Thinking About That Woman Still…

I just checked my email and I had recieved a message from one of my closest friends challenging me for being so dry and so anthropological about such a powerful, sad, unacceptable situation as I saw there on that first day at the mountain school, and I really want to write more about this because I’ve been thinking alot about this very thing these last few days…about how I’m writing about my experiences here, and how I feel this dissatisfaction with how disconnected my writing style is from the feelings I’m feeling and all of the ways that I’m being pulled and twisted by having seen even the little bit I’ve seen of what things are like here.

In truth, I feel like there is something really tremendous building inside of me, with much of the shape and momentum of a whirlpool, which is frothing and fomenting with anger and fear and pain and sadness…and definitely guilt…and I think much of this began when I saw that woman. Before that, I feel like my experience here had been relatively unchallenging for me, but seeing her, and then seeing the reaction of the people who lived in that area, and feeling my alienation from the situation, our ‘observer’ status here, and my fear of saying or doing more, I feel like a big part of me started sucking in…and I found myself wanting to focus more and more on Spanish, on Spanish…studying, studying…to avoid all that I was feeling by being in a situation that is so wrong in so many ways…

I don’t know if I know how to really describe this…

Basically, I feel like after seeing that woman, and then spending more time at the mountain school, seeing the poverty, the struggle, learning more of the history of the area, of Guatemala, and of Central American in general…I kind of shut down emotionally. In my last post, I was kind of trying to portray that, that banal resignation in the face of really horrible things which I have witnessed numerous times here…and I feel like in the last two weeks alot of my emotions have been swallowed in this manner, because I don’t how how to hold it…I just don’t know how to hold this kind of reality right here, in front of myself, in my consciousness…I’ve never had to do that, this intensely, before. I’m a person so used to looking for solutions, so used to finding tactics and strategies, and trying to move towards reconciliation with people as soon as I can…and here, none of that works…this is a situation I can’t change here, there is a history and a reality that I cannot take back…I can’t take back the disappearances, the murders, the rape, the terror, the trauma, the violations of every kind of dignity…it’s just there, present in the air and in people’s stories, in people’s daily lives…and I don’t know how to hold that very long in front of myself…so, Spanish, Spanish, studying, studying…telling myself that maybe if I had just a few more words, a few more conjugations of verbs, maybe I could be that much more helpful…

But no, this is a situation that the little white boy Jeremy can’t fix…instead, I think I need to be more attentive in my observations, in my reactions, so I can learn what I can, connect where I can…so where I can help (and there are constant opportunities), I am emotionally ready and willing to step up…

…It’s just so much, it’s this massive torrent of pain and injustice…how do people here not completely lose themselves in that…that’s a feat of tremendous struggle and resistance in itself.

To anyone who was struck, hurt, offended, offput by the dryness of my previous post, I’m deeply sorry…it was a symptom of a much deeper problem, of my disconnection…my inability to put ME into these stories…and it’s something I’m working on…poco a poco…little by little.

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-Dispersing Power by Raul Zibechi

Thanks for both of these posts.

While I didn’t view the last post (or any of your posts, for that matter) as dry, I know what a struggle it can be to address all the interpretations and complexities of a situaion in this medium. Posts are often short, to the point, and revolve around one or two significant thoughts. Plus, as both a travel journal of experiences and a public outlet for analyzing those experiences , your authentic voice is somewhat disguised and reading between the lines seems more necessary.

But something struck me toward the end of this post. Maybe we aren’t meant to hold in all the pain of the world. What is the point of that? I hear you say that you don’t want to feel disconnected but what is the connection that you desire? Excuse my bluntness, but it doesn’t sound very healthy or empowering but I don’t think I got what you were striving for with this post. Hence the questions…

Maybe this should have been emailed to you personally but I’m using the comments feature because I went to all the work to set them up.

Well, the point is not to hold in all of the pain in the world, or anything as grand or rigid or anything like that…that’s not what I was trying to say.

I believe there are many different ways to experience the world…that whole two eyes open thing, remember…and what I was trying to say is that I feel like in my ways I’ve been cutting myself off from authentically dealing with what I’m seeing and experiencing here…this doesn’t mean I should be trying to take in all of the pain and experience of everyone around me or anything…that is impossible, inappropriate, and completely unuseful for anyone…however if I can exist in a situation that is filled with pain and injustice (and lots of good things too…it’s not like everyone is just crying and miserable here), and I’m not feeling anything…then I know that there’s something wrong…I’m not bringing my full self into the situation.

Catch the difference? It’s not an issue of bringing the whole WORLD into me…it’s an issue of trying to put more of my whole SELF into the world, and into my experiences in the world.

That’s what I’m going for…make more sense?