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Love, Loss, Kindness, and Peace

hands-63743_640Dear Readers,

Today I would like to share with you a story from my past that I hope speaks to many of you. It’s about loss, love, and kindness. They are memories that will stay with me forever.

For seven years of my life I lived in Bronx, NY until I left at the age of 10. In my last year of being in the City, I was in the 5th grade at an elementary school that was literally one block from my home. That was where I met Philippe Gaton. Philippe was a Puerto Rican boy with the kindest heart of anyone that I had known. Never had I met someone so pure and so mature. I was a bit of a troublemaker in that I loved wrestling on the playground and playing jokes on my classmates. And when someone took a joke too seriously or if I got myself into trouble with my classmates, Philippe would stand up for me and at times would actually stand between me and the aggressor. There was a time when I had bumped into this grown man, causing him to become verbally hostile. Being a terrified 10 year-old, all I could do was apologize over and over, but it was to no avail. Philippe came out of nowhere and stood between me and this adult man and proceeded to deescalate the situation by talking to the man as if he were an adult himself. He then gently took my arm and steered me out of danger.

Naturally, of course, I developed strong feelings for Philippe. And naturally, I picked on him the most and made fun of him more than anyone. I often chuckle when I think back to our dreams at that point in our lives. I wanted to be a scientist and Philippe wanted to be a professional wrestler (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was big at the time). Being the person that I am and was, I never gathered the courage to tell Philippe how I really felt, but there was an unspoken understanding that we both felt the same way about each other. The word that I can best use to describe him was “good.” His soul, his character, his looks, and his heart were all good.

I passed the 5th grade with the expectation and assurance that Philippe and I would be together the next school year. As classmates and perhaps, even as a couple. That summer my brother and I went away for camp for a two week period. On the day of our return, my mother left her job to pick us up and drop us off to our father who was home as he always was. The cab was late and in a rush, my mother dropped us off at the door and hurriedly got in the cab and back off to work. To this day, I do not understand the rage and fury that my father had when I told him that my mother was not with us because she had to hurry back to work. He destroyed the apartment and nearly broke everything in sight. He was so anxious for my mother to get home that he waited on the corner block before hauling her off. That night they had the worst fight I ever remember them having. I think it was then that my heart severed ties with the man that was my father. And when he exhausted himself and left to the streets, I went up to mother and declared “I don’t want to live here anymore.”

A week later, my mother sent my brother and I to stay with my aunt in South Carolina for the summer. In that time, my mother took what she could and left the Bronx. My brother and I returned to New York but it was to Binghamton where I would be for seven years. And my father knew nothing of it. Moving to Binghamton was a relief because of what I was leaving behind and because of the promise of the better life I was looking forward to. Though we looked over our shoulders often, I didn’t care about what my father thought and how he felt. I only cared that we were free and safe. At the same time, I was sad because I was not able to say goodbye to Philippe. I knew that he would understand what I was going through, and it broke my heart that I disappeared without warning.

Two whole years passed before I saw him again. Although we had left the Bronx, we would visit on a regular basis to see my other Aunt and go school shopping. On this one particular summer day in the City, my mother was craving beef patties. We decided to go to a Caribbean bakery that I had visited all too often when we lived there. For some reason, I decided to wait for my mother in the car. And as I sat listening to my Aunt and cousin talk, I saw Philippe. With a small plastic bag in his hand, he looked like he had just stopped at the corner store and was heading home. Like a dream, I saw him walking slowly towards the car, asking myself if it really was him. And when he came close enough, I threw the car door open and shouted his name.

Philippe stopped abruptly and looked at me. He then said something that astounds me to this day. He had simply said my name. After all those years of wanting to see him, after all the praying and wishing that he would not forget me, that I still meant something to him, he said my name.

