Friday, October 25, 2013

War zones

I got my hair done today. It is an expensive endeavor but worth it, because bad hair can totally ruin a girl's day, in a way maybe men can't understand?

While I sat wrapped in foil and goo, a woman came up and chatted with my hairdresser, Jenifer. She asked if Jen would do a neighbor woman's hair who "hadn't had her hair done in over two years because her husband wouldn't allow it." She then went on to describe how this mother of a seven year old had been married for 20 years but finally sought shelter at the local Catholic church after her husband tried to choke her. The story was tragic and yet only slightly different than one I have heard way too many times.

And I wonder, how does one get to that place? It is like the story of the frog. If you threw a frog in boiling water, he would jump right out. If you place a frog in the pot and bring the water to a boil slowly, he doesn't notice the gradual change and just slowly dies. It is interesting what we learn to put up with. Whether we become inured to death in a war-torn town like Damascus, or we forget to notice our own mistreatment in a home filled with anger, the toll on our soul is severe.

I recently joined a group of writers who help kids, in homes and jails, leading lives of destruction. They help desperate teenagers heal their soul by writing out their hearts - in journals, poetry, stories, etc. I am new to the group, but am excited about the positive impact that writing can have on a young person who feels like a frog trapped in boiling water.

I like to think that the world is changing, because I have surrounded myself with people who are positive and supportive and functioning. But peel back that personal buffer, and underneath lies the woman who is not allowed to get her hair done and the kid whose mother ridicules him, and worse - rapes, shootings, wars. There is still a lot of healing that needs to be done in this world.

I love Joseph Campbell's writing about the hero's adventure. For those of us who have braved life's dark forests and raging rivers and come out the far side strong and capable, it is our duty to help the others who are still lost in the woods. Campbell says it is the hero's call to share his knowledge, to "bestow boons on his fellow man." So, go buy a woman a haircut, befriend a young man with autism, pound nails in a home for the homeless. Reach out with not just money, but with time. For most of us, this is the hardest thing to give.

I know a lot of you do these generous things, in quiet, and for that I applaud you. I would love to hear about them, as would others. As a writer, I treasure true tales of human good. You can post your stories here, or send me an email at

xo, Cate

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