I wanted to write to you, but I don’t really know what to say. I am overwhelmed at the moment with everything that is happening. Here in London there has been an outbreak of riots and they all began in Tottenham about three blocks from the flat I am staying in.
The night it all began it sounded like a warzone outside. The helicopters were so loud and they loomed overhead, ominous and cold and as I watched out the window the thick sent of smoke wafted in warning that something was to come. Looking out flames began to rise over the rooftops of the quaint little houses. They licked the sky like a dragon, burning a relentless path through the lives of helpless people.
Why would anyone feel that it’s okay to harm other people in this way? These fires were set intentionally, as a way of retaliating against the police for killing an innocent man. I don’t know about the man who was killed or the events that took place that night, but I do know that people were acting like animals… using the death of a man to rationalize their complete disregard for life and community.
It’s sad to see pictures of what’s left of the High Road, nothing but the shell of something before, haunted by the shadow of anger and greed. It’s really shocking to know that something like this could happen so fast. The whole thing just felt out of control. It was pure chaos. I wonder if those people realize that they destroyed their community and further segregated themselves. I pray for them and I pray that everyone is safe and can pick up the pieces and start over.
Being in this hostile and uncertain environment has made me feel on edge. It’s unnerving to not know what’s next. People keep saying that it will all clear up in the next few days, but I keep wondering if that’s true. They’ve gotten a taste and now they want more, hopefully these people are stopped soon.
I keep going back to that night seeing the fire rising high into the night sky. It’s weird to say that I felt a symbolic connection with that fire. I came here to learn something about myself, found myself here in this part of the city and I watched it burn to the ground… in that fire was a part of me. Something old died in the flames, something was taken from me and now I look out at the world seeing things differently. For now it feels tarnished and unsettled… but in time I will begin to see better with these new eyes.
It’s surreal to have seen so much of London and to have experienced so much here. I have permission to return home because of the riots, but for now I will stay because I don’t feel like I am ready to return home. There is something left here to be recovered. It’s not the first time I’ve seen the fire… and it’s not the first time I’ve pulled something from the ashes. Until that last fragment is recovered here, I cannot return to the states.
I am in another area of the city, spending time in the cozy flat of a very gracious friend. Sipping on warm chamomile and listening to the rumble of the train, I feel at ease with life. Being in London has been an adjustment in every sense of the word. I have had to fling myself fearlessly into this situation and not look back. I feel very at ease with change now. I am learning to dance effortlessly with life…letting go of rigid thoughts and feelings.
I wish all of you well and I ask that you send your prayers to the people of London who have been affected by the riots. I ask that a gentle rain fall over the city cleansing it of the pain, the anger and the destruction. I ask that the angels stand tall at every door, gate and town square, safe guarding those who live there from the malicious hands of others.
© Shaheen Miro 8/9/2011