The Garden I’m referring to here is not the Garden of Eden as some of you might have suspected, but the Community Garden, located in the heart of Ky—the setting of my YA novel BLACK TIGER. Don’t worry-this isn’t a promotional blog. However, what my character goes through has a lot to do with what I’m going to write about, so bear with me.
My main character, Ember, grew up in the orchard, located in the heart of the Community Garden. The citizens there are poor and practically starving. All the food they grow is sent to the metropolis, where it’s turned into boxed meals and returned as tasteless rations.
But though the citizens are close to starving and poor, they’re unaware of their circumstances and experience more laughter and joy than the more well-off people of Ky. As the saying goes: Ignorance is bliss.
But once Ember is thrown into the “real” world, she learns things she would rather not know, and all she wants is to run back to the safe haven of the Garden—starvation and all.
I live on a five acre field in the middle of nowhere. It literally takes 15-20 minutes to get anywhere. Our internet is limited so we can’t stream videos. Our neighbors are far enough away that if you go outside, you don’t have to look at, much less speak to them. Which means my contact to the outside world is limited—unless I actively seek it out via the news or internet. I don’t have neighbors saying, “did you hear what happened in the news today?” And I didn’t realize how freeing it was to break away from all that.
Yesterday I went to the dentist. You know how dentists like to talk while your mouth is propped open and filled with tools so you can’t actually participate in the conversation? I actually usually enjoy the conversations with my dentist, but yesterday he mentioned something in the news (that I’m not going to repeat here because it’s just way too heartbreaking), and it completely destroyed me. I went into that office filled with joy, and I left feeling depressed. I had plans to go grocery shopping and run some errands while I was in town, but all I wanted to do once the appointment ended was drive home to my house in the country, far away from the terrible things that happen on a daily basis in the world today. I wanted to sit on the front porch with my two kids and hold them and love them and pet our cats and play with out dogs and laugh at our chickens.
I wanted to go home—and never show my face to the world again.
The introvert in me would honestly not care if I ever saw another person—other than my family—for the rest of the year. I know that sounds dramatic, but it’s true. I love traveling to other countries and experiencing new cultures, but when it comes to staying home or going to town, I prefer staying home. And after that thing the dentist told me, I wanted to keep my children away from the world, too.
But…my children will go to school someday. It’s not healthy for a person to live in complete solitude. It’s not healthy to shy away from meeting new people. Setting foot into the world is the way we learn, the way we grow. Setting foot into the world is the way Ember (from Black Tiger) learned about the true circumstances of her country, and was able to eventually step up and do something about it.
And maybe that’s what we’re all called to do.
I’m seriously loving the #ShePersisted hashtag on twitter. I love that people are talking about their heroes, about the women who didn’t allow people to shut them up or shoot them down. I want my children to grow up with that same persistence–the willpower to stand up against the darkness and hopelessness.
So maybe, as a parent, my job is to show my children the world, and then teach them how to love it and cherish it and tend it and lead it.
Home is the safe haven from all the hatred and darkness.
Home is where the light from books pours into our souls and love from family fills up our spirits.
But maybe, once we’re filled with that love and light, we should take it upon ourselves to share it with the rest of the world, instead of allowing the hopelessness to consume us.
Maybe it’s time for US to #persist against the darkness surrounding us.