wonder this image burst into my mind.

The Call by Regina Spektor

Other lyrics I like from this song: "Just because everything's changing doesn't mean it's never been this way before." and "Just because they can't feel it too, doesn't mean that you have to forget.  Let your memories grow stronger and stronger until they're before your eyes."  Although I wish she would replace 'memories' with 'dreams'.  

I think it's interesting that my two pictures relate to the two greatest pieces of wisdom I currently believe to have found, love everyone and follow your heart/dreams/bliss.  I didn't even realize this until I finished writing this blog.  Until now I had no idea what the title of this post should be, but it seems clear now.  If you had to draw a picture of whatever was on your mind, what would you draw right now?

*Is it possible to adopt a child without discussing race?  Can you just ask, "Dear Adoption Agency, please send me 1 child between the ages of 0-7 that is most in need of a loving family." or do they show you pictures and profiles and you pick someone that looks like a good fit?  And how do you decide on an adoption agency in the first place?  Do you pick one from a country where the children are most at risk of turmoil?  Do you look at your finances and find one in your budget range?  The act of offering a child stability and love seems so life affirming, but the process itself seems very bizarre.

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