Philippe approached the car slowly, respectfully acknowledging my cousin and aunt and turning his attention back to me. The look of shock on his face reflected my own. I don’t remember who reached out first, but I remember grasping his hand. Despite everything I felt and was feeling, all I could say was “I moved.” He asked me where. I told him. He asked me when. I told him. He confirmed that I just finished the 7th grade. And then we didn’t know what to say because all that was needed and wanted to be said couldn’t have possibly been done in the short amount of time we had. So we said goodbye. I slowly closed the car door, and out of the back window I watched Philippe sulk slowly through the crowd and up the hill that I had walked up and down so many times. Just like a dream once again, the world seemed to have been fast-forwarded as he alone moved in slow motion. I watched him walk away from me until I could see him no longer, and still I looked.

“Who was that?” my cousin asked.

All I could choke out was “someone I knew” before I turned around cried with all the strength that was in me. It had seemed that all the pain I had been through, the love, the loss, the unspoken words, and the unrecognizable feelings I had since knowing Philippe came out at that very moment. I had never cried that hard before then.

One night after that I had a dream. Philippe and I were in the 5th grade again and we were on the swings at our school playground just talking while the stars above us shone brightly. We laughed about the old times we had on the playground and in the classroom, and I told him why I moved away. I told him I was sorry that he never knew. I told him that I liked him a whole lot. And then I told him goodbye.

These days, I dream about Philippe once in a blue moon, but we have not reconnected. Like the young 7th grader, I don’t believe he will remember me. But perhaps, as it was before, I may be surprised at hearing him say my name once more. Philippe is not a professional wrestler, but from I gather, he is an aspiring actor. He goes by Philip Gaston now. He has and will always have a special place in my heart.

Peace and Love,

Ariffa

We’re All The Same And Yet…

atlas-62742_640Hi Everyone,

Throughout my life, I have listened to people who told me stories about someone they know or someone they used to know. And as I listened to these stories, I was reminded that though it may not seem like it, we are all similar in that many of us go through the exact same things. We face the same struggles, the same difficulties, the same happiness, and we meet and deal with people who eerily have similar personalities to someone else. Isn’t it amazing how someone may be describing a a situation or a person, and you find yourself picturing another scenario or individual that you were reminded of, leading you to nod or smile in complete understanding? This is something that I thought about a lot when I created the characters for Kingdom of the Sun. Although each one is different and unique, I enjoyed being able to craft each character so that you (the readers) can understand them. I wanted each character to be personal in that each of you would feel, picture, and relate them to yourself or someone you know or have known. The ability for an author to do this is the key to making readers emotionally and mentally attached to a book. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I remember finishing some novels and feeling a sense of loss and melancholy that my time spent with the characters was over.

And as similar as we all may be, we are so different in many ways. Now of course this is a good thing because individuality would not exist. Yet, more importantly, if we did not have our differences, then there would be no such thing as acceptance, compassion, mercy, empathy, and more. Instead of tearing us apart, our differences, like our similarities, should bring us together and bring out the best of us.

Peace and Love,

Ariffa

Do Not Forget

girl-62328_640Hi Everyone,

This past week, I have read some blog posts that really reached out and touched me.  That is because they reminded me of these important things:

 

No matter how much money you have or what job you do, our purpose in life is to help one another.  From something as small as a smile, to something as quiet as a prayer, to something as big as a hug, we are not alone on this Earth because we’re supposed to act like we are.  We are all together in this world to serve one another.  That is a direct reflection of spiritual, Godly beliefs and His light.  It is a direct reflection of who we are as a person.  Do not forget this.  And do not forget these quotes:

May you cultivate a servant’s heart so that if wealth comes your way…you will be generous to those in need. -Bill Tonnis, http://billtonnismusic.wordpress.com/2013/08/20/enter-the-kingdom/

Humility does not mean you think less of yourself –it means you think of yourself less. -Ken Blanchard

And finally, I will leave you all today with this amazing, beautiful story of kindness and compassion from Quotes Via Text’s blog:

One day, when I was a freshman in high school, I saw a kid from my class walking home from school. His name was Kyle. It looked like he was carrying all of his books. I thought to myself, “Why would anyone bring home all his books on a Friday? He must really be a nerd.” I had quite a weekend planned (parties and a football game with my friends tomorrow afternoon), so I shrugged my shoulders and went on.
As I was walking, I saw a bunch of kids running toward him. They ran at him, knocking all his books out of his arms and tripping him so he landed in the dirt. His glasses went flying, and I saw them land in the grass about ten feet from him. He looked up and I saw this terrible sadness in his eyes. My heart wen out to him. So, I jogged over to him and as he crawled around looking for his glasses, I saw a tear in his eye.

