The antithesis of violence and hatred. That is what I want to create somehow this morning as I struggle to recover from the news from Orlando. My heart was particularly tender when I heard, having just participated in an “Opening Your Heart” workshop at the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies. I hope that reflecting on my personal reaction will help provide clues to how to best form the essence of the elusive antithesis. There will be plenty said and written about the theories of hatred and the conflicting ideas of how to curb violence in our culture. Although I certainly could add my two cents to that bursting discussion, intuitively I know that the more valuable contribution I could make is in another realm. It is overwhelming and tempting to run and hide and fuel more hatred and disgust in face of yet another horrific slamming of humanity. I consider it my job in a way, as an artist, to dig deep to form the words and feelings that could begin to shape an antithetical direction. Somehow even the officials during various news conferences and interviews manage to speak of love and hope. Our own President with no shortage of compassion, looked too tired and weary during his statement, as if he physically could no longer bear the weight of it. How do we continue to cultivate love, faith, hope, peace, healing in the face of the growing murderous reality… I don’t know. What I do know is that surrendering to the darkness is not an option. That the issues of terrorism, gun control and religion are too vast to pretend there is a simple solution. That being an artist and being a compassionate human, means continuing to open our hearts without fear of them breaking time and again. And believing in the invisible threads of love that weave their way slowly toward a largely unknown frontier that refuses to be obliterated. The child’s drawing I posted, its my effort to depict a mermaid diving into the depths of the ocean. I was prompted during this weekend’s workshop, to capture my hearts’ desire, and that is to write and sing and dive deeply in order to do so. I could see why many might think of it as escapism or avoiding reality. I actually have come to see it as a mission. The heart is the only reliable source of wisdom I have ever known. By being true to my own heart, the breath within the breath as Hafiz refers to in a poem reflecting God, I can hope to help create the tapestry of an alternate universe of art forms through words and sounds. Who knows, maybe the secrets of the force of darkness lie somewhere in the depths of the ocean that my mermaid soul longs to swim in. I will not stay under the water. I’m only going there to gather the wisdom and strength I need to face what we must. Violence, disease, death, pain, what else can we do but carry our own torches of light … ? May my words help someone else find their way. Help us feel a little less alone in our grief and pain…. my condolences to the families of the victims. I light a candle in my heart of hearts for all of us ….