Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wherein a Rasta Mon Changes My Perspective

A week ago my hubby Buns and I did something decidedly unusual for us. We went on a cruise. This was not something we had done before for a multitude of reasons. Those reasons mainly being tied to the financial and logistical constraints of rearing four late model children. 

Many family road and camping trips had been pursued up to this point, with 4,297 toddler bathroom stops in every repulsive germ infested truck stop on the West Coast along the way, but never had Buns and I gone, just us, to do much of anything. 

This year my awesome mother-in-law took pity on our lack of grown-up vacation experience and arranged for us to accompany her on a kids-free week long trip to the Western Caribbean. My mom and sister bravely volunteered to watch the troops while we journeyed.

The trip was oh-so-fun. The ship beautiful, the activities exciting, the food scrum-didili-upmtious, and the sea breezes divine. As we made our way  from port to port, picking up Mexican vanilla, souvenir T-shirts, and talavera pottery along the way I found my mind wandering to home and worrying about how the kids were doing, the bills that we needed to pay when we got back, if the plumbing was behaving itself, what was going on at work. 

Worrying is a genetic trait in my family. Along with our Scandinavian genealogy which provides mayonnaise white easily sunburnt skin, we worry. A lot. And usually it is about stuff that has only a 0.01% chance of actually happening. 

Will I be attacked by rabid squirrels today? Is the low grade fever my 5 year old has really the black plague? Will the pint-sized mistake I made at work bankrupt the entire company and bring hoards of raving lawyers down on us?

Then there is the worry about spiritual growth. Am I overcoming this weakness fast enough? Why can’t I find the answer to my question right this instant? Why do I have to suffer this particular trial? Haven’t I already learned this lesson?

Never mind the waving palm trees and the coral pink sunsets, I worried the toilet at home was going to somehow explode and I wouldn’t be there to take care of it.

Then we got to Jamaica. A beautiful port- clean and controlled by the cruise companies with smiling merchants selling wood carvings and hand-made dolls, Bob Marley playing over the loudspeakers. After perusing the vendors for a while it was decided we would leave the walls of our tourist enclosure and venture into the city to see if we could find real Jamaican jerk chicken. 

The city outside was a different place altogether. Crumbling buildings painted tropical colors lined narrow streets. Beat up 25 year old cars raced by with reckless abandon, honking at pedestrians to get out of the way as they bounced up and over the sidewalks. Cab drivers lined the streets and aggressively accosted us to take a ride in their vans. I was even offered a joint by a young man trying to sell his Reggae album for $10.

It was clear that the lives of the people living there were tough. Money was scarce, the living conditions were difficult, and that to keep yourself and your family fed you had to really hustle.

As we walked deeper into the city after getting directions to a local restaurant, we came to a man selling handmade necklaces at a little table on the side of the road. He was old. He was small. His salt and pepper hair hung almost to his waist in dreadlocks over a filthy white T-shirt. He wore a dilapidated Rastafarian cap and as we stopped to talk to him I realized he had the most beautiful soft brown eyes I have ever seen. They were the color of coffee beans and were full of humor and love and wisdom. 

He told us that he was a Rasta Mon who lived in the mountains above town. He made his living by carving jewelry and selling it to the travelers who came by sea for a day, but what he also did was teach. He wanted people to taste the culture and the way of life in Jamaica. He wanted to transmit his truth.

In the course of five short minutes we learned about the life colors of his people. 

Red for the blood of their ancestors who had spent hundreds of years in slavery.

Yellow for the life giving sun that dominates the sky. 

Green for the trees and plants that sustain man.

Black for the skin of the people.

He spoke about the deep connection mankind has to the earth and through a thick accent told us about their attitude that no matter what the circumstances that there was no need to worry. Everything was going to be all right. Life is beautiful and we have power even in the humblest of circumstances.

Irie. Power, beauty, love.

As we walked away from our encounter I marveled at the deep faith this man had in a higher power. It was part of his being, he knew that even in the harshest circumstances God would take care of him and bring him to a place of peace. There was no doubt. Pain, poverty, oppression, none of it mattered. All you had to do was come out of the mindset that creates injustice and you could change the world. Love your fellow man, stop being greedy, trust God and stop worrying, it will be alright. 

The idea is basic and profoundly freeing. I imagine the ritualistic cannabis smoking helps with the easy going outlook as well, but even for someone who doesn’t participate in that activity the basis of their belief system is a universal truth we should take notice of. 

Obsessive worry is just doubt and lack of faith, a break down in the trust I should have in God. As smart and sophisticated as I think I am I’m really just second guessing the Almighty when I worry. The toilet will be OK. Life will be OK. It's all a blessing.

So relax, don’t worry. Everything is gonna be alright.



D&C 100:12 Therefore, continue your journey and let your hearts rejoice; for behold, and lo, I am with you even unto the end. 

I found truth in the tropics, what unexpected place have you found it?


  1. I should go to the tropics in search of truth. Will you watch my kids while I'm gone? :) Love this, and I'm so glad you got to go do this and have such an unexpectedly amazing experience along the way. Cheers indeed!

  2. Indeed I will watch them. Bring them on over! :)


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