August 2016. First semester at UT. Saw an ad on campus for something called “Once Upon a Week”, a theater project where you write, rehearse, and perform a play within one week with a group of strangers. I decided, why the hell not… and ended up having a helluva good time. I couldn’t find the shaky, grainy footage I took of the performance, but the transcript is below.
On a long car ride home, one of my sisters fell asleep and I took a picture of her. The look of calm on her face mesmerized me and I decided to paint it. I didn’t know where I was going with it or what I was trying to say. Then my life took some unexpected turns and I started to feel like I was drowning… in fears, sadness, possibility. Yet I was somehow still composed, refusing to be unsettled. I hope looking at this piece in the future reminds me of all that I’ve endured, and the grace within me to face anything that might come my way.
I’ve always had a love for butterflies. It probably stems from my deep seated need for freedom – to feel that I can soar, sink, and roam without being weighed down. This photo was taken by a friend of mine and I couldn’t help but share it.
I was 15 and just couldn’t ignore how beautiful that single solitary flower looked sprouting up in between the stone steps. I crouched down and snapped this picture with my phone camera that afternoon right when I got home from school. The picture ended up catapulting me into an obsession I developed with photography and I spent a year and a half with my cheap Nikon around my neck 24/7. I sadly don’t take that many “inspired” pictures anymore but that will hopefully change soon when I leave the country.
You might have heard of the most famous Sufi mystic: Rumi, a 13th century Persian poet (side note: in my opinion translating his poetry is nothing short of a crime). Sufism is technically a tiny sect of Islam. Jalalul-din Al-Rumi and many other Sufi mystics have gifted us everyday Muslims and the rest of the world an invaluable store of marvelous love poems. This representation is my humble token of adoration for the beautiful teachings of Sufism… a note of gratitude for opening my eyes to the true, beautiful image of God.
You might be able to refrain from clicking on that headline. You might be able to scroll past that gruesome footage. But if you were at the Texas State Capitol today, you couldn’t walk away. You couldn’t turn your back. You had to see and hear the consequences of our government’s inaction towards the refugee crisis in Syria.
Myself and 20 other brave and talented individuals performed a reality that too few of our fellow countrymen recognize.