Blessings come through unexpected tribulations. Life truly is a binary, happiness and sadness cannot exist on their own any more than can light exist without darkness. This is what makes life at once magical and tumultuous; it’s like the most wonderful enigma built on the pillars of uncertainty and clarity.
It is with this binary paradigm in mind that I wrote this second book Soul to Soil. This is me embracing the hardships and maelstroms I have been through over the past two years and, in the same place of pains, planting a seed of hope and resiliency. Someone once said that we don’t always get to choose our circumstances in life—the choice is how we react when a season of bareness darkens our doorsteps.
Soul to Soil represents my decisions process and a continuation of my journey; where Serendipity’s Trace was a reflection and me bleeding out my past, Soul to Soil is a contemplation of present circumstances and how to move forward. Inspired by endless people I have had the honor and blessing to meet and know in my journey across America over the past 18 months, Soul to Soil is a collection of observations and prose that synthesizes the essence of our common humanity.
We live in an age of utter divisiveness and abject antagonism. It seems that all about us are a cacophony of animosity and discord. Always easier to respond to fire with blowtorches, we are incinerating each other through rhetoric and insults. I won’t pretend otherwise, I too was part of this zeitgeist not too long ago. When someone threw grenades my way, I threw back Tomahawk missiles and justified my rancor by saying “I was just responding”. But responding to antipathy with enmity only ends up with two burn victims.
It took the cudgel of injustice being lowered on my head and a most soul sucking yet sublime exodus to change my outlook. It took a severe heat for me to see a different perspective; it was a path of tears that led me to a revelation of humanity’s connective plight and aspirations. The irony of life; it took a mind bending injury and a wound draped in a cloak of solitude for me to turn from a troll burner to a sojourner.
Though we are constantly being divided and splintered, at the core—irrespective of race, ideology, faith, orientation and the endless ways we are always being shattered—we are all asking for one simple thing. Decency. We want to be treated with decency and we want to have the decency to earn a fair shake at life. Instead, the American dream is turning into a horror show for all of us and hemorrhaging the world—our protests and anger is not without merit. All of us are seeking redress and justice and correctly demanding a change.
Instead, we find ourselves being shaken and taken for suckers. Sadly, we are becoming crabs clawing at each other instead of clawing at the barrel of injustice. At one hand, Soul to Soil is my attempt to press pause and talk about the very things that we all have in common. Regardless of our isms or identification, everyone struggles with love, faith, purpose, and self-actualization—to name just a few of the core issues we all face and deal with. After talking to so many people over the past 20 months, and really over my lifetime, Soul to Soil presents these aspects of our lives from a first person perspective sparked by the stories others shared with me. Maybe if we understand that our hopes and struggles are universal, we will be less quick to judge and more inclined to walk with our neighbors.
The second aspect of Soul to Soil is to delve right into the very fissures that are fracking humanity into islands of grievance and outrage. I step into the breach; instead of speaking to the crowd, in a lot of ways I am speaking against it in an attempt to show that we are not each others enemies. If injustice is to be tackled and if we are to ever arrive at a day where a dream of equality becomes reality, we will not attain that noble goal unless and until we stop turning on each other and instead turn to one another. Unity is the way forward, all the red meat and demagoguery aimed at us is to prevent this very accord. Soul to Soil attempts, in my small way, to speak against this corrosive aspect of contemptible shysters who continue to push us into the ghetto of exclusionary justice. Justice can only be arrived at through inclusion and a unified effort.
I have traveled a long road; though my travails are far from over, I have arrived at a place of understanding that my purpose has been discovered through this crucible. I have a long way to go, I am not speaking as though I have figured all out. I still fall short all the time, too often my impulses default to returning fire with fire. But each day—through prayer and reflection—I grow and try to give grace where I am met with hatred. Soul to Soil is thus a reflection of this growth and me sharing my journey. I am struggling each day to become the very change I want to see in this world, by me sharing my journey and experiences, I hope to cultivate not a following but a collective of like-minded thinkers.
This is Soul to Soil, I’m connecting myself to endless readers and, when my time on this earth is done one day, what remains will be my words which will be the soil that will give birth to future sojourners and thinkers who want to change the world. As my father passed on his wisdom to me, I am sharing my experiences and pray that one day what we all want—peace, love, happiness, and fairness—will rule the day.
~Thank you to everyone who has been part of my journey, butterflies emerge from caterpillars through cocoons—the struggle is what gives wing to our aspirations. Click the picture below or search “Teodrose Fikre” on Amazon to find Soul to Soil. Thank you for being my “second”~
Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Lij Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Lij Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.