As I handed him his glasses, I said “Those guys are jerks. They really should get lives.” He looked at me and said, “Hey, thanks!” There was a big smile on his face. It was one of those smiles that showed real gratitude. I helped him pick up his books, and asked him where he lived. As it turned out, he lived near me, so I asked him why I had never seen him before. He said he had gone to a private school before now. I would have never hung out with a private school kid before. We talked all the way home, and I carried his books. He turned out to be a pretty cool kid. I asked him if he wanted to play football on Saturday with me and my friends. He said yes. We hung all weekend and the more I got to know Kyle, the more I liked him, and my friends thought the same of him.

Monday morning came, and there was Kyle with the huge stack of books again. I stopped him and said, “Boy, you are gonna really build some serious muscles with this pile of books everyday!” He just laughed and handed me half the books. Over the next four years, Kyle and I became best friends. When we were seniors, we began to think about college. Kyle decided on Georgetown, and I was going to Duke. I knew that we would always be friends, that the miles would never be a problem. He was going to be a doctor, and I was going for business on a football scholarship.

Kyle was valedictorian of our class. I teased him all the time about being nerd. He had to prepare a speech for graduation. I was so glad it wasn’t me having to get up there and speak.

Graduation day, I saw Kyle. He looked great. He was one of those guys that really found himself during high school. He filled out and actually looked good in glasses. He had more dates than I had and all the girls loved him. Boy, sometimes I was jealous. Today was one of those days. I could see that he was nervous about his speech. So, I smacked him on the back and said, “Hey, big guy, you’ll be great!” He looked at me with one of those looks (the really grateful one) and smiled. “Thanks,” he said.
As he started his speech, he cleared his throat, and began. “Graduation is a time to thank those who helped you make it through those tough years. Your parents, your teachers, your siblings, maybe a coach, but mostly your friends. I am here to tell all of you that being a friend to someone is the best gift you can give them. I am going to tell you a story.”

I just looked at my friend with disbelief as he told the story of the first day we met. He had planned to kill himself over the weekend. He talked of how he had cleaned out his locker so his Mom wouldn’t have to do it later and was carrying all his stuff home. He looked hard at me and gave me a little smile. “Thankfully, I was saved. My friend saved me from doing the unspeakable.” I heard the gasp go through the crowd as this handsome, popular boy told us all about his weakest moment. I saw his mom and dad looking at me and smiling that same grateful smile. Not until that moment did I realize it’s depth.
Never underestimate the power of your actions. With one small gesture you can change a person’s life. For better or for worse.

http://quotesviatext.wordpress.com/2013/08/21/story/

 

Peace and Love Everyone

Ariffa

In Honor Of…

candles-141892_640Dear Readers,

I’ve been feeling a bit down lately, so to cheer myself up, and perhaps some of you as well, I have decided to write today’s post about compassion.  It’s actually a repost from when I first started blogging, but its meaning is the same, nonetheless:

I sometimes get the feeling that we as a society are afraid feel and let others see our emotion and compassion.  And sometimes we can just be flat out cold.  I’m sure some of you have seen the show “What Would You Do?,” well this is a story from a first hand experience.  I used to live in New York City (NYC), and as most know, NYC has thousands of homeless on the streets and in the subway trains.  Sometimes that person is not homeless, but a severely disabled or scarred member of society that needs some change for surgery or what not.  More often than not, these people are asking for money and food.  As a child, you learn to adapt to your surroundings and you observe and blend into what is “normal.”  Therefore as a child, I thought it was completely normal to ignore a person in need and pretend that they are not literally standing in front of you asking for help.

