I have always been a writer, a storyteller. Ever since I can remember I was copying the ways of my mother by writing my being on to pieces of paper. The only thing that has changed with the years is now I type, although I still handwrite things when I can or notes to people because I believe in preserving such a beautiful art.
So writing to me has always given me a voice. When I was younger there were times that voice was threatened by the very systems that are supposed to be in place to help us, and so I created worlds where a girl like me could exist and share her mind. At first it was mainly fiction I wrote as my imagination had extraordinary wings to it. But then I started keeping a journal and the depth of my own feelings and thoughts shook me in the most positive ways.
I am not a passive actor of this world, this life. What goes on is an integral part of me and I react because it is in this way that I best express my humanity. And my ties to the rest of humanity. I am convinced that there are few things as powerful as storytelling and especially the power to tell one’s own story.
I remember a moment at a conference to empower the youth and their parents in our communities in Miami. We were sharing stories of ourselves and our communities and one girl tearfully spoke of a friend of hers that had been shot and killed and how the school lacked any real reaction to it, and the newspapers held no glimpse of the heartbreaking story. She felt as though she and those around her were insignificant, that if they disappeared no one would know nor care. And I remember the facilitator with tears in her eyes as well telling her that those are the reasons we share our story. Because you never know where or how or why it will be the moment that sharing that story will make the difference. That’s what our oppressors fear. They fear our voice and our ability to continually imagine a better tomorrow. Because in silence, that is where they find their victory. In fear, that is where they find their joy. When there are more and more voices sharing similar stories louder and louder, there will come a tipping point. I get through life fiercely believing that.
So what have I learned in these three years since I started writing Footprints in the Air? What have I come to know to be true of journeys, love, and the durability of faith?
I have learned that the easiest part of a journey is loving the people and the spaces around you and the hardest part is take-off on a flight that carries you away. I have learned that the only way to find out the depths of my person and character is to continuously push my boundaries and to find the comforts in temporary discomforts. I know that even though I am constantly on the move, far away often from those I love and who truly love me, that the mutual love just grows in new ways–never disappearing or waning. I’ve danced smiling in rainstorms in red-dirt roads of developing worlds while learning new ways of living in this world. And I’ve sat holding the hands of others while crying over the pains that sweep across the world. I’ve learned that our understanding of love keeps growing and changing, and that who you love may too. I have learned to let go of people not meant for me and focus my strength on those who truly need me. I have learned that just sitting thoughtfully and silently in a moment is sometimes worth the same as a million phrases. And I know that I will never, ever stop being an eternal optimist, because hope is indeed the most beautiful feeling on this planet. I have a fount of hope and it will quench my thirst and remind me that faith is the most durable piece of hope that I carry on the days when I open up the news to see story after story of what happens when we create ‘others’ out of our brothers and sisters. These are a just a few of the things I have come to know to be true as I have traversed across the world, sharing in the stories of others. Knowing that one of my greatest powers is not just sharing in those stories, but retelling those stories so others may know.
I will continue to write. I will continue to share my thoughts on the things that make my heart beat and my thoughts race, and I will share them even when those around me may push back in disagreement. Dialogue is the only way to peace. And most of all, I will keep writing for those who have ever felt even thee slightest bit the same ways that I have felt.