Receiving my Open Water SCUBA Diving Certification in Nha Trang, April 2006
Looking back, I now realize that I have always been writing Beneath the Surface, even as I struggled with writer's block. The Blue Marble Series 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 heal through nature and build community based in grounding, deep sea diving, star gazing Earthly love.
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 and/or nonhuman. (Spoiler alert #2: that's the moral behind the sequel to Beneath the Surface).