"If You Shine Like a Beacon"
[Sunday, July 19, 2020]
Alicia was a soggy ball of tears
crumpled in Aidan's lap.
The two of them sat on
the lime-green couch
on the front terrace of
Aidan's bungalow in
The weather was
sunny and warm,
but not sweltering --
something they both
liked about the Maldives.
Inside the tiny bungalow,
Saraphina was practicing
her Arabic calligraphy on
a Buddha board, thus giving
them what privacy she could.
Alicia sniffled quietly. Aidan hugged
her and handed her another tissue.
The wastebasket at their feet
was already overflowing.
"It's not just this one death,
you know," Alicia explained.
"John Lewis was the last
of the Big Six leaders of
the Civil Rights Movement.
Now only the kids are left."
"Well, that's something,"
said Aidan. "New people
step in to fill old shoes."
"I know, but they're ... smaller,"
she said. "Martin was a mountain.
Malcolm was like staring into the sun.
John was the soul of the ocean."
"Great people come and go,"
Aidan said. "Someday,
you will find new ones."
"I guess," said Alicia. "At least
Martin has statues everywhere and
his name on about a million things."
"He does, at that," said Aidan.
"People like to remember him."
Alicia snorted. "Except they forget
what a pain in the ass he could be."
"Well, that too," Aidan admitted.
"I just hate that people remember
the parts they like and sort of ...
erase the rest of it," Alicia said.
"Time is a river," Aidan said,
stroking her hair. "It washes
away everything in the end."
Alicia started crying again,
pressing herself to his chest.
Aidan held her and rocked her.
It was all he could really do.
When the tears wound down,
Aidan said, "Sometimes it helps
to share what you learned from
a person. Can you tell me
something that John told you?"
Alicia nodded. "You are the light.
Never let anyone diminish your light.
Lean toward the whispers of your own heart,
discover the universal truth, and follow its dictates.
Release the need to hate, to harbor division, and
the enticement of revenge. Release all bitterness.
Hold only love, only peace in your heart, knowing
the battle of good to overcome evil is already won,"
she quoted. "I wasn't very good at it, though."
"Things like that take practice," Aidan said.
"I've had my share of bitterness and hate,
but I've come realize that I don't like them."
"Mmm," said Alicia. "He also told me
to choose confrontation wisely, but when
it's the right time don't be afraid to stand up,
speak up, and speak out against injustice.
I did better at that part, I like to think."
"Play to your strengths," Aidan said.
"You may grow into a peacemaker yet."
"John thought so," Alicia said. "If
you follow your truth down the road
to peace and the affirmation of love,
if you shine like a beacon for all to see,
then the poetry of all the great dreamers
and philosophers is yours to manifest in
a world that is finally at peace with itself."
"We can hope," Aidan breathed. He
had seen whole empires rise and fall,
yet he always held out hope for better.
The world seemed to be, slowly but
surely, turning in that direction.
Eventually Alicia sat up.
"I just wish I could do
something," she said.
"I feel like history got
some things wrong."
"Maybe you can,"
Aidan said thoughtfully.
"Universal literacy has
only been around for
a century or so. Before
then, educated people
read and wrote, but
most folks still didn't."
"So?" Alicia said.
"So it's easy to overlook
the fact that we now have
a lot more ways to reach
people than we used to,"
Aidan said. "Have you
considered writing a book?"
Alicia shook her head.
"Not really," she said.
"I can write, but I'm
not that good at it."
"Ah, but you wouldn't
have to be," said Aidan.
"You could hire a writer who
specializes in historic records.
All you'd have to do would be
share your perspective of the past,
and leave the writing to the expert."
Alicia nibbled on her lip. "That's ...
actually not a bad idea," she said.
"Of course, there's also storytelling,"
Aidan said. "You could teach someone
in person or post videos on V'you."
"Now there's an idea." She
gave a wet giggle. "There was
this time someone sent a bucket
of fried chicken to the hotel room,
you know, as an insult, but then
John, he -- he -- dissected it!"
"The chicken?" Aidan said,
failing to find that funny.
"No, the recipe!" Alicia said.
"We were up north, you see, so it
was rather terrible fried chicken."
Aidan chuckled. "I can see how
that attack failed spectacularly."
"Yeah, for weeks after that,
every time we saw each other,
someone would start clucking,
and we'd all crack up," Alicia said.
Then she tucked her thumbs into
her armpits. "Buk-buk-buk."
"I imagine some fool racist
wondered what went wrong with
his perfect attack," said Aidan.
"They're not very imaginative,"
Alicia said as she kicked her heels
against the couch. "They think they are,
but most of them are just idiots."
"Sadly so," Aidan said.
"I remember one of them
throwing a punch at Martin,
who just stepped aside -- and
the hick lost his balance and fell
right into a mud puddle," Alicia said.
