“It is an absolute human certainty that no one can know his own beauty or perceive a sense of his own worth until it has been reflected back to him in the mirror of another loving, caring human being.”
― John Joseph Powell, The Secret of Staying in Love
Connections are what bind us together, what preserve our humanity. We all have those special people in our lives, those with whom we can reconnect after a long separation as though no time has passed at all. Kindred spirits we call them, soul mates, if you will.
But I believe we’re surrounded by kindred spirits. It may be a smile, a friendly nod, a brief conversation with a stranger about the ridiculously long line at the supermarket. It’s one of the great things about living in New York. Connections are possible everywhere. If you’ve heard that New Yorkers are unfriendly, it’s not true. We’re just busy.
Although my kids will never believe me, I used to be shy. After moving six times in my adult life, I’ve learned not to be. My family may have tired of my constant blah, blah, blah, but I without it, I would have missed out on so many potential connections; a kindred spirit along the way.
In the small Ayeyarwady River village of Salay I found a kindred spirit in this woman sewing pillows. I felt drawn to her immediately, having spent many hours of my life at a sewing machine.
The town was full of butterflies, letting me know Peter wasn’t far away. Kris pointed these out to me on a building. Unlike the bamboo thatched houses in most of the villages along the river, Salay’s few streets were lined with decrepit colonial buildings. Many were abandoned. Those occupied were done so in Burmese country fashion, doors and windows removed. We were invited into one. The second floor was reserved for their Buddhist shrine. On the first floor we saw few signs of modern civilization, save the refrigerator and flat screen TV.
This young monk was entertaining himself on his lunch break by watching us. He was thirteen years old, had been studying since he was nine, and most likely planned to devote his life to the monastery.
We’re off to the ancient city of Bagan. A sunrise balloon ride is first on the agenda.