The female heroines in the books I write face struggles that we all are probably familiar with, identity, searching for love or meaning, defining themselves and their close relationships. One quality I consider very important to my work, that allows me to tap into the conflicts and challenges I explore, is compassion. I feel it towards my characters and I hope that my books inspire the same among my readers as well. Love after all isn’t a quantifiable constant, it changes shape and form depending on the people who share it in any particular instance. The emotion and connection you felt towards you first love and your current one (assuming they aren’t one and the same) as equally deep and meaningful as they may have been, are different from each other. These emotional blurred lines, filling our hearts and thoughts with passion, joy, memory, they are the spaces I attempt to fill with my writing. When a reader relates to a story I’m telling, we embark on a journey that ultimately will transform us both.
Compassion allows me to open my heart and mind and peer into worlds that otherwise may be closed off to me. Compassion also lights the way for me to see the bigger picture, that as human beings we can have vastly different experiences but we are all deeply connected. We may love in different ways but we are still all seeking the same things at the end of the day. Therefore, awareness of the need to act with kindness and tenderness is a driving force for me. It’s at once wonderful and slightly painful to be in that position, and from that seat I observe very keenly the ways that love and compassion fails in certain situations and allows for innocence to be stolen or violated. In the past few months, we have witnessed several difficult events that, especially compounded, have taken an emotional toll. At their core is the inability of an individual to see humanity in someone beyond themselves, to see another person or people as valuable and each life to be cared for and cherished. We can’t take away what’s been done, and every ounce of grief and anger, every tear that we’ve shed is justified, but I believe the next logical step is to move forward, with compassion and mindfulness. What we have to do now is our very best to thwart events such as these in the future. I’d like to take a cue from some extraordinary people already taking such action. You may have seen this story on social media, where a teacher in the UK illustrated the effects of bullying to children with the help of apples as effective visual aids. We can also see life-affirming responses to the events in Orlando, like when we see a gathering of like-minded people striving to overcome hate and fear with a message of hope.
Cultivating kindness is important to me as an individual, a mother, friend and as a writer. My belief that it’s worthwhile taking care with words and actions inspires me in my work and in my daily life. I think it’s particularly crucial to protect those in our communities and the world at large who are more at risk of experiencing cruelty and injustice. Some may feel that kindness is synonymous with weakness. I don’t think this could be further from the truth. It takes a lot of courage to speak on behalf of others, who are facing circumstances the appear more difficult than our own personal experience. I believe it’s our duty to shield children, in particular those who have unique challenges, from those who might harm or intimidate them; We preserve our own dignity by standing beside anyone who has been a victim of unfair or unjust practices; As we women we must unite to push back against the ways the world tries to separate us from our own bodies and individual identities.
We can’t control the actions of others, but we can acknowledge the power in ourselves. We can have faith that what we do and say can have a positive impact on the world and on future generations. I would ask that we try to seek inspiration in those who are bravely working towards acceptance and understanding and know that we are all on a very similar journey - we can choose to take it in stride, together, and we may be rewarded in exciting, unprecedented ways.