Talk of climate change seems to be everywhere these days. From elected officials in Washington, DC, to the farmers of rural India, people hold wildly divergent opinions about the ways climate change is affecting our lives, and the impact it will have in the future. In spite of widespread disagreement, many people are already seeing the consequences of climate change in the form of more storms, less rainfall, and severe flooding in their countries. Although the slower-onset disasters may be imperceptible to some, the rising sea levels, higher global temperatures, and food shortages are being endured by many.
I discovered I had bibliophilic tendencies when I was a child, and though I'd like to attribute this trait to precocious proclivities, it was more likely the personal pan pizza BOOK IT!® awards my elementary school gave out for reading. I grew up on a household where fast food was a luxury my single mother could not afford. So, in order to earn a dinnertime treat for my sisters and me, I would obsessively read.
On Christmas Eve in 2008, I watched the sunset at Boudhanath in Kathmandu, Nepal, while hundreds of red-cloaked Buddhist monks chanted evening prayers and others circumambulated the stupa in silent meditation. In a cafe overlooking the scene, my partner and I sipped hot coffee and chatted with a group of monks-in-training, five British guys and one woman, who had come down to the city from a monastery in the Himalayas to indulge in earthly pleasures: beer, rum, coffee, and cigarettes.
British journalist John Lanchester once famously described writers as being "shy megalomaniacs." I have pondered this somewhat humorous description in an attempt to better understand my own reasons for engaging in this excessively scrutinized profession — might I be a megalomaniac? I've also considered the connections it alludes to between writing, mental health, and pathology. (My interview with Joy Castro
, for example, teases at the interplay of these concepts.) Certainly, there are writers who possess an audacious understanding of the value they bring to popular conversation and literary craft, but what is the effect of focusing on public personas that reflect bombast and bravado over consideration and humility? What is obscured by the megalomaniac's shadow?
At an early age, Joy Castro ran away from an abusive home and renounced her faith as a Jehovah’s Witness. What she found instead was a new set of beliefs and truths for herself.