It doesn’t bother me to think about the past. I quite like it. It shows me what I’ve done, what I’ve achieved, what I need to get better at, and I have a lot of good memories to keep myself motivated. Looking back at that boy who didn’t feel he could ever fit in Venezuela, the young man who was in danger and resented all of Venezuela, I came to think about a healing exercise: healing with the flag of that same country.
They taught me at school that the Venezuelan flag is composed of three colors with a profound meaning: yellow, for the rich land and resources; blue, for the Caribbean Sea; and red, for the spilled blood in the path to independence. It also has seven stars, representing the seven signatories to the Venezuelan declaration of independence. It currently has eight according to the government, but we who oppose the government don’t use that version.
I started thinking, “what if that same flag could be the base for a healing method?” I kept thinking and came up with the idea of meditating with those same meanings. For me, meditation is writing, so I worked the concept as writing prompts, but it could be adopted into other forms.
Yellow: What makes us rich?
I’m obviously not talking about money, wealth, or possessions. What makes someone unique? What is it that makes you be you? It can be a characteristic, an ability, a talent, an interest, a dream, a way of doing things, the work a person does… What enriches us as individuals?
I was told that my maternal grandfather (may he rest in peace) used to say that Venezuela is, or was, a paradise. Comparing it with Syria, he used to say that it was a blessing to have every kind of weather, every kind of food, the whole year, and that Venezuelans were kind and polite all the time. He also used to say that Venezuelans don’t know what they have, how lucky they are to be in such a country.
Remembering that, I like to wonder what it is that makes me different from all others. It’s easy to say we are all different, but in reality, how are we?
Blue: What makes us free?
It’s an interesting question because, one, it builds on the previous one, and two, because we take our uniqueness for granted, while we may actually be adopting thoughts, feelings, and even actions, that are not our own. We can learn and adapt, but are we being honest with ourselves? Are we our true selves?
I don’t need to remind myself what I want to do for the rest of my life. I know it already, and I’ve known since I was 13 years old, but I’ve heard many times, from people my age, younger, and older, that they have not a single idea. My first question is always the same: “What do you like to do the most?”
What does your real, honest you enjoy? If you know it, keep doing it, do it better, and stay loyal to that. That’s my definition of freedom.
Red: What makes us strong?
I don’t like the idea of fears being prisons. They can certainly become such, but I look at them as opportunities for shadow work. Coming from an immigrant family, and being an immigrant myself, I was told a lot of stories of how my grandparents, my uncles, aunts, even my parents, had to face different fears. I had to do it as well. Be it in Syria, Venezuela, or another country, we had to take a deep breath and go on.
One of my grandfathers had to go to school with sandals in the middle of winter; my dad slept in the cold streets of Polonia; my mom raised my brother and I after dad died; and I had to be there for my brother when he got an emergency surgery when we were still new in the United States, him not knowing enough English and having a hearing deficiency. We come from a lineage that doesn’t stop because of fear. We give each other strength in the middle of distress.
How do we find our own strength when we need it the most? How do we face fear? How do we stay free?
Seven stars: Seven wishes
A few years ago, in 2017, I remembered something I learned from Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. They said something about listing impossibilities, things that seemed too crazy to become real. But then what if we worked hard enough to achieve them? Who is anyone to say this or that is impossible?
I listed a lot of dreams, crazy ideas, until I had nine. Nine dreams, nine wishes, and I’ve made them real so far, although I’m still working on the sixth, this year’s wish.
That’s what I’ve told some of my friends and relatives to do: list those goals, those dreams, put them in the right order, from the easiest to the hardest, and commit ourselves to make them real. How hard can it be? The year has 365 days, and every five years you get an extra day. That’s more than enough time to plan, act, work, and conquer. Veni. Vedi. Veci.
Planning and making all this inner working is easy, but going toward those dreams is the actual work, and it’s the point in all this. Dreams change, evolve, and they may not be just as you planned them to be at some point, but the essence remains. I’m not the same person I was in 2017, and I expect the same to happen when I look back in 10 years, but my dream will stay the same: I still want to be a full-time writer.