I am working so hard on putting together a professional looking book. So far I have taught myself Adobe Photoshop and Adobe InDesign. Two incredible programs. Right now, I am editing my writing and very slowly organizing the pictures with the text. It’s a long process!! After working on a page for a few hours, I sometimes just have to scratch it and start over.
The subject matter is also not the easiest. What words does one use to describe a baby dying? Working on this book brings up so many memories and emotions. On top of that, I’m not exactly sure what I am hoping to accomplish. I’m following my instincts though and this just feels right.
Today, I received a message from an old friend thanking me for getting him interested in Darfur. Since that day back in high school, he’s helped raise thousands of dollars for refugees in Sudan. I know it has nothing to do with me and everything to do with the situation, but ideally, that’s what this book will do. I want the stories and photographs to inspire other young people to act, and to bring the stories from abroad home. I do not think I’ll ever regret spending so much time on this.
I’ve always just dabbled in art. I love painting, drawing, playing the piano, and taking photographs. But this project has brought a new respect for artists. I’ve been at this two months now and the creative process can be a lonely one. I’ve tried bringing other people into it. I ask for opinions and look through books for inspiration, but as Don Gray explains,
“The inner drama, the complex ebb and flow of feelings, hints and glimpses of images and ideas, the inner drive, urges, promptings and doubts — the often fierce, undeniable, gut-deep need to create — are those of individual artists alone, that they must somehow deal with through visions of the beauty and torment of the world. Artists are meant to probe heaven and hell, good and evil, beauty and ugliness — the full dimension of life on earth, humanity’s relations with itself, with nature, with God, and the universe, as their personal needs and interests dictate.” And I must do it alone.
When I get frustrated, I look for encouragement from friends and artists. An appropriate mix of music and silence are my companions, and every once in a while I stumble on something that inspires me. Here’s one quote that has me dreaming again. Author Robert Fulghum writes,
Maybe we should develop a Crayola bomb as our next secret weapon. A happiness weapon. A Beauty Bomb. And every time a crisis developed, we would launch one first—before we tried anything else. It would explode high in the air—explode softly—and send thousands, millions, of little parachutes into the air. Floating down to earth—boxes of Crayolas. And we wouldn’t go cheap, either—not little boxes of eight. Boxes of sixty-four, with the sharpener built right in. With silver and gold and copper, magenta and peach and lime, amber and umber and all the rest. And people would smile and get a little funny look on their faces and cover the world with imagination instead of death.
I close my eyes and picture this and try not to think of the real world alternatives. My mind goes to images of children with missing limbs from landminds. I remember Paul Farmer sharing a story last year about two children playing in a field. One of them saw a toy on the ground and leaned down to pick it up. The toy was a grenade (manufactured to look like a toy to attract attention) and the explosion threw the two kids back. They arrived at PF’s hospital battered and in great pain. The boy lost his arm.
It’s hard to imagine a world where someone’s creativity leads them to produce a bomb disguised as a child’s toy, but it’s reality.
Which leads me to end with another Robert Fulghum quote,
The line between good and evil, hope and despair, does not divide the world between “us” and “them”. It runs down the middle of every one of us. I do not want to talk about what you understand about this world. I want to know what you will do about it. I do not want to know what you hope. I want to know what you will work for. I do not want your sympathy for the needs of humanity. I want your muscle. As the wagon driver said when they came to a long hard hill, “Them that’s going on with us, get out and push. Them that ain’t, get out of the way.”