To contribute to Saints and Slaves in Siam click here

I have a secret fantasy about backpacking through Europe and being found after having experienced some romantic, tragic accident, with amnesia, no ID and have nothing but a change of clothes and copy of Oh, the Places You’ll Go to my name (that I don’t remember). I had that idea when I was in Jerusalem and the idea grew as I thought of how cool it would be to fill the pages with stickers and postcards and notes from places I’ve been and places I’ll go.

Originally, the only reason I chose that book is for its title. To be honest, I didn’t even really remember the text when I came up with the idea, but I read through it again and realized it truly is as close to my biography as anything I’ve ever read.

Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. There are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.
Fame! You’ll be as famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don’t
Because, sometimes they won’t.

I’m afraid that some times
you’ll play lonely games too.
Games you can’t win
’cause you’ll play against you.

When I first reread the Dr. Suess classic this is the part that stood out to me because anyone who knows me at all knows that I’m in perpetual competition with myself and not always in a way that turns out an improved product, sometimes I play me in a way that just means that whichever side wins it’ll be me that loses. This last go round, however, a different page jumped out at me:

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

It’s like getting hit with a cold gust of wind, the day you realize that, because you are eternal, you are a person capable of more than you dream. It’s one thing to struggle and reconcile yourself to “except when you don’t, because sometimes you won’t,” but it’s quite another to wake up and realize that “YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

Last Saturday I sat with a group of people in the Pardoe Lobby of the HFAC for a six-hour meeting that was the inception of a production company meant to create documentaries to open the eyes of world, not only to global problems, but also to the goodness and virtue of the people who are already working to solve them. It was an interesting exercise to sit with three other people, not one of whom brought something to the table that I could’ve come with alone. It was a strange sensation to suddenly realize that this is how every big company or organization has started, just a few passionate people, a vision and unquenchable tenacity.

Our first project (what we hope will be the first of many) is a documentary on human trafficking called Saints and Slaves in Siam that will bring to you the stories of people who’ve made significant sacrifices to combat the issues of sex slavery and labor exploitation in Southeast Asia. We want to show what regular people have been able to contribute so that our viewers can realize that what seems like humanitarian heroism is doable possibility and thereby see opportunities to make a difference in their own spheres.

The official status of this thing will go from “doable daydream” to “pre-production” when I arrive in Chiang Mai, Thailand in May 10, 2010. I get to take on the role of forerunner. I’ll be working at a rescue home and teaching English among the hill tribes twice a week, but my pre-production duties will also include scouting locations, script writing, field research, and ultimately finding the stories we’re meant to tell you. I’ll be in-country two months before the crew gets there and the official status takes on the thrill of being “in production.”

I’ve realized lots of things during this production company’s birthing process. I sat there, preparing to spend a lot of physical and emotional energy on this thing that nobody in the world asked me to do, nobody is standing over this group of people pushing us to push ourselves. So, why are we doing it? My head and heart are swarming with passions that demand time and energy and commitment and I’m at a stage in my life where I have to make real, choose this and you unchoose that, decisions about how to spend my light. The only common denominator I can find in the swarm is empathy and the untold stories that I’ve been called upon to tell, that I might somehow achieve it.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to be like the people whose stories I’m trying to tell, making dents that make the difference, but I hope I am and I’m in the business to learn how. I hope this endeavor will prove to the reluctant, timid pieces of me that I do have brains in my head and feet in my shoes and that I can go wherever I choose.

Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!

To contribute to Saints and Slaves in Siam click here