Monkey Business

“Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.” ~Joseph Campbell

I saw this photo last week and it cracked me up. Definitely worth spending a minute perusing the rest of photographer Jason Lee’s collection of shots of his two daughters.

In the meantime, as someone constantly fixated on the ‘problems’ in the world (both global and local), I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to ‘let go.’ For me, somehow I think less about the past and more about the future (there’s nothing sexier to me than a Filofax Daily planner). Perhaps this isn’t a terrible thing as we cannot fix the past—but at the same time, I need to realize that we cannot control the future either! We can do things in the present that may positively or negatively impact the future, but we cannot change the future any more than we can the past.

As my fiction writing often requires me to ‘fantasize’ about events, moments, and characters that have never existed, it is difficult to shut off this process when I am not sitting at my writing desk. I have even found myself driving in my car alone holding conversations with myself aloud—and in Chinese nonetheless! This cannot look healthy to passing motorists.

Recently, when my mind loses its way, I have been practicing returning it to the present moment, to the fact that this ‘moment’ is, in reality, a series of unstoppable moments moving into a future which will at once feel like a ‘present’ and then just as quickly slip into a ‘past.’ Insane, right? (This is the kind of ‘bong talk’ about which I often find myself in conversation with myself that also makes my husband laugh). Yet this thought for me is soothing.

Equally soothing was seeing the DisneyNature movie Chimpanzee yesterday. Despite the blatant anthropomorphizing (think ‘March of the Penguins’ but with chimps), I walked out of the theater looking at everyone jaunting about their daily lives on the Santa Monica promenade and thought: ‘Wow, we’re just fancy chimps! Much in the way squirrels are just fancy rats.’ The removal of the ‘human’ experience as something unique was incredibly pacifying for me. It also helped return me to the present in a way that was filled with awe and gratitude. Somehow it is reassuring to think that the chimpanzees featured in the film are sitting around the same nut groves as their ancestors did 4000 years ago. And we humans are asking the same unanswerable questions as the Chinese poet Han Shan did over a thousand years ago—’Go tell families with silverware and cars: What’s the use of all that noise and money?’

Which brings me back to these adorable photos.

And also this film:


About Kaitlin Solimine

Kaitlin Solimine was raised in New Hampshire but has considered China a second home for the past two decades. She is the author of the award-winning forthcoming novel Empire of Glass and co-founder of Hippo Reads, a media start-up connecting academic insights with real world issues. She lives in Singapore.
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