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“ลงมือทำ”, exploring the metaphor of grounded-ness

“ลงมือทำ” Naam Fon the project leader of Phalang Jai* coined this phrase as a vision mantra to guide her volunteers, literally it translates ‘down hand do’, she instructs her volunteers to embody their service to put hands to ground and do!

I will be curating the Creative Life Foundation blog in 2018. I’m so happy to weave together my passion for writing and reading, my art as a counselor and stories from our team. I want you to experience us, to know more deeply the uniqueness that is our team.

These will be short, creative, interactive and useful posts. I want you to get something from this. I hope to invite you to question right along with us how to act with justice, compassion, and love in a world that sometimes can feel so out of control. I hope these posts will be simple semi-poetic calls to action.

Grounded— this word so common in my profession and many of yours can sometimes lose its weight. Today we are almost too familiar. We know when there is a lack we swing into emotional dysregulation and unwellness and being grounded we can withstand life’s many storms. We can almost run over this word on our lips without considering all that it contains. I’d like to start this year long exploration by looking more deeply at at this word. Why start here? Because it is the beginning, there is no other starting point, whether the ground of our imagination or the ground of our backyards all seeds must start where they are planted. Like Naam Fon’s words, ลงมือทำ, lets put our hands to our ground and listen.

What is our ground? What is your ground? Where are we?

Farmers know that by just smelling touching tasting the soil you know how to care for the crops that are literally grounded in it. Lets do this, lets touch the soil we find ourselves emerging in.

Sit back for second with me…close your eyes…take a breath… ask yourself what is the soil I find myself in? Engage your imagination, reach down and cup the dirt of your community in your hands. Look deeply, what do you see? Who do you see? Do you see nutrients? Do you see worms? Are there seeds? What is it’s quality? Dry? Muddy? Hard? Sandy?

I look at the dirt cupped in my hands. I sit with it, feel its weight, sense it, listen to it. I see bones, dry and discarded, tired and weary. I hear the sounds of conflict; lost children, sold mothers, disappeared fathers these sounds have leached to the deepest part of this soil. They drip from my hands. Uganda, Colombia, Uzbekistan, Cambodia, Somalia, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Loa, Burma, Russia…. the list does not end and the reverberation of a century of human conflict live in this soil. I see the remnant. I feel my dirt and it is dry, it needs of some water. It’s hard in places, it’s hard to be grounded to. But I would not pick any other place. Because I also see seeds, those precious hardened shells that can survive the journey ready to bloom. In many ways the story of Creative Life is the story of those that have bloomed already.

There is a folktale of La Que Sabe “the one who knows” it goes like this, she wanders the desert gathering the bones, when she has them all she begins to sing. She sings over the dry bones until La Creatura becomes enfleshed takes a breath and runs free.

Why would anyone roam the dessert looking for bones, ground themselves to soil that is really a burial plot? I’m not sure what you saw in your soil, but I think the answer to my question is that today there is not a place untouched by our legacy of violence. As persons of justice, compassion and mercy we have a sacred duty to breath life back by being willing to ground ourselves in this soil and sing over the bones.

*Learn more about Phalang Jai on our website

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