This photo reflects the serenity we could tap into when we quit trying to feel serene. Too often I think I will have a serene moment after the dishes are done, the lawn is mowed, the bills are paid, the money is earned, all my flowers grown, and every trespass blessed. And all my words written in chapter form.
Serenity can be found in chaos, with dirty dishes in the sink, without every flower bloomed. For Aung San Suu Kyi, it can be found under house arrest. A political prisoner of Myanmar (fka Burma) for 15 of the past 21 years, she speaks of courage and forgiveness. She lives free from fear, all the while under house arrest and restricted from seeing her sons who live in Britain. When we hate, we allow fear entry to our hearts. With her love for all she leads us towards no fear.
I might have finished writing the bio of Aung San Suu Kyi sooner had I not stopped so often to examine my own fears. At times I felt I might sprawl out on her sofa — if she still had one — to experience the flow of her wise words wash over me.
Facing fear and/or not facing fear is a familiar theme. Fear of grief tops the list for me. I used to practice for it all the time. Some say that is Way Irish. I’ve learned it doesn’t help to practice our sorrows early. Last year at this time when a handful of my life’s pieces were up in the air, I was writing the bio of Amy Tan, author of The Joy Luck Club. Tan had lost her best friend and editor but didn’t lose her friend’s wise words: grief is finding the real heart of a story. Grief is what helps us reach the center of humanity and the balance of life contained within.
Between the Tan and Aung San Suu Kyi projects, I was asked to write a serious bio of Michael Jackson. Last year at this time, he passed away before he could find that balance of serenity each of us pursue. Researching and writing Jackson’s life story twanged on my heart. Clear away the debris of drama and the spectacular, one finds that center of humanity Tan found in her life. Jackson didn’t live long enough to learn what Tan shares in her work. Jackson didn’t live the life that could bring him the serenity Aung San Suu Kyi embraces all the while under lock and key. Finding the redeeming quality in each of us is core to Aung San Suu Kyi.
Morgan Reynolds Publishing
has earned a fine reputation for its extensive collection of serious non-fiction it publishes for young adults. I’m rather pleased to announce the Jackson book, Spin
, has reached the warehouses and bookshelves just this week. Tan’s bio will follow, but meanwhile I’ve been putting the final touches on Aung San Suu Kyi’s bio. Her country is gearing up for an election while she is under house-arrest. Perhaps if the election serves the junta regime well, her sentence might be commuted and she will be allowed to step away from her house. Each of these three people have touched my life this past year as I’ve written their biographies for a publishing company which feels there are solid lasting lessons to be learned when we read their books — a touch of serenity, even.