once upon a time, i used to fancy myself an actress. i was in this class at the time. and i found a few things in that little black box with the old school air conditioning unit and mismatched chairs in the lobby. i found my emotional instincts underneath the middle seat in the third row. i found my heart in dark corners behind the fake door which really only led to a two foot crawlspace. i found a mentor. i found a family. i found tracy.
she's one of those people who should be making a living acting. it's ridiculous that she's not. but whatever.
let me tell you a little bit about her:
she was nerdy before it was cool. which makes her 'kool' and the fact that i even know the difference makes me feel all sorts of awesome.
she showed up at a party i threw years ago, by herself, and that made an indelible impression on me. i've always wanted to be the kind of girl who can go to a party by herself. (i'm sort of in awe of her, to tell you the truth.)
she is disarmingly witty and intelligent and don't be fooled by her petite and delicate beauty. she actually knows how to kick your ass. in more ways than one. with nunchucks.
hot, i know.
she and i lost touch after class disbanded (although i think she left long before that happened anyway) and then we found each other again via bookface. ah, modern technology.
So sometimes it really, REALLY pays to check your email. Like when I blog about how excited I am to be asked to guest post for the first time ever by my blogger-friend Jonas, I've never been asked before, isn't this fantastic, and my wonderful real-life friend Krista leaves a comment on my blog that just says, "tracy...did you get my email?"
Anyways, Krista sent out an email asking her friends to guest blog about what inspires them. I just got it yesterday because I'm a moron when it comes to technology and checking email and little things like that.
And this assignment is tough for me, because I'm one of those annoying people that is in love with EVERYTHING so how am I supposed to narrow down what inspires me, when just off the top of my head I could list: newborn babies; wildflowers; Nelson Mandela; gelato; the fact that Rihanna looks hot in whatever she has on, (this includes jackets with shoulder pads, which shouldn't look good on anybody); black and white photography; Amnesty International; the entire city of Prague; root beer floats; and every Pixar movie ever made. Well, maybe not Cars.
But I felt like I should get really specific and talk about one major thing that inspires me, as soon as I figured out what that major thing was. As far back as I can remember, beginning when I was a kid, I have collected photos, paintings, poems, and stories, all of which inspire me. I'm not sure what prompted me to start this collection - maybe it was my need to prove to myself that the world was beautiful and that good survived in it, because those things certainly didn't exist inside my home very often when I was growing up.
So I picked this photograph. It's one of my favorites of all time.
The Tiananmen Square Massacre happened on June 4th, my birthday. Historians estimate that up to 800 people were killed for having occupied Tiananmen Square since mid-April of that same year, protesting the death of a pro-democracy and anti-corruption Chinese official. Obviously, the government decided to hurry things along and brought in tanks to move both the living and the dead and clear the Square.
On June 5th, a man stepped in front of the tanks which were on their way to Beijing, and was able to stop the tanks for over half an hour. The tanks attempted to drive around him repeatedly; each time he moved directly into the front tank's path and brought them all to a halt. This went on for some time before he was dragged off into the crowd and the tanks continued on their way.
People who were there to see it firsthand say he wasn't one of the protesters that had been in the square since April; that the bags he's carrying are groceries, that he was a man just trying to get home and instead made a small, simple decision of such conviction and courage that the world could not help but notice. He's never been identified - they call him The Unknown Rebel - and some say he was killed days later in a firing squad, and yet others believe he died in a secret prison after being hunted down by the government. Many believe he is still alive.
I also like to think that he is still alive, waiting for the rest of us to gather the courage to do what he did - to take what could have been another ordinary day of killing, and instead turn it into such a radical moment of love that it made the entire world stop and breathe together.
And years later, this photo stands alone, memorializing not those who killed and bullied and forced their way through the square; but those ordinary people who took their books and their anti-propaganda pamphlets and their bags of groceries, stepped into the streets, stepped in front of goddamned TANKS, and said, That's enough.