Hajj. We're considering very seriously to go this year. When Malcolm X performed Hajj it transformed him. He was born in an extremely racist time in the US and harbored grave resentment. At Hajj he saw people of all the colors of the human spectrum interacting as equals and it changed his views forever. I longed to perform Hajj as a child but recently my eyes have grown clouded with cynicism. I've heard of people robbed during tawaf, women being molested mere footsteps from the Kabbah, stampedes where its each man for himself. To see selfishness and the shortcomings of man in a place where we all are striving to be spiritually complete, I'm afraid what that will do to my own spirituality. Also, though I am sure going to the Kabbah despite it all will be a moving experience for me on a personal spiritual level, at one time I read that it had great political and cultural significance and was almost a national conference to deal with issues in the Muslim world. Is this still the case? Some say we do Hajj to see where the Prophet lived, etc. But that can be done other times of the year as well. What was it initially envisioned to be? Is it the same as what is today? Have you gone to Hajj, what was your experience? I realize my questioning might offend some people but its not my intention. I'm seeking to learn more about it so that when we go I can fully appreciate it.
Speak or stay silent? I went to Borders to do some book browsing and was taken aback by a particular work of fiction written by an author I greatly admire and respect. It embodied every stereotype of Muslims and put it into quite a poorly written book (not just my opinion, many critics were surprised by his unusual topic and the subpar storyline). I debated sharing the title and expressing my thoughts on it. But I'm confused. When you see something like this do you discuss and create controversy or do you stay silent and let it simmer and die out. Controversy is the sole reason Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses is still in print and what shot Boyz in the Hood up the box office charts. So what does one do when they see something they disagree with? Light a fire and bring attention to it hoping it will illuminate the truth behind the falsehood? In doing so you risk the fire running free giving what you tried to put out a new life of its own.
Writing Groups. I'm reading a book right now called Bird By Bird about the art of writing. Have you ever had a moment that you are thinking something and the answer directly came to you? Yesterday as I waited for my eye appointment I picked up the book and thought to myself, "I hope by the time I finish this book I can start writing because I have so many stories bursting at the seams but my writing stinks. Then I open the book and my eyes fall upon this: "I don't think you have time to waste not writing because you are afraid you won't be good enough at it" WOAH. Okay granted, its not like I was reading "Star Wars" and came across this. It was indeed a book about writing. But. Still. The writer recommends writing groups to keep yourself motivated. You meet however often is convenient. Set weekly goals. Like finish a chapter, or 300 words, or whatever it is. So I'm just throwing this out there to my quiet friends who I suspect read this blog... Are you an aspiring writer. Would you be interested? Please email/call if interested.