I moved away from the city when I was ten, and it wasn’t until I was an adult that I rode the subways and walked the streets of NYC again (I was visiting family).  I cannot describe the immense pain and heartache I felt.  The majority of that emotion was not only because the person was disabled or homeless.  It was because 1) That person was being ignored by a train full of people or by hundreds of passerby and 2) I could not imagine how that person themselves felt to hear complete silence or no movement of help towards them when they ask for it (not to say that there weren’t some noble souls).  Whenever I could, I gave to those on the subway some money and offered a prayer of blessing to those on the street and to those I did not have cash for.  Like most, I sometimes wondered if they would actually use that money for good, and you know what I thought to myself?  I say “it’s on them.”  It’s on their soul if they decide to take advantage of person when he/she is doing something that they see right.  I say to myself “don’t worry what others think, or what that person may do with the money.  You’re doing what you think and feel is right.”  I sometimes feel like we use the “they’ll use it for alcohol” excuse because we are afraid to show compassion for fear of being looked at as weak or foolish.  If something is the right thing to do and it feels good, why not do it?

What is ironic about this topic is that emotion is treated completely differently when it comes to the media.  Although it is their job to tell the news (and stretch the truth), the media tends to focus much too much on drama, and it is at times ridiculous and even offense.  I will never forget when Steve Irwin died and the media asked his beautiful daughter, Bindi what she thought Steve would be saying to her at that time.  Can you get any more invasive that?  And with a child?  Bindi smartly responded (and I’m sure her mother wisely prepared her for this intrusion) that the answer to that question was private.  When the media was interviewing survivors after the 2011 tsunami in Japan some of the first words that they used to describe a man was “he looked like he’s been crying for days.”  Then there was the question of “I know it’s hard on you, but can you describe how you’re feeling right now?”  In tragedies of the past and tragedies of today this stupid question has never failed to be asked.  We as viewers see the damage, destruction and the same horrific and saddened faces of people who have suffered because the media shows them over and over.  We do not need to know how they feel because we can see it.

Good deeds of course happen everyday, and sometimes the media does capture it.  I’m sure that most have heard the story about a cop buying and giving boots to a homeless man.  Although it is great to hear good news often, I sometimes wonder why this has to be news in general.  Then I remember my past experiences and realize that it is quite rare to see something like this happen.  This is a good thing, and yet it is a reminder of something sad.  With that being said, good deeds should be done in the shadows (when it can be helped of course).  And whether we feel brave enough to do it in the open or do it when no one is looking, we can sometimes feel helpless, which can make us not help at all.  We can feel helpless because we may feel like we are not able to effectively reach those in need whether they are near or far away (so we can therefore feel like our help has no impact), or because we simply don’t carry cash to give to those in need (I rarely carry cash).  And to that I say “in honor of.”  What I mean is, if you feel like you cannot help someone for whatever reason, do something in honor of them.  For example, you can donate clothes in honor of those in natural disasters who lost everything.  You can donate blood in honor of those who lost their lives.  “In honor of” can also simply be giving someone a thought or prayer of hope and well-being.  Even if you have the money in your pocket to give to those in need, just giving them a simple blessing from the heart is doing something.  Do Something.  I promise it will make you feel good and perhaps make you a little happier.

I hope today’s post has reached you.  Let it light a flame inside of you.

Peace and Love,

Ariffa

The Peace Sign

DSCN0517Dear Readers,

Whatever happened to giving the peace sign in pictures?  These days, whenever I come across photos of people from Japan and Thailand, about 80% of the time someone or everyone is giving the peace sign.  So, what happened in America?  If I flip through my family album, I will see that just about every picture has someone doing the peace sign…If I were looking at the photos from the nineties, that is.  Has the peace sign become a faded out trend that is now considered “uncool”?  But isn’t “trend” the key word here?  Was the peace sign popular because everyone was doing it or because we all really believed and wanted peace?  Looking back, I guess I never really thought about it when someone said, “Okay, say peace!”

When I sign these posts and my emails with “Peace and Love,” I mean it from my heart in saying that I wish you peace and love, and that peace and love is what I give you.  So today, for the first time in a long time, a picture was taken of me giving the peace sign.  And I’m planning on many more in the future.

Peace and Love,

Ariffa

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