"An angry man is his own worst enemy,"
Aidan said. "Sometimes the best you
can do is get out of their way."
"Yeah," Alicia said, then sighed.
"I know people die, but sometimes
it just makes me feel so lonely.
Like there's nobody left but
me to carry on the work."
"You're not alone, little angel,"
said Aidan. "I promise, you're not
alone. We can do this together now.
Let's go down to Memories Castle
and talk with Couscous. He knows
everything about how to carry history."
"Oh, that's true!" said Alicia, clapping
her hands. "And Soheila is gathering
storytellers and historians, too."
"So we'll have some coconut sorbet
to remind ourselves of the good things
in life," Aidan said. "Then we can
see who's hanging around today
and what ideas they might have.
Does that sound good to you?"
"Yes, please," said Alicia,
perking up at the suggestion.
"Excellent. Hop up," Aidan said,
hugging her and then letting go.
They headed into the bungalow.
"Alicia, go wash your face. Saraphina,
we're going to Memories Castle now.
Please find your sandals and sun hat."
As soon as Alicia finished in the bathroom,
Aidan took his turn, dropping his damp clothes
in the laundry hamper. He washed his face,
then put on a fresh sarong and a shirt.
They stepped outside into a cluster
of cheerful little bungalows set in
swaths of sugar-white sand.
The warm tropical sun made
Alicia smile a little bit, and
Aidan sighed in relief.
He knew she was still sad,
and that was only natural --
but now they could record
what she remembered, and
that too would shine like a beacon.
* * *
Saraphina at school age.
Soheila and Couscous were obliquely referenced in "Into the Thousand-Eyed Present."
Soheila -- She has cocoa skin, almond-shaped blue eyes, and long wavy white hair. She is over a thousand years old. She speaks Arabic, Basque, English, Esperanto, Farsi, French, Greek, Italian, Latin, Shilha, Sicilian, and Tuareg. She is learning Dhivehi. Currently Soheila owns and runs the café Memories Castle in Kurumba Village on Vihamanaafushi Island. She lives in Unit #260, the Deluxe Pool Villa closest to her café. She enjoys cooking and dancing. Unfortunately, her vivid appearance attracts perverts. Soheila is a friend of Aidan. She seeks to carry the past through the present and provide guidance to other people.
Origin: She was born with her abilities.
Uniform: Soheila favors pale colors including gray, ivory, light blue, and butter yellow. She prefers basic clothes that don't have fast-changing fashion features. She likes the casual island dress mode, often wearing a sarong and a simple top. For special occasions, though, she sometimes dresses up in much brighter colors and fancier outfits.
Qualities: Master (+6) Languages, Expert (+4) Graceful, Expert (+4) Wealth, Good (+2) Cook, Good (+2) Dancer, Good (+2) Guidance
Poor (-2) Pervert Magnet
Powers: Good (+2) Immortality, Good (+2) Star Powers
Star Powers include Stardust Manipulation, Stellar Empowerment, Stellar Energy Manipulation, Stellar Healing, Stellar Immunity, and Stellar Magic.
Motivation: To be a guiding light.
Read about the Middle Ages and the Crusades. The history of Islam includes a lot of conflict.
Couscous (Chris Abadi) -- He has tinted skin, luminous hazel eyes, and shaggy brown hair. He has a heart-shaped face with a long nose and thick red lips. He is tall and slim, moving with grace and poise. His heritage is mixed Middle Eastern and European; he grew up rambling around the Mediterranean. He speaks Arabic, Berber, Egyptian, English, Farsi, Italian, Greek (through the ages), Latin, Ottoman Turkish, Punic, Sabir, Sanskrit, and Sumerian. Chronologically, Couscous is 16 when he reencounters Aidan in 2015. However, his memories of past lives go back for thousands of years, mostly although not exclusively around the Mediterranean. When Aidan first met him, he was known as Khusra or Khosrau I (b. January 512-d. February 579, r. 531-579 CE). He also loves popular culture and revels in the particular features of each time and society he encounters. Playful and curious, he explores everything and remembers most of it. Forever. However, he suffers when other people make mistakes that he learned to avoid millennia ago.
Origin: He has had Serial Immortality for thousands of years. This time, he was also born with Enhanced Vision, which has improved slowly.
Uniform: Couscous enjoys a wide variety of styles, generally casual boy clothes with a desert flair. However, he loves pop fashion too, and he can dress up to any level of formality as required. His neutrals include black, ivory, chocolate, sand, and taupe. For accents he likes desert colors such as oxblood, coral, ochre, sage, turquoise, Albuquerque sky blue, and plum.
Qualities: Master (+6) Living History, Master (+6) Wisdom, Expert (+4) Existential Intelligence, Expert (+4) Leadership, Good (+2) Graceful, Good (+2) Playful, Good (+2) Popular Culture
Poor (-2) Those Who Know History Are Doomed to Watch Others Repeat It
Powers: Master (+6) Serial Immortality, Good (+2) Enhanced Vision
Aside from the common infravision and ultravision, he can also see invisible things and superpowers.
Motivation: To learn and preserve knowledge.
Read about historic languages.
However, it was under the rule of the Sassanid emperor Khosrau I (a.d. 531-579), known to the Greeks and Romans as Chosroes, that Gondeshapur became known for medicine and learning. Khosrau I gave refuge to various Greek philosophers and Syriac-speaking Nestorian Christians fleeing religious persecution by the Byzantine empire. The Sassanids had long battled the Romans and Byzantines for control of present-day Iraq and Syria and were naturally disposed to welcome the refugees.
Emperor Khosrau I commissioned the refugees to translate Greek and Syriac texts into Pahlavi. They translated various works on medicine, astronomy, philosophy, and useful crafts.
[T]o a very large extent, the credit for the whole hospital system must be given to Persia.
— Cyril Elgood, A Medical History of Persia
In addition to systemizing medical treatment and knowledge, the scholars of the academy also transformed medical education; rather than apprenticing with just one physician, medical students were required to work in the hospital under the supervision of the whole medical faculty. There is even evidence that graduates had to pass exams in order to practice as accredited Gondeshapur physicians (as recorded in an Arabic text, the Tārīkh al-ḥukamā). Gondeshapur also had a pivotal role in the history of mathematics.
Khosrow I (also spelled Khosrau, Khusro or Chosroes; Middle Persian: 𐭧𐭥𐭮𐭫𐭥𐭣𐭩; New Persian: خسرو), traditionally known by his epithet of Anushirvan ("the Immortal Soul"), was Sasanian king of kings of Iran from 531 to 579. He was the son and successor of Kavad I (r. 488–496, 498–531).
Shahanshah of the Sasanian Empire
Reign 13 September 531 – February 579
Predecessor Kavad I
Successor Hormizd IV
Died February 579 (aged 65-67)
Reincarnation appears in Zoroastrian beliefs, although the details vary.
See the Color Analysis for Couscous from Color Chromatic.
* * *
"You are a light. You are the light. Never let anyone—any person or any force—dampen, dim or diminish your light. Study the path of others to make your way easier and more abundant. Lean toward the whispers of your own heart, discover the universal truth, and follow its dictates. […] Release the need to hate, to harbor division, and the enticement of revenge. Release all bitterness. Hold only love, only peace in your heart, knowing that the battle of good to overcome evil is already won. Choose confrontation wisely, but when it is your time don't be afraid to stand up, speak up, and speak out against injustice. And if you follow your truth down the road to peace and the affirmation of love, if you shine like a beacon for all to see, then the poetry of all the great dreamers and philosophers is yours to manifest in a nation, a world community, and a Beloved Community that is finally at peace with itself."
― John Lewis, Across That Bridge: A Vision for Change and the Future of America
On Vihamanaafushi Island, the cluster of features near the Arrival / Departure Pier is the Kurumba Beach Club.
Aidan and Saraphina take a Deluxe Beachfront Bungalow, #112 which is the first one on the bottom left side of the island. The front has a terrace. Aidan sleeps in the big bed. Saraphina sleeps in the couch bed. The wardrobe is converted to a kitchen. The bathroom includes an indoor tub and outdoor shower.
Memories Castle has an outdoor courtyard and indoor tables.
In Maldivian weather, July is the dip in the rainy season, which spans much of the summer. The winter months are drier and sunnier.
A Buddha board (also called a Zen board or waterboard) is a piece of pale stone or other material that absorbs water to show a pattern, which then disappears as the water evaporates. This offers a great way to practice painting, handwriting, or calligraphy because there is no mess and no waste.
Arabic calligraphy has many styles. See tutorials on lettering and other topics.
The Big Six—Martin Luther King Jr., James Farmer, John Lewis, A. Philip Randolph, Roy Wilkins and Whitney Young—were the leaders of six prominent civil rights organizations who were instrumental in the organization of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963, at the height of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.
John Robert Lewis (February 21, 1940 – July 17, 2020) was an American politician and civil-rights leader who served in the United States House of Representatives for Georgia's 5th congressional district from 1987 until his death in 2020. Lewis served as the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) from 1963 to 1966.
Martin Luther King Jr. (born Michael King Jr.; January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was an African American minister and activist who became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the civil rights movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968. King is best known for advancing civil rights through nonviolence and civil disobedience, inspired by his Christian beliefs and the nonviolent activism of Mahatma Gandhi.
Martin Luther King was a radical who made people uncomfortable. This is largely forgotten today, but here are some of his more radical quotes.
Coconut Sorbet is a Kurumba specialty from its time as a resort.