Updated: Jan 26
Of course the story is different here (in the South China Sea). And It’s hard to say when it started exactly. It depends how and what you’re counting. If we’re talking mere chronology here, then I suppose the story goes back to the beginning of human existence on this planet. That’s a mighty long time, and most likely you do not have the patience or the time yourself to sit through such a story. It would take years to tell. Years! And who has years to follow a story? Who can take time out to suspend reality and imagine the impossible? Well, I can, for one. That’s how I live my life, as a matter of fact; completely entrenched in a fictional storybookland of my own prescription. And of course, that’s the tale I have to tell. My Experience and None other. Here it goes: I was born with the sun in my mouth on a muggy August evening in "Kaw-goosh-kaw-nick", on a hill overlooking the Huron River, in the Chinese year of the dragon. Later in my life I became slightly obsessive about dates and tracking the patterns of the stars and moon’s rotations, and eventually I began to draw conclusions….i spent a large part of my teenage years as an aspiring astrologer, and later in life I discovered why that was. That’s how chronology works in terms of age and knowledge. You realize much later than you experience, you understand much more at a distance than at the focal point. Now, finally, I have the luxury of traveling back and forth between the period of scenes in my life. Like a photo album, I go flipping through the pages, searching for the peaks and aching all over again through the lows. My life storybook is written in the pattern of an impressionist's countryside landscape. It is sunny and bright, mountainous and starry, but changes into something sinking within the forest and swamp covered, chaotic and continually in flux. From the essence of beauty to the finite quality of ugliness, I have traveled through it all, just in my short period of years.
That old blog post of mine (copied above) makes me realize now that I have always been writing Beneath the Surface. It is a culmination of all I've learned about being a young person trapped in unsafe circumstances beyond my control, yet still finding a way free, discovering ways to eradicate the problem altogether.
Overcoming obstacles and healing from injury is a life requirement; those without a way to do so will suffer deeply. That suffering is not deserving or fair. In fact, suffering in life is so common and random that our best methods of coping with it is to become more compassionate towards ourselves and others. We often need to be our own hero and create our own sense of purpose or good when it doesn't seem to be found anywhere else. (Spoiler alert: that's the moral of Beneath the Surface).
Believing in myself has been a lifelong struggle; I am often prone to other people's misconceptions about me. Much like Xing Xing, the main character in my story, I was a very lonely 12 year old girl and I found myself in some pretty dangerous places. Although the scars remain, I survived and healed. I have learned that facing my innermost, deepest fears is the only way to dissolve them. Connecting with the natural world and staying curious about it always sets me at ease. Helping other people to face their fears and stay true to themselves has always empowered me, as well. I suppose that's also what attracts me so much to environmental protection. As long as I live, I just can't resist speaking for those who can't speak for themselves. And as for dreaming up the impossible, I've always enjoyed doing that...
Bravery is an unselfish process. It always requires the power of love and hope, the two guiding lights that repeatedly direct me through my life and have helped me create my lifestory. Bravery grows with trust and support from others. More vital than coming from anywhere else, the most essential love or hope I've ever known has been my own. Self-doubt is just as powerful as self-belief, so it's important to intentionally nurture the latter. Deep reflection and understanding of myself is the only way I've been able to really connect with people, and that's where the true magic happens.
This is not as easy as it sounds. I wish there was a switch I could turn on and leave on that would kindle the warmth and kindness my inner child so desperately needs every second of the day. That type of automation is possible, I suppose, but it may take another 30 years or so of deprogramming, reconditioning, and supported headstands (as demonstrated below).
Until then, it's a daily practice. That's how my main characters develop their own powers, as well, and the reason I've included some of these empowerment techniques in the activity packs. The most important thing to realize is that while staying true to yourself and walking alone might be required for a person to reach their highest potential, it is nearly impossible to get there without the hope, love and lessons of family, friends, teachers and other loved ones -- human or nonhuman. (Spoiler alert: that's the moral behind the sequel to Beneath the Surface).