I stood in the parking lot of the Coronado National Monument and listened to the park ranger talk about the bands of drug cartels barreling across the border in their trucks. “I’ve watched them unload metal planks and lean them up on four foot high fences and then floor it so their trucks fly off the other side of the fence. They don’t stop. I’ve had them come straight at me. I know there’s aliens up there in those peaks waiting and signaling to their people across the border.”
I look up at the rocky cliffs and see nothing. Blue sky. Scrubby pine trees. Pinkish rocks. I think about spy movies where there is the glint of light on a mirror signaling to someone far away. No glint. No signal.
The ranger keeps talking about the border and how he wouldn’t have come back to work at this park if they hadn’t built the thirty foot wall. “It was too dangerous.” His blue eyes look straight at me. The way he speaks is matter of fact. Not angry. Not trying to convince me. His experience is seeing lots of people cross the border illegally. His experience forms his belief.
Belief shapes our reality. What we see (and don’t see) bolsters that belief.
My mind skips to a French University I attended long ago. There was a delegation of Chinese students attending the University. They moved as a group. They were never alone. They exercised, ate and studied together. I’d heard they were not allowed to interact with anyone outside their group. They were meant to be in France, learn French and return to China unblemished by their experience.
How weird, I thought. What if one of them met someone and fell in love, I wondered. (I was madly in love with a Japanese man.) I believed in the power of love to shift the ground underneath one’s feet and make you see the world through a different lens.
I still do. I believe in the corrupting influence of love.
What does this have to do with joy? Or my year long inquiry into joy?
If I believe the writing will be hard, it will be. If I believe writing is a duty and an obligation, it will be. If I come to the page with fear and dread, then they will be my writing partners.
If I come to the page with curiosity and faith and the belief that I can write something lovely and rich and deep and meaningful and striated with light and dark, well, then…
Let me be corrupted